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Chalti Chakki Dekh Kar, Diya Kabira Roye Dui Paatan Ke Beech Mein,Sabit Bacha Na Koye

Translation
Looking at the grinding stones, Kabir laments In the duel of wheels, nothing stays intact.

My understanding
This doha picks up a situation from our daily life. Kabir watches the woman grinding wheat on the flour mill. I have used the word woman here as generally it is the woman who does this work even today in the rural Indian society. The wheels are made of stone. One is stationary while the other on top is made to rotate by turning it with the help of a handle attached to it. The grain that is put into it gets crushed and the converted flour comes out. Thus the literal translation given above conveys that. (Diya Kabira Roye) Kabir cries out, however, is what makes the reader to contemplate on this Doha and realize for oneself the hidden meaning behind this metaphor. Dui Patan here signifies earth (Prithvi) and sky (Akash) and within the ambit of these is all creation and life as also the manifestation of all natural phenomenon of dualities: day and night, life and death, joys and sorrows, thereby making life forever in motion (Chalti Chakki) and an ever changing process. Trapped in this duality, whatever we see is perishable. Nothing that we comprehend is eternal.

Bura Jo Dekhan Main Chala, Bura Naa Milya Koye Jo Munn Khoja Apnaa, To Mujhse Bura Naa Koye

Translation
I searched for the crooked, met not a single one When searched myself, "I" found the crooked one

My Understanding
This doha deals with our perception behavior and tendencies. It has been invariably noticed that we tend to find fault with someone else for our situations and circumstances. Our "I", the ego, always tries to put blame on others. Nonawareness of our own self is the cause of this attitude. Resultantly, we find ourselves being busy in criticizing and condemning others and conveniently term them as crooked or evil.

So Kabir says that instead of finding fault and maligning others, dive deep into your own-self. Amazingly, an honest introspection will reveal that all fault lies with "me" and "my" own perceptions and attitudes. If there is any evil or crookedness, it is in "me". Correcting this and opting for a loving and compassionate attitude will change one's perceptions and the world will appear wonderful all over again.

Aisee Vani Boliye, Mun Ka Aapa Khoye Apna Tan Sheetal Kare, Auran Ko Sukh Hoye

Translation
Speak such words, sans ego's ploy Body remains composed, giving the listener joy

My Understanding
This doha is a gem. It deals with human psychology, metaphysics and a basic tenet of the Indian philosophy. The ancients of the Vedic literature have laid tremendous emphasis on speech. They have mentioned in innumerable shlokas that our speech has a direct connection with our bodily humors. They proclaimed that sound and sight are the underlying source of all vibrations. This has been scientifically proven over and over again. We know that all sounds create vibrations. And these vibrations affect both the speaker and the listener. Soothing, compassionate and loving words breed togetherness, while harsh speech breeds hatred. And, we also know that human speech is one of the main ingredient that differentiates mankind from the rest of the animal kingdom. Thus, Kabir, in this doha crystallizes the power of the spoken word. He teaches us to speak in such a manner that keeps us harmonious and composed thereby making the listener feel a sense of joy in the communication. Experiment yourself and rediscover the power of the spoken word.

Dheere Dheere Re Mana, Dheere Sub Kutch Hoye Mali Seenche So Ghara, Ritu Aaye Phal Hoye

Translation
Slowly slowly O mind, everything in own pace happens Gardner may water a hundred buckets, fruit arrives only in its season

My understanding
Nature never works in haste. Picking up from this eternal law of Mother Nature, Kabir brings forward the state of our daily hurried lives. We are always in a rush to achieve, acquire and be victorious. It is like a mad race. This brings us under pressure causing ill-health, fatigue and frustration. More than that it breeds illdiscipline. We get forced into a habit pattern whereby we find ourselves either negligent or indulgent. This all can be corrected if one understands the Doha. Kabir, addressing the doha to the mind which is chanchal or monkeying around, brings about the importance of a relaxed mind, a quiet mind. By relaxed mind, one should not imply lethargy. A very active mind can also be very relaxed. Relaxation comes through awareness and acceptance. It is a known fact that a seed sprouts into a sapling only after some time and the sapling grows into a tree gradually. And the fruit arrives only in its own season. By the gardener pouring "a hundred buckets of water" (extensive irrigation) will not hasten the arrival of the fruit, rather will ruin the process. Kabir thus makes us realize that one must do one's best and yet should have the patience for the results to manifest in their own appropriate time. For Nature does not work in haste.

