Poem-A-Day 2019: Kabir (India)

I’m sorry I didn’t post a poem last night. My cousin Vali fronts a metal band called Black Market Tragedy, and last night they were playing a rare acoustic show at the House of Blues, and I didn’t get home until much later than anticipated.

The band was awesome. No regrets, none whatsoever.

I’ll give you an extra poem this weekend, when I have a little more time.

A friend of mine from grade school and high school, Nicole, gave me a book last year for my birthday called Mala of the Heart: 108 Sacred Poems. It contains fragments of beautiful poetry, sometimes centuries old, that I found just lovely to read and meditate on in the evenings. Here’s one of the poems that resonated with me the most, and continues to do so, especially now, when I’m frankly having a particularly stressful time at work. It would have done wonders for some of my family members back in the day, too.

This meditation is from Kabir of India.


If you circumambulated every holy shrine in the world
ten times,
it would not get you to heaven
as quick
as controlling your


Kabir Das (ca. 1440-1518, India) was raised by a Muslim family of weavers, though legend has it that his birth mother may have been a Brahmin widow. Kabir became a disciple of the Hindu bhakti saint Ramananda at an early age, and his name is often interpreted as “Guru’s Grace.” Though a great mystic and contemplative, Kabir never abandoned a worldly life. He sought to bridge the religious cultures yet was denounced by mainstream religious leaders during his lifetime. At Kabir’s death, his body turned to flowers, and his Hindu and Muslim followers each took half to perform last rites. A saint in the bhakti and Sufi tradition, Kabir expressed through his poetry self-surrender, divine love, and inward worship of the beloved with the heart.

Biographical information quoted from Mala of the Heart, edited by Ravi Nathwani and Kate Vogt.