I was gifted with a copy of the set of poems by Kabir, translated into English by the well known Sikh writer, poet and philosopher Dr. Kartar Singh Duggal. My first reaction was to ask myself how come poems with such beautiful thought had not come to my notice till so late in my life. I decided to popularize the work, in a book review, as the saying of Kabir contain thoughts of deep import and for many from the South it is like a discovery of a new kingdom. The introduction to the translations by Duggal himself is most revealing. I, having been brought up in a Bhakti atmosphere and a Christian school background, was surprised at the modernity of Kabir’s thoughts, as one would have believed that they would all belong to medieval and Gangetic India. The work of Duggal has recreated Kabir for us forcefully and effectively in the English language, a language except for reasons historical, that is so very foreign to us. In any case it has cleared my mind of the many wrong impressions. I had of Kabir. He was not merely Bhakti poet, par excellence, in love with Rama and the Ramayana, the Vedas and the Puranas, he was a Muslim and a thinker of great depth, summarizing the philosophical thoughts of ancient India in a manner that amazes the reader. It is critical of the excesses of the times but even in translation, the deep love of humanity comes in out cries for reform.
March 2004, volume 28, No 3