Sayeen Itna Deejiye, Ja Mein Kutumb Samaye Main Bhi Bhookha Na Rahun, Sadhu Na Bhookha Jaye

Translation
Give so much O God, suffice to envelop my clan I should not suffer cravings, nor the visitor goes unfed

My Understanding
Very simple in the native Hindi, but very difficult to translate. It is also true, that because of its simplicity, the reader can miss the point that Kabir wants to make.

This Doha deals with the concept of contentment, compassion and a very clear attitude of service. It is not greed when Kabir asks God for abundance. We have to remember that Kabir was a professional weaver, a house-holder with children. Thus, being the primary provider, he reveals in this Doha his commitment to his clan. At the same time, Kabir is content. He is not greedy. He prays to God to give him enough that would be suffice to take care of his needs. The next lines add another dimension. It reveals the compassion Kabir has for others. In India it is a tradition that if a sadhu visits, the household will make sure that they feed him. Sadhu literally means a monk, a sanyasin, who has renounced the world. I personally understand that Kabir implies here the the 'sadhu' to be any visitor or as we call "Atithi" - a guest. Kabir wants to ensure that if someone visited his household, that guest should also go fulfilled.

Bada Hua To Kya Hua, Jaise Ped Khajoor Panthi Ko Chaya Nahin, Phal Laage Atidoor

Translation
In vain is the eminence, just like a date tree No shade for travelers, fruit is hard to reach

My Understanding
A date tree grows very tall, projecting eminence and a distinction of its own. Yet, it does not provide shade to weary travelers. Besides, it's fruit grows so far that one cannot easily pluck it. Using this simile, Kabir in this doha points out to us about our vain personalities. What good is our so called eminence, if it is neither compassionate nor helpful to others? Kabir emphasizes that we should shed our greed, selfishness and insecure tendencies and establish ourselves in such a way that we should be willing to give and share. Only then we will be blessed and become a blessing to others.

Jaise Til Mein Tel Hai, Jyon Chakmak Mein Aag Tera Sayeen Tujh Mein Hai, Tu Jaag Sake To Jaag

Translation
Like seed contains the oil, fire in flint stone Your temple seats the Divine, realize if you can

My Understanding
What is real and how is it veiled?

This yearning for the Truth is the basic search of everyone. We all want to know what God really is. Kabir in this doha reveals the secret. He unfolds the mystery in a very simple way. He takes the example of the anti-seed which contains the oil. However, when we see the seed, we don't see the oil. It is only seen when energy is used to extract the oil from the seed. Same way fire is not visible when we look at the flint stone. However, vigorous rubbing manifests fire which is already hidden in the flint. Same way, Kabir asserts, that our body - the temple - seats the Divine. This divinity is our true self. However, due to our ignorance, we are unaware of this reality. Kabir challenges us in this doha to shed the veils of ignorance and awaken to realize our true self. This doha also reminds of Swami Vivekananda, who said, "Man is potentially divine and the sole purpose of this life is to discover that divinity. The time to do is here and now".

Mangan Maran Saman Hai, Mat Koi Mange Beekh Mangan Se Marna Bhala, Yeh Satguru Ki Seekh

Translation
Begging is like perishing, none should go imploring It is better to die than beg, this is pure Guru's teaching

My Understanding
It is unfortunate but true that a vast number of people all over the world survive through begging. In non-affluent countries the scenario is worst. In affluent societies, this phenomenon can be seen in the guise of welfare plans. The compassionate Guru knows that a person who sets out to beg (at least for the first time), literally kills his inner self and undergoes tremendous shame and humiliation. In this simple verse, Kabir boldly attempts to shake up the conscience of the people. Without using the words, he appeals the masses to work honestly and earn their livelihood.

