Songs of Kabir

Kabir

Kabir

Last week the Pandit in our mandir told me of a poem by Kabir, a 15th century Indian saint. I later found the poem online (in both Hindi and an English Translation). The poems of Kabir are symbolic, using the imagery of a lover to represent God. A similar type of symbolism is used in the Song of Songs in the Jewish Tanakh/Christian Old Testament.

Our Pandit drew my attention to the last two lines of the following verse:

In dream came my consort,
in sleep I made contact
Scared I open not my eyes,
lest the dream gets lost
Wise is my consort,
writes so in my heart
Fearful, I drink not,
lest the message gets washed
Enter in my eyes,
I may absorb you with eyelids dropped
Neither shall I see anyone,
nor let you see anyone else.

Now for our Pandit to point something like that out to me there must be some special significance, either to me or to someone who I pass the post on to. The first of the two lines I could understand easily; after Seeing God Kabir wants to keep his eyes closed so as not to lose the image and see anyone else. The second of the lines was more difficult for me to understand. At first it seemed like being jealous of God, wanting to keep God to yourself. After some thought I wondered if it was a reference to non-duality, that on realizing God there is only you and Shiva, and ultimately only Shiva. This seemed too contrived somehow, like I was trying too hard to intellectualise  and missing the real point.

I asked some online friends about what they thought of this verse and its meaning. One of them told me that Kabir and Meerabai’s songs are devotional where they refer God as their consort and here in this poem Kabir refers him as ” Sayeen”. An alternative translation of this verse ends:

My Sayeen is very wise, who writes in my heart. I will not drink water with the fear that message might get washed.

Come inside my eyes, I will capture you in my eyes, I will not see anyone else and will not let anyone else see you.

On reading this I think I have a better understanding. This is about God as a personal God, Shiva as the Parameshvara. As well as being transcendent, God is personal to each of us. As Dancing with Shiva (part of the Himalayan Academy Master Course) says:

God Siva is a one being, yet we understand Him in three perfections: Absolute Reality, Pure Consciousness and Primal Soul. As Absolute Reality, Siva is unmanifest, unchanging and transcendent, the Self God, timeless, formless and spaceless. As Pure Consciousness, Siva is the manifest primal substance, pure love and light flowing through all form, existing everywhere in time and space as infinite intelligence and power. As Primal Soul, Siva is the five-fold manifestation: Brahma, the creator; Vishnu, the preserver; Rudra, the destroyer; Maheshvara, the veiling Lord, and Sadashiva, the revealer. He is our personal Lord, source of all three worlds. Our divine Father-Mother protects, nurtures and guides us…

I think that as well as this understanding of the poem an equally important lesson for me has been the sharing it. After thinking about the meaning for a week I asked other “Master Course” students what they thought. This let me see it from different viewpoints, letting me see much more in it. Also from the comments I received I think they enjoyed it too.

Aum Namah Shivaya!

My Sayeen is very wise, who writes in my heart. I will not drink water with
the fear that message might get washed.

Come inside my eyes, I will capture you in my eyes, I will not see anyone
else and will not let anyone else see you.

One response to “Songs of Kabir

  1. That Kabir poem is so mystical and profound. I have to read it back a number of times before I could appreciate it essence. You must have had an insightful discussion with students when you have talked about this.

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