Monday, October 19, 2009

Kabir Bani...Music for Soul

A number of young, talented and experimenting artists, both in instrumental as well as the vocal stream of Indian Classical Music, are making an impact on the international scene for quite a long time now. The artists, over the years, have infused a sort of new life into the Indian Classical Music and have made an impact in terms of expanding the horizons. Showing a promise that they would be catering to the huge expanse of listeners in coming decades, the artists have also remarked on the path of experimenting with the art form and thus have attracted people from all class, ages to this enchanting form of music. Rahul Deshpande is a prominent among them. Grandson of Pt Vasantrao Deshpande of the Patiyala Gharana, initially Rahul was trained by Pandit Gangadharbuva Pimpalkhare and later by Dr. Madhusudhan Patwardhan. He also received training under Ushatai Chipalkatti, a disciple of Pandit Kumar Gandharva, and Pandit Mukul Shivputra, the talented son of Kumaraji and has thus inherited the rich legacy of Kumaraji. Tabala was what Rahul was most interested in during the initial years and he honed his sense of ‘taal’ by learning tabla from Pt Suresh Samant. Pt Kumar Gandharva, among others, is the source of inspiration for Rahul to turn to classical vocal. ‘Kabir Bani’ is a collection of Nirguni bhajans by Rahul. Nirguni bhajans reflect the human understanding of spirituality and reason. The verses look for answers to the meaning of existence, encourage people to shed their dogma & look at realities in the light that they should be, they continue to enrich our lives to this day. As said earlier, Pt Kumar Gandharva is the source of inspiration for Rahul in his quest for best in vocal music and it is Pt Kumar Gandharva who took it upon himself to forge ahead and blend unique compositions of most of the works of Kabir, which gave them a form and his voice as a medium. It still endures and is well appreciated amongst Kumarji’s works. Rahul will now take forward the momentum in his own way. Rahul’s repertoire includes renditions from classical ragas to khayal, thumri, dadra, natyageet, bhajan, gazal and bhaavgeet. However, his natural interest lies in Indian Classical Music. Even though he respects individual Gharanas, his preference is for the boundless Gharana Virahit style of singing.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

1. Hirana

Hirana, samajh bujh ban charana
Ek ban charana, duje ban charana
Tije ban pag nahi dharana
Tije banmein panch paradhi
Unake najar nahi padana
Panch hirana, pachis hirani
Unmein ek chatur na
Toye mar tero mans bikave
Tere khalka karenge bichona
Kahe Kabira ji suno bhai sadho
Guruke charan chit dharana

Using the metaphor of predator and prey Kabir speaks about the virtues of wisdom, spiritualism and the vice of temptation. Describing man as if it is a deer, Kabir calls the three areas as different forests. For the deer the first two, i. e. wisdom and spirituality, are safe. The third area, i. e. of temptations, is dangerous and that it is likely to be preyed upon there. It is all illusion, deception there. Five predators – faculties recognised by the sensory organs – occupy that area and it makes the man forget the inner self. Salvation is a process of securing oneself from these predators and this requires a true Guru.

Listen a small piece of this bhajan:

Saturday, October 17, 2009

2. Ud jayega hans akela

Ud jayega hans akela, jag darshan ka mela
Jaise pat gire taruvarake, milana bahut duhela
Na janu kidhar girega, lagya pavan ke rela
Jab hove umar puri, jab chitega hukum hujuri
Jam ke dut bade majabut, jamase pada jhamela
Das Kabir Harake Gun gave, bahar ko par na pave
Guruki karani Guru jayega, cheleki karani chela

In this bhajan, Kabir speaks about the loneliness of the atma (self), the mere-spectacle-nature of the world, and the attributes of the Lord. Calling the atma symbolically a swan Kabir says it will fly all alone. As a falling leaf of a tree gets a stroke of wind nobody will know where it will fall. Same is with the life of the self. According to Kabir, in the conflict with the Death the man has no chances of winning. The Lord alone can rescue the man, but again it all depends on the self. Everybody, including the Guru and the disciple, will go according to their individual doings.

Listen a small piece of this bhajan:

Friday, October 16, 2009

3. Shunya Gadh

Shunya Gadh Shahar Shahar Ghar Basti
Kon suta kon jage hai
Lal hamare ham lalan ke
tan sota Brahma jage hai
Jal bich kamal, kamal bich kaliya
Bhanvar bas na leta hai
Is nagari ke das daravaje
Jogi pheri nit deta hai
Tan ki kundi man ka sota
Gyan ki ragad lagata hai
Panch pachis base ghat bhitar
Unaku ghot pilata hai
Agan kundse tapasi tape
Tapasi tapasa karata hai
Pancho chela phire akela
Alakh alakh kar japata hai
Ek apsara same ubhi ji
Duji surama ho sare hai
Tisari rambha sej bichaye
Paranya nahi kunvara hai
Paranya pahile putar jaya
Mat pita man bhaya hai
Sharan Machinder Gorakh bole
Ek akhandi dhyaya hai

The composition is by Gorakshnath. Describing the fortress-like structure of human body, Gorakshnath moves ahead in pointing out the chinks in the armour. Two eyes, ears and nostrils each, one mouth, a couple of private organs and a Brahmarandhra – these ten doors allow the enemy to enter into the fortress and the defeat of the self is for sure. A yogi would always guard at these doors. It becomes possible only if the self seeks spiritual wisdom.

Listen a small piece of this bhajan:

Thursday, October 15, 2009

4. Kaun Thagava Nagariya

Kaun Thagava Nagariya Lutal Ho
Chandan katke banal khatola
Tapar dulahin sutal ho
Utho sakhiri mang savaro
dulaha mose ruthal ho
Aye Jamraja palang chadhi baitha
Nainan asuva tutal ho
Char jane mil khat uthain
Chahu disi dhun dhun uthal ho
Kahat Kabira suno bhai sadho
Jagase nata chutal ho

The Death is the final frontier in the journey of life. Kabir has underlined the same, but in his own way. According to Kabir, the body is like a township, temptations are the robbers who loot the township. The soul is like the bride, while the Lord is the bridegroom. According to Kabir, if the death comes before achieving oneness of the self with the Lord, it is bound to bring in grief. Death is final and inevitable and once it is there the relationship of the self with the earthy world will be over.

Listen a small piece of this bhajan:

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

5. Nirbhay Nirgun

Nirbhay Nirgun Gun Re Gaunga
Mul kamal drudh asan bandhuji, ulati pavan chdhaunga
Man mamