Alakh Elahi ek hai, nam darya do
Ram Rahim ek hai, naam darya do
Krishna Karim ek hai, naam darya do
Kashi Kaba ek hai, ek Ram Rahim
Alakh (the Invisible) and Elahi (the Lord) are one, with two names
Ram and Rahim are one, with two names
Krishna and Karim are one, with two names
Kashi and Kaaba are but one, with two names.
That’s how inconspicuously Kabir entered my life — as this song my mother often sang. In the years since, the 15th-century poet-seer has remained a constant, always in the background but permeating the spirit like the air around me. Kabir weaved himself in quite easily into the open, boundary-less fabric of our house, forged by two humanist grandparents.
At a time when the traditional Indian society was largely conservative when it came to mainstream Hindu and Muslim faiths, Kabir, an unlettered weaver, declared that Kashi and Kaaba, the two holiest pilgrimages for the Hindus and Muslims respectively, were actually one, only called by different names. So were Ram and Rahim, Krishna and Karim—Hindu and Islamic deities.
The refrain continued through school, only the words changed, like in the case of Ram and Rahim.
Tum Ram kaho, woh Rahim kahen
Dono ki garaz Allah se hai
You say Ram, they say Rahim
Both are concerned with Allah
The reason Kabir, despite erasing the man-made lines between religions and sects (he denounces most of them in his songs and couplets or dohas), continues to make his presence felt is precisely because of that. Deep within we all realize we are one, free, unbound. We realize there’s no sense to all the carnage that goes on in the name of religion.
Is ghat antar baag bagiche
Isi mein sirjanhara
WITHIN this earthen vessel are bowers and groves, and within it is the Creator.
(Translation: Rabindranath Tagore)
Within this vessel are the seven oceans and the unnumbered stars.
The touchstone and the jewel-appraiser are within;
And within this vessel the Eternal soundeth, and the spring wells up.
Kabîr says: “Listen tome, my Friend! My beloved Lord is within.”
Haman hai ishq mastana
Haman ko hoshiyari kya
Rahen azad ya jag mein
Haman duniya se yaari kya
I am bursting with love,
Why do I need to be careful?
Being free in the world,
What of the world’s friendship do I need?
Ud Jayega Huns Akela,
Jug Darshan Ka Mela
Jaise Paat Gire Taruvar Se,
Milna Bahut Duhela
Naa Jane Kidhar Girega,
Lageya Pawan Ka Rela
Jub Howe Umur Puri,
Jab Chute Ga Hukum Huzuri
Jum Ke Doot Bade Mazboot,
Jum Se Pada Jhamela
Das Kabir Har Ke Gun Gawe,
Wah Har Ko Paran Pawe
Guru Ki Karni Guru Jayega,
Chele Ki Karni Chela
The Swan will fly away all alone,
Spectacle of the world will be a mere fair
As the leaf that falls from the tree
Is difficult to find
Who knows where it will fall
Once it is struck with a gust of wind
When life span is complete
Then listening to orders, following others will be over
The messengers of Yama are very strong
It’s an entanglement with Yama
Servant Kabir Praises the attributes of the Lord
He finds the Lord soon
Guru will go according to his doings
The disciple according to his.
Yama = The God of death in Hindu mythology.