Today, June 24, 2021 is the auspicious day of Saint Kabir Das Jayanti which is celebrated every year on Jyeshtha Purnima. Saint Kabir Das Ji’s life has a unique similarity with Sai Baba and there is a deeper connection.
Life of Saint Kabir Das Ji and Teaching Unity of All Religion
Both Sai Baba and Saint Kabir Das ji have a similarity that no one knows with surety about their birthplace, parentage, etc details. In Chapter 4 of Shri Sai Satcharita, section Immaculate Conception of Sai Baba and His First Advent in Shirdi”, its mentioned that
Nobody knew the parents, birth or birth-place of Sai Baba. Many inquiries were made, many questions were put to Baba and others regarding these items, but no satisfactory answer or information has yet been obtained. Practically we know nothing about these matters. Namdev and Kabir were not born like ordinary mortals. They were found as infants in mother-of-pearls, Namdev being found on the bank Bhimrathi river by Gonayee, and Kabir on the bank Bhagirathi river by Tamal. Similar was the case with Sai Baba.
Like Sai Baba, Saint Kabir Das ji never differentiated between Allah or Rama, Kabir always preached to people that God is one.
There is a beautiful legend of Kabir’s Last Rites which also highlights how unity of religion was explained even at the stage of Mahasamadhi. After Mahasamadhi of Shri Kabir Das ji, his Muslim and Hindu disciples disputed the possession of his body and wanted to do last rites based on their customs (e.g. Muslims wished to bury; the Hindus wanted to burn). But when those people removed the sheet from Kabir’s body, they found a heap of flowers lying there. They divided the flowers among themselves Half of which were buried by the Muslims at Maghar and half carried by the Hindus to the holy city of Varanasi to be burned — a fitting conclusion to a life which had made fragrant the most beautiful doctrines of two great creeds.
Literature regarding the Shirdi Sai Baba as reincarnation of Saint Kabir Das
There are multiple books on Shirdi Sai Baba where it explained how Sai Baba is the reincarnation of Saint Kabir Das Ji.
Sai Hari Katha (Bhakti Sar Amrit) – Original Author “DASGANU MAHARAJ”, Translated by Dr. Rabinder Nath Kakarya Ji
Shri Sai Gurucharitra by Shri Das Ganu Maharaj
Shirdi Sai Baba and other Perfect Masters – By Shri C.B. Satpathy Ji (pages 42-49)
Life of Sai Baba Vol 3 – Shri B.V. Narasimha Swamy Ji
Sri Sripada Srivallabha Charitamrutam – Relationship between Sri Sripada Srivallabha and Shirdi Sai Baba (Chapters. 4, 18, 32, 45)
According to these books, Shri Saibaba is considered to be an incarnate of Kabir. He was handed over to His Guru Venkusha (GopalRao, an ardent devotee of Lord Venkateswara.) while he was very young.
In Jambavavi village of Maharashtra, there lived a householder named Shri Keshavarao. He didn’t have any child, so he prayed to Lord Vishnu. Lord Vishnu blessed Shri Keshavarao that Saint Ramananad (Guru of Saint Kabir in earlier incarnation) will be born as a child to him and instead of celibate he will be householder this time per wish of Shri Keshavarao. After nine months, the child was born and named Gopala. In his wanderings, Gopala came to Selwadi (Selu) and became famous as Zamindar Gopal Rao. He was very kind, treated people of all castes with respect and was merciful to all creatures. He was very pious beyond imagination. Once when Lord Cupid made Saint Gopala to gaze at a lady with lust; Saint Gopala was very pained by this act of his own and punished himself by puncturing own eyes. He told everyone that “My eyes were destroying my soul so I punished my eyes”. Later God enabled Shri Gopalrao to read mantras. It’s hard to describe the greatness of such a saint. There are numerous leelas of Shri Gopal Rao which are hard to cover in this post but request readers to read from the book. He cured many people from diseases and uplifted downtrodden.
Once Saint Gopalrao Maharaj went on pilgrimage to Prayag, Varanasi, Vrindavan, Mathura, Gokul, Somnath, Dwarka, Painthan and Junagadh. Afterwards, Maharaj visited the dargah of Sufi Saint Suwagshah in Ahmedabad. A voice came from the tomb, “Oh you great Sage Ramananda! Oh ocean of compassion! Truly you have not forgotten me. 10 miles from Selu, your disciple Kabir will incarnate in the town of Manwath”.
