Kabir on Simran
I have given a digest of the whole subject matter in connection with Simran. It will not be out of place to put before you the sayings of the different Saints on this subject. I now put before you the statements made by Saint Kabir on the subject.
Comforting is God’s Name. All ills it dries (cures). Remembrance of God’s Name leads to Him besides.
Further, Kabir says:
Among high and low, among rich and poor, great is he who prays and greater still he that motiveless does so.
The pelf and power hardly make a man. Poverty and riches are both transitory. A man of Simran stands far above all mankind. He is much more blessed than the rest. Most people crave for worldly things. Some are desirous of having children, others hanker after wealth and still others after name and fame. The kind Father, of course, grants prayers of all. But a man of Simran, on the other hand, asks for nothing. He seeks God for God’s sake and hence is the crowning glory to Him.
Once Akbar, the great Mogul Emperor, while riding, lost his way and felt thirsty.
He asked a farmer standing near a well for water. The peasant tied the Emperor’s horse to a nearby tree and gave water and food to him, little knowing who he was. The King was pleased with his hospitality and told him who he was and bade the farmer to see him, should he ever stand in need of anything. After sometime the farmer had an opportunity to visit the metropolis. He went to see the King as he was bidden to do. On going to the royal palace, he found that the King was busy praying and at the end he requested God for the peace and prosperity of his kingdom. Seeing this, the farmer felt humiliated for having come to beg from a beggar; for he too could directly appeal to the Great God, Who listens alike to the prayers of both rich and poor.
Guru Nanak has said,
Why should we ask for worldly things from God?
All those who love the body and bodily relations go the way of hell, but one who does Simran motiveless is truly great. We generally pray for the fulfilment of our wishes and desires. So long as a man or a woman is full of these, the human body far from being a temple of God is an abode of Satan.
So Kabir says
that God loves those who love God alone: for no other purpose but for the Love of God.
The same is in the Sikh Scriptures:
What should I ask for? There is nothing lasting in all the world over. I see the whole world passing away.
In pain we pray to God, in pleasure we forget, could we in pleasure pray, then pain would not come up.
We remember God only when we are hard pressed from every side. It is affliction and not affluence that turns us Godward. If one were not to forget God in prosperity, adversity would never come near him. Hard times only come as a result of sins committed when forgetful of the Lord. Simran – or constant remembrance of God – is a tonic for the soul. It makes the will grow stronger from day to day.
Troubles and trials, however severe, cannot cow him down. With a smiling face he pulls through the storms of fate or destiny unscathed.
Simran is a panacea for all the ills of the world. It is a potent remedy and works wonders to remove worry where all human efforts fail. A man of Simran never has any worry or anxiety. Simran, to be very effective, must be constant and ceaseless.
Once Moses, the Prophet of the Hebrews, felt that he was the most devoted of God’s creatures.
In an egotistic frame of mind, he questioned God if there was in the world a greater devotee than himself. The Great God told Moses that among His devotees were included many birds and animals besides human beings. Pointing to a solitary bird in the jungle, God directed Moses to meet the said bird, if he wanted to know the great depths of devotion. As Moses did not know the language of the birds, God endowed him with an understanding so that he may have a talk with the bird. Moses approached the bird and inquired as to how he was. The bird replied that engaged as he was in constant remembrance, Simran, he could ill afford any time for a useless conversation except for the Beloved’s sake Who had sent Moses to him. Next the prophet asked the bird if he had any trouble in which he could be of any help to him. The bird replied that he had no trouble whatsoever, but if the prophet wished to do him a favour, he asked him to bring nearer to him the spring of water that lay at a distance, as a flight to it to quench his thirst interfered in his Simran. This incident humbled the pride of Moses.
Guru Nanak also speaks in this wise:
If I forget You, oh God, even for a fraction of a minute, this amounts to me more than fifty years.
Again He says,
He who is in constant remembrance of God, only he is alive, oh Nanak; all others are as it were dead.
Simran must be done at all costs. Constant remembrance of God is life-giving to the devotee.
Guru Nanak says,
If I remember Thee I live. When I forget Thee that means death to me.
There are many devices to develop concentration. Some stand for hours and hours. Others keep their arms uplifted. Some engage in breathing exercises like Pranayama, and some sleep on nails or sit under the burning sun with four fires lit around them – i.e., Panch Agni Tap or the austerity of the five fires. But all these methods are artificial.
