He's that rascally kind of yogi

by Kabir

English version by Linda Hess and Shukdeo Singh
Original Language Hindi

He's that rascally kind of yogi
who has no sky or earth,
no hand, foot,
form or shape.
Where there's no market
he sets up shop,
weighs things
and keeps the accounts.
No deeds, no creeds,
no yogic powers,
not even a horn or gourd,
so how can he
go begging?

"I know you
and you know me
and I'm inside of you."

When there isn't a trace
of creation or destruction,
what do you meditate on?
That yogi built a house
brimful of Ram.
He has no healing herbs,
his root-of-life
is Ram.

He looks and looks
at the juggler's tricks,
the magician's sleight-of-hand --
Kabir says, saints, he's made it
to the King's land.

-- from The Bijak of Kabir, Translated by Linda Hess / Translated by Shukdeo Singh

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Commentary by Ivan M. Granger

I just can't help grinning at that phrase: a rascally kind of yogi. Any day that starts off with a rascally kind of yogi must be one of the better days...

But what is "rascally" about Kabir's yogi? The first thing we are told is that he "has no sky or earth, / no hand, foot, / form or shape." In other words, he is not contained by the body or the boundaries of material existence. Something about him has slipped the physical bonds we normally identify with. He is now a being undefined and mysterious.

And he "sets up shop" outside the human social realm "where there's no market." Here he "weighs things / and keeps the accounts." Not caught up in the hubbub of the marketplace, free from the filter of consensus reality, the yogi sees clearly; he comes to know the true measure of things.

He doesn't need actions, beliefs, or the manifestation of spiritual powers. That's challenging, even for the most sincere spiritual practitioner: to no longer harbor the secret wish to impress others with your accomplishments.

And that, I think, is what makes our yogi so rascally: he isn't trying to fit into the template of how we define a spiritual adept. He is not trying to be recognized as holy or accomplished. He isn't displaying his techniques. He isn't checking off the boxes of how the world defines a yogi.

His house is full of Ram -- God -- and he is content. He doesn't do. He doesn't appear as. He is. And he doesn't seem to care if we recognize that he has made it to the "King's land" or not. Now that's one rascally kind of yogi...



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The Enlightened Heart: An Anthology of Sacred Poetry Perfume of the Desert: Inspirations from Sufi Wisdom Islamic Mystical Poetry: Sufi Verse from the Early Mystics to Rumi Songs of the Saints of India One Hundred Poems of Kabir: Translated by Rabindranath Tagore
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He's that rascally