Kabir was born 1440, in Varanasi, to muslim weavers family. His names means great in Arabic.
His parents may have been recent converts to Islam. They were likely unaware of Islamic orthodox tradition. Later his family were likely to have been following the Nath (Shaiva Yogi) school of Hinduism.
Soon he become the first disciple of the Bhakti poet-saint Swami Ramananda in Varanasi. He is known for devotional Vaishnavism and Advaita. Advaita philosophy teaching that God was inside every person and everything.
Ramananda had refused to accept him as his disciple. He was lying on the steps that led the Ganges. Before dawn Ramananda took holy dip in the river.
The saint accidentally touched him with his foot and habitually cried “Rama,Rama!”, having touched him with feet. His quoting Hinduism’s most holy words (that became his “guru-mantra“) were enough, even for the orthodox Ramananda to accept him as his disciple. Kabir left Islam but that does not mean he adopted Hindu beliefs
Later he was married to a women named Dhania, they had at least one son named Kamal and a daughter named Kamali.
His family is believed to have lived in the locality of Kabir Chaura in Varanasi. Kabīr maṭha, a maṭha located in the back alleys of Chaura, celebrates his life and times.
Poems of Kabir
Kabir’s poems were in vernacular Hindi, borrowing from various dialects including Avadhi, Braj.
Soon his followers named his verbally composed poems of wisdom as “bāņīs” (utterances). These include songs and couplets, called variously dohe. The latter term means “witness”, implying the poems to be evidence of the Truth.
Literary works with compositions attributed to him include Bijak, Parachai, Sakhi Granth, Adi Granth (Sikh), and Kabir Granthawali (Rajasthan).
His philosophy to be a syncretic synthesis of Hinduism and Islam, but scholars widely state that this is false and a misunderstanding of Kabir.
Soon, he adopted their terminology and concepts, but vigorously criticized them both. Later he rejected the hypocrisy and misguided rituals. These ritual were evident in various religious practices of his day, including those in Islam and Hinduism.
The philosophy of Kabir and other sants of the Bhakti movement is the seeking of the Absolute. The ideas of God in Kabir’s philosophy as nirguna Brahman traced back to those in Adi Shankara’s theories on Advaita Vedanta school of Hinduism, albeit with some differences.
Later his messages appealed to the poor and oppressed. He reflect a “protest against social discrimination and economic exploitation”. He present the perspective of the poor and powerless, not the rich and powerful.
Later his disciples, Bhāgodās and Dharmadās championed the legacy of Kabir literature. Kshitimohan Sen collected his songs from mendicants across India. Rabindranath Tagore translated to these poem to English.
Kabir panth (“Path of Kabir”) carried his carried forward legacy. Soon a religious community that recognizes him as its founder and is one of the Sant Mat sects.
After his death, panth spead in various parts of India over the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Panthis dispersed with the Indian diaspora across the world.
Adi Granth, the scripture of Sikhism, incorporated Kabir’s verses. The verses attributed to him constituting the largest non-Sikh contribution.