After some time, a Fakir woman (~50 years of age) came with a young boy (Sai Baba, four-five years old) to the court of Saint Gopalrao Maharaj and asked for help. The boy (Sai Baba) was born to a brahmin couple named Shri Vithala and Smt. Chakrapani Amma, who had given the boy to a Fakir per God’s wish. Fakir and his wife took care of the child till he was five years old. As per the last wish of Fakir, his wife went to Selu to seek help from Maharaj Venkusa (Gopal Rao) and handed over the responsibility of the child. Maharaj said – “Kabir’s mother has brought Kabir with her”. Maharaj accepted the young boy as a disciple.
Maharaj had great affection for the boy. Maharaj (who is perceived as Hindu) loved boy (son of Fakir, perceived as Muslim) so much that it become matter of jealousy of others and they tried to hurt and kill the boy. Maharaj saved the boy from the attack of the brick and took blows of the brick on himself (the same brick which Sai Baba used to keep with Him always). Maharaj gave all his siddhis to the young boy and told him to go far away and self took mahasamadhi at Selu. He told the boy that “Earlier as Kabir, you did Keertan but now in this birth you practice Mowna (silence), remain in one place and uplift those who surrender to You truely. Spread the message of unity of all religions”.
This text is based on a description by famous devotees (Shri Das Ganu Maharaj, Shri B.V. Narasimha Swami ji) and authors (e.g. Shri C.B. Satpathy Ji).
This early childhood details of Sai Baba is also confirmed in Sri Sripada Srivallabha Charitamrutam Mahagranth. Sai Baba Samartha Sadguru was born in brahmin of the line of Bharadwaja; lost his parents in childhood; was brought up by a Muslim fakir; learnt with a Hindu mahatma and kriya yoga from Shyama Charan (Lahiri Mahasaya); in later years, Lord Srīpāda conferred his power on him; is not different from Srīpāda‘s nature (chap. 4, 18, 32).
Guru Venkusa (Gopalarao, Swamī Venkavadhūta) Born in the early 19th century in a Brahmin family in the village Selu, Maharashtra; Vishnu worshipper and devotee of Lord Venkateswara is preceptor of Sai Baba (chap. 45)
Kabir’s Dohas Explaining Teachings of Shri Sai Satcharita
Devotees who have read Hindi edition of Shri Sai Satcharita has often come across Dohas which are used to explain meaning of content. During conversation between Shri Hetal Ji and Sevak Rohit Ji, Hetal Ji also said that she is not aware of this as she often uses the English edition for parayan. So we thought it would be interesting for the readers to also know this interesting fact who are not using the Hindi edition.
We are quoting few such dohas and related content to highlight the similarities in lives and teachings.
For example. In Chapter 1 of Shri Satcharita, the last section on “Philosophical Significance of Grinding “, the leela of Baba’s grinding wheat to eradicate Cholera disease reminded the author about the story of Saint Kabir Das.
This has been beautifully explained by popular Doha of Saint Kabir
Chalti Chakki Dekh Kar, Diya Kabira Roye
Do Patan Ke Beech Mein, Sabit Bacha Na Koye
“This reminds us of a similar story of Kabir who, seeing a woman grinding corn said to his Guru, Nipathiranjana, “I am weeping because I feel the agony of being crushed in this wheel of worldly existence like the corn in the hand-mill.” Guru Nipathiranjana replied, “Do not be afraid; hold fast to the handle of knowledge of this mill, as I do, and do not wander far away from the same but turn inward to the Centre, and you are sure to be saved.” – Chapter 1
In Chapter 4, Section “Personality of Sai Baba” (Shri Sai Baba Ka Vyaktitva in Hindi Edition), there are lines – “He swerved not an inch from Samadhi (mental equilibrium). The name of Allah was always on His lips. While the world awoke, He slept; and while the world slept, He was vigilant.” . This is beautifully explained by following doha of Shri Kabir Das Maharaj
Sukhiya Sab Sansar Hai Khaye Aru Soye
Dukhiya Daas Kabeer Hai Jaage Aru Roye
Due to Influence of Maya, people are happily busy eating and sleeping, this is the only goal of their lives due to ignorance. To see this sad situation of the world, Saint Kabir Das who is fully self-realized, feels sad. He stays awake worrying about everyone’s benefit and prays to God for the welfare of the people so people can spend invaluable time in chanting the name of God.
