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EARLY LIFE AND BACKGROUND Kabir (also Kabira) was a mystic poet and saint of India, whose writings

have greatly influenced the Bhakti movement. The name Kabir comes from Arabic al-Kabr which means 'The Great' - the 37th name of God in Islam. There are many versions about his Early Life and Birth. As per the life history of Saint Kabir, he was born in 1398 AD. It is said that he was found floating on a lotus leaf in a tank in Benaras by a Muslim weaver. The weaver took the vulnerable child under his care and following the traditional manner, gave him the name of 'Kabir', meaning 'the great one'. Even at a young age, Kabir displayed enormous spiritual talent. Many legends abound about the birth, life and death of Kabir, one of India's most quoted poets and mystics. His birth itself is shrouded in mystery, some say he was the son of a Brahman widow, others that he was of virgin birth, what is known though is that he was brought up in a family of muslim weavers. He was never formally educated and was almost completely illiterate. According to legend, the only word that he ever learned how to write was "Rama". Not much is known of Kabir's birth parents, but it is known that he was brought up in a family of Muslim weavers. He was found by a Muslim weaver named Niru and his wife, Nima, in Lehartara, situated in Varanasi. Both Niru and Nima were very poor and illiterate.They adopted the boy and taught him the weaver's trade. It is not known in detail what sort of spiritual training Kabir may have received. He did not become a sadhu, nor did he ever abandon worldly life. Kabir chose instead to live the balanced life of a householder and mystic, a tradesman and contemplative. However,his early spiritual training came from Ramananda, who became his guru when Kabir was still a child. There are various versions of how Ramananda came to accept Kabir as his disciple.What all the versions agree is that Kabir tricked Ramananda into giving him a mantra for meditation, which forced him to accept Kabir as his disciple. Kabir's family is believed to have lived in the locality of Kabir Chaura in Varanasi. Kabr maha (), a maha located in the back alleys of Kabir Chaura, celebrates his life and times. Accompanying the property is a house named Nrl ( ) which houses Niru and Nima's graves. The house also accommodates students and scholars who live there and study Kabir's work. Legend says that he reliquished his body when he was about 120 years old. There is a famous legend about his death; When he died, his Hindu and Muslim followers started fighting about the last rites. When they lifted the cloth covering his body, they found flowers instead. The Muslim followers buried their half and the Hindu cremated thier half. In Maghar, his tomb and samadhi still stand side by side. Sant Kabir is considered to be one of the greatest poets as well as mystics ever born in India. He believed that human beings are equal and being one with God is the ultimate aim of every individual. His love and

devotion towards the Supreme One clearly reflects in his poetry. The Holy Guru Granth Sahib contains over 500 verses by the great saint, Kabir. The verses or dohas of Guru Kabir are still read by people with awe and admiration. Read on to explore the biography of Sant Kabir further. Kabir always wanted to become a disciple of Ramanand. However, since he was a Muslim, it was next to impossible for him to get initiation from a Hindu. So, he took recourse to a trick. Ramanand daily went to the bathing ghat for his pre-dawn ritual ablutions. Kabir lay on the steps of the ghat in such a way that Ramanand stepped on him. Shocked at this incident, he chanted 'Rama! Rama!'. Kabir said that since he had received teachings from him, in the form of the words 'Rama! Rama!', he was Ramanand's disciple. Impressed with the intelligence of Kabir, Ramanand took him as his disciple POETRY & PHILOSOPHIES Kabir was influenced by the prevailing religious mood of his times, such as old Brahmanic Hinduism, Tantrism, the teachings of Nath yogis and the personal devotionalism of South India mixed with the imageless God of Islam. The influence of these various doctrines is clearly evident in Kabir's verses. The basic religious principles he espoused are simple. According to Kabir, all life is an interplay of two spiritual principles. One is the personal soul (Jivatma) and the other is God (Paramatma). It is Kabir's view that salvation is the process of bringing these two divine principles into union. The incorporation of much of his verse in Sikh scripture, and the fact that Kabir was a predecessor of Guru Nanak, have led some western scholars to mistakenly describe him as a forerunner of Sikhism. His greatest work is the Bijak (the "Seedling"), an idea of the fundamental one. This collection of poems elucidates Kabir's universal view of spirituality. Though his vocabulary is replete with Hindu spiritual concepts, such as Brahman, karma and reincarnation, he vehemently opposed dogmas, both in Hinduism and in Islam. His Hindi was a vernacular, straightforward kind, much like his philosophies. He often advocated leaving aside the Qur'an and Vedas and simply following Sahaja path, or the Simple/Natural Way to oneness in God. He believed in the Vedantic concept of atman, but unlike earlier orthodox Vedantins, he spurned the Hindu societal caste system and murti-pujan (idol worship), showing clear belief in both bhakti and Sufi ideas. The major part of Kabir's work as a bhagat was collected by the fifth Sikh guru, Guru Arjan Dev, and incorporated into the Sikh scripture, Guru Granth Sahib. Kabir composed in a pithy and earthy style, replete with surprise and inventive imagery. His poems resonate with praise for the true guru who reveals the divine through direct experience, and denounce more usual ways of attempting god-union such as chanting, austerities, etc. Kabir, being illiterate, expressed his poems orally in vernacular Hindi, borrowing from various dialects including Avadhi, Braj, and Bhojpuri. His verses often began with some strongly worded insult to get the attention of passersby. Kabir has enjoyed a revival of popularity over the past half century as arguably the most accessible and understandable of the Indian saints, with a special influence over spiritual traditions

