Bhay bin Bhav na upaje, bhay bin hoye na preeti
Jab Hirday se bhay gaya, miti sakal riti
(Kabir says that without an element of fear, it is difficult to feel happiness or sorrow. Fear is important even to feel affection for the Guru. In the absence of fear, one loses reverence for his master and can easily abandon all ethical behaviour, resulting in a loss of his own identity).
Every mother once in a while has to scare her child. Why? Does she not love her child? No. If there is one expression of love, it is the love between the mother and the child. She loves her child, almost as she loves herself, and sometimes even more. Ever wondered how easy it is to please a mother? You just have to say, Mother I’m hungry – This is enough to galvanize her into action. And she is on an ecstatic trip now. She is cooking something for her child. And while you might think it is labour, it is only a labour of love for her. And that is the kind of love she has for her child. Then why does she scare the child once in a while. Two reasons – Sometimes there is an urgency of result which is required. Maybe one has to board a train and the child is not letting go. So she says, Let me go now or the policeman will catch you. Or sometimes, the child, because of his lack of knowledge and understanding, is about to harm himself or another, which is when the mother uses a scare tactic. Now even when she uses this tactic and the child responds negatively by crying against it, somewhere at the back of the child’s mind, he understands that what the mother is doing is in my best interest. So the mother in many ways preserves the child. With time, this bond of love between the mother and the child grows and both the parties understand that discipline is important.
By fear, Kabir is referring to discipline. For him discipline is a type of love only. It is a tough love. But the quality of fear generated should be good. That is, the person being disciplined must understand that this discipline is for his long term good. It is not to harass him or to give him his due. It is for his long term good. It is this kind of fear that Kabir talks of in this couplet. He feels that without this kind of fear, often love can’t be born, and even if it is born, love will not flourish if such a fear is completely absent.
Also fear serves as the backdrop for love. For love to stand out, you need a background. In order to think of yourself as a man of love, you will have to give up the idea of thinking of yourself as a man who never goes to war. History has called upon men for such decisions. This is true in most individual and personal relationships. Life may, more than once, call upon you to prove who you are by demonstrating an aspect of who you are not. Have you ever wondered why Jesus Christ, a true man of love, chased out the money-changers with a whip? Perhaps, because he knew that love wouldn’t work there. Or he felt that the time for love was up. It was time for discipline. This kind of discipline accentuates the image of love. It becomes the right background through which love stands out and is not taken for granted. This is another way in which fear or discipline makes love more prominent, more noticeable, more worthy.