Saint Kabir has been one of the most unique Indian poet – thinker. Kabir was a peak in spiritual consciousness. Let us explore his wisdom.
Kabir is a man of candor. He has spoken extensively on the guru-shishya (teacher-student) relationship. In the whole world, I doubt if anyone has written so extensively on the teacher-student relationship as Kabir has. Most of his writings have been polluted by compilers. They wax eloquent about the guru. In the following verse, which having read him extensively, I think comes directly from the master, he frankly expresses his opinion about a poor teacher. He shares rather openly, what according to him, is detrimental to the exchange of knowledge.
Aage andha koop mein, duja liya bulaaye.
Dono doobe baapure, nikase kaun upaay
(Kabir cautions of a guru who is himself in delusion.
Such a guru is already drowned in darkness and worsens the situation of his confused disciple.)
This couplet is about a guru, a teacher, who doesn’t know. It is a fact that there are many so called teachers in the world who themselves do not know. They have by force of circumstance reached the pulpit and are disseminating knowledge just to serve their egos. If you take advice from such a stereotype personality then you are bound to lose. For instance, if you ask for counsel, from a person who thinks aggression is the panacea to all ills, he would advice you to be aggressive only. That is the only remedy he has. Abraham Maslow has said, When the only tool you own is a hammer, every problem begins to resemble a nail.
So in this couplet, Kabir is cautioning you. Before selecting a guide, ensure that he is not a stereotype personality. Ensure that he is not an ignorant, who thinks he knows. The guru chosen should be wise and balanced. He should not be someone who projects his own frustrations or his own ignorance on his students. He should not be someone whose paranoia or lopsided views rub off on you and you also start sharpening the spoons in your kitchen into knives.
Such Gurus are always ready with an answer. They are readymade gurus with readymade answers. Normally a question should be the seed of the answer i.e. the question should be mulled over and then its answer should be arrived at. These teachers have the answers ready and will impose it on the question. I once met Mr. Henry Kissinger. And he told me that politicians come to the press conferences ready with four answers. Then no matter what the questions are the press gets these four answers. Same for these gurus. They know some answers- most of these are also borrowed and not arising from their own individualities. No matter what the student asks he will get one or more of these answers. They mislead their students and lead them to darkness instead of light.
Kabir is therefore asking the students to choose their guru wisely. If the guru is blind and so is his student (which is expected), then (in one of his other dohas Kabir has said, Andha Andha theliy) how can a blind man lead another blind man.