Maya Mari Na Man Mara, Mar Mar Gaye Shareer Asha Trishna Na Mari, Keh Gaye Das Kabir

Translation
Neither illusion nor the mind, only bodies attained death Hope and delusion did not die, so Kabir said.

My Understanding
To understand this doha correctly, one must understand first the word 'Maya'. This word is like an unsolved riddle and hard to translate. For want of a proper word, it is loosely translated as illusion. In its depths, 'Maya' perhaps means, Nature on the go...ever changing...hence an illusion. In this doha, Kabir says while the physical body that is born, lives and eventually dies, the world of Maya goes on as does the Mind (that intelligent governing Self). Hope and the deceptive greed or delusion does not die either. Even in his death bed, one continues to cling with the perishable - the body, with one's aspirations, desires - and the cravings, the urges, the yearnings (trishna) dies not. In fact, the play of the world "leela" goes on because of this. In his typical mystic style, Kabir compels the reader to contemplate and realize the Truth.

Kabira Khara Bazaar Mein, Mange Sabki Khair Na Kahu Se Dosti, Na Kahu Se Bair

Translation
Kabira in the market place, wishes welfare of all Neither friendship nor enmity with anyone at all

My Understanding
Kabir, the professional weaver, visited the market place to sell his woven goods. Now selling is a competitive affair and all kinds of strategies are adopted by merchants to make the extra buck. Sometimes the strategy can even be a dirty trick or a scam. In this doha, as is his style, Kabir without saying much, presents a balanced approach. He seems to affirm that while conducting one's business, one need not adopt tricky means and should not become emotional. An honest deal does not warrant the businessman to become either friendly with one's clientele nor develop any malice. This is one of the important maxims of Do's and Don'ts of any progressive business. From spiritual and mystic point of view, Bazaar is a reference to the world itself where give and take, is the mechanism of dealings...i.e. all relationships at the physical level are conditional and based on business-like (not literally business) transactions. So Kabir is giving us an idea of how we experience ups and downs due to attachments - i.e. due to strong feelings towards or against things. And he says the best way to avoid that is by being in a state of acceptance and detachment.

Kabir Man Nirmal Bhaya, Jaise Ganga Neer Pache Pache Har Phire, Kahat Kabir Kabir

Translation
Kabir's mind got cleansed like the holy Ganges water Now everyone follows, saying Kabir Kabir

My Understanding
Everyone desires to be known, to belong. Yet due to the chaotic states of our minds, we find ourselves secluded and limited. The cause of this chaos is our attachments and bondages. For some reason we are unable to break these shackles and are therefore confined. The desire to scale the heights of infinity can be achieved only when there is release from our attachments and feelings of insecurity that bind us. And, this is possible only when our mind is cleansed from the impurities of ego, illicit passions, anger, fear, greed and procrastination. Once the mind is free then we find ourselves relaxed, loving and compassionate. Then everyone looks up to us and wants to associate with us with confidence. Only those with relaxed and loving mind find themselves in harmony with everyone.

Pothi Padh Padh Kar Jag Mua, Pandit Bhayo Na Koye Dhai Aakhar Prem Ke, Jo Padhe so Pandit Hoye

Translation
Reading books everyone died, none became any wise One who reads the word of Love, only becomes wise

My Understanding
To understand this doha in its true perspective is important. We all read and now with tremendous media exposure, we are seemingly more informed. Everyone seems to know everything. Yet, the truth is that inspite of all this information, there is no awareness. We are not at peace. There is a lot of frustration all around. Our minds are not quiet and relaxed. We talk of Love but have no compassion. Selfishness, greed, fear, hatred and similar tendencies seem to grip us all the time. Why? I have found myself in this quagmire a number of times. Kabir in this doha shows the way, in his simple but dynamic style. He daringly says that despite all our readings, despite all our knowledge, we cannot become wise. Only if we 'read' Love, become loving and loveable, only then wisdom will dawn on us. Only then Life will be worth living.

