Pictorial Glimpses into the Life of Satguru Kabir Saheb
Kamal Raised from the Dead
Once King Sikandar Lodi with Kabir Saheb and Shaikh Taqqi, and others of the king’s court, were taking an evening walk on the bank of the river Ganges. Accidentally they saw a boy’s corpse floating in the river. Shaikh Taqqi, with malicious intentions, asked Kabir to prove his power by bringing the corpse to life. Shaikh Taqqi thought that Kabir wouldn’t be able to do so and he will be humiliated. People will then again respect him more than they would Kabir.
Satguru Kabir sensed Shaikh Taqqi’s evil intentions. However, at his request, Guru Kabir summoned the corpse by merely pointing at him. The corpse floated towards them. Guru Kabir then placed his hand on the corpse’s head and said: “O soul! Enter in this body again.” Immediately, a light passed from Satguru Kabir’s hand into the corpse, and the boy awoke from his sleep. The boy immediately lay prostrate before Kabir in reverence. The king, in great amazement, said: “You did Kamal (wonder or miracle)” Satguru Kabir then said that this boy will be named Kamal.
Kamali Brought to Life
Though Shaikh Taqqi tried and tested Satguru Kabir many times, Kabir always emerged unscathed. It is said that Shaikh Taqqi tested the divine powers of Kabir fifty-two times. He became utterly dejected. However, he thought of testing Kabir again by asking him to bring back to life his daughter who died a few days ago. The King agreed to this plan and they both approached Satguru Kabir for that purpose.
Shaikh Taqqi, with folded hands, said to Kabir: “Saheb, my daughter passed away some days ago. Please bring her back to life.” Satguru Kabir accepted his request to revive his daughter. Satguru Kabir went to the graveyard with the king and Shaikh Taqqi.
Satguru Kabir stood beside the tomb and glanced at it. The tomb opened. Looking into it, Satguru called: “O daughter of Shaikh Taqqi! Come out of the tomb!” But there was no response. Kabir then said: “O my daughter! Enough rest. Come out now.” Immediately, the corpse became alive and came out of the grave. She approached Satguru Kabir and reverently lay prostrate before him. The king said to Kabir: “You did Kamal again.” Shaikh Taqqi’s resurrected daughter was then named Kamali, and she became a great disciple of Kabir.
Temple of Lord Jagannath
Indradaman, king of Orissa, once in his dream, was instructed by Lord Krishna to build a temple in the name of the Lord Jagannath. The King erected a beautiful temple. Soon after its completion, it was destroyed by the violent ocean waves. Though the king rebuilt the temple many times, each time it was washed away by the tumultuous sea. The King got tired and stopped rebuilding it.
When Satguru Kabir learned about the destruction of Lord Jagannath’s temple, he went to Puri and appeared before king Indradaman. The king, after paying due respects to him, narrated the difficulty he faced in building the temple. However, Satguru advised him to build the temple once more. He told the king that the sea would not be able to destroy it anymore. The faithful king acted on his words and rebuilt the temple. The sea again rose to destroy it. Satguru Kabir sat on the beach and planted his kubadi (a “T” shaped stick) beside him. This was to warn the sea that it should not surge forward beyond the kubadi. The sea could not go beyond the kubadi as Satguru’s divine power was in it.
The sea god appeared before Satguru Kabir as a Brahmin and bowed to him. Kabir then told him: “The importance and greatness of this temple will increase day by day. This will be the place of worship for people of all castes and creeds. All the pilgrims will be treated alike. The food from the temple will be served to everyone.” Even today one can see the same practice at the temple of Lord Jagannath at Puri.
Satguru Kabir delivered spiritual discourses daily at his ashram in Varanasi. Many devotees from around the city went to listen to them. Virsingh Baghela, the ruler of Varanasi, heard about Kabir Saheb, and went to the ashram to listen to him. He felt divinely attracted to Kabir. After the discourse, he invited Kabir Saheb to his palace to give spiritual instructions. The news spread and many people went there to listen to him.
