Bhay se bhakti karen sab, bhay se puja hoye
Bhay paras hai jeev ko, nirbhay hoye na koye
(Kabir says that ‘fear’ (probably of the unknown) is instrumental in moving people towards prayer and taking to devotional practices. Fear works like the philosopher’s stone that causes people to tread on the right path).
Kabir reaches the heart of the matter. He says, fear is instrumental in moving people towards prayer and taking to devotional practices.
How was prayer or religion born? Imagine the time of the Paleolithic man. How did he start folding his hands in prayer? Possibly, at that time lightning, floods, other calamities and death – were not explainable. So the sky which was blazing and the thunders which were rumbling made him kneel out of apprehension and start praying. And God, as we know, was born.
Then, as society progressed, some people made a fence around a piece of land and started calling it their own. They marked a boundary and somehow made other people accept it. All powerful people marked a boundary – and the concept of private property was born.
The next emotion born was – Greed. If one didn’t have property he was considered a failure and disrespected even in his family. So greed was also, in the beginning, linked to failure (fear of failure/ rejection). It was the fear of failure which fanned the greedy instinct in man. Man started thinking that if I don’t have property then I will be considered a failure, I won’t be able to do much and would be deserted by even my near and dear ones. So man started bowing down to God; not only to protect himself but also to progress materially. So this prayer and devotion was born basically out of fear. Fear was the original source, the fountain head.
Now, Kabir is not belittling the man who has begun worshipping because of fear. Kabir feels that it doesn’t matter what brings you close to God; if it is fear, so be it. The important thing is that you come close to God. The trigger is not important. The outcome is.
Fear also works like the philosopher’s stone that causes people to tread on the right path. Most people are pushed towards religion because of fear. Then they start disciplining themselves morally because of fear. Hence, fear is a stepping stone to spirituality. Your thoughts, words, deeds and relationships start changing because you take to prayer. Slowly, a new chord is born between you and let’s say, God. Earlier, you were bowing to him only because of fear and then slowly, because you change, another relationship with this universal spirit starts forming. This means, prayer helps you align yourself better with that force field of goodness – (let us call it) God. First it aligns you better, then it conditions you and as this conditioning is happening, slowly fear starts dropping. You stop thinking that God is a capricious personality who is only there to keep account of your sins and virtues and maintain a balance sheet or someone who has to, from time to time, punish you for all your wrongs doings. So Kabir is saying that the first step towards religion is taken because of fear. Therefore, fear not only initiates your relationship with God, fear takes you to the platform where there is a possibility of this relationship evolving to a higher plane.
In this verse, Kabir is highlighting this utility of fear. How fear transforms a man and how it is the scaffolding on which the spiritual edifice is erected.