Kabir on Transience

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Had-had tape so auliya

Behad tape so peer

Had-anhad dono tape

Wako naam Fakir.

-Kabir

One who transcends limits is protector

One who transcends limitless is spiritual guide

One who transcends both limits and limitless

Is called Fakir.

-Kabir

Kabir, the ultimate Fakir and a renowned mystic poet from 15th century India, saw clearly how temporary everything is.  As children growing up in India, we had Kabir’s Dohe (couplets) in our textbooks. Here is translation of one of his poems Mat Kar Maya ko Ahankaar, Mat kar Kaya ko Abhimaan. Liberty is taken not to translate verbatim but to capture the meaning. It was fascinating to read 500 year old Hindi.

Kabir first tells about a powerful king in past and how small is human life span in backdrop of flow of time.

There was a strong emperor

All powerful and ruler of lands

Elephants in his majestic court

All in the end

As ephemeral as dew drops

Then Kabir reminds us that we all face grief over losses due to impermanence of things.

Parents and family

And all attachments

Why feel grief over loss?

Everyone eventually passes away

As ephemeral as dew drops

Finally, Kabir tells us that message of humility is what one should learn.

Don’t be so arrogant of wealth

Don’t be so proud of looks

This body is more frail than clay

Just a gust of wind, even a small one,

Can turn you into dust

Falling Autumn Leaves Cad Frunze Toamna Ruginie Pictures

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Sahir Ludhianvi and Mystery of Time

 

When I was growing up in India, like everyone around me, I was fortunate to experience some great music from Bollywood. Wonderful voices of Rafi Sahib, Asha Ji, Kishore Da, Lata Ji, and many other great singers, combined with poetry of many talented writers, provided a deep aesthetic experience for our growing minds. Radio used to be always on in my childhood home.

In particular, Sahir Ludhianvi’s poetry stood out. I remember two songs “sansaar ki har shay ka” and “aage bhi jaane na tu” which made me wonder as there seemed to be a jewel hidden in the songs.

Later I learned how physicists are grappling with the nature of time. Whether it is Arthur Eddington’s Arrow of Time, or The Wheeler-DeWitt equation of a timeless universe, or emergent space-time in quantum theory, time remains a fundamental mystery. Even the notion of the present moment and how we perceive it, is amazing as shown by Einstein in relativity of time and in relativity of simultaneity. Thanks to my daughter who keeps me updated with all this wonderful science. 🙂

In “sansaar ki har shay ka”, here is the translation of one of the stanzas:

where is this path from, where is it leading to,

nobody knows the secret of this mystery.

on the Eyelid of this moment, rests the cosmos,

till the closing of the Eye, all this is a beautiful game

and, here is from “aage bhi jaane na tu”:

you don’t know what is ahead, you don’t know what is behind you,

whatever is, is this moment alone

Sahir is expressing his awe and sense of mystery, and how our subjective experience of the present moment creates the magic of universe and brings it to life to us.

A poet’s expression and a theoretical physicist’s equation. Two sides of a great effort to understand.

I wish all the bright minds, and students in sciences, and new generations, very best to unravel this deep mystery.

dali