|Sacred Space: Yogis, Siddhas, Gurus
Kabir Sahib -Weaver Saint of Benares
Kabir Sahib, otherwise known as "The weaver Saint of Benares", lived in Northern India between the years 1380 and 1460. He is considered by many to be one of the greatest mystics of all times. His verses, hymns and compositions are almost universally known in India, where they are sung with great love and devotion to this day. He was extremely outspoken in his opposition to the folly and futility of the external religious practices adopted by both Hindus and Muslims. Despite that, he was revered and respected by the followers of both faiths.
Masters & Sages|
He was held in high esteem by his contemporaries and two of his disciples were Raja Vir Singh and Shah Ibrahim Adham, king of Bokhara. The later, keen on his spiritual search, learnt about Kabir at Kashi. Being accepted as one of Kabir's disciples was not, however, an easy task for the king, who repeatedly begged Kabir for the invaluable gift of Initiation. In the beginning, Kabir was reluctant to grant that boom, because he was very conscious of the fact that, as a monarch, Ibrahim would have a great sense of self-importance, and this trait is not desirable in a person who intends to tread the Spiritual Path. So, he turned down his repeated requests. Finally, Kabir agreed to initiate the King on the condition that he would consent to work for him as a servant. Can you imagine the pride the king must have had to swallow in order to agree to be the servant of a poor weaver? But the king's thirst for knowledge was such that he agreed to such a condition. After six years of performing menial tasks, Kabir put the king to a test, intended to establish if he had lost his self-importance. The king failed the test miserably. Kabir then decided that the King was still not humble enough to deserve the boon of initiation, so he prolonged the probation period by another six years. After that, the King was finally initiated into the Royal Path of God realization.
In history, the case of the king of Bokhara is an example of acquired humility. Two other notable examples are those of Raja Pipa, a wealthy Rajput monarch, and Mira Bai, a princess of royal blood, who were both disciples of Ravidas, a humble cobbler.
Kabir attributed such great importance to humility for one who is in search of God that once he said that no price would be high enough to know the Ultimate Reality-not even that of cutting off one's own head in order to offer it on a silver platter at the feet of the master (This is the colorful description used by Kabir to depict the ultimate offering of a truth seeker; indicating that, in order to know God, we would have to sacrifice our pride; our fictitious identity; our sense or self-importance; our Ego).
Kabir was a Mystic of the highest order. As it is the case with all such mystics, he advocated vegetarianism, celibacy, the practice of meditation and the necessity of being initiated by a Perfect living Saint, as unavoidable requirements for achieving real spiritual evolution. He belonged to that rare breed of entities also known as Masters, Mystics, Prophets, Saints, Gurus, Fakirs, Murshids, Sheikhs, Messiahs, Dervishes, Zaddiks, etc. They are all direct incarnations of the Supreme Being. They have first-hand knowledge of reality, and can impart such wisdom to anyone of their choosing. They all exalt the virtues and importance of the primordial energy of creation-The dynamic form of God; the most precious commodity available anywhere. This entity has been referred to as Word, Holy Spirit, Holy Ghost, Audible Life Stream, Music of the Spheres, Heavenly Music, Music of Silence, Living Water, Creative Energy, Manna from Heaven, Philosopher's Stone (the elusive dream of the alchemists), Shabd, Nam, Logos, Truth, Kalma, Tao, Conscious Energy, and many other terms. Nobody can really describe it adequately.
The elevated beings cited above are always present in this world. However, they are not here to create new religions, nor to establish new political, social or economic orders. Furthermore, they are not here to wash the sins of humanity (as it is believed by the followers of certain religions. The fact that all of us are here is proof that our sins have never been washed); they do so only for their direct disciples. They repeatedly come here with only two missions-that of shedding light on the intended ultimate destiny of man, and that of gathering their allotted souls (the limited number of humans referred to in the Bible as "The Chosen Ones") in order to initiate them. After attracting such souls to themselves by mysterious and wondrous means, they initiate them, instruct them on the spiritual path, before they merge back into the infinite Ocean of Spirituality, whence they came. After initiation has taken place, it hardly matters if the disciple and/or the Master die, because the link established at the time of Initiation is eternal and indissoluble. It creates such an attachment between the two entities, that is capable of gradually detaching the disciples from all worldly ties, enabling their souls to ascend to higher regions, merge into the Master, and ultimately into God. That is the only way the Ultimate Reality can be realized.
The spiritual path most praised by mystics is known by various names, such as-The Path of the Masters, El Camino Real (the Royal Way), The Perennial Philosophy, the Tao Philosophy, the Yoga of the Audible Life Stream, Santon ki Shik-sha, Surat-Shabd Yoga, Sultan-ul-Azkar, Ism-I-Azam, the Science of the Soul and many others. No higher path exists. On this path, there are no failures. Every soul that has been initiated by a perfect living master will, in due time, inevitably rise to the highest level of creation. The only requirement is that the master should be a mystic of the highest order; that both master and disciple should be present in this world at the same time; and that the disciple agrees to do his/her best in order to follow the directions of the Divine Preceptor
All mystics lay great emphasis on one of the most important aspects of spirituality, namely-that past masters cannot help humans in any way, since they are no longer connected to this world; only living masters can do so. To corroborate such statements, we would like to mention two quotations, both from the New Testament, and both attributed to Christ. Here they are-"As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world". And again -" I can work only while it is day (while I am alive) (because), when night comes (after death), nobody can work".
The gist of the highest spiritual path is that the disciple must succeed in achieving two essential objectives-consciously separate the mind and the soul from the physical body through the practice of the right kind of meditation (which is known as "Dying while living"); and, subsequently, separate the soul from the mind (which is known as Self-Realization.) Only the successful completion of these two tasks will assure liberation, i.e. final and permanent immunity from the painful curse of rebirth.
Image of painting courtesy: Benito De Donno
Editor: Romola Butalia   (c) India Travelogue. All rights reserved.
Header design & Photo Credit: Alok Johri