Kabir Das was a famous Indian poet of the 15th century. Kabir’s religion was a mixture of different ideas, he, like his guru Ramanand, combined the three religions of Hinduism, Islam and Christianity to preach to God. The simplicity of his work is a symbol of his greatness and is relevant till date. He was criticized for his critical evaluation of religions, but Kabir continued to spread the work of the divine and his work influenced many texts like Adi Granth. Even after taking his last breath in 1518, his legacy survives as “Kabirpanth”.
The 15th century saw Kabir as a mystic Sufi poet and saint who had an influence on religion, society and political philosophy whose impact remains visible till date.
It is believed that he was born in a weaver family, due to different information about his birth, various views have often been placed between Hindus and Muslims regarding his identity. The most famous poet and most prolific writer in India, Kabir composed influential poems during his life period 1498-1518 AD which had an impact on the Bhakti movement and his verses are also mentioned in the Adi Granth of Sikhism.
Kabir became a disciple of Bhakti era poet and saint Swami Ramanand (a man whose goal was to mix the principles of Islam, Christianity and Brahmanism), so Kabir’s poems are a reflection of his master’s ideas and style. The imaginary signifies the recognition of the vernacular. Local language has been used in the style, Hindi, period, Braj and Bhojpuri dialects have been used in poems focusing on the characteristics of life and reverence for God.
Kabir’s poems express the community dynamics and rational thinking of the time. His philosophical assessment of life has given today’s generation access to liberal ideas. Their synthesis has become the main source of both cultures including Hinduism and Islam and Sikhism. He is known for criticizing Hindu and Islam religions and their meaningless traditions and customs, claiming that both religions have misinterpreted the Vedas and Quran respectively and ignored the essence of life. He has suggested that the right way to live is through the path of religion, all people are reflections of God and therefore all are equal, he preached the mantra of Rama-Rama to understand and contemplate God. While critically assessing both religions (Hindu and Islam), Kabir fought for his views, although he was threatened by both sects, he welcomed it and thanked him for taking him closer to God.
Kabir united Jeevatma and Parmatma in basic religious principles and according to their opinion, salvation can be achieved only with the unity of these two. The oral poems of wisdom, composed by Kabir, were called “Vani” by his followers, which contained couplets, verses, and was considered proof of reality. Kabir’s legacy was kept alive through Kabirpanth which was recognized by the religious sects and its members which are known as Kabirpanthi.
His literary works are Kabir Bijak, Kabir Pardhai, Adi Granth, Adi Granth and Kabir Bibliography.
Eternally in his work there is a spontaneity of symbolism of religions with expressions and metaphors of mystical spirit and pervasive beliefs. However, Kabir was criticized for his statements towards women in his couplet. It has been argued that Kabir’s poems have a double interpretation and hence there can be difference among them.
Kabir spent much of his life time in Varanasi and it is reported that Varanasi was the center of influence of the vast Hindu priests, he was criticized for underestimating traditional practices. He was expelled from Varanasi at the age of about 60 in 1495 AD, after which he moved with his followers towards northern India and lived a life of exile. According to the information received, he took his last breath in Maghar near Gorakhpur in 1518 AD.
Like his birth, his death was surrounded by many controversies, while some believed that Kabir was the son of a Brahmin who was adopted by a childless Muslim couple, the general opinion is that he was born into a Muslim family. Due to the propagation of the best ideas of both religions, there was a debate among his followers about his funeral. According to mythology, flowers were found on his dead body and Muslims buried the same flowers while Hindus cremated those flowers.