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Saint Kabirdas engaged in loom weaving accompanied by Saint Ravidas

Lovely Bhadra
Saint Kabir with Saint Ravidas, Mughal, c. 1625 CE, Watercolour on paper, 18.4 x 25 cm, National Museum Collection

Saint Kabir with Saint Ravidas​, Mughal, c. 1625 CE, Watercolour on paper, 18.4 x 25 cm, National Museum Collection

Sant Kabir and Sant Raidas (Ravidas) are two of the most esteemed saints from Varanasi. This illustration in the Mughal style depicts the two saints. The horizontal painting is rendered on paper with the use of the technique of tempera watercolor. Here, Saint Kabir is depicted weaving a garment on the loom outside his hut. The tracing of ribs and skin folds on his half-exposed body are quite apparent. He is also adorned with a Kanthamala (garland of rudraksha) on his neck and wrist. Saint Raidas, sitting close by on a carpet is depicted in a pondering state of mind while counting rudraksha, rosary beads. Both the saints seem religiously connected to each other.  They both are clad in dhotis along with turbans tied on their heads. The artist has skillfully used shading with earthy pigments, along with the use of white.

The artist has captured the wisdom and simplicity of the two saints in their true natural form. The artist has also precisely delineated the realistic rural vista in the background where we can see the clear tracing of a hut. The painting brings forth the simple and peaceful lives in Indian villages where work and devotion go simultaneously in harmony. The painting is adorned with two borders which are marked by floral motifs. Traits like transparency, intricacy, and faint texture can be spotted in this representation. 

Fifteenth-century Varanasi clamoured with profound life, pulling in enthusiasts and individuals of all faiths. The place additionally turned out to be celebrated for the holy saint Kabir Das. Sant Kabir, the fifteenth century Bhakti poet-saint is viewed as one of the premier spiritualist poets in the Indian custom. Inspired by Hindus, Muslims, and Sikhs alike, he accepted their summoned philosophical thoughts. He promoted unification with God, accepting the Hindu idea of jivatma (singular soul) as being straight forwardly connected to paramatma (incomparable soul). Kabir's concept of adoring God with sanctity engaged both Hindu Bhakti and the Sufi ideas and practices. The origin of Kabir is very otherworldly and positively bewildered. It is believed that he was destined to a Hindu Brahmin widow however was received by childless Muslim weavers named Niru and Nimma who are likewise known to have made learned the weaving technique of taana-baana (warp-weft) to him. Kabir liberally used metaphors of weaving to unsparingly reprimand coordinated religions for example "Kahe ke taana, kahe ki bharni, kaun tar se beeni chadariya". Kabir did not undertake any formal education. He was not even trained as a weaver. While his poems flourished with weaving metaphors but his heart was not completely into this profession. He was on a profound excursion to look for the truth which is unmistakably showed in his verses. Kabir's Muslim upbringing drove him in his childhood to investigate Hindu, Vaishnava and Muslim Sufi practices, which both focus on exceptional devotion for the Lord. During that time of significant discussion between orthodox Hindu and Muslim gatherings, Kabir zeroed in on common fundamentals of organized religion, like love and commitment as well as shortcomings. He conveyed this message of resistance and comprehension between the beliefs through his dohas (couplets) and melodies.

Not simply cast, Kabir denounced idol worship and condemned both Hindus and Muslims for their rituals; ceremonies and customs which he thought were purposeless. He preached that God can be accomplished distinctly through complete dedication. Every thoughts and ideas like these appear in his verses. One can't separate his profound spiritual experiences and his poem. Certainly, he was not a cognizant poet. It is his otherworldly journey, his joy and anguish that were passed on to his poems. Kabir is an unordinary artist, indeed. In the fifteenth century, when Persian and Sanskrit languages were overwhelming the North Indian dialects, he decided to write in the casual, local language. Not only one, his verses are combination of Hindi, Khari boli, Punjabi, Bhojpuri, Urdu, Persian and Marwari languages.

Despite the fact of the insights concerning Kabir's life are meagre, his verses have endured. He is a man known for and by his poems. A customary man whose poems have existed over hundreds of years is a declaration to the significance of his poetry. Despite the orally transmitted fact, Kabir's verses are still known today for its simple-catchy language, the profundity of otherworldly thought and experience it is guzzled with. Even after ages of his death, his poems are pertinent to contemporary society like never before.

Like Kabir, Sant Raidas was born in Varanasi, and he additionally utilized the tools of his profession to make illustrations for the declaration of his profound spiritual encounters along with his social messages. He was unschooled in the view of his introduction to the world in a Dalit family, as training was the advantage of the high rankings. He was additionally a prominent figure in the bhakti movement and a prestigious poet of the nirgun-bhakti tradition who respected the devotion of an amorphous God that could be imagined without the reflection of human mediators.

These monotheistic ascetics pursued a path that was freed of both the predominant religions of the time for example Hinduism and Islam. They denied their acquiescence to both the religions and contradicted the notions and conventional components of the same. They directed a powerful philosophical strike on the caste system and worshipful admiration. They restricted the authority of Brahmans and their strict sacred scriptures.

At the Kabir Math in Varanasi, a visitor can catch a glance of a common man and a weaver in Kabir, as the objects he abandoned are left behind in the Math. The place houses a piece of handloom material woven by him, his charkha, loom and takli (spindle), a pitcher that he utilized six hundred years prior, his wooden slippers and a sandalwood rosary, which altogether reminiscences his past in the weaving background. Additionally, here in the artwork, we can see a glimpse of his weaving foundation history.


"Yamini", Rachna Bhola. रैदास वाणी: Raidas - Life and his Works. Diamond Pocket Books Pvt. Ltd., 2011.

Sant Ajaib Singh. The Ocean of Love: The Anurag Sagar of Kabir. Sanbornton, New Hampshire: Sant Bani Ashram , 1982.

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