2017/06/28

Kabir - Inside Out & The Temple

If God is within the mosque, who is without?
If Ram is the object of your pilgrimage,
who journeys with you? Are the devout
reward only by place and image?
Hari is in the east you claim. To find
Allah go west. Yet if Karim and Ram
exist, don’t seek an answer on the wind,
it’s only in your hearts you'll find that calm.
All men and women living on the earth
are children of Allah & Ram. I, Kabir
am but one of many who have found rebirth:
within my heart the Guru speaks, my Pir.
Bk3:2. #69 in Tagore’s translation MMS 5/12/2010

The Temple
In the temple of this life
Honour your inward focus.
’Twas already late when daylight awoke us,
Don’t wait for the arrival of night.
Your lover has patiently waited for ages,
Alert from the very first light,
Standing outside your door to catch sight
Of you: don’t deny wages
To one who asks only a sign from your heart.
Give ear to the inaudible song
Whose lyrical tune you have known all along
Yet requires your assent for its start.
The melody’s hidden from every ear
That is closed to the feelings of love:
It comes from the highest of heavens above
To bring rapture to all who can hear.

Bk3:96. #86 in Tagore’s translation MMS 13/1/2011

Kabir (1440-1518) was a mystic poet of Islamic origin, who reached enlightenment under Ramananda. the saint of the S Indian bhakti (heart worship) movement. He went to live in the holy city of Benares where he worked as a weaver, arousing hostility from the orthodox Hindu priesthood by teaching his followers to ignore the rituals of temple worship in favour of openness of heart. Kabir was a considerable influence on the emergent Sikh movement.
I became interested in the meanings behind the translations made by Rabindranath Tagore and Kshiti Mohan Sen first published by Evelyn Underhill in 1915. These are, if I may so, distinctly prosaic; and as clarity of rhyme and metre are almost invariably the hallmark of mystical or epic poetry I wanted to rediscover what these poems might originally have felt like.

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