In India men put on ochre, saffron, yellow, smear ash on their body, apply sandalwood paste to their forehead, wear rosaries, believing that all these things are an essential part of worship, necessary for realizing God. They worship idols by bathing them, dressing them with flowers and offering them sweets. Kabir says that such devotees have taken God to be a plaything. Lost in their own world of make believe, they have no idea of the path of true devotion, Saints do not bother with such external formalities and shows of holiness. Outwardly they live and dress like ordinary men but inwardly they have realized God. Worldly people unaware of their inner attainment criticize and malign them. Kabir says that in order to attain the inner state of the saints a seeker should give up all external formalities and worship and serve a perfect master.

People put saffron marks on their forehead,
Carry rosaries in their hands And don religious garb;
If I am mad, O Lord, I am still Thine.
What do other know of my inner state?
Iíll not pluck leaves, Iíll not worship idols,
for other than devotion to God all worship is futile.
What do people know of my inner state?
I only worship my true Master;
Ever, ever I try to please Him
And through such service, Iíll attain bliss in the Lordís court.
If I am mad, still I am thine, O Lord;
How can others know my inner state?
People say Kabir has gone mad,
but only the Lord knows kabirís inner state of bliss.

Ways of Worship

Enumerating some of the different ways people adopt to gain salvation. Kabir points out that these practices do not lead to the contact with Nam, essential for attaining freedom from the cycle of birth and death. Rejecting all external observances and ritualistic practices, Kabir stresses the importance of the Master, through whose grace the seeker can acquire Nam- the essence of all knowledge and merge in the Lord.

Seeing the ways of the world, O Lord,
My mind is puzzled.
Hence I keep myself absorbed
Day and night in the thought of thee.

Some read and ponder holy books,
Some wander about indifferent to everything;
Some stay naked even in rain and storm,
Some make themselves feeble and thin
Through intricate yogic practices;
Such people will never merge into the Lordís Name.
Seeing their ways, O Lord, My mind is puzzled.

Some give up all some become mendicants,
Some dole out alms to earn merit;
Some become kalapis and take drugs,
Some take to Mantra, some to medicines;
Some control the breath and gain miraculous powers,
Some visit all the pilgrimage places;
Some undertake fasts and austerities
And gain control over their body;
Such people will never develop
True Love for the Lordís name.

Seeing their ways, O Lord, My mind is puzzled.



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