A Song of Kabir

(notes by Alan Underwood)


Four four-line stanzas, following “The Miracle of Purun Baghat”.  After magazine publication in October 1894, published in The Second Jungle Book, later collected in Songs from Books (1913)..

Notes on the text

[Title] Kabir: Kabir was a disciple of Ramanand (c. 1400-1470) who founded a Hindu sect. The mendicant members of the sect were known as Bairagis. Kabir taught that distinctions of creed were unimportant. He influenced both Hindua and Muslim thought, and in particular the Sikh religion. His utterances form much of the text of the Abi Granth, the sacred book of Sikh priests.

[Line 2] fiefs: A fief, originally a feudal benefice, has come to mean something over which one has control, a domain or dominion.

[Line 3] guddee: a throne, or seat of office.

[Line 4] bairagi: the crutch or staff carried by a holy man, but in this context the holy man himself.

[Line 6] sal: Shovea robusta is a timber tree, with wood like teak.

[Line 6] kikar: Acacia arabica which produces a gum and a tannin widely used in northern India for tanning leather.

[Line 8] the Way: by tradition, the Buddha said:

There is a path which opens the eyes and bewstows understanding. which leads to peace., to insight, to thr higher wisdom. Verily it is this Noble Eightfold Path: that is to say, Right Views, Right Aspirations, Right Speech, Right Conduct, Right Livelihood, Right Effort, Right Mindedness, and Right Raptire.

[R. Durand, A Handbook to the Poetry of Rudyard Kipling 1914, p. 182]

It is not always clear what Kipling meant by ‘The Way’, but there is probably something to be said for the ORG suggestion that he meant:

‘the road to beatitude, nirvana, external bliss, or paradise, without any reference to formal religion’

[Line 11] the Red Mist of Doing: ‘The Hot Mist of Doing’in the Pall Mall Budget.

[F. A. U.]

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