The Consternation of My Rosary : माला फेरत जुग भया?

|| Chant as much as you can ||
|| Chant as much as you can ||

माला फेरत जुग भया, फिरा मन का फेर

कर का मनका डार दे, मन का मनका फेर

Kabir was a relentless crusader of his times. Religion was so mired in symbolism during his time – and he quipped at many practices that had plagued religion during his time. One of the oft quoted and most misunderstood doha (couplet) of all times is the dilemma of a rosary.  As a child, my Hindi teacher would explain how we must give up chanting on beads. The explanation was a rather facile one – that one must give up beads and chant the beads of mind. Subtle metaphor, which the teacher either did not understand, or did not care to.

And yet, many years later, I took up chanting to beads at the behest of my spiritual masters, Ma Shakti Devpriya and Acharya Agyaatadarshan.

Despite years of relentless teaching in classrooms, the use of rosary still persists – across all major religions in the world. This simple tool has some utilitarian value that has been found useful cutting across geographies and religions.

What does the doha (couplet by great saint Kabir) imply? Literally, it runs thus –

माला फेरत जुग भया, फिरा मन का फेर

Ages have passed twirling the beads of the rosary, yet the mind remains unbridled,

कर का मनका डार दे, मन का मनका फेर

Forsake therefore the beads of the rosary in hand, and take up the beads of the rosary of mind.

Kabir creates a magical effect when he repeats the same words twice, with different meanings. Manka manka – the first manka stands for mind and the second for beads of rosary.

So what exactly is this “manka” (beads of rosary) of mind? Why does Kabir beseech us to give up the physical rosary and take up the mental rosary? He drives homes the following imports for me:

  • ·  He mourns that ages have been lost and we are stuck with the physical rosary. As a sadhaka progresses in his spiritual journey, he should be able to give up the physical rosary and keep the mental chanting on. This should happen naturally if the sadhaka is serious and has been practicing persistently and relentlessly. There would be 2 effects:

o   It would progressively become easier for the sadhaka (practitioner) to chant mentally without distractions

o   He would be able to do away with the beads and chant mentally for longer periods of time – without the prop of rosary beads

  • ·      Unless we sincerely persevere in focusing our minds on the chanting, we would never be able to advance to the next level – the mind would continue to create tumult. The act of chanting, devoid of a mental focus will prove to be a mere waste of energy and time. It will be a time warp, and ages will pass while we keep on enacting a farce.

Thus, when I sit to chant everyday, I remind myself that the beads are the prop – we need to progress to the stage where the prop is not needed. And that stage will come when the prop is correctly used and the mind if focused again, and yet again on each mantra repetition.

This doha serves as a reminder to me that the act of chanting is not complete unless I bring my mind to focus on the mantra and rosary. And I thank Kabir for reminding me each day.


Contributed by Niraj Mohan

Niraj Mohan is an advanced Tattva Shakti Vigyaan practitioner from Pune, India

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