Kumar Gandharva: Hirna

This week's song is a strong message from the mystic poet Kabir reminding us not to waste our life in sensual pleasures. He exhorts aspirants to use their discrimination to seek the Truth which can be gained by surrendering the egoic mind at the feet of the Guru.

Click below to listen :

In Indian spiritual terminology  the Deers symbolise the senses. However, the more latent meaning of a Deer is our pleasure-seeking desire. Fundamentally, each one of us is looking for pleasure and that search is what is alluded to as the grazing of the deer in this song.

The "third" forest is the physical reality guided by our senses. The "second" forest is the mental world that is guided by our mind/intellect - included in this are the visions and sounds heard by sages in meditation. The "first" forest is the true spiritual realm where oneness with the ultimate is complete. Kabir says it is okay to graze in the first forest of oneness as well as the second forest of meditation/practice but not in the third forest of physical and sensual pleasures.

He explains that in the third forest the pleasure-seeking tendency is at the mercy of the five sensual stimuli (sight, sound, smell, taste and touch) that are the hunters. He warns that one should stay out of their line of attack/vision.

Human beings identify so completely with the five senses that they takes on the form of five deer seeking the pleasures offered in the third forest. Each of these five senses of perception combined with the five motor organs of action (mouth, hand, feet, excretory and reproductive) makes a combination of twenty five different ways (five multiplied with five) in which the physical world is experienced. While, none of these experiences are permanent, all twenty-five pleasure-seeking ways of the physical world continue relentlessly. Kabir says that none of these pleasure-seeking methods are shrewd enough to see this obvious truth.

Eventually this pleasure search at the physical level ends unsuccessfully with the five sensory hunters "killing" the spirit of the search. Each of these modes become non-living/dead reality that serve as mere external display for feeding, beautifying and adorning the physical world.

So what is the way out of this bleak and hopeless reality?

Kabir explains that the root of this transient mode of pleasure seeking is the restless mind. And therefore instead of controlling the senses, the mind needs to be tamed. But that's a daunting task in itself. Thus Kabir says that the mind should be offered at the feet of the Guru (within) to show the way, directing it inwards where everlasting ecstasy awaits.​

"What one goes looking for, one finds.
What one believes, one proves.
What one clings to, one keeps."

~Sangeeta Bhagwat~


Lyrics and Translation:

Hirna Samajh Boojh Ban Charna 
Ek Ban Charna Duje Ban Charna Tije Ban Pag Nahin Dharna
Tije Ban Mein Panch Paardhi Un Ke Nazar Nahin Padna
Panch Hirana Pachis Hirni Un Mein Ek Chatur Na
Toye Mar Tero Mas Bikawe Tere Khal Ka Karenge Bichona
Kahe Kabira Jo Suno Bhai Sadho Guru Ke Charan Chit Dharna

Oh Deer graze with knowledge and discrimination
Graze in the first forest, graze in the second forest
But don't tread into the third forest
The third forest has five hunters
Don't let them see you
Five deer and twenty five female deer
None among them is sensible and shrewd
Killing you they will sell your flesh
Your skin will be used as a covering
Says Kabir, listen o seeker,
Offer your mind at the feet of the Guru and be free.

Painting by Lakshmi
Lyrics and translation by Maalok

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