Dukh Mein Simran Sab Kare, Sukh Mein Kare Na Koye Jo Sukh Mein Simran Kare, Tau Dukh Kahe Ko Hoye

Translation
In anguish everyone prays to Him, in joy does none To One who prays in happiness, how can sorrow come

My Understanding
Let someone suddenly wave his hand in front of your eyes and you will see that the eyes blink. And if you are caught unawares, you may just say 'O my God'! Such is the nature of mankind. When we are in distress, in a state of helplessness, we invariably then look up in the skies and communicate with Him in our own silent prayer. However, when things are going good, we forget Him. Kabir in this doha highlights this and gives a promise when he says that we shall not suffer if we pray to Him during our good times.

Gur Dhobi Sikh Kapda, Saboo Sirjan Har Surti Sila Pur Dhoiye, Nikse Jyoti Apaar

Translation

Guru the washer man, disciple is the cloth The name of God liken to the soap Wash the mind on foundation firm To realize the glow of Truth

My Understanding
In this Doha, Kabir shows the quality of a good teacher, the Guru. Like only by following the technique of washing clothes, the washer man cleans the cloth, same way the preceptor or the teacher takes upon himself to cleanse the mind of his disciples and guide them to realize the Truth within. Viewed in context of our day to day life, we can observe that only when we are totally involved in our actions, only then we can be assured of achieving results. Diligence, dedication and total intensity is required while performing any act, only then one finds the true joy, the fulfillment.

Jeevat Samjhe Jeevat Bujhe, Jeevat He Karo Aas Jeevat Karam Ki Fansi Na Kaati, Mue Mukti Ki Aas

Translation
Alive one sees, alive one knows Thus crave for salvation when full of life Alive you did not cut the noose of binding actions Hoping liberation with death!

My Understanding

In this Doha, Kabir is referring to the concept of salvation which all religions guarantee in one form or the other. When someone dies, we all tend to offer condolences by saying, "May God give peace to the departed soul". However, liberation cannot come until one snaps all earthly bonds. Besides, what good is liberation or salvation, when one is dead, unable to recount, unable to narrate and unable to share? Referring to the theory of Karma, Kabir clearly suggests in this Doha that while conducting our actions, we should be diligent. We should not get attached or enslaved by them and thereby get trapped in the quagmire of ego, greed, hatred, fear, procrastination, etc. Only when one is non-attached to the fruits of the action, only then one can be free from the bondage, only then one can be liberated while full of life.

Akath Kahani Prem Ki, Kutch Kahi Na Jaye Goonge Keri Sarkara, Baithe Muskae

Translation
Inexpressible is the story of Love It cannot be revealed by words Like the dumb eating sweet-meat Only smiles, the sweetness he cannot tell

My Understanding
In this Doha, Kabir refers to the situation of a person in Love, a person who has realized the Truth. This compassionate one does not brag, does not talk for the wise one knows that it would be as futile an effort as the mute smile of a dumb trying to express the sweetness of the sweet-meat. In our daily life too, we find that silence projects our love expressions better than the hollow words we utter for another. Truly it has been said that Love does not need the crutches of a language to express the inexpressible state of being in Love

Chinta Aisee Dakini, Kat Kaleja Khaye Vaid Bichara Kya Kare, Kahan Tak Dawa Lagaye

Translation
Worry is the bandit that eats into one's heart What the doctor can do, what remedy to impart?

My Understanding
Discontentment causes worry and worry itself becomes the cause that creates chaos in the mind. All peace is lost and the more one entertains the worry, the more armored 'she' becomes to destroy

the very vitality of a man. There is no doctor and no remedy for this cause. This is so true and can be observed by anyone in one's own affairs.