Simran or the remembrance of God is the only natural method and the easiest to follow and develop. It can be practised with equal ease by both the young and the old – in one’s hearth and home and in the midst of kith and kin as well as in his business.
Kabir further says:
Forgetful of prayer in pleasure, we pray only in pain; so says Kabir: such prayers go all in vain.
Since we remember the Lord only when in trouble and never care for Him when in affluent circumstances, Saint Kabir says that God also does not listen to such selfish prayers which are muttered in vain in distress over one’s ailments or when one is involved in a lawsuit, etc.
Prayer should be ceaseless, overflowing as a lover’s passions are, forgetting not his love even for the twinkling of an eye. When a man falls in love with a woman, he carries her image in his mind at all times whether sleeping or awake, sitting or standing.
If one could carry with him the Love of God like this, it would be grand indeed.
Kabir goes on to explain how the sweet remembrance of God should be done. He gives another example of the same type.
Attend to the prayer as do the village maids, who move talking with attention always fixed on pitchers overhead.
The daily routine of life, says Kabir, does not interfere with the Simran.
The village maids as they go to fetch water carry pitchers of water one above the other on their heads and in spite of an unseen path, they keep jesting and talking among themselves while the pitchers remain steady on their heads, as their attention is pertinently fixed on them.
Similarly one need not forget Simran even in the midst of the hustle and bustle of life and worldly obligations.
Kabir again says:
Attend to prayer as kine do the calves, who grazing under lea, never forget their young.
When a grazier takes the cows for grazing they do not forget the young ones they leave behind at home. All the while they are busy grazing in the field their attention remains fixed on their calves. In this way while engaged in worldly pursuits, we should not forget our aim and objective in life, i.e., God-Realisation.
Kabir gives another example to explain and bring home the fact that we should do the remembrance of the Lord:
Attend to the prayers as misers do the wealth, with mind forever fixed on the hoarded pelf.
A pauper collects his money by begging coppers and keeps counting it day and night. Whether sleeping or waking, he is dreaming all the time of his little hoarding. We too, should like a pauper always keep an account of the Simran that we do and try to accumulate bit by bit the wealth of Naam – not forgetting it for a moment.
Kabir has given so many examples so that we may understand the True Value of Real Simran which brings forth fruit.
Love the prayer as the deer loves the trumpet sound who life and freedom risketh for sweet music’s sake.
A fleet-footed deer which cannot otherwise be caught is entrapped by the hunters, just by means of playing upon the drum. He is so enamoured of the sound that he is irresistibly drawn towards it and helplessly places his head on the musical instrument. In just the same way, when once the ever restless mind hears the Nad – or the Sound Current within – it is charmed, stilled and becomes motionless.
Soul when freed from the tentacles or talons of the mind is able to soar easily to higher regions.
Another example He gives:
Love the prayer as the moth loves the light, in its flame doth burn itself, never turns aside.
Light is the very life of the moth. He loves it so passionately that he does not hesitate to singe himself to death, rather than to avoid it. Kabir Sahib therefore says that we must love Simran as the very breath of our life whether rich or poor, healthy or sick, awake or asleep, and like a moth be ever-ready to sacrifice our very self in our devotion to our ideal.
Again He says:
Lose yourself in the sweet remembrance as the keet in the bhirangi, who for sooth loses itself to rise bhirangi like.
*Bhirangi, an insect, after almost killing a keet, another insect, revivifies the latter to life by bestowing its powerful attention to it. The keet when charmed back to life is no longer a keet but becomes a bhirangi-being saturated with the life-impulse of the latter.
In just the same way Kabir says that one who does Simran and gets firmly engrafted therein will have new birth and new life quite distinct from the old sensual life he has been living hitherto.
* (This section is adjusted to the Second Edition of 1967;
Editor’s Note 2011.)
This is the second birth of which all the Saints speak.
Unless you lose this life you cannot have Life Everlasting.
Except a man be born of water (first birth) and of the Spirit (second birth) he cannot enter the Kingdom of God.
The first birth was of corruptible seed, and the second shall be of seed incorruptible.
This may be called birth in Christ, and when it actually takes place, one would like St Paul say,
It is not I but Christ speaks in me.
The principle of engrafted life works alike in plants as well as in man and is in accord with the laws of nature.
