Kabir Panthis

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A Kabir Panthi lay person is called a Bhakta (Devotee) and priests are addressed with the honorific title of Mahant. Spiritual leaders are called Acharya (Guru). Monks who are more ascetic in nature, who do not marry and engage in more severe spiritual pursuits while never living in one place, constantly moving from monastery to monastery are called Brahmachari Sadhus ( Unmarried Monk), whereas those monks who do marry, have children and live a more relaxed spiritual life are Grihasta Sadhus ( Married Monk). Similarly, women who have chosen to be Nuns are called Sadhvis. God is called by an infinite array of names but some of the more common names are “Satya Purush”, “Soham Sadguru”, “Adi Guru, Param Satyeshwar”, or simply “Sadguru Kabir Saheb”. During their religious ceremonies Kabir Panthis sing the songs, bhajans and Sakhis of Kabir to the music of cymbals, drums and other Indian instruments. The Guru recites various prayers and Mantras, all of which remind devotees to remember God in all that they do.

Kabir Panthis can follow the ethical and social customs of the day according to tradition without hindrance. Lay persons can be cremated according to Hindu law and priests can be buried or cremated depending upon which tradition one wishes to follow . In the Caribbean and across North America, Kabir Panthis may opt for burning or burial. Modern Kabir Panthis do not seem to be different from orthodox Vaishanavites; they worship the idol of Kabir, wear sacred thread and sandalwood paste.

Kabir Panthis observe sanctity and purity in their daily lives and behavior. The foundation of their belief and practice is Dharma (the natural Law of life),  Satya (The primordial and eternal truth),  Ahinsha (Non violence),  towards all beings through word and deed”, Bhakti( Devotion and love for god and a higher spiritual reality), Sraddha, (Faith and unswerving loyalty), Asteya (Neither hoarding nor coveting), Kshama (Forgiveness and patience),  Daya (Compassion, mercy, and conquering feelings of cruelty and insensitivity towards all beings), Shaucha (Purity in body, mind and speech),  Aparigraha (Limiting possessions to what is necessary and being non-materialistic), Anekantvada (Acceptance of different beliefs and the multiplicity of viewpoints), Vishwa Bandhutva (The universal brotherhood of all beings) and Atma Gyan (The awareness of one’s true self, which is no different from the one true reality which pervades in everyone, thus making everyone the one and only true reality).  These basic set of guidelines gives Kabir Panthis an all-encompassing formula for Love, Humility, Compassion and Unity. One’s mind and body must be kept pure by contemplation and avoiding gross and complicated behavior. Such practice will allow one to attain salvation while living no matter what ones religion or other personal endeavor may be.

A mark of initiation into the Kabir Panth is given in the form of a Kanthi Mala (Basil garland). It is a necklace made from the sacred Basil beads. It is also made out of holy Rudraksha beads and can also be made using yagyopaveet (Sacrificing string) with just one large Basil or Rudraksha bead. It is worn by choice and is typically given to one who has committed to avoiding lust, anger, greed, attachment to perishable things, and ego. Yoga involves remembering God by repeating “Satyanaam” (Supreme God).  Kabir Panthis believe in simplicity of life; simple food, clothing and belongings. One should only acquire what is needed for sustenance. Kabir Panthis are strictly vegetarian and avoid the use of alcohol and tobacco.

Separate organizations have formed over the years. One of the largest groups of Kabir Panthis outside India is in Trinidad and Tobago: three smaller active groups exist in Guyana, Suriname and also in Canada. The Kabir Panth Association in Trinidad and Tobago operates two primary schools and was one of the first religious denominational schools founded in the region. Recently, other groups have been formed in Trinidad and Tobago ( like Kabir Chaura Math, Satya Kabir Nidhi), each with their own emphasis on the teachings of Kabir Saheb and with their own affiliations in Trinidad and Tobago, India and elsewhere in the World.

Sultan Bodh

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