Santan Jat Na Pucho Nirguniyan: A Song of Kabir (Translated by Tagore)


It is needless to ask of a saint the caste to which he belongs;
For the priest, the warrior. the tradesman, and all the thirty-six castes, alike are seeking for God.
It is but folly to ask what the caste of a saint may be;
The barber has sought God, the washerwoman, and the carpenter—
Even Raidas was a seeker after God.
The Rishi Swapacha was a tanner by caste.
Hindus and Moslems alike have achieved that End, where remains no mark of distinction.


About R.N. Tagore
Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941) is popularly known as Gurudev, Kabiguru, and Biswakabi. He is a great Bengali poet, playwright, novelist, short story writer, essayist, educationist, music composer and painter.  He received the Nobel Prize for Literature for his Gitanjali in 1913. His Gitanjali is a collection of 103 devotional songs. Our National anthem ‘Jan Gana Mana’ has been composed by him.
Tagore’s poetic collections (The Gardener, The Crescent Moon, Fruit Gathering, Stray Birds, Lover’s Gift and Crossing and The Fugitive and Other Poems) are very popular. His plays (Chitra, The Post Office and Sacrifice and Other Plays), novels (The Home and the World, Gora and The Wreck), collection of short stories (Hungry Stones) and autobiography (Reminiscences) are appreciated at home as well as abroad.
According to Professor Iyengar, “Tagore was a poet, dramatist, actor, producer; he was a musician and a painter; he was an educationist, a practical idealist who turned his dreams into reality at Shantiniketan; he was a reformer, philosopher, prophet; he was a novelist and short story writer, and a critic of life and literature; he even made occasional incursions into nationalist politics although, he was essentially an internationalist. He was thus many persons, he was a darling of versatility, and stil he was the same man, he was an integral whole, the Rshi, the Gurudev. His fecundity and vitality were amazing…Next only to Mahatma Gandhi and Sri Aurobindo, Tagore has been the supreme inspiration to millions in modern India”.

Theme of the poem:
The present poem ‘Santan Jat Na Pucho Nirguniyan’( It is needless to ask of a saint the caste to which he belongs) has been taken from ‘Songs of Kabir’, a translation work in English by R. N. Tagore. This book was published in 1915 with an introduction by Evelyn Underhill. It consists of 100 poems of Sant Kabir who was a great Indian poet and mystic of 15th century.
In this poem Sant Kabir, a great social reformer, criticises the caste system.  According to him the caste system is blot on humanism. It should be eradicated. Due to this system the Indian society has been divided into various sections. This is one of the greatest barriers in the way of the development. That is why the poet advises that one should not ask about the caste of saints. In the eyes of the poet all are equal. In short, here the poet raises his voice against social discrimination. The purpose of the poet is to establish peace, prosperity and harmony.

About Kabir
Kabir is one of the greatest poets of India. He was a mystic poet and saint. He is so popular that he is quoted frequently. His poems give off a marvelous radiant intensity. His writings have greatly influenced the Bhakti movement. He had enormous influence on Indian philosophy and on Hindi poetry. Kabir created timeless works. His mystical and devotional poetry has been found inspirational by people of many different faiths. He drew imagery from common life and the universal experience. His poems possess an appealing simplicity. He tried to find common ground between Hindus and Muslims. Today Kabir is revered by Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs alike, and his songs are loved by people of all faiths.
Kabir has criticized perhaps all existing sects in India. He opposed dogmas, both in Hinduism and in Islam. He advocated to follow ‘Sahaj Paths’. He was against social discrimination and economic exploitation. He believed in the Vedantic concept of atman but he rejected Hindu societal caste system and Murti-pujan.  Kabir's legacy is today carried forward by the Kabir Panth. Ideological messages of his poetry appealed to the poor and oppressed.
Kabir’s birth and death are surrounded by legends. He is thought to have lived longer than 100 years. It is said that he grew up in a Muslim weaver family. But some others say that he was really a son of a Brahmin widow. It is said that when Sant Kabir died, his Hindu and Muslim followers started fighting against each other for the last rites. The legend is that when they lifted the shroud they found flowers instead. The Muslim followers buried their half and the Hindu cremated their half. In Maghar, his tomb and samadhi still stand side by side.