Hazrat Baziad Bustanvi, a man of extreme piety and devotion, once looked within Himself and found nothing but God. In a state of Divine Intoxication He exclaimed,
I am God!
His disciples, unused to hearing such apparently sacrilegious words, wondered what had happened to the Pir – Master. After some time, when the Master had come down from the super-conscious state, they inquired of Him why He had exclaimed that He was God which was quite contrary to His usual instructions to them – that God could not come into a human body. The Master told them that the expression I am God was not uttered by Him but by someone else – He could according to the Koranic Law be condemned as a heretic for uttering such blasphemous words. After some time, this Hazrat was once again seized by a fit of God-intoxication and began to exclaim,
I am God.
This time some of His disciples came down upon their Master with staves, spears and swords.
In the Masnavi by Maulana Rumi – the original poetic narrative in this behalf –, it is stated that
whoever aimed a blow at the Master’s head, hands or legs got his own chopped off, while the Master beside Himself kept chanting, I am God. The disciples were amazed and inquired of the Pir the significance of the incident. The Pir with a smile on His face informed them that One Who merged His little entity – soul – into the Greater Entity – Oversoul – becomes One with God and no one could hit or harm Him.
Similarly it is mentioned in Ghat Ramayan – a Sacred Book of the Hindus – that Tulsi Sahib of Hathras – a man of Great Devotion – when staying with Baji Rao Hulkar, a Maharatta chieftain of Stara, once said:
While the people see my physical raiment (the body), I actually live out of it.
Our own Master Hazur Baba Sawan Singh Ji was once on tour to Gujranwala city in the Punjab when some opponents came up with the idea of fighting. Master was inside. He rose up. He was in a state of God-intoxication and said,
Look at me, who am I?
And it was all quiet.
This is the general experience of those who sometimes become God-intoxicated. Such statements bring out the true meaning of Simran.
Saint Kabir gives so many examples. He says:
Love the prayer as fish love the water, who would rather die than be separated from their element.
Water is the vital element of fish without which they cannot live. A fish would prefer to die rather than live without it even for a single moment. Similarly, Simran – the Sound Current – is the vital element in which we live and move and have our being. Unless we by actual practice realise this Fundamental Truth, we cannot have peace.
Now He further explains:
Pray we with all our heart in the silence of the soul; shut off the world without to unveil the Truth within.
Simran is to be done with the tongue of thought and not by word of mouth. It is entirely an Inner Mental Process, to be practised only after the outlets of the outgoing faculties are closed up. The treasure of Simran is to be kept hidden from the people of the world. It is the most precious wealth, the value of which worldly people can hardly realise.
The Reality dawns only when you tap the veil behind the eyes.
Christ too says in this behalf,
Seek and ye shall find. Knock and it shall be opened unto you.
Referring to the outer process which we generally do by way of Simran, Kabir says:
By telling beads we please ourselves and yet we never gain; but if we were to make a bead of the mind, an Inward Light would dawn again.
The telling of beads on the rosary gives just a mental satisfaction, but leads nowhere. If you were to turn the beads of the mind you would witness God’s Light within.
Kabir Sahib says
that there is hardly any need of beaded rosaries for while the hands are engaged in telling the beads, the mind is fixed on the beads without and cannot possibly withdraw within; and without this there is no gain whatsoever. Conversely, when the mind is once absorbed in Simran – mental concentration – the iron curtain will fling open – at the Open Sesame or enchanted words.
Aeons have passed in telling beads, yet our minds changed not; so cast off the wooden beads and take to the mental ones.
Kabir Sahib therefore says,
We waste our entire life in performance of outer works of merits, but the soul finds no inlet. The veil within does not give way and soul remains without. We should, therefore, turn the bead of the mind, and it will act like a push-button giving an ingress of the soul to Spiritual Realms within.
Kabir further explains:
Continuous flow the symphonic strains sublime; Divine in birth, they subdue the mind.
By concentration a feeling of numbness gradually creeps up on the hands and feet and spreads on to the rest of the body until the sensory current gets focused on the centre of the soul behind the two eyebrows – from whence during wakefulness it proceeds. The concentrated energy then falls back upon the veil behind the eyes which is rent asunder, opening a brilliant vista ahead.
