Mahfil. v 1, V. 1 ( 1963) p. 19.


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Mahfilo vol. 19 no. 1 19

^hefShe was dead 5 like a corpse,..cold.».cold,like ice.,, give me your hand, Jani,..,1'

Kalwant Kaur placed her hand in Iswar Singh1^ but now..»his hand had turned cold 9 like ice.

SOME NEW TRANSLATIONS OF KABIR Biographical Hole

Kabir — often referred to as the ^Father of Hindi literature" and the ^Luther of India" — was born in 1429 and died at the otge of 1209 in 1549* Except for these dates 9 very few of the details about his life are certain. lie is said to have been a disciple of the religious reformer 5 Ramananda, and taught a doctrine that was influenced by prevalent yogic concepts and by the special teachings of the Nathpanthi yogis 9 representatives of an Indigenous anti-brahmanic religious tradition of great antiquity.

Kabir eschewed the formal religious teachings of Brahmin and Muslin alike, Whether he was 9 in fact 5 a Brahmin^ as the Hindu legend would have it, or a Muslim, as the Muslims believe 5 or whether he was born a Brahmin and died a Muslim 9 are all matter of conjecture,

As a religious teacher 9 Kabir expounded the oneness of God and condemned as hypocritical most of what passed as religious faith in the world of dogmas and rituals. He plied his trade as a weaver while chanting the glories of God under various namess Harl, Ram^ Alloh^ and Gopal, Throughout all of India Kabir is revered as a j3oet and religious teacher. Yet it is difficult to speak of a philosophical system or theological method to which Kabir adhered, Kabir was not a maker of systems or methods 5 at best 9 he was a practical religious teacher and did not preach any systematic theology or philosophy as 9 say 5 Sankara or Ramanuja,

Being an unlettered weaver 9 Kabir did not himself write down any o-r his poetry that has come down to us; instead*, we fairly certain thr-/t his sayings were transcribed by his dis-ciplos sometime during his life or after his death. Many sayings attributed to Labir are obviously interpolations 9 passed on by disciples who may have wished to quote Kabir as the basis for a theological or philosophical point about which 5 in reality 9 Kabir had nothing to say. Such interpolations were meant to cLanje the teachings of Kabir, We see such changes in Kabir's teachings among the Kabirpanthis9 a religious group that claims Kabir as its founder 9 yet which advocates such practices as caste and ritual 9 both of which are in opposition to Labir^ fundamental creed. The principal collection of Labir^s poems 9 froni which the following selections are taken is the k abir .^rant] lavali o ed» Parasinath Tivari, Prayags Hindi Parlshad9 Prayag University Press, 1961.

Translations from the Avadhi are by Charles S. J, White,



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