The rest day at Mysore was well utilized by the walkers to catch up on their sleep—replenishing supplies, exploring the city and routine chores like doing their laundry. Karnataka is one of the southern states where New Year’s day, also known as Ugadi, is celebrated around this time of the year. This year, Ugadi is being celebrated on 21st March, which is also a public holiday. The cultural city was getting spruced up for the celebrations. The market place was piled up with neem leaves with its flowers and mango leaves. Flower sellers were having a heyday with brisk sales of marigold and jasmine for the puja the next day.
With only a press conference lined up for Sri M, there was no other program scheduled for the yatris during the day.The walkers congregated at the Jaganmohan Palace auditorium, the same venue as yesterday. The program read ‘Kabir Naman’ – a talk on Kabir by Sri M and then a musical recital of Kabir subsequently. Sri M began his address with salutations to the Guru:
“Gurur-Brahmaa Gurur-Vishnnuh Gururdevo Maheshvarah,
Gurureva Param Brahma Tasmai Shree-Gurave Namah "
The Guru is Brahma, the Guru is Vishnu, the Guru Deva is Maheswara (Shiva),
The Guru is Verily the Para-Brahman (Supreme Brahman); Salutations to that Guru.
And Lokah Samasta Sukinoh Bhavanti… May the entire world be happy.
Sri M said, “We have one rest day in Mysore, and I was hoping to listen to Prahlad Tipanyaji. However, I have been asked to say a few words about Kabir Das. It is very difficult indeed to say only a few words about him. Considering the time and occasion, I will have to put it in a concise manner. It is especially important because this Manav Ekta was also very close to Kabir's heart.”
“In the fifteenth century or so, there lived a weaver in Benaras. Kashi is famous for so many things and so many great people, even the Buddha had to pass through Kashi before going to Gaya. It is an ancient city, actually nobody knows how old the city is, and perhaps it is one of the oldest cities in the world. Ganges flows majestically, or at least used to flow majestically before they started dumping things in it. I am glad someone is trying to clean it.”
“Now, Benares has it’s own specialty, despite the dirt and the dust and the dead bodies. The core of Benares is very special. In that city, was born a boy in the family of weavers. This is also very significant - this weaving is quite metaphorical. You can weave a beautiful story. It denotes a coming together of different kinds of threads to make a cloth - it may be beautiful, wonderful, decorative, simple. So he was born in a family of a weaver and the name given to him was Kabir.”
“In Arabic, Kabir was one of the ninety-nine names of God. Now, he was born in such a humble family that there was nothing majestic about it. Humble circumstances and being majestic are not two separate things. There was a great person who said that 'poverty is my pride'. Kabir lived like anybody else but his heart from youth was turned in the direction of finding the Truth.”
“So, sometimes, he called the truth Ram, sometimes he called the truth, Hari. He gave various names to the Ultimate Supreme Truth, which is all pervading. In the language of the Upanishads,‘Isha Vasyam idam sarvam, yat kincha jagatyam jagat, tena tyaktena bhunjitha, ma gridhah kasya svid dhana’. Translated, it means – ‘Whatever is here is pervaded by the Supreme. Surrendering to that Supreme, enjoy. Do not covet anyone’s riches’. He sang these songs and many of them have still survived. We must thank the Sikhs for having compiled many of these dohas in their holy book, The Granth Sahib.”
“His journey started with the understanding that people have to live together as one because the reality is one. In some way, I am doing what is left undone. Now, the story is that being from a weaver family, there was no Guru who was ready to accept Kabir. So, he searched and he realised that Ramananda who lived in Benares was a great sage and a spiritual teacher. He, however, could not approach him directly and ask. The story goes that one day knowing that Ramananda came down to Ganga to have a bath, Kabir lay down on one of the steps on the path, leading to the river. Swami Ramananda, while climbing down, tripped on Kabir lying there and fell on him. Taken by surprise, Ramananda said, 'Hey Ram, Ram, Ram'.”
“Kabir accepted that as his mantra and continued to practice. I am sure he had other guidance in his meditation because he mentioned the Sushumna Nadi, the Chakras and related things. We do not know who these teachers were. These things could also have come from his innate wisdom, with the practice of devotion. When we chant the mantra of devotion, the Sufis call it ‘zikr’; after some time the mantra chanting becomes automatic. It goes on, whether you are in sleep or if you are awake.”
