Kabir

Kabir was a much revered 15th century Indian mystic poet and saint.

Updated: June 16, 2022

Kabir was a much revered 15th century Indian mystic poet and saint. His writings, according to some scholars, influenced Hinduism's Bhakti movement. Kabir's verses are found in Sikhism's scripture Guru Granth Sahib. His most famous writings include his dohas or couplets. 


It is believed that he was spiritually inclined from a young age and grew up to be critical of both Hinduism and Islam. He was associated with the Sant Mat, a group of teachers that assumed prominence in the northern part of the Indian sub-continent from about the 13th century. One of the Sant Mat sects is the Kabir Panth, a religious community that recognizes him as its founder. He was born on 1440 and died on 1518.


Childhood of Kabir:

Kabir was born to a Brahmin unwed mother in Varanasi by immaculate-conception who then abandoned the newborn infant. A childless Muslim couple is said to have adopted the baby and raised him as their own. 


Family of Kabir:

According to some traditional legends, Kabir led a life of celibacy and never married. However, other sources suggest that he was likely married to a woman called Dhania and had at least two children: a son named Kamal and a daughter named Kamali. 


Some facts about Kabir:

  • Kabir grew up to be a spiritually inclined young man and is widely believed to have become a disciple of the Bhakti poet-sant Swami Ramananda in Varanasi.
  • He was strictly against the rituals and meaningless practices of organized religions.
  • According to him all life is an interplay of two spiritual principles. One is the personal soul (Jivatma) and the other is God (Paramatma), and salvation is the process of bringing into union these two divine principles.
  • His poems were in vernacular Hindi, written in an earthy style, replete with imagery. There were elements borrowed from various dialects including Avadhi, Braj, and Bhojpuri in his writings.
  • His verses, mostly in the form of songs called padas and rhymed couplets called dohas covered various aspects of life and call for a life of righteousness spent in the loving devotion of God.
  • His verbally composed poems of wisdom were called 'banis' (utterances).
  • The poems which he verbally composed in the 15th century were transmitted viva voce through the 17th century.
  • One of the most popular collections of his works, 'Kabir Bijak' was compiled and written down for the first time in the 17th century.
  • Other literary works with compositions attributed to Kabir include 'Kabir Parachai', 'Sakhi Granth', 'Adi Granth' (Sikh), and 'Kabir Granthawali' (Rajasthan). Different versions of these works exist.
  • Following the great saint's death, his followers carried forward his legacy by forming the Kabir Panth as a sect of Sant Mat. The Kabir Panth recognizes him as its founder and the followers observe sanctity and purity in their daily lives and behavior as taught by Kabir.
  • The Bijak is one of the most sacred books of the Kabir Panth sect.



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