In Chapter-13, Section of “BhimaJi Patil”, there is mention “It is a well known fact that, when our circumstances are well off, we do not remember God, but when calamities and adversities overtake us, we are reminded of Him”. Same has been beautifully captured in another doha in Hindi edition
Dukh Mein Simran Sab Kare, Sukh Mein Kare Na Koye
Jo Sukh Mein Simran Kare, Tau Dukh Kahe Ko Hoye
In Chapter 18-19, Section “Variety in Upadesh — Slanderer Condemned”, it is explained that “Saints see scandal in another light. They say that there are various ways of cleansing or removing dirt, viz. by means of earth, water and soap etc., but a scandal-monger has got a way of his own. He removes the dirt (faults) of others by his tongue; so in a way he obliges the person, whom he reviles and for this he is to be thanked.”
Following popular doha highlights the same fact.
Nindak niyare rakhiye aangan kuti chhawaye,
Bin sabun pani bina nirmal karat subhaye
In Chapter 38, Section “Nanasaheb’s Disrespect of a Shrine”, it is quoted that “By drawing inferences or guessing in their own way some people said that Sai Baba was a Brahmin, and some that He was a Moslem. Really He belonged to no caste. No one knew definitely when He was born and in what community and who were His parents. Then how could He be a Moslem or Brahmin?”
This fact is highlighted with following doha in Hindi edition of Shri Sai Satcharita
Jaati Na Poochho Saadhu Kee, Poochh Leejiye Gyaan.
Mol Karo Talavaar Ka, Pada Rahan Do Myaan
All these examples of Dohas clearly highlight how the teachings of Saint Kabir Das Maharaj and Shirdi Sai Baba have stark similarities, though both used different ways of conveying the same essence.
Sai Baba declared his Religion is same as of Saint Kabir
Once Shirdi Sai Baba was summoned to testify before a Magistrate’s court when a thief said that the stolen goods were given to him by Sai Baba. Many devotees felt that it was not proper to ask Sai Baba to appear in person to give testimony in the court in Dhulia. The court agreed to their request and sent a first class magistrate to record the testimony of Shirdi Sai baba in Shirdi itself.
Commissioner: Your Name?
Sai Baba: All call me by the name of Sai Baba
Commissioner: Your father’s name?
Sai Baba: His name was also Sai Baba
Commissioner: Your Guru’s name?
Sai Baba: Venkusa
Commissioner: Your religion?
Sai Baba: The religion of Kabir
Commissioner: Your age?
Sai Baba: Millions of years
Commissioner: You take oath that you will tell the truth only
Sai Baba: I never told any lies before and I shall never tell lies in future also
Commissioner: Do you know the accused?
Sai Baba: There are none whom I do not know
Commissioner: The accused says that he is your devotee and he knows you.
Sai Baba: I am with all and all are mine.
Commissioner: Did you give those articles to the accused?
Sai Baba: In this world, whoever wants anything, I give them
Commissioner: What kind of right do you have over the articles given to him?
Sai Baba: Everything in this world is mine. There is nothing which does not belong to me.
Commissioner: This is a matter of serious nature involving theft. The accused says that you have given him these articles
Sai Baba: What is all this fuss? I have no connection with this affair
The court later found that the accused had never visited the village and all his claims of receiving stolen goods from Shirdi Sai Baba were false. It is interesting to reflect on some of the answers Shirdi Sai Baba gave to the routine questions asked by the Court Commissioner. Shirdi Sai claimed his age as millions of years and his religion as Kabir Panth.
There is so much to talk about the greatness of Saint Kabir Das Ji and Shirdi Sai Baba that it’s hard to cover in a single post. So we take permission of Baba to take rest at this point and request devotees to pay their respect to Saint Kabir Das Ji on this auspicious occasion of Jayanti and read the life story and more teachings in following references
There is a beautiful song (lyrics) by Smt. Lata Mangeshkar Ji on teachings of Saint Kabir Das Ji, one of my personal favorite ones, which Baba wanted me to share with you all.
Jai Kabir Das Ji Maharaj!
Jai Sai Ram!