“There is a story about the great avadhoota, Sadasiva Brahmendra. His father was a strict celibate, even after marriage, and was not planning to have a child. His wife said to him, “This is not fair, you have married and therefore a ‘grihasta’, so having a child is part of our dharma’. He said, ‘I will give you a mantra (which happened to be the Ram mantra), please chant this mantra until it goes on automatically even in your sleep. When you have reached that stage, then tell me, since a holy soul is waiting to come into a pure home. So, she chanted and chanted and came to a stage where the first thing that came to her mind was the mantra. Then, she conceived and the child was born later.”
“Let me ask you this: What is the first thought that comes to your mind when you wake up?” “In the same way, Kabir got this mantra from the great Ramananda, which if practiced, can help you lead a wonderful life, a pure and clear life.”
“A few years before he passed away, something happened. There is a saying that people who die in Kashi would immediately attain Moksha. So, Kabir Das decided to break this rule; he said let us see if this is true. Let us go somewhere else and see if Moksha can be attained. He shifted to a place called Maghar, which is not very far from Gorakhpur. It is where he lived, taught and passed away, and attained Moksha.”
“Another story is when he died, the Muslims claimed that the body was theirs and the Hindus claimed that it was theirs. The story is that before the fight could continue, they lifted the shroud, which covered the dead body, and they found a heap of flowers instead of the dead body. If you go to Maghar, you will find a Kabir Panth Math where they have a Samadhi.You will find a small gate on the compound wall. Open the gate and on the other side, there is small Mazaar, like a Sufi Dargah.”
“This is a model place for someone to visit. It is really interesting. Kabir’s wisdom came out in the form of 'dohas'. If you want to enjoy the beauty of the dohas, or the shlokas that he sang, you should listen to Padma Shri Prahlad Tipaniya ji, who is here. I actually wanted to enjoy his singing today.”
“However, I will recite a few of the dohas that show the open-mindedness and the vast spiritual experience of this great man. One of them is,
Bura jo dekhan main chala, bura na milya koi;
Jo mann khoja apnaa, to mujhse bura naa koi.
I kept searching for the wicked, couldn't find a single one.
When I searched within myself, I found the most wicked one...”
“I think spiritual understanding comes when we understand that we maybe bad, not the other person. We prefer to think that it is the other. Instead, it could be myself.
Jihi ghat prem na sanchare, So ghat jaan masaan, Jaise khaal lohaar ki, saans let binu praan
That human being who has no love in his heart is equal to the bellows of a blacksmith - he may be breathing but he has no life in him. That is the situation of a person who has no love in his heart.”
“Normally, I do not carry notes but we have to be very careful because Prahladji is here.” Sri M remarked humorously.
“Here is something quite interesting, 'Jab mai tha tab hari nahi, ab hari hai to mai nahi'. This says that when I was there, there was no Hari, when Hari is there, I am not. What a beautiful statement. Unless ‘I’ is finished, there cannot be anything. In fact, there is another being called Hara. The meaning of Hara is 'cut'. Keep removing and what is left after that. Shortest cut is to cut the ego.”
“Then, describing a spiritual experience, Kabir said, 'Sab andhera mit gaya, jab deepak dekha'. This means ‘when I saw the light, all darkness vanished’.
Here is something, which reminds me of Kunti's prayer in the Bhagawatam - Dukh Mein Simran Sab Kare, Sukh Mein Kare Na Koye, Jo Sukh Mein Simran Kare, Tho Dukh Kahe Ko Hoye. This says that when one has problems, when one is suffering, when you are sorrowful, everyone is thinking of God. When one is happy, one has no time for God. If one thinks of God when he or she is sad, then why would one be sad at all?”
“Now, I give this stage to Tipanyaji—he is one of the foremost Kabir singers and I am thankful that he is here. He has travelled widely and he performs in his own style, which is down to earth and nice.”
“Om shanti shanti shanti.Thank you very much.”
Following this, Prahlad Tipanya, a Kabir panthi, introduced Kabir saying that Kabir is not a person, but a movement, a flowing current. He sang for an hour, introducing each song and the songs interspersed with situational interpretations in his rustic Malwi Hindi. It was a beautiful recital and the audience thoroughly enjoyed it.
Padma Shri Prahlad Tipaniya is one of the most compelling folk singers of Kabir in India today who combines singing and explanation of Kabir bhajans in the Malwi folk style from Madhya Pradesh.
After his performance, the crowd dispersed. The padayatris walked back to their lodging house adjacent to the Palace auditorium and retired for the night after dinner.
Padma Shri Prahlad Tipaniya's concert at the Flag-off ceremony of Walk of Hope 2015-16