Land of the dead

I have lost this post more than once to Blogger. Everytime I hit a “Publish” it publishes nothing. No, I mean it. It publishes nothing. My whole post just vanishes!! Truly the Land of the dead

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I have been wanting to write this post since several months, but haven’t yet found time, i.e. till today. I really liked the way Agnee has rendered the song very very well. To those who know very little about Kabir, please read this, this and this. I have been reading (like many Indian students who study Hindi in school) his dohas from a very young age but understood less of them then. I love the way Mohan (I think) has sung this song. Nice earthy touch to it in a full throated depth.

Sadho re! Ye Murdon ka gaon
Sadho re! Ye murdon ka gaon, Ye murdon ka gaon.
Oh Seeker! This is the land of the dead, the ghost’s land indeed.

Peer marey, paigambar maree hai
Seers have died, the Divine have died too (Paigambar means one whose feet are set in the heavens)

Mari hai zinda jogi (Agnee sings it as Mar gaye instead of Mari)
Dead is the living Yogi (Beautiful line!)

Raja mari hai, parja mari hai
Kings have died, subjects have died.

Mar gaye baid aur rogi
The healer and diseased have died too.

Sadho re! Ye murdon ka gaon, Ye murdon ka gaon.
Oh Seeker! This is the land of the dead, the ghost’s land indeed.

[The following lines in blue are not in the song above]
Chanda mari hai, suraj mari hai
The Moons die and so do the Suns

Mari hai dharni akasa
Dead is the Earth and firmament.

Chaudan bhuvan ke chadhary mari hai
The lords of the fourteen worlds are dead too

In hoon kee kaa aasaa?

Then why desire any of them? OR What hope do any of them house? (not sure)

Nau hoon mari hai, Das hoon mari hai
They have died in single and double digits (I interpret 9-nau and 10-das to signify the numerocity of deaths)

Mari hai sahaj atthaasee

Effortlessly die the infinite ( I interpret 88-atthaasee to signify the infinite, 8 does look like the infinity symbol on alert!!)

Thaenthees koti devata mari hai
The various Gods we believe in, are dead too

Badi kaal ki baazi

Great is the play of Time.

Naam anaam anant rahat hai
Our effort to categorise (name) this world and proclaim the unnamed, lives on.

Dooja tatva na hoi
There is no other truth to this.

Kahe Kabir, suno bhai sadho,
Says Kabir, Listen Oh! Seeker.

Bhatak maro mat koi.
Don’t lose yourself to death/the dead.

(For the song in Devanagari, please click here (thanks to Nila-Kantha-Chandra)

