The Self Within
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“Having crossed the river,
where will you go, O friend ?
There’s no road to tread,
No traveler ahead,
Neither a beginning, nor an end.
There’s no water, no boat, no boatman, no cord;
No earth is there, no sky, no time, no bank, no ford.
You have forgotten the Self within,
Your search in the void will be in vain;
In a moment the life will ebb
And in this body you won’t remain.
Be ever conscious of this, O friend,
You’ve to immerse within your Self;
Kabir says, salvation you won’t then need,
For what you are, you would be indeed.”
(Kabīr – mystic poet and saint of India, 1440-1518)
A few days ago this timeless sadhu was enjoying the winter sun along the holy waters of the Ganges in Varanasi (Benaras), not far from where Kabīr used to write his poetry.
Kabir was influenced by the prevailing religious mood of his times, such as old Brahmanic Hinduism, Hindu and Buddhist Tantrism, the teachings of Nath yogis and the personal devotionalism of South India mixed with the imageless God of Islam.
Eminent historians like R.C. Majumdar, P.N. Chopra, B.N. Puri and M.N. Das have held that Kabir is the first Indian saint to have harmonised Hinduism and Islam by preaching a universal path which both Hindus and Muslims could tread together.