It became such an uproar that many disciples of Ramananda left him, saying, “This is absolutely against Hindu tradition. He is not following the tradition and he is allowing a Mohammedan in the house not only allowing, but he will bring him up!”
But Ramananda was a very courageous man. If he had been an ordinary Hindu saint, he would not have risked his respectability. So many disciples leaving him, so many condemning him, that “He is supporting illegitimate children. By his act he is not saying that illegitimate children are to be denounced so that nobody ever attempts it again.”
Ramananda listened to all the condemnation, and brought up Kabir. He never asked Kabir, “What is your religion?”
In fact, a man of religion cannot ask another man of religion, “What is your religion?” Because religion is not something like an educational degree… “Are you a matriculate, or are you a bachelor, or a post-graduate?”
Religion is a quality. And Ramananda could see in this child more religiousness than in any of his disciples. It was enough for him that Kabir was truthful, that he was sincere, that he was meditative, that he was continuously making every effort to know himself.
There are memoirs of people who have seen Kabir growing under the shadow of Ramananda, saying that even as a small child he looked like a buddha so silent, so peaceful, one could not believe that he was a child. He never did anything childish. Soon people started even asking him questions, touching his feet. Even in the presence of Ramananda, Kabir became a famous saint and he was a young man.
He told Ramananda, “I feel very much in a difficulty because people who should go to you, come to me.”
Ramananda said, “Don’t be worried, you have all my blessings. In fact people who come to me, I send them to you! You are far more fresh. You are not conditioned by any religion, you are not conditioned by any parents, any tradition, any church. You are far more pure. I am proud of having a man like you as my disciple.”
Ramananda never listened to those who said that, “At least it should be decided to what religion he belongs. It is creating confusion.” Ramananda died; he never said anything about it. He simply said, “He is a religious person and I cannot say anything more about him.”
So when Kabir died, he knew it, that “After my death there is going to be a great riot amongst my disciples. They are just waiting for the moment ‘Let him die, then we will see who decides.’”
And certainly they had in their favor, on one side, the name written on his hand, “Kabir.” The other side had in their favor that he was a disciple of Ramananda who was a great Hindu saint: “Being a disciple of a Hindu saint, it does not matter what is written on his hand. You can take his hand, but his whole body belongs to us.”