Kabir and the Indian Constitution

Zile Singh  (Ambassador Ret’d)

SATGURU KABIR SAHEB

AND THE INDIAN CONSTITUTION

Shri Hazur 1008 Ardhnam Saheb, a monk who studied at the Banaras Hindu University and obtained his Shastri and Sanskrit Philosophy degrees previously known as Vijay Das, was appointed in 2007 as the eighteenth Acharya of Satguru Prakatya Dham, Kabir Bagh, Varanasi. Shri Hazur Saheb visited Surrey from August 24 to September 2, 2017. He delivered three Parvachans at the Kabir Association Canada situated at 14473, 58 Avenue Surrey. Dr. J. Das, President, Kabir Association, invited me for one of the Parvachans on August 24. For me it was an opportunity to listen to the teachings of Sadguru Kabir Saheb. Kabir’s teachings are evergreen and very much relevant even today. I spoke on “Satguru Kabir Saheb and the Indian Constitution” a subject somewhat new and unknown to many.

The Constitution describes India as a secular and welfare State and guarantees certain Fundamental Rights to all citizens. The Directive Principles of State Policy further strengthen the concept of a welfare State as they are to be borne in mind while making laws and implementing them. Social welfare and wellbeing of all the citizens are the essence of the Indian Constitution. In this context the teachings of Satguru Kabir Saheb are quite relevant even if these were preached in the 14th. Century. Kabir perceived certain ideals to be the first foot- steps on the path to a welfare state and to eradicate inhuman exploitative practices during that time. He was not only a religious teacher but also a social reformer for Hindu-Muslim unity, equality of caste and gender and, at the same time, a revolutionary against the blind faith in the forms of illogical practices and rituals performed both by the Hindus and the Muslims. To sum up, as an enlightened visionary, he advocated a new social order on the basis of Equality, Liberty and Fraternity.

Dr. Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar, the Chief architect of the Indian Constitution was greatly influenced by the lives and teachings of the Buddha, Kabir and Jyotiba Phule. Dr. Ambedkar was brought up in a family who were the followers of Satguru Kabir. From his childhood Dr. Ambedkar was well aware of the significant role Satguru Kabir played in awakening the consciousness of the ignorant masses. Dr. Ambedkar enshrined the essence of Kabir’s teachings in the Constitution. Kabir’s logic and Ambedkar’s scientific approach are the same. Right to Equality is an important Fundamental Right provided in Articles 14 – 18 of the Constitution. Article 15 states that no person shall be discriminated on the basis of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth.

“Kabira khada bazar mein, sab ki mange khair.
Na kahu se dosti, na kahu se bair.”

Kabir stands in the open market place and impartially wishes the welfare of all. He is neither a friend nor a foe to anyone. All are equal to him. It is worthwhile to note that Kabir is not making a sermon from a temple, mosque or a Dera but from a place easily accessible to everyone. Market is a place frequently visited by all irrespective of religion, caste, gender and social status.

On Equality, Kabir further teaches:

Awal Allaah noor Upaaya Kudrat ke sab bande.
Ek noor te sab jag upjaya, kaun bhale kaun mande.

Kabir logically emphasized that everyone is the creation of God. All are equal to Him. The division and classification of the society is man made and is in violation of the Law of the Supreme. How beautifully Kabir said on gender equality: Nari ninda na karo, nari ratan ki khaan. Nari se nar hot hai, Dhruv, Prahlad samaan.

Further the Constitution enumerates the Right to Liberty. Kabir, throughout his life, practiced the liberty of thought, expression and profession. He took the liberty to exhort both the Hindus and the Muslims about their way of worship:

Pathar puje Ram mile, to mein puju pahar.
Tate chakki bhali, pees khai sansar.
Also: Kankar pathar jor ke, masjid lai banai.
Uppar chad mulla bang de, bahra hua khudai?

Kabir loved his profession, thought to be low, till his last.

How beautifully Kabir Saheb described Fraternity (Prem: love) in his following Dohas:

“ Poothi padh padh jag mua, Pandit bhayo na koye
Dhai aakhar prem ke, jo padhe so pandit hoye.”

“ Kabir yeh ghar prem ka, khala ka ghar nahin
Sees utaare hath kar, so pasey ghar mahin”

Reading and writing do not make any one wise, but love, harmony and tolerance are required to be wise. This land is a house of love. It is not your Aunt’s house. Only those who have dropped hatred and ill-will can stay here. Fraternity among all citizens is required. It is an attitude of respect and reverence towards all human beings. In her book ‘A Weaver Named Kabir’ Professor Charlotte Vaudeville stated, “Kabir is one of the best-known and most revered names in Indian tradition. From the Panjab to Bengal and from the Himalayan frontiers to South India, he has long been hailed by Hindus and Muslims alike as a great mystic and bold religious reformer….In Indian religious history, Kabir is unique: to the Hindus, he is a Vaishnava bhakta, to the Muslims a pir, to the Sikhs a bhagat, to the sectarian Kabir-panthis an avatar of the Supreme Being; to modern patriots, Kabir is the champion of Hindu-Muslim unity, to neo-vedantins a promoter of the Universal Religion or the Religion of Man…” He was, as he once said himself, the son of Allah and of Ram.

Zile Singh
Ambassador (Retd.)

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *