Kabir strove to create a spirit of harmony between the Hindus and Muslims. His early life is shrouded in mystery. He lived either towards the close of the fourteen century A.D. or in the beginning of the 15th. It is said that he was born of a Hindu widow, who left him on the embankment of a tank in Benaras and that he was then found and adopted by a Muslim weaver named Niru. When he grew up he became disciple of Ramananda. He did not leave his home. He was a pious householder and used to earn his livelihood by weaving clothes.
His Teachings :
The central teachings of Kabir are very simple. (1) He laid stress ‘Bhakti’. (2) He said that through Bhakti or devotion one would come nearer to God; one could be released from the cycle of birth and death only by sincere love and devotion to God, which he called Bhakti.
(3) He sincerely tried to emphasise the unity of Islam and Hinduism by preaching those virtues which were common to both religions.
(4) He made no distinction between Hindus and Muslims.
(5) To Kabir Allah and Rama were but different names of the same supreme being. To him Hindus and Muslims were “pots of the same clay”.
(6) According to Kabir salvation could be attained by doing good deeds or by means of Bhakti or sincere devotion to God.
Against Idol Worship :
He did not believe in idol worship. He was also against the performance of rituals and superstitions or pilgrimage to the so called holy places.
Against the Caste System :
Kabir denounced the caste system. He said that there should be no discrimination on the basis of caste. He rejected the authority of both the Veda and the Koran. He laid great emphasis on the equality of a men. He preached a religion of love which aimed at promoting unity amongst all castes and creeds.
He was full of humility and the first saint to reconcile Hinduism and Islam. Kabir’s teachings are contained in his Dohas. The devotional songs or ‘bhajans’ of Kabir called Kabir Doha. Those Dohas are in the form of short poems in the Bijaka, sacred book of the Kabir Panthis, the followers of Kabir.
Kabir was a firm believer in the unity of God. He preached his teachings among the people in Hindi. His devotional bhajans or Dohas appealed most to the common men, Hindus as well Muslims.
The message and the teachings of Kabir can be easily gathered from his ‘Dohas1, which criticise rituals and superstitions. Kabir said : “If by worshipping stones one can find God, I shall worship a mountain.”
If by immersion in the water salvation be attained, the frogs who bathe continually would attain it. As the frogs, so are these men, again and again fall into the womb”.
He was a bold preacher. He said this to the Hindus and Muslims :
“If God be within the mosque, then to whom does this world belong ?”
To Kabir, Hari does not exist in the east and nor Allah in the west. They are one and reside inside the human heart. He advised everyone to seek truth within their own hearts.
Kabir condemned pride and selfishness. He wanted man to give up pride, anger, enmity and ego. He appreciated brotherhood, which ultimately directed towards reaching the main objectives : “Love of God” and “Love of humanity”.
Kabir died at Maghar in the district of Gorakhapur of the present day U.P. in A.D. 1518.