Episode 8 of Kabiriyat
by Dr. Ashwini Mokashi
Saint Kabir tells us in his poem ‘bhule man samaz ke lad ladaniya’ that the time for action is right now, the place is right here, and the goal is to do the right thing. This poem is taken from the book ‘Paramartha Sopan’ edited and compiled by Gurudev Prof. R. D. Ranade. The book was first published in 1954.
भूले मन समझ के लाद लदनिया ॥
टाण्डा लाद कहाँ को लै जैयो, आगे मुलुक बिरनिया
सौदा करे तो यहि जुग करले, आगे हाट न बनिया
पानी पिये तो रतन कुएँ का, आगे घाट न पनिया
कहे कबीर सुनो भाइ साधो, यह पद है निरबनिया
Hindi Translation by Gurudev R. D. Ranade
हे मूर्ख मन, सोचकर बोझा लाद । बनजारों के झुण्ड ! माल लाद कर कहाँ ले चले हो ? आगे पराया देश है । सौदा करना है तो इसी क्षण करलो; क्यों कि इसके आगे न बाज़ार है न खरीदने वाला, न बेचने वाला । पानी पीना है तो इसी कुएँ का पीले, जो रत्नसम है। आगे न घाट है, न पानी है। कवीर कहते हैं, हे भाई साधो ! सुनो, यह निर्वाणियों का पद है।
O foolish mind, think before taking on any burden.
Where would you go filling up the whole cart, the land ahead is foreign.
If you want to make any transactions, do it here, as there is no bazaar ahead of you.
If you want to drink water, drink it from this well of gems, for there is neither well nor water ahead.
O good man, says Kabir, you are on the path of people pursuing Nirvana.
Saint Kabir says that one must consider how much burden to carry on our mind. If we carry a lot of baggage of worries and anxieties, we will not be able to focus on the spiritual goal and have no idea how to face the future. If we want to make a spiritual transaction, we need to do it now, as there may not be a chance in the future. If we’re going to drink water from a well, drink it now from this well of gems. There may not be another time. Kabir says, O good man, you are on the path of people walking towards Nirvana, so make the most of here and now by focusing on meditation and spiritual practice. (The spiritual interpretation is a summary of Prof. Ranade’s discussions in his book ‘Pathway to God in Hindi Literature’.)
Let us talk a little more about the word ‘Nirbaniyan.’ The root word here is Nirvana, the same as Moksha. The term has been used both in Hinduism and Buddhism. Saint Kabir calls people who are pursuing Nirvaniyan. In the Hindi dialect, the word becomes nirbaniyan, and the path of such people is the life dedicated to the pursuit of Nirvana.
The poetry of Saint Kabir is also known as ‘Nirguni bhajans.’ Nirguna means without qualification, as opposed to ‘sagun,’ which refers to qualifications. The poetry of Saint Kabir is about spiritual significance. It promotes the worship of nirguna bhakti, which is an abstract concept of God. It doesn’t refer to any religion, any form of God, but it refers to the formless God perceived or experienced in the spirit. Hence it doesn’t pray to any God by name. Nevertheless, since it is a universal principle of God, the spiritual poetry of Saint Kabir is acceptable and is highly revered in various Hindu groups, Sufi, and Muslim groups, as well as in Sikhism. All the local religions of 15th century India accepted Saint Kabir as a great sage and accepted his thoughts and principles.
- There is no point in carrying weight on one’s mind. Keep the mind free of blemishes and keep it clean like a tabula-rasa. When we are worried, we are not productive, and we are not inching towards our goals. When we are productive, we are confident about spending our time wisely.
- Whatever our goal is, the time to pursue it is now. In the future, there may not be another chance to do meditation, either in this life or in the afterlife.
- Our current life is full of gems. We have the time and energy, and we can focus on our work. If we let go of this opportunity and become lazy, we are stuck in life and worried about our future.
- Our goal is to achieve Nirvana. We are on the path of Nirvana. So, it is best to stay focused on our goal and continue the life journey of doing meditation. When we feel rejected in life, just remember that it is just happening at a point in time. Life is a long journey.
What makes Saint Kabir applicable even today is his understanding of the psychological principles as well. For example, when we are worried about something, we are not focusing on our tasks, so our productivity decreases. Sometimes, it becomes challenging not to worry about things, as we are dealing with losses or rejection. Nevertheless, the best thing is to stay focused on what one needs to do. In an abstract sense, if we stay focused on our life’s goal of pursuing Moksha through meditation, then getting through the day seems far more manageable, as the problems do not affect our mind as much. Such abstract goals support the process of life management.
In short, think less about today’s issues and think more about the goal of life!