Kabir Das: He Wove the Sheet

The mystical poet Kabir Das probably lived somewhere in the eastern half of north India in the fifteenth century; it is difficult to be precise about his life because from the evidence of his poems he was a low caste weaver, considered of no account by the priestly class and the upper regions of society.  As a consequence of this uncertainty, many songs and poems have been attributed to him with which he perhaps had no connection.  In this bhajan or devotional song, which is still sung with love and reverence today, the metaphor of weaving is used to describe God’s creation of the human being.  In the third verse, the words Ingala, Pingala and Sushumma refer to the three vital currents that are said to ascend through the spine to the crown. The three qualities are the three rhythms or energies: tamas, darkness and inertia; rajas, activity and movement; and sattva, peace and light. Apart from the beauty of the song, readers might want to consider how well they care for the ‘fine, so fine’ sheet that was woven for them.

He wove the sheet;
so fine, so fine,
He wove the sheet so fine.

What was the warp?
What was the weft?
What was the thread
with which He wove the sheet?

Ingala and Pingala,
the warp, the weft,
Sushumma the thread
with which he wove the sheet.

He spins the eight-petalled lotus
as his spinning wheel,
with five elements
and three great qualities

He weaves the sheet.

He weaves the sheet
through ten months
in a mother’s womb,
beating in the weft,

testing and checking
every strand,
He weaves the sheet.

Saints and humans
wrap themselves in His sheet,
but the wrapping soils the sheet
so fine, so fine.

His servant Kabir
wraps himself in the sheet
with effort and care,
he keeps it spotlessly clean,

this sheet, so fine, so fine.

from Kabir The Weaver’s Songs
Tr. Vinay Dharwadker

One Reply to “Kabir Das: He Wove the Sheet”

  1. Sikander van der Vliet

    Dear Msd Nawab,

    Thank you very much for your inspiring texts.

    In the Gatha’s we can find a wonderful explaination of Hazrat Inayat Khan concerning Ida, Pingala and Shushumna.

    “In the Hindu Vedas these two different forces are called Ida and Pingala. The Sufi names these two forces Jalal and Jamal. The great Yogis have experienced the mystery of life by the study of these forces. The central point is called by the Sufi Kamal, in the Vedas this is called Sushumna”.

    With warmest greetings,



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