An interpretation:
Kabir is probably not being casual or simplistic when he says that nearly everyone is “dead”. He seems to use the word dead to the common effect of one who hasn’t lived, esp. lived the Divine. Undoubtedly, this keeps changing depending on the “person” whom he proclaims “dead”.
In the first few lines, he denounces the teachings of all great saints and seers. This is very much like the Dao story about the Master reading all the ancient texts and the smith passing his comment about they all being a waste. In Dao too, the very first stanza declares that no uttered word is the real Dao. Kabir, too, seems to follow that path in declaring all seers as dead. They have had their time and are now dead (literally). To cling to them is as ridiculous as clinging to a corpse in the hope that one can gain whatever he had when alive. What the seers have realised is purely theirs. To know the Divine requires to be reborn every single minute and know the Divine for oneself rather than follow Google Maps to Heaven! To be reborn, also requires one to die every single minute, and hence the living Yogi is actually dead (he is not what you saw, and just died to what you see). Those who were the messengers of the Lord, have done their bit and died. They were dead to this world the minute they knew the Divine, though they appear alive in the land of the dead.
The great achiever dies (the king) and so do the insignificant multitude that crowds this earth. Neither of them pause to connect to the Divine. The King is in the grips of his power and wishes to maintain his position, the commoner is struggling to live and make life manageable, unable to spare a minute to do anything about that which never dies (the soul). Thus, he kills both the named and the unnamed though the naming and living in oblivion is deathless. In Sankhya, the Purusha (unnamed/unqualified) and the Prakriti (qualified/categorised based on guna) are eternal and are the cause of this world. 
Every person who tries to realise this truth (the healer/priest) dies too (whether he was successful or not) and so does the diseased (the person who is caught up in his individual complaints and worries) because neither attempt to realise that which cannot be tainted. The Divine is not available to atrophy. The decay of the body is a matter of chemistry and one who can break all vulnerability can keep his body and soul alive forever (reminds me of the story of the Lost Horizon by James Hilton, one of my favourites from school). To the rational mind, this appears weird and unproven, hence, unreliable. To the blinded mind, this is possible as is anything else. It is the gnostic mind that smiles (well, it always was). 
The elements in their very nature die every minute and are reborn. They are consumed and return to this earth in various other forms. The human mind worries about extinction and erosion. The Earth does not. The universe does not. Nothing of this universe prevents a man from doing what he wants to do, because the universe knows, that nothing of the rational mind can thieve that which is eternal. In that, the universe always lives and neither hinders nor assists the individual or collective body. None of elements have any desire nor do they function in discordance with the Divine will. They follow and hence, have their own way.
In all their physicality, every single creature that is born, has died. Why does anyone wish otherwise? Why is the timeless not preserved? We cling to that which is of time and then blame Time for its expiry. How amusing is the way of the people here in the land of the dead!
That which we name, probably lives down centuries. That which we haven’t been able to name, lives on. We never stop naming (and hence, forming cults and sects) and often do so in an attempt to grasp the unnamed. As is also said in the Dao Duh Jiing (I finally found some wonderful Chinese folks to pronounce it for me!), our need to recognise and recall creates the named and going beyond all of that creates in us no need to deal with the named. The named world dies and repeatedly, so Oh seeker, why do you wish to lose yourself in the dead? Why, oh! why do you wish to not unify with the Divine but die? You roam this world in search for that one which won’t die but refuse to hold it in you. You seek laurels that are eternal and friends who will always be with you. You seek leaders who are flawlessly living forever and spend your time amidst people who die due to the very fact of their ineptitude and disconnect. You look for Gods to keep you alive when they themselves have died to that need and hence, live on forever. Why lose yourself in this land of the dead? And in wandering like this, why do you lose yourself to death?

Please watch the video in this post. I like the way they have captured the commonness of man (and death is the only common thing to all men) with a little innocent girl running around the streets. I also like the scenes shot in the ghat. Watch it quick as they seem to be disappearing from YouTube! The video that I now have in this post is the complete one but I sure didn’t like the end with the “priests” dancing with the band. If you want an idea of the hairstyle I am sporting, trim the singer’s hair some more!!! 🙂

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4 thoughts on “Land of the dead

  1. # Brilliant and true! – your interpretation to the whole of this Kabir’s work. One fallacy in all of it is that you too are lost in the schism of the Divine and the Undivine; all of which is very interesting in the context of words, explanation and speech, but loses its meaning when the contemplation is on the one fundamental realisation of spirituality which is All is the Brahman.If and when we do realise it of course. Truly enjoyed that vibration in your that wrote it out. Its purity and starkness are like fresh water from a clear spring.Thank you.# I liked the music given to the song; it gathers the pathos in Kabir’s meaning into itself; the video too fits the song, the music very sweetly.Nice.# :-D- if you are sporting a hairstyle that comes to exist after ‘trimming the singer’s hair some more’, I suspect it cannot be called hair, nor a style! What in the world would it be? God only knows, or maybe only your stylist or the roadside beautician can shed light on this bright bald head!

  2. This song has very simple meaning. Be devoted to just one name, “Naam” (naam is symbol for god) which never dies. Dont get entangled in affairs of world and power, pleasure etc as all this temporary and not lasting.

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