One day, in the middle of the discourse, Satguru Kabir stopped and took his kamandalu (a water pot) and poured some water on his feet and resumed the discourse. The whole congregation was surprised by his strange behaviour. However, no one interrupted him. But when he was finished speaking, the King asked him about the incident.
Satguru Kabir said: “Ramharsh Pandey, a worshipper at the temple of Jagannath, is my devotee. He was serving food when some of the steaming rice spilled on his feet. He earnestly prayed to me to relieve his burning pain. Hence, to cure his burns, I poured some water upon my feet.”
The King sent messengers to investigate. The temple authorities told them that it was true. The king and the people then realized Satguru Kabir’s divine powers and paid obeisance to him.
Offering to Manes
Satguru Kabir was once taking a bath in the Ganges. He saw some Brahmins offering “Pinda” (balls of cooked rice) and water to their deceased ancestors and relatives. Satguru Kabir never believed in such rituals. He thought it was necessary to guide the Brahmins in the right direction. He thus played a trick on them. He started to pour the water towards the riverbank. This action attracted the Brahmins. Curious to know why, they asked: “O Saheb! Why are you pouring water like that?” Satguru counter-questioned: “What are you doing there?”
“We are offering rice and water to our manes.”
“I’m watering my Ashram’s garden,” said Kabir.”
On hearing this, the Brahmins burst into laughter and said: “How funny! Will the water thrown from here reach your garden?”
Kabir replied: “Will your offerings reach your deceased ancestors from here? And if they can reach them in heaven or wherever they are, then surely, this water will reach my garden, which is not far from here.”
The Brahmins could not argue with Satguru Kabir. They realized the futility of their actions. In this way, Kabir always tried to impart real knowledge to the people to dispel their baseless superstitions.
Conversation between Sarvajit and Kamali
Sarvajit, a South Indian pandit, was very proud of his knowledge. He defeated many scholars in debate on the scriptures. They gave him an honorary title “Sarvajit” (conqueror of all scholars). He went to his mother and boasted of his victory and told her to call him “Sarvajit”. His mother felt sorry for his boastfulness and wanted to show him the value of humility. She said: “My son, you are victorious indeed, but still you should defeat one more person in debate.” He asked: “Who is he?” His mother said: “Kabir! He lives in the city of Varanasi.”
Sarvajit went to Varanasi to defeat Kabir. He carried a heavily laden bull with books on philosophy and religion. When he came near to Kabir’s ashram, he felt thirsty. He saw a girl pulling water from the well. He asked her for water and then about Kabir’s residence. That intelligent girl was Kamali. She understood the reason why the pandit was there. She answered in a couplet:
Kabir ka ghar shikhar par, jahan silahali gail;
panv na tike pipilika, tahan pandit lade bail.
(Kabir’s residence is on the mountaintop and the path is very slippery. An ant cannot set foot on it. O Pandit! You wish to go there with this loaded bull?) However, Kamali led Sarvajit to Kabir’s ashram.
Discussion Between Sarvajit and Kabir
Sarvajit’s mother sent him to Kabir Saheb to get some spiritual knowledge, but he was full of ego about his knowledge. He sent a pot full of water to Kabir Saheb. “What is it?” asked Satguru Kabir. “It is sent by Sarvajit.” Without uttering a single word, Satguru Kabir simply dropped a needle in the pot and sent it back. On seeing the pot returned from Kabir, Sarvajit inquired about the reaction of Kabir Saheb. He was told: “A needle has been dropped in it by Kabir.” Sarvajit could not understand the reason for Kabir’s action. Hence to get the explanation of it, he went to the ashram and asked Kabir Saheb about it. Satguru Kabir said to Sarvajit: “What was the purpose of sending the pot full of water to me?” Sarvajit replied: “To show you that I am full of knowledge.” Kabir Saheb said: “However, you might have seen that the needle that I dropped in the pot penetrated through the water. In the same way my knowledge has power to penetrate through yours. Please, therefore, do not consider yourself full of knowledge. There are certainly more learned people than you in the world.” Sarvajit realized his mistake. He then bowed down before Kabir Saheb and begged for forgiveness. But Sarvajit wanted proof to show his mother. Kabir then told him to write that Kabir lost and Sarvajit won, and Kabir signed the paper. Sarvajit showed it to his mother, and she read Kabir won and Sarvajit lost. He felt there must have been a mistake, so he went back to Kabir and had the paper correctly written and signed. Again it read Kabir won and Sarvajit lost. Sarvajit gave up his ego and became a disciple of Kabir Saheb.
