by Ashwini Mokashi, Ph.D. ©
February is the month for celebrating love, celebrating Valentine’s day, celebrating all the loving relationships in our lives. This is the perfect time to think about Saint Kabir’s love for the Divine.
In Indian literature devotional and romantic poetry were often combined. Sometimes the intention was to provoke the reader and orient them in a spiritual direction. Sometimes it was used as a technique by highly intelligent seers to help people understand how devotion to God is especially important, using the figure of romantic love, which is easier to understand.
Saint Kabir was born in a world where devotional poetry had the same fascination for people as romantic. Love was a reality and eternal love was the ideal. In the modern world, people are more willing to accept psychological realities like narcissism, bipolarism and various mental disturbances than believe that they have the capacity for unconditional love. The word ‘devotion’ as love for God is probably only known to students of religion.
The following is Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore’s translation of Saint Kabir’s poem:
‘Mohi Tohi Lagi Nahi Chhute’
How could the Love between Thee and me sever?
As the leaf of the lotus abides on the water: so, thou art my Lord and I am Thy servant.
From the beginning until the ending of time, there is love between Thee and me; and how shall such love be extinguished?
Kabir says: “As the river enters the ocean, so my heart touches Thee.”
The beautiful similes in this poem refer to the connection of the mind and soul with the eternal spiritual entity known as God. Just as a lotus leaf never submerges in water but remains floating above, so one is ever protected by the Lord. Kabir says to God, our love is eternal, it will never end. My heart merges into the eternal universe of God, like a river entering the ocean.
The poem has several layers of meaning. It talks about the intimate and inseparable connection of a human being with the spiritual principle. It also talks about Kabir’s extreme devotion and his serene faith which can inspire and be an example to others. The poem also conveys the intimate and eternal connection of the human mind with the spiritual, irrespective of religious or other differences.
The relevance of this poem for modern times lies in it indicating the possibility that a human mind can evolve. The mind can grasp this spiritual connection and enjoy it despite the widespread prevalence of unfairness and injustice in our world. If the human mind succeeds in so doing, it can experience eternal love. As we become more aware of this eternal love, our practice of meditation increases. We become more loving and able to accept love from others.
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