Kabir, the most radical disciple of Ramananda, gave a positive shape to the social philosophy of his illustrious teacher. In his trenchant arguments against the barrier of castes, Ramananda prepared the way for Kabir.
The later made a sincere attempt at a religious and national synthesis out of conflicting creeds. Kabir was neither a theologian nor a philosopher. He appears before us as a teacher, he had the courage to condemn what he considered to be sham and counterfeit in both Hinduism and Islam.
The central theme of Kabir’s teaching is bhakti “Kabir refused to acknowledge caste distinction or to recognize the authority of the six schools of Hindu philosophy, or the four divisions of life prescribed by the Brahmans.
He held that religion without bhakti was no religion at all and that asceticism, fasting and alms-giving had no value if unaccompanied by bhajan (devotional worship)”. By means of ramaini, sakhas and sakhis he imparted religious instruction to Hindus and Muslims alike. He had no perference for either religion.
He thought aloud and never made it his object merely to please his hearers. He thoroughly scrutinized the bases of ritualism. He incessantly fought to remove the ritualistic superstitions like visiting places of pilgrimage.
Kabir was a great satirist and ridiculed all the institutions of his time. He opposed the popular belief in the institution of sati. He was equally against the veiling of women. Kabir refused to recognize the superiority of Brahmins as a class.
He refused to believe that birth in a particular caste was due to the deeds in a previous life. He advocated perfect equality of Shudras and Brahmins. Both Shudras and Brahmins were born in the same way, he said.
Kabir provides us with a code of ethics; he condemned pride and selfishness and advocated the cultivation of the quality of humility. Kabir was a spokesman for the poor and downtrodden section of society.
He condemned the sense of humility and simplicity of the poor as well as the vanity and pride of the rich. By such condemnations, Kabir preached the common brotherhood of man and sought to remove the distinction between Hindus and the Muslims.
Though he led a religious life, Kabir married, and it is said that the name of his wife was Loi. His son Kamal was both a thinker and a devotee.
When, after his father’s death, he was requested to organize a sect in his father’s name, he answered, ‘My father had striven throughout his life against all forms of sectarianisn; how can I, his son, destroy his ideal and thereby commit his spiritual murder?’ This remark estranged many of Kabir’s disciples from Kamal.
After Kabir’s death, his Muslim disciples organized themselves in Maghar, where they founded a monastery; his Hindu disciples were organized into an order by Surat Gopala, with their centre in Varanasi.
The chief scripture of this sect is the well-known Bijak a compilation of Kabir’s couplets. In course of time, this centre leaned more and more towords Vedantic doctrines.
Kabir believed in a simple and natural life, He himself wove cloth and sold it in the market like any ordinary weaver. He did not interpret religious life as a life of idleness; he held that all should toil and earn and help each other, but none should hoard money. There is no fear of corruption from wealth, if it is kept constantly in circulation in the service of humanity.
Kabir tried to express simple thoughts of a simple hearts in the common language of the people. He said, ‘O Kabir, Sanskrit is the water in a well, the language of the people is the flowing stream’. His simple words had infinite power.