Sultan Ibrahim Adam of Balkh Bokhara wanted to see God, and invited holy men of different religions to show him God. But none of them could. He then became angry and imprisoned them. He did so many times and the religious people became afraid. When Satguru Kabir heard about it, he went to the king and told him that he would show him God if he would release the prisoners. The King refused to release them. Satguru Kabir went to the prison and saw the holy men grinding grains with the millstones. He told them to recite the name of God. They said if they stopped, the King would punish them more severely. Then Satguru Kabir touched one of the millstones with his kubadi (staff) and commanded them to operate. Surprisingly, all the millstones began grinding by themselves. People were astonished by the miracle. The prisoners then started to chant the name of God.
One of the guards rushed to call the King who immediately went. He was also surprised. He saw Kabir Saheb standing and all the saints were reciting and singing devotional songs. He realized the greatness of Kabir Saheb and bowed down to him. Kabir Saheb told him to release all the prisoners immediately, which he did. From that time Kabir Saheb became known as bandichhor, the releaser of prisoners. People applauded and said: “Kabir is great, Kabir is great.”
Omnipresence of God
In the course of pilgrimage, Satguru Kabir once went to Mecca. It is a holy place for Muslims. When Kabir Saheb reached there in the evening he was tired. He slept near the mosque placing his feet towards it. As soon as the qazi saw him sleeping with his feet towards the holy Kaaba, he became angry. He approached Kabir and, with a stern look and harsh words, reprimanded him for lying in the wrong direction. Without getting up, Kabir Saheb said to him: “O Qazi! I am tired. I cannot move my legs. Please place my feet in the direction where there is no God.” The qazi immediately turned Kabir’s feet in another direction. But soon he saw that the holy shrine was in the same direction where he had placed Kabir’s feet. He then moved Kabir’s feet in another direction, but again the shine moved to that direction. In whichever direction the qazi placed Kabir’s feet, invariably he saw the shrine of Mecca turn in that direction. Soon the qazi was exhausted. Seeing his discomfiture, the compassionate Satguru told him: “O Qazi! God is Omnipresent. In whichever direction you go, He is there.” The qazi realized the truth and, without any arguments, paid due respects to Satguru Kabir.
Whenever Satguru Kabir Saheb was at Varanasi, he used to give discourses at various places, sometimes even in an open market place. He was not attached to either a mosque or a temple. It was therefore important for his followers to find a permanent place for his discourses. Soon they found an open place which was near his ashram. People prepared a nice small stage on which Satguru could sit and preach. They named that place Kabir Chaura. Kabir Saheb delivered most of his discourses from there. The place became so famous that more and more people gathered there to listen to him. He preached to them about Eternal Truth, Divine Love, Unity, Universal brotherhood, Non-violence, Compassion, Forgiveness, etc. His topics were chosen for the benefit of the masses. His message touched their hearts. At that place Kings and paupers were equal.
Dhani Dharmadas Ji
Dharamdasji, a rich merchant, lived in the city of Bandhogarhh in the Central Province of India. He was a worshipper of Vishnu. Once, on his pilgrimage, he went to Mathura. One day he was cooking food to offer to God, and observed many ants running out from the burning wood. He saw that many of them were burned. This made him very sad, as food cooked on the fire where many ants were burned was not fit to offer to God. He did not eat any food, which was not offered to God, so he decided to give it to any needy person. He searched for such a person and luckily saw Satguru Kabir sitting under a tree. Dharamdasji placed the food in front of him and requested that he accept it. Looking at the food Kabir Saheb smiled and said: “Do you want to pass your sins onto me which you committed by killing the ants in the fire?” Dharamdasji was very surprised and wondered how this man knew about the killing of the ants. At that time Kabir Saheb clapped his hands and all the dead ants appeared in the food and started to crawl out of the plate. Dharamdasji was astonished. He bowed to Kabir Saheb and invited him to come to Bandhogarhh. “I live amongst the sadhus and saints. If you want to see me again serve the sadhus and saints. One day I will come to you.” Saying this Kabir saheb disappeared.
