From Kabir to TagoreKabir, a saint and mystic poet lived in North India around 15th century. He grew up in a family of a Muslim weaver, never mastered reading or writing but earned his living with the art of weaving. This is almost all we know about his life, intertwined with legends, where different sources tend to agree.
Kabir is held in great esteem in India even today. It is an interesting fact that there are both Hindus and Muslims among his admirers. Although the poetry of Kabir is religious, it is free by nature: it only refers to tradition without repeating it.
Kabir performed his ecstatic devotional songs in a dialect of Hindi that is out of use by now. More than word the essence and melody were important for him: hence a variety of different written records, translations and interpretations of his texts can be found. For the translations of Kabir’s texts the English-language world owes much to Rabindranath Tagore. Estonian poetess Doris Kareva has assembled a part of her interpretations of the poet’s legacy into a book called “Kabir. 99 Poems”, Huma Publishing House, 2003.
The hallmark of Kabir’s poetry is the ability to convey in his two-line poems what others may not be able to do in many pages:
“Like seed contains the oil, fire in flint stone
Your temple seats the Divine, realise if you can…”