KABIR PANTHIS, followers of Kabir (1398-1448), a saint and reformer some of whose compositions have been included in Sikh Scripture, the Guru Granth Sahib. Kabir did not found any sect during his own lifetime; it was after his death that a math, called Kabir Chaura, was established by Surat Gopal, said to be the first missionary of the Kabirpanth, at Varanasi which had been Kablr`s seat for many years. His object was to propagate the teachings of his mentor. This math, known as bdp (father), with a branch establishment at Magahar, covered the states of the Punjab, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.

Another centre, established almost contemporaneously, was in Dham Khera, in the Chhatisgarh district of Madhya Pradesh.This math, known as mdl (mother), was founded by Dharam Das and, with branches at Raipur, Bilaspur and Chhindwara, it served to spread the message of Kabir and gained adherents in central India. A person freshly recruited must renounce polytheism and avow belief in One God. He must vow never to eat meat or drink wine. He must bathe daily and sing hymns to God, morning and evening.

He is adjured to forgive up to three times those who trespass against him; to avoid company of all women of bad character and never to turn away from his house his lawful wife; never to tell lies; never to usurp the property of another man; never to bear false witness or speak ill of others on hearsay evidence.At the initiation ceremony, the candidate makes the required promise in the presence of the guru. For Kabirpanthis, Bijak, a collection of Kabir`s hymns, is the scripture. The Hindus among them recite the name of Ram whereas the Muslims that of Khuda.

All of them greet each other with “Bandagi” (salutation to you) when they meet. The common people receive guidance from a mahant (celebrant) who presides over a centre. He wears a conical cap, a necklace (kanthi), a rosary of tulsi (sweet basil) and brick coloured or white garments. Frontal mark, if borne, is usually of the Vaisnavite type, or he makes a streak with sandal or s^opichandan along the ridge of the nose. Marriage is not forbidden, though some of the mahants remain celibate.

References :

1. Westcott, G.H., Kabir and the. Knhir Panth. Cawnporc, 1907
2. Rose, II.A., A Glossary of the Tribes and Castes of the Punjab find North-West Frontier Province. Patiala, 1970 3- Macanliffe, Max Arthur, The Sikh Religion. Oxford, 1909
3. Jodb Singh, Knhir. Paliala, 1971
4. Macliwe, Piabhakar, Knhir. Delhi, 1968