KABIR , the most notable of the Vaishnava reformers ofreligion in
See also:northern India, who flourished during the first
See also:half of the 15th century . He is counted as one of the twelve disciples of Ramanand, the
See also:great preacher in the
See also:north (about A.D . 1400) of the
See also:doctrine of bhakti addressed to Rama, which originated with Ramanuja (12th century) in
See also:southern India . He himself also mentions among his spiritual forerunners Jaideo and Namdeo (or Nama) the earliest
See also:Marathi poet (both about 1250) .
See also:Legend relates that Kabir was the son of a
See also:Brahman widow, by whom he was exposed, and was found on a
See also:lotus in Lahar Talk), a pond near
See also:Benares, by a Musalman
See also:weaver named `All (or Nuri), who with his wife Nima adopted him and brought him there is My abode."3 The distinctions of creeds are declared to be of no importance in the presence of
See also:God: " The city of Hara' is to the east, that of '
See also:Ali 5 is to the west; but explore your own heart, for there are both Rama and Karim;" 8 " Behold but One in all things: it is the second that leads you astray . Every man and woman that has ever been
See also:born is of the same nature as yourself . He, whose is the
See also:world, and whose are the
See also:children of 'Ali and Rama, He is my Guru, He is my Pir." He proclaims the universal brotherhood of man, and the
See also:duty of kindness to all living creatures .
See also:Life is the
See also:gift of God, and must not be violated; the shedding of
See also:blood, whether of man or animals, is a heinous
See also:crime . The followers of Kabir do not observe celibacy, and live quiet unostentatious lives;
See also:Wilson (p . 97) compares them to
See also:Quakers for their hatred of violence and unobtrusive piety . The resemblance of many of Kabir's utterances to those of Christ, and especially to the ideas set forth in St
See also:gospel, is very striking; still more so is the existence in the ritual of the
See also:sect of a sacramental
See also:meal, involving the eating of a consecrated
See also:wafer and the drinking of
See also:water administered by the Mahant or spiritual
See also:superior, which bears a remarkable likeness to the Eucharist . Yet, though the deities of
See also:Hinduism and the
See also:prophet of
See also:Islam are frequently mentioned in his sayings, the name of Jesus has nowhere been found in them .
It is conjectured that the doctrine of Ramanand, which came from southern India, has been influenced by theChristian settlements in that region, which go back to very early times . It is also possible that Suflism, the pietistic (as distinguished from the theosophic) forth of which seems to owe much to eastern
See also:Christianity, has contributed some
See also:echo of the Gospel to Kabir's teaching . A third (but scarcely probable) hypothesis is that the sect has borrowed both
See also:maxims and ritual, long after Kabir's own
See also:time, from the teaching of the
See also:Roman Catholic missionaries, who were established at
See also:Agra from the reign of
See also:Akbar (r556–1605) onwards . up in their craft as a Musalman . He lived most of his life at Benares, and afterwards removed to Maghar (or Magahar), in the
See also:district of
See also:Basti, where he is said to have died in 1449 . There appears to be no reason to doubt that he was originally a Musalman and a weaver; his own name and that of his son Kamal are
See also:Mahommedan, not
See also:Hindu . His adhesion to the doctrine of Ramanand is not a solitary instance of the religious
See also:syncretism which prevailed at this time in northern India . The religion of the earlier
See also:Sikh Gurus, which was largely based upon his teaching, also aimed at the
See also:fusion of Hinduism and Islam; and the example of Malik Muhammad,' the author of the Padmawat, who lived a century later than Kabir, shows that the relations between the two creeds were in some cases extremely intimate . It is related that at Kabir's
See also:death the
See also:Hindus and Musalmans each claimed him as an adherent of their faith, and that when his funeral issued forth from his
See also:house at Maghar the contention was only assuaged by the appearance of Kabir himself, who bade them look under the
See also:cloth which covered the
See also:corpse, and immediately vanished . On raising the cloth they found nothing but a heap of
See also:flowers . This was divided between the
See also:rival faiths, half being buried by the Musalmans and the other half burned by the Hindus' Kabir's fame as a preacher of bhakti, or enthusiastic devotion to a
See also:personal God, whom he preferred to
See also:call by the Hindu names of Rama and Hari, is greater than that of any other of the Vaishnava spiritual leaders . His fervent conviction of the truth and power of his doctrine, and the homely and searching expression given to it in his utterances, in the
See also:tongue of the
See also:people and not in a learned language remote from their understanding, won for him multitudes of adherents; and his sect, the Kabirpanthis, is still one of the most numerous in northern India, its numbers exceeding a million .
