William & Mary

Poems in the Style and Spirit of Kabir

RELG 213: Introduction to Hinduism

Kabir teachingKabir was a 15th/16th century devotional poet and social critic from northern India. The songs of Kabir are known and passionately performed far and wide in India today. Beloved for his rough rhetoric and irony, his bold, blunt language, and fearless attitude, Kabir criticized both Hindus and Muslims, promoting a religion of the heart in which priestly mediations, ritual practices, doctrinal commitments had no significant place.  Whether through paradox, playful wit, or cutting satire, Kabir sought to expose the hypocrisy and pretension of so much “organized religion” while emphasizing the preciousness of life, the power of selfless devotion, and the presence of Ram (his favorite name for the inconceivable Divine) within each of us.

The poems below were each written in the style and spirit of Kabir.  Some address themes and topics that Kabir himself engaged, while others take on aspects of our modern world and experience from an intentionally “Kabirian” perspective.  All of these poems were written by students in Professor Patton Burchett’s “Hinduism” course (Spring 2016) at The College of William and Mary.

Here is a link to some of Kabir’s own poetry: http://www.poemhunter.com/kabir/poems/
Here is a link to The Kabir Project, which produced four documentary films and ten audio CDs and poetry books exploring how Kabir’s poetry intersects with ideas of cultural identity, secularism, nationalism, and religion in South Asia today: http://www.kabirproject.org

Student Poems:

I said to them: Where are you going? ~Maegan Assaf

You say Devi is supreme ~Sean Hamill

Dry and barren is the seed. ~Shivani Gupta

Your ways belie the ties that bind ~Zach Hurst

Can you tell if that pile of ash was a rich man, poor man, happy man, sad man? ~Cara Alcorn

Kabir

You may have devotion to learning ~Gireesh Subramanim

If knowledge is what the institution had in mind ~Jessica Lee

Shake a pot of lemon juice and it will make noise ~Daniel Ruhnke

What is Man? ~Andrew Lewis

If God loves everyone ~Virginia Byrd

You come with different labels ~Neha Gurnani

To debate about the politics of the world around you ~Emily Thomas

So well read. ~Bradley Hamilton

I can hear them now; speaking in a manner that they believe will grant them peace of mind. ~Morgan Bucknor

Listen, foolish people ~Ford Avery

Men cannot hear frequencies that transcend the human ~Lily Greenwald

Text, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram. ~Joanna Easby 

Who are these pundits on air? ~Andrew Lewis

You who waste away on your smart phones ~Anonymous

Why go the lengths to criticize those around you? ~Anonymous 

Why is the remembered always the painful? ~Stephen Daniel

People on their phones ~Anonymous

If being the strongest ~Kelvin Abrokwa-Johnson