Kabir is a very important figure in Indian history. He is unusual in that he is spiritually significant to Hindus, Sikhs, and Muslims alike. Kabir openly criticized all sects and gave a new direction to the Indian philosophy. Kabir touches the soul, the conscience, the sense of awareness and the vitality of existence in a manner that is unequalled in both simplicity and style. It is for this reason that Kabir is held in high esteem all over the world. Another beauty of Kabir's poetry is that he picks up situations that surround our daily lives. Thus, even today, Kabir's poetry is relevant and helpful in both social and spiritual context. Following Kabir means understanding one's inner self, realizing oneself, accepting oneself as is, and becoming harmonious with one's surroundings. Kabir has written much poetry and song. All of Kabir's recorded verses are in Hindi. His lyrics are characterised by a free use of the vernacular, and is unfettered by the grammatical bonds of his day. It is this quality which has made his philosophy accessible to generations of Indians. Sant Kabir believed in the Vedantic concepts of atman. He always advocated the Impersonal Aspect of God (Nirguna) and therefore, was against idol worship. As per his view, all human beings are equal and the societal caste system that is so widely prevalent in our country is fallacious. He said that true guru is the one who can be attained through direct experience. The common ways of realizing God, like chanting, austerities, etc, are worthless. KABIR KE DOHE The hallmark of Kabir's works consists of his two line couplets, known as the 'Kabir ke Dohe'. The Dohas reflect the deep philosophical thinking of the poet saint. Kabir composed no systematic treatise, rather his work consists of many short didactic poems, often expressed in terse vigorous language in the form of Padas, Dohas, and Ramainis (forms of poetry in Indian languages). Kabir has written much poetry and song. All of Kabir's recorded verses are in Hindi. His lyrics are characterised by a free use of the vernacular, and is unfettered by the grammatical bonds of his day. Another beauty of Kabir's poetry is that he picks up situations that surround our daily lives. Thus, even today, Kabir's poetry is relevant and helpful in both social and spiritual context. Following Kabir means understanding one's inner self, realizing oneself, accepting oneself as is, and becoming harmonious with one's surroundings. It is this quality which has made his philosophy accessible to generations of Indians. Are you looking for me? I am in the next seat. My shoulder is against yours. you will not find me in the stupas, not in Indian shrine, rooms, nor in synagogues, nor in cathedrals: not in masses, nor kirtans, not in legs winding around your own neck, nor in eating nothing but vegetables. When you really look for me, you will see me instantly -- you will find me in the tiniest house of time. Kabir says: Student, tell me, what is God? He is the breath inside the breath.