According to one traditional version of his parentage, Kabir was born to a Brahmin widow at Lahartara near Kashi (modern day Varanasi). The widow abandoned Kabir to escape dishonour associated with births outside marriage. He was brought up in a family of poor Muslim weavers Niru and Nima. Vaishnava saint Swami Ramananda accepted Kabir as his disciple. When Swami Ramananda died, Kabir was 13 years old.
Kabir composed in a pithy and earthy style, replete with surprise and inventive imagery. His poems resonate with praise for the true guru who reveals the divine through direct experience, and denounce more usual ways of attempting god-union such as chanting, austerities, etc.
- Aave Na Jaave Mare Nahin Janame
દર દિવાર દર્પણ ભયો, જીસ દેખું તિસ તોય, કંકર પત્થર કિંકરી, સબ ભયો આરસી મોય… આવે ન જાવે મરે નહિ જનમે, સોહિ નીજ પીવ હમાર હો…
- ગગન કી ઓટ નિશાના હૈ
ગગન કી ઓટ નિશાના હૈ દાહિને સૂર ચંદ્રમા બાંયે તીન કે બીચ છિપાના હૈ તનકી કમાન સુરત કા રૌંદા, શબદ બાણ લે તાના હૈ
- અવસર બાર બાર નહીં આવૈ
અવસર બાર બાર નહિં આવૈ… જો ચાહો કરિ લેવ ભલાઈ, જનમ જનમ સુખ પાવૈ… અવસર તન મન ધન મેં નહિં કછુ અપના, છાંડી પલક મેં જાવૈ
- સંતન કે સંગ લાગ રે
સંતન કે સંગ લાગ રે, તેરી ભલી બનેગી … સંતન કે સંગ હંસન કી ગતિ હંસ હિ જાનૈ, ક્યા જાને કોઈ કાગ રે … સંતન કે સંગ
- O friend
O friend! hope for Him whilst you live, know whilst you live, understand whilst you live: for in life deliverance abides.
- My body and my mind
My body and my mind are in depression because You are not with me. How much I love you and want you in my house!
- I said to the wanting-creature inside me
I said to the wanting-creature inside me: What is this river you want to cross? There are no travelers on the river-road, and no road.
- I have been thinking
I have been thinking of the difference between water and the waves on it. Rising, water’s still water, falling back, it is water, will you give me a hint how to tell them apart?
- Do not go to the garden of flowers
Do not go to the garden of flowers! O Friend ! go not there; In your body is the garden of flowers.
- Between the Poles of the Conscious
Between the poles of the conscious and the unconscious, there has the mind made a swing: Thereon hang all beings and all worlds, and that swing never ceases its sway.
- Are you looking for me?
Are you looking for me? I am in the next seat. My shoulder is against yours. you will not find me in the stupas, not in Indian shrine rooms, nor in synagogues, nor in cathedrals:
- Abode of the Beloved
Oh Companion That Abode Is Unmatched, Where My Complete Beloved Is. In that Place There Is No Happiness or Unhappiness, No Truth or Untruth Neither Sin Nor Virtue.
- The Light of the Sun
The light of the sun, the moon, and the stars shines bright: The melody of love swells forth, and the rhythm of love’s detachment beats the time. Day and night, the chorus of music fills the heavens; and Kabîr says “My Beloved One gleams like the lightning flash in the sky.”
- When the Day came
When the Day came – The Day I had lived and died for – The Day that is not in any calendar –
- To Thee Thou Hast Drawn My Love
To Thee Thou hast drawn my love, O Fakir! I was sleeping in my own chamber, and Thou didst awaken me; striking me with Thy voice, O Fakir!
- To be a Slave of Intensity
Friend, hope for the guest while you are alive. Jump into experience while you are alive! Think…and think…while you are alive. What you call ‘salvation’ belongs to the time before death.
- There’s A Moon Inside My Body
The moon shines in my body, but my blind eyes cannot see it: The moon is within me, and so is the sun. The unstruck drum of Eternity is sounded within me; but my deaf ears cannot hear it.
- The Word
Find the word, understand the word, Depend on the word; The word is heaven and space, the word the earth, The word the universe.
- The Time Before Death
Friend? hope for the Guest while you are alive. Jump into experience while you are alive! Think… and think… while you are alive. What you call ‘salvation’ belongs to the time before death.
- The Swan Flies Away
The Swan Will Fly Away All Alone, Spectacle of the World Will Be a Mere Fair As the Leaf Falls from the Tree Is Difficult to Find
- Within this Earthen Vessel
Within this earthen vessel are bowers and groves, and within it is the Creator: 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 to me, my Friend! My beloved Lord is within.’