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Kabir

Kabir (kəbērˈ) [key], 1440–1518, Indian mystic and poet. A Muslim by birth, he was a weaver in Benares (Varanasi) and early in life may have become the disciple of the famous Hindu saint Ramananda. Representing the anticlerical, antiauthoritarian Indian bhakti movement, Kabir opposed caste practices, ritual, image-worship, and all forms of religious sectarianism; he taught the brotherhood of Hindu and Muslim under one God. Because of his anti-institutional ideas he was subject to persecution and banished from Benares c.1495. Thereafter he traveled from one N Indian city to another and died at Maghar near Gorakhpur. Originally composed aloud by the illiterate Kabir and after his death written down by his followers, his songs in Hindi show the fusion of Muslim and Hindu devotional traditions.

See Poems of Kabir (tr. by R. Tagore, 1915, often repr.) and Songs of Kabir (tr. by A. K. Mehrota, 2011); I. A. Ezekiel, Kabir, the Great Mystic (1966).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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