Kabir Saheb at Bandhogarhh
Dharamdasji had requested Kabir Saheb to visit his place at Bandhogarhh. Kabir Saheb did not accept his invitation and told him to search for him amongst the sadhus and saints, and he will find him there. Dharamadasji wanted to see Kabir Saheb so earnestly that he was prepared to do anything. One day he discussed it with his wife, Amin, and planned to hold a yajna (religious function) and to invite sadhus and saints. His wife, being a devoted lady, agreed. Dharamdasji sent invitations to all sadhus and saints. He prepared food and clothing, and offered money as gifts to them. He met some great saints and seers but, to his disappointment, Kabir Saheb was not among them. He thus decided not to take food and water, and was prepared to die. The Omniscient and Compassionate Satguru learned about Dharamdasji’s determination, and graced him with a visit. Dharamdasji and his wife became very happy. They welcomed him warmly, and prepared anandi arti to celebrate his auspicious visit. On that very occasion Satguru Kabir Saheb initiated Dharamdasji and his wife. Dharamdasji spent all his wealth in performing righteous activities. That is why he was honoured with the title of “Dhani” (rich). From that time he became known as Dhani Dharamdas.
Blessings to King Ram Singh
When Kabir Saheb was a guest at the house of Dharamdasji, Ramsingh, the King of Bandhogarh, came to see him. He heard, and took part in, many discussions with Kabir Saheb. He realized that Kabir Saheb was a Divine Person. He arranged a grand function in his honour at his home. He asked Kabir Saheb to make him a disciple and bless him. Kabir Saheb blessed him with Divine Knowledge and removed all the darkness of ignorance from his heart. The King and the Queen took an active part in the satsangs held at their palace. They arranged for anandi arti chowka and when Satguru Kabir Saheb was sitting in the chowka, the King asked Kabir Saheb to bless him with a child, and he did. Kabir Saheb was pleased with the king’s sincere devotion. By Satguru Kabir’s grace a son was born to the King and Queen. The royal couple’s desire was fulfilled. Kabir Saheb had blessed them with forty-two continuous successions. Though the years have gone by, the line of descendants is still present.
Churamani Nam Saheb
As long as Kabir Saheb stayed with Dhani Dharamdasji, there were discussions, devotional songs and explanation about spiritual matters. People attended them with enthusiasm. Sometimes such programs were prolonged late at nights. The pious participants were never satisfied listening to the words of wisdom from Satguru Kabir. The more they heard the more they wished to hear. People were greatly impressed by his distinguished personality. More and more people gathered at the satsangs, and he initiated many on the spiritual path. The younger son of Dharamdasji, Churamani Nam, was also initiated at that time. He showed intense desire for spiritual knowledge and made rapid progress on the path of Surati Shabda Yoga. When Kabir Saheb saw this young boy’s devotion and ability, he told Dharamdasji that he would be the spiritual master in the future. Later on, Churamani Nam was nominated the spiritual master of Kabir Panth. The nomination became known as vansh (successor). The link of such succession is still upheld.
When Satguru Kabir Saheb was giving spiritual knowledge to Dharamdasji, he had appointed someone to write the discussions between them. In the course of discussions, Dharamdasji requested Kabir Saheb to explain the spiritual path in such a way, that every one could understand. He asked some very important questions for the good of humanity, and Kabir Saheb answered them. The writer recorded them. Kabir Saheb explained to Dharamdasji the moral duty, spiritual accomplishments, true knowledge, eight-fold path of yoga, gyan yoga, surati shabda yoga, nine-fold path of devotion, fourteen spiritual gems etc. All of these explanations are compiled in a volume called Brahm Nirupan (Description of Supreme Reality). This book contains a very precious message for mankind.