Kabir was a mystic and poet
born in India around 1398. As
an infant, he was abandoned on
the streets of Benares. He was
taken in and raised by a Muslim
family. As an adult, he became a
weaver–of cloth and of words.
He wrote eloquent poems and
songs that teach of the essential
oneness of all religions. He was
critical of all meaningless rites
and mindless repetition, yet he
belonged to the disciplined,
intense and exacting guru

From Hinduism Kabir accepted
the ideas of reincarnation and
the law of karma, but rejected
idolatry, asceticism, and the
caste system. His poems speak
with the voice of the Bakti
tradition, which is the way of the
heart, a tradition that speaks of
God as “The Lover.”

From Islam, Kabir accepted the
idea of one God and the equality
of all men. He fits well into the
Sufi tradition.

Revered by both Hindus and
Muslims, he is also considered
a forerunner of Sikhism. His
ideas led to the founding of
several sects, including the
Kabir Panth, which regards
Kabir as its principal guru.

As his works have been
translated into English, he has
received a wide following among
Westerners of all spiritual

Here are two poems by Kabir,
translated by Robert Bly:


Are you looking for me? I am in the next seat.
My shoulder is against yours.
You will not find me in stupas, not in Indian shrine
rooms, nor in synagogues, nor in cathedrals:
Not in masses, nor kirtans, not in legs winding
around your own neck, nor in eating nothing
but vegetables.
When you really look for me, you will see me
you will find me in the tiniest house of time.
Kabir says, Student, tell me, what is God?
He is the breath inside the breath.


Have you heard the music that no fingers
enter into?
Far inside the house
entangled music–
What is the sense of leaving your house?
Suppose you scrub your ethical skin
until it shines,
but inside there is no music,
then what?
Mohammed’s son pores over words,
and points out this
and that,
but if his chest is not soaked dark with love,
then what?
The Yogi comes along in his famous orange.
But if inside he is colorless, then what?
Kabir says: Every instant that the sun is risen,
if I stand in the temple, or on a balcony,
in the hot fields, or in a walled garden,
my own Lord is making love to me.

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