A few words of Introduction before the MOVIE:
The Poet, Saint and Weaver of Medieval India.
It has been said that the whole of Indian philosophy
is reflected in the warp and weft of the loom.
In Medieval India,
there was born a humble weaver and great saint
whose teaching words and verses
have become the best known and oft-recited
throughout all that fabled land.
In the west, we know him primarily for his poetry,
in India, he is a great saint and mystic
to the Muslims, Sikhs, and Hindus.
Known as Kabir, he was illiterate and brilliant.
In his poetry and teachings, he celebrated the Divine
which he saw everywhere
and criticized the hypocrisy, pride and ignorant beliefs
that kept people from that experience of Truth.
He did so in the common language of the poor
and he did so at risk to his life
from the orthodox Hindu Brahmins and the Muslim rulers of his day.
During the winter of 2004, I lived on the Ganges River in Benaras.
While there I remembered that Kabir
was born and taught in that ancient city.
When I inquired where he had lived or of any temples he was associated with,
I was directed to the Muslim weaving community
in an area of the city set back from the river.
I explored and photographed this fascinating world
and found it like Benaras itself,
to greatly enrich and give visual image and ground
to the many archetypes and metaphors
expressed in the poems of Kabir.
Upon my return to America
I was asked to give a presentation in Sebastopol, Ca.
to a community of weavers
about the textile practices and communities of Benaras,
an area famous for the woven arts for over a thousand years.
As I reflected on the fact that Kabir was himself a weaver,
my preparation and research for this talk
led to a mutual fertilization of his poems and images
and the world of the weaver in which he lived.
It was this warp and woof of consideration
that gave rise to the cloth of this movie.
The story of Kabir
like so much in the ancient culture of India
goes far beyond the walls of our Western assumptions
of what is or could be true.
While many of the details of Kabir’s story
may be debated by this or that scholar or school,
a mere taste and vision of this great saint and poet
is all that I hope to achieve here
and perhaps to stir the memory in each of us
of what it is he was talking about.
Many of the translations I have used here of Kabir’s poems
are taken from Robert Bly’s excellent book- Kabir.
It was Bly’s sense of ‘taste’
and what is important in life
that must of led him to translate Kabir in the first place
and thus bring this great Indian poet/saint to the attention of my generation.
I thank him for giving me an introduction to the feel and poetry
of that great being
whose poems have touched
KABIR: THE POET SAINT AND WEAVER
Raam Naam Bhaju
(Repeat the Mantra of God’s Name)
Recite God’s name (“Raam naam bhaju”)
O man! Recite God’s name. Look deeply into your mind and be aware.
You have collected a great deal of wealth and have safely buried (secured) it.
But you will leave the world empty-handed.
Your grandfather, great-grandfather, and great great grandfather possessed land and pots.
Why did they leave these and go? Are you not aware, or are your inner eyes blind?
The world is engaged in a futile business. In the end no one stands by you, and you depart alone.
Birth and death are transient and take no time. They are like the shadows of passing clouds.
What is there to boast about relatives, lineage, clan and family when all are transient?
Kabir says that without devotion to God’s name all of your cleverness is drowned.
The Song of the Clay
Clay says to the potter:
"Who are you to knead me?
There will be a day when I will knead you
Everyone who is born will die someday
Be it a king or a poor man
One sits on a throne, another in a prison"