The sun and the moon in turn appear with a melodious Sound Current emerging from beyond. These unbroken strains of Music continue of their own accord. When this stage is reached an aspirant has nothing more to do except to be absorbed in Them.
Kabir goes on further saying that:
True rosary lies in the mind, the rest is all sham and a worldly show; lo, the rosary on the Persian wheel draws water alone.
Simran to be effective should be characterised by Love, affection and devotion. If the rosary alone were to lead to God, then the big rosary on the Persian wheel could as well do the same thing. But our daily experience shows that they fail to achieve any such thing – rosaries on the Persian wheel are the ropes to which the water pots are attached and they fetch water only and nothing else.
Similarly, the Chinese have invented what is called the Wheel of Prayer. If it is once put in motion it makes about a thousand rounds. They transcribe a mantra or a holy hymn on a piece of paper and put it on the wheel and set it into motion and feel satisfied that they have repeated the holy name a thousand times – but to no avail.
Simran done parrot-like by repeating a mantra thousands of times in this way cannot bear any fruit.
Among orthodox Hindus there is a practice of writing the word 'Ram, Ram' or the Word of God on paper in thousands every day. After some time they scissor down each word Ram and put it in a pill of flour and consign the pills to the waters of some running stream and believe that they have gained religious merit. It gives only a little remembrance of Ram. If one were to tell them that Real Ram is within them, they would not believe it. So they neither find Ram nor do they get any substantial thing.
Similarly, Purbias – an orthodox sect who attach great importance to outer rituals and try to perform them with religious faith – generally take a bath early in the morning in the waters of a running stream, as an act of religious merit.
Once a few Purbias went to Kabul in Afghanistan – a hilly country to the northwest of India – where the weather is generally very cold. Here one of them went for a bath in the Kabul River, but finding the water icy cold he hesitated to enter the stream. He thought of a good device to escape the ordeal and yet satisfy his scruples. He took up a pebble and threw it into the stream, saying O pebble, thy bath shall also be mine. After saying this he turned back and on the way met another Purbia going to the river for his morning ablutions. The latter asked him if he had taken the bath in the chilly bleak weather. The former informed him of the vicarious pebble-bath that he had had, and thereupon the other fellow embraced him saying, Your bath is my bath as well.
In this the blind leads the blind and both fall into the ditch by performing deeds blindly.
Kabir Sahib further refers to the rosary, saying:
Over the wooden rosary you have wasted much time; now take to the mental rosary, that has no knot on the end.
Oh Kabir, the telling of the wooden-beaded rosary is a great laborious task, but continuous mental rosary, as of the breath beads – incoming and outgoing – is a natural phenomenon. It goes on endlessly without any effort.
In the rosary there is the head knot. When one round is completed it is to be reversed so as not to neutralise the effect, for beads are to be told in one direction only. So Kabir advises that we should take to the natural rosary of the breath which being an endless continuation has no knots and needs no reversal at all.
Further He says:
On continuous fruitless revolution, the rosary cried out quarrelling, ‘Why do you turn me round and round?’ Turn mental rosary should you want a Master guide. Telling beads and counting the turns on fingers, hollow are such deeds of merit, performed with wandering mind. How can God be found with an insensate mind?
When doing all ablutions or purificatory exercises like telling the beads, etc., your mind is not still, what is the good of doing them after all? While you are telling the beads and counting the number of rosary revolutions performed on your fingers, the mind like an unbridled colt is wandering about. All such deeds are, therefore, of no avail. You can meet God through a Living Master only when, according to His instructions, you learn to bridle the mind and turn it the other way – i.e., inward and upward from its usual way of looking at things outward and downward.
The practice of concentration and focusing of the mind can only be achieved through Simran as enjoined by a Master-Soul and by nothing else.
Kabir Sahib further presses the point.
In vain is the rosary that loosens not the mind knot. A True Heaven lies in the Master’s feet alone. No outer shows are needed, all must be done within; why lose time with the outside world? I am now engaged in my Lord within.
Simran as said above is a mental or Inner Process and as such the rosary or any other aid cannot be of any use in this behalf. By concentration at the Blessed Feet of the Master, by implicit faith in His instructions, and by putting them into actual practice, we can attain a stage of perfect bliss. There is no short cut but that of Simran as enjoined by the Master.
The Bible too says,
Be ye the doers of the Word and not the hearers only,
and then you will enter New Jerusalem.