Exercises:
A. Objective Type Questions:
a. R. N. Tagore was born in: 1861
b. R. N. Tagore died in: 1941
c. Tagore received the Nobel Prize in: 1913
d. Ragore is known as: Gurudev
e. Tagore's Gitanjali is a collection of: 103 short poems
f. A Song of Kabir (present poem) has been taken from: Songs of Kabir ( translated by Tagore)

I. Which of the following statements given below are true or false?
1. It is a must to know the caste of a saint – False
2. The poet points to thirty six castes – True
3. The washer woman has not sought God – False
4. The end of Hindus and Muslims stands similar – True
5. The Rishi Swapacha was a tanner by caste – True

II. Short Answer Type Questions:
1. Why does the poet consider it needless to ask the caste of a saint?
Ans: The poet considers it needless to ask the cast of a saint because the caste system is blot on humanism and it is the source of discrimination.
2. What is meant by the expression “ seeker after God”?
Ans: The meaning of the expression " seeker after God"  means everyone can seek the God.
3. Who was Rishi Swapacha by caste?
Ans: Rishi Swapacha was a tanner by caste.
4. What is common in Hindus and Muslims?
Ans: The End or deathis common in Hindus and Muslims.
5. What is the message of the poem?
Ans: The message of the poem is that In eyes of the God everyone is equal.

III. Some important Words:
i. Saint – A person of great holiness (धार्मिक व्यक्ति या महात्मा)
ii. Barber – Trimmer and dresser of hair (नाई)
iii. Tanner – A person whose occupation is to tan hides (चमड़ा पकानेवाला)
iv. Achieve – Accomplish (प्राप्त करना)
v. End – Terminus (अंत)
vi. Carpenter – Repairer and builder of wooden structures. (बढ़ई)

IV. Give Meanings of the words given below and use them in your sentences:
Belong, folly, tanner, distinction, seek
Ans:
i. Belong (संबंधित) - Do you belong to any political party?
ii. Folly (मूर्खता, बेवकूफी) – It would be folly to ignore their warnings.
iii. Tanner (चर्मकार) – Swapacha was a tanner by caste.
iv. Distinction (भेद, अंतर) – There are no distinctions between the two designs.
v. Seek (तलाश, खोज) - Snakes seek the sun to warm their bodies.

V. Give the synonyms of the following words:
Needless, Alike, achieve, mark, end.
Ans:
i. Needless - Unnecessary, Useless (बेकार, अनुपयोगी)
ii. Alike - Similar, Identical (समान)
iii. Achieve – Attain (हासिल करना, प्राप्त करना)
iv. Mark – Blot, Spot (चिन्ह, निशान)
v. End – Finish (अंत, समाप्त)

The Original Poem:

संतन जात ना पूछो निरगुनियाँ : संत कबीर
संतन जात ना पूछो निरगुनियाँ।
साध ब्राहमन साध छत्तरीसाधै जाती बनियाँ।
साधनमां छत्तीस कौम हैटेढी तोर पुछनियाँ।
साधै नाऊ साधै धोबीसाधै जाति है बरियाँ।
साधनमां रैदास संत हैसुपच ऋषि सों भंगिया।
हिंदू-तुर्क दुई दीन बने हैंकछू ना पहचानियाँ॥

(अर्थअरे भाइयों ! संतों की जाति क्या पूछते हो। साधु ब्राहमण भी हैं क्षत्रिय भी और बनिये भी। साधुओं में तो छत्तीस जाति के लोग हैं  तुम्हारा यह प्रश्न ग़लत है  नाई, धोबी, बढ़ई सभी जातियों में साधु हैं  उन्हीं में संत रैदास हुए हैं और उन्हीं में श्वपच सुदर्शन जैसे ऋषि जिन्हें भंगी कहा गया है। बेकार में हिंदू और मुसलमान दो धर्म बन गए हैं। इन दोनों धर्मों में कोई अंतर नहीं है।)

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