“Kabeer Jis marnay tay jag daray, Mere man Aanand
Marnay hi tay paayiye – pooran Parmaanand”
(Guru Kabeer ji)
“The whole world is afraid of ‘death’ -
But my heart finds solace and peace in it.
It’s only after the ‘death’, that one can attain absolute bliss”
Many people find this statement by Guru Kabeer ji strange and confusing.
Some people find it pessimistic, because they think that Kabeer ji is talking about the physical death. They think it means that no one can find peace and true happiness while living in the physical world, and that the death is the only solution for all the pains and sufferings, and the only way to achieve everlasting happiness.
Mirza Ghalib also said:
“Ghame hasti ka ‘Asad’ kis say ho juz margh ilaaz
Shamma har rang me jalti hai sehar honay tak “
(Asad Ullah Khan ‘Ghalib’)
Who else has the ‘cure’ for this sorrowful existence other than the death? (Only death can provide freedom from sorrows and sufferings)
Under any circumstances, the ‘shamma’ (candle) has to keep burning till the dawn (end of the night).
Is this what Kabeer ji also meant?
The answer should be an affirmative ‘No’.
We must remember that all the Rishis, Sages, Gurus and Saints of the East always talked only about the spirit and spiritual world even when they used the worldly metaphors. So we should always look for the meanings of their statements in the context of spirituality.
Now, in the context of spirituality, this couplet is usually translated something like this:
“In order to find everlasting happiness and bliss, one has to die (for the cause of the religion)”.
Unfortunately, such concept can be and has been used by many opportunists and cult leaders to misguide and misuse the simple and trusting vulnerable folks all over the world. Misguided and brainwashed people genuinely start believing that by dying or killing themselves for the sake of their religion; in the name of god, they will instantaneously go to heaven and live happily ever after. They believe that true happiness can only be found in the heaven after the death. That killing others or themselves in the name of God will guarantee their entrance into the heaven, where God will reward them with every possible mean of happiness.
Even in the recent past, we have seen that some cults leaders have made their trusting folks believe that absolute obedience to their leaders; shutting their brains and following the orders without questioning, even dying for them, is the only way to achieve the ‘Bliss’.
I would like to remind again that the Gurus only talk about spirit and mind, not the body, but they have to use the physical and worldly example to make their point.
So going back to the original couplet, Kabeer ji must be talking about the ‘death’ of the mind, not the body.
To understand it more clearly, we need to explore ‘what is mind’.
I like to think of ‘mind’ as a vessel full of all sorts of thoughts, concepts and ideas that we have collected since the birth and even before; in the form of genes, heredity, or according to the eastern thought, ‘Sanskaars’ from the previous lives.
Many of the concepts and ideas that we have learned or adopted from our parents, ancestors, social and religious communities or from books and teachers are very dear to us and we strongly hold on to them. They believe those ideologies will provide them protection and happiness; therefore they guard them very carefully.
But the ‘Aanand’ or the ‘Parmaanand’ which is ‘Bliss’, is different than happiness -‘khushi’ or ‘prasannataa’.
Kabeer ji is talking about the ‘Bliss’, not the ordinary happiness which depends on physical conditions. Physical conditions bring happiness and sadness as well. Bliss on the other hand is pure serenity, ‘Turiya-avastha’ which is void of all so called happiness and sadness.
It’s the death of all conceived concepts and ideas that will bring tranquility and bliss. Just like an empty vessel makes no noise inside, an empty mind also becomes calm and quite, and feels no pain, sadness or happiness. That is ‘Bliss’.
Is it possible to achieve such a state? One may wonder.
Usually, when we get rid of the old concepts, we replace them with some new ones and the cycle continues. All concepts are binding, like a chain and they keep the mind imprisoned and restless.
The state of ‘Bliss’, the state of ‘Turiya-avastha’ can only occur in complete emptiness of the mind that is: after the death of all ‘concepts and ideas’.
“Marnay hi tay paayiye – pooran Parmaanand”
"कबीर जिसु मरनै ते जग डरै - मेरे मन आनंद
मरने ही ते पाईये - पूरन परमानन्द "
"ग़मे हस्ती का 'असद' किस से हो जुज़ मर्ग़ इलाज़
शम्मा हर रंग में जलती है सहर होने तक "
(असद उल्लाह खान 'ग़ालिब')