The Prayer

(notes by John Radcliffe)


This poem was first published in December 1901 as a heading to chapter xiv of Kim (p. 158) It is listed in ORG as no. 775. It should not be confused with “A Song of Kabir” which is linked to “The Miracle of Purun Baghat”> in The Second Jungle Book.
Confusingly, “The Prayer” is entitled “A Song of Kabir” in one American edition of Songs from Books, and on the title page of Twenty Poems (1918). {see ORG p. 5393)


It is collected as “A Prayer” in:

  • Songs from Books (1913)
  • Inclusive Verse (1919)
  • Definitive Verse (1940)
  • The Sussex Edition vols xxi and xxxiv (1939)
  • The Burwash Edition vols xvi and xxvii (1941)
  • Cambridge Edition (2013) Ed. Thomas Pinney, p. 788.

The poem

The poem is an affirmation of the belief, long-held by Kipling, that all religions are ultimately seeking the same truths, a belief that shines through Kim. The boy himself is able to move freely between creeds. His mentors, whom he respects impartially, include the Lama, a devout Buddhist; Mahbub Ali, a Muslim; Colonel Creighton and Father Victor, who are Christians; and Hurree Babu, outwardly a Hindu, but with an intellectual Bengali’s fascination with European, as well as Indian, ideas, and a healthy respect for witchcraft.

In “The Miracle of Purun Baghat”, Purun Dass is a high caste Hindu, who relinquishes his career as a senior administrator to become a wandering saddhu, pondering endlessly on the meaning of life.

©John Radcliffe 2018 All rights reserved