Kabira Garv Na Keejiye, Uncha Dekh Aavaas Kaal Paron Bhuin Letna, Ooper Jamsi Ghaas

Translation
Says Kabir Don't be so proud and vain Looking at your high mansion Death makes one lie on bare land And grass will grow thereon

My Understanding
Pride, arrogance and vanity are all related to our ego, our perishable belongings and things which are not eternal. In this Doha, Kabir gives a clear warning by explaining the eternal ultimate Truth i.e. Death. We all know that we have to die, but are we willing to accept this fact? Deep behind our psyche is the idea that everything else is going to perish, to die, but "I" will go on eternally. Hence, we cling to our perishables and become possessive and selfish. This causes us to become arrogant, greedy, proud and vain. Kabir emphasizes the need to understand the cycle of Life and guides us to shed our pride.

Aag Jo Lagi Samand Mein, Dhuan Na Pargat Hoye So Jane Jo Jarmua, Jaki Lagi Hoye

Translation
With the ocean set ablaze The smoke yet manifests not Only the one who gets burnt Envisions the heat of loving thought

My Understanding
The agony and turmoil in the heart of a lover, a devotee, is symbolically shown in this Doha as the flame that is burning the ocean. Yet none knows or can know about this pain because the "smoke" is not visible! Only the one who is suffering the separation from one's beloved can understand the force of such a fire. Kabir, in this Doha depicts the agony that a devotee feels for his Lord or Ishta, or in our normal day to day life, a lover feels for the beloved. To others, the intensity, the pain of separation is not comprehensible for this too is precious for the lovers to reveal. It is but a private affair! Don't they say, only the wearer knows where the shoe pinches!! This Doha by Kabir is again a superb example of mystic poetry where in two lines, Kabir is able to project the agony and the ecstasy of true love and devotion.

Aasa Jive Jag Marey, Log Marey Mar Jayee Soyee Sube Dhan Sanchate, So Ubrey Jey Khayee

Translation
Hope lives in a dying world, people die and die again Perish yet hoarding wealth, spend and freedom attain

My Understanding
Having explained in the previous Dohathat we should save the wealth that will be helpful now and beyond, Kabir now makes us take a step forward towards the principle of non-attachment through this Doha. In this eternally changing and perishable world, Kabir explains that only those who distribute and share thewealth are the ones who attain liberation. Who are they that share? Those who have abundance. And, abundance comes to those who understand the doctrine of Karma and are nonattached to the results.

Ek Kahun To Hai Nahin, Do Kahun To Gaari Hai Jaisa Taisa Rahe, Kahe Kabir Bichari

Translation
If I say one, It is not If I say two, it will be a violation Let 'It' be what 'It' is says Kabir upon contemplation

Explanation
This Doha is an illustration of Kabir mysticism that parallels the Zen Koans. Kabir here is alluding to the futility of describing the cosmic experience. In that vein, he underscores the limited vision of both the Advaitic (one God) and Dvaitic(God is separate from the devotee) schools of thought. He says that the final experience is what it is and cannot be cast into any thought, words or description. A first-hand direct experience is the only way of knowing. And when that happens all else becomes literally irrelevant. Many people ask why did the tragedy of September 11 have to happen? Many spiritual leaders have given a variety of explanations. Could it be that the answer is not an explanation but a feeling, not discussion or analysis but silence, not extroversion but an introversive acceptance?

Kabir Yeh Ghar Prem Ka, Khala Ka Ghar Nahin Sees Utaare Hath Kar, So Pasey Ghar Mahin

Translation

Kabir, this is the abode of love Not the house of an aunt Only that one can enter here Who has relinquished all pride

My Understanding
Kabir in this doha attempts to explain valor and fearlessness in love and devotion. A person who is able to defeat athe passions of Anger, Carnality, Attachment, Greed and Enmity - the enemies within - is the valiant one. To be a lover or a true devotee is the job of a warrior and not of a coward. For love demands complete surrender of one's ego and a spirit full of compassion and poise. The abode of love is not like a visit to an aunt's house where the social rules of entertaining guests may be available. Instead in this abode of love one enters with the spirit of giving or complete surrender. Is a genuine offering to the Lord possible without surrendering oneself? Similarly, is love possible between two people when it is based on conditions?