Its headquarters are the Kabir Chaura at Benares, where are preserved the
See also:works attributed to Kabir (called the
See also:Granth), the greater
See also:part of which, however, were written by his immediate disciples and their followers in his name . Those works which seem to have the best claim to be considered his own compositions are the Sakhis, or stanzas, some 5000 in number, which have a very wide currency even among those who do not formally belong to the sect, and the Shabdawali, consisting of a thousand " words " (shabd), or
See also:short doctrinal expositions . Perhaps some of the Rekhtas, or odes (too in number), and of the Ramainis—brief mystical poems in very obscure language—may also be from his
See also:hand . Of these different forms specimens will be found translated in
See also:Professor H . H . Wilson's
See also:Sketch of the Religious Sects of the Hindus, i . 79-9o . Besides the followers who call them-selves by Kabir's name, there may be reckoned to him many other religious sects which bear that of some intermediate guru or
See also:master, but substantially concur with Kabir in doctrine and practice . Such, for instance, are the Nanakshahis in the
See also:United Provinces, the Central Provinces, and Bombay, and the Dadu-pant his, numerous in
See also:Rajputana (Wilson, loc. cit. pp . 103 sqq.) ; the Sikhs, numbering two and a half millions in the Panjab, are also his spiritual descendants, and their Granth or Scripture is largely stocked with texts
See also:drawn from his works . . Kabir taught the life of bhakti (faith, or personal love and devotion), the
See also:object of which is a personal God, and not a philosophical
See also:abstraction or an impersonal quality-less, all-pervading spiritual substance (as in the Vedanta of Sankaracharya) . His utterances do not, like those of Tulsi Das, dwell upon the incidents of the human life of Rama, whom he takes as his type of the Supreme; nevertheless, it is the essence of his creed that God became incarnate to bring salvation to His children, mankind, and that the human mind of this incarnation still subsists in the Divine
See also:Person .
He proclaims the unity of the Godhead, the vanity of idols, the powerlessness of bra/mans or mullas to
See also:guide or help, and the divine origin of the human soul, divinae particula aurae . All evil in the world is ascribed to
See also:Maya, illusion or false-
See also:hood, and truth in thought, word and deed is enjoined as the chief duty of man: " No
See also:act of devotion can equal truth; no crime is so heinous as falsehood; in the heart where truth abides ' See article HINDOSTANI LITERATURE . 2 An exactly similar
See also:tale is told of Nanak, the first Guru of the Sikhs, who died in 1538 . No critical edition of the writings current under the name of Kabir has yet been published, though collections of his sayings (chiefly the Sdkhis) are constantly appearing from
See also:Indian presses . The reader is referred, for a
See also:summary account of his life and doctrine, to H . H . Wilson's Sketch of the Religious Sects of the Hindus (Works, i . 68 sqq.) . Dr E . Trumpp's edition of the Adi 3ranth (Introduction, pp. xcvii. sqq.) may also be consulted .
See also:Recent publications dealing with the subject are the Rev . G .
See also:Westcott's Kabir and the Kabir Panth (
See also:Cawnpore, 1908), and Mr . M . A . Macauliffe's The Sikh Religion (
See also:Oxford, 1909), Vi . 122-316 . (C . J .
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