A Kabir Sakhi – Sai Itna Dijiye, Jaa Me Kutumb Samaye
साईं इतना दीजिये, जा में कुटुम समाये।
मैं भी भूखा न रहूँ, साधू न भूखा जाए ।।
Sai, Give me as much, that my family is taken care of
I do not sleep hungry, nor does a Sadhu on my door return hungry
Kabir Sakhi – Sai Itna Dijiye, Jaa Me Kutumb Samaye
This is a very popular Sakhi and one of my favorites that I studied way back in school. It is usually and simplistically interpreted as a moral – Do not be greedy or Be content with what you have or Learn to live within your means. However, if you read it again and again, it tells you a framework for what we need. A framework that helps not give in to our greed.
We know that when we seek beyond what we need to survive it can be called greed. Most of us do not know the boundary between need and greed. Where do my needs end and where does the influence of my greed begin. We clearly do not know. For example, is going for a lavish dinner in an expensive place a need or greed? Is that extra scoop of ice cream not greed or is it the need? What are my bare minimum needs, we need to know this? Whether we then stick to them or not is another debate. Being aware takes care of many of our digressions in life.
Kabir says: Sai, give so much that my family can be taken care of. The family includes those dependent on you – be it your spouse, your children, your parents, or your siblings. It may include anyone you consider your family, and hence your responsibility.
I should not go hungry, which limits my needs to just the basic food that I need for survival. Finally, Kabir does not want any Sadhu who comes at his door to go hungry too.
In a way, Kabir puts the same needs for himself as he has for a visiting Sadhu. At the same time, he does not take any other responsibility for a Sadhu besides taking care of his hunger. Sadhu here can also mean someone with good conduct. So, is that a quality that you should look for in people you feed. Yes, if I go back to what our Puranas say about Dana or donation. They clearly say that you should never donate to the undeserving, it is bad both for the donor as well as the receiver.
He does take responsibility for those dependent on him as his family. He also keeps the needs of his family flexible, not burdening them to live with the same level of basic needs that he has for himself. Remember Kabir is not a renunciate, he is a householder like most of us, and being a householder comes with its own responsibilities that one must fulfill.
To me, this Kabir Sakhi gives a framework for knowing how much we need, what responsibilities we must take and fulfill, and the rest that we can let go of.
Can we take inspiration from this and define what we need and stop working for our greed? Is it not giving up greed or staying within the limits of his basic needs that gives Kabir the ultimate freedom to do and say what he wants to do and say. We need not give up all our needs but being aware of the boundaries would certainly help.