Kabir Das chose this place for death to dispel a myth

The temple in which Kabir's samadhi lies.

Kabir Das, the 15th century Sufi poet. would have been lost in the history books like many others had it not been for the place where he chose to die. The place, called “Magahar”’, about 240 km from Lucknow, was then considered to be cursed, something many people still believe.

The powerful “purohits” (the upper caste Brahmin priests) had declared then that any one who breathed his last in the region, would not get a place in the heavens and he would instead take re-birth as a  donkey.

Kabir, who believed in breaking the myths and whose works tried to demolish the age-old superstitions and the caste system, originally belonged to “Kashi” (the old name of Varanasi), which was and is still considered to be a sacred land and it is believed that those who die there, get a place in  heavens.

Even today, many Hindus hold a similar belief. In fact, thousands of old people, mainly widows, go to Varanasi and await death in the hope of attaining salvation.

Kabir, however, did not believe in all this and in order to demolish the myth, he chose Magahar to die. His famous lines… ‘jo kabira Kashi mue to rame kaun nihora’ (what is the need for worshipping the God, if one can go to heaven simply by dying in Kashi), aptly sums up his philosophy of life.

Today the place attracts thousands of Kabir’s followers drawn from across the world. “Kabir’s philosophy is perhaps the most relevant one in today’s world… it can bring peace on the earth as it preaches equality among all the religions,’’ says  Mahant Vichar Das, the head of the Trust that looks after the tomb, a protected monument.

Spread on 27 acres of land, the place reminds one of the teachings by the Sufi poet, who spent his last days here meditating. The “mazar” and “samadhi” of Kabir Das lie side by side.

“Kabir had dared to challenge the supremacy of the purohits at a time when none had the courage to do so…. the purohits did not like him,’’ points out Dr Harisharan Das Shastri, who teaches philosophy at a local degree college.

Kabir’s followers included Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs and others, who may be following different religions. “Kabir  belongs to all…. his teachings are universal,’’ Shastri told Deccan Herald.

According to the legend, Kabir chose to leave the world at the age of 120. There was a fight between his Hindu and  Muslim followers after his death over his taking possession of his body. “When they lifted the cloth that covered his body all they found was some flowers, which they divided between them’’, he said.

A few hundred metres away from the “samadhi”,  lies a “gufa” (cave), where Kabir Das used to meditate. The Trust also runs a “Kabir Shodh Sansthan” (research foundation) that promotes research on the works of Kabir Das, Mahant Vichar Das says. It also runs a series of educational institutions where Kabir’s teachings have been included not only in the curriculum but also implemented in practice.

“We teach the students to be rational and shun orthodoxy and superstition’’, he said adding that the followers also take up ecological issues. Only recently, they
organised a demonstration to protest  rising pollution in the  Aami river, which is the life line of the local people.

The town seems to have adopted Kabir’s philosophy in true spirit. The  Hindus and Muslims can be seen to be living in the town in perfect harmony and peace. At a time, when communal harmony has become a rarity, the sufi poet’s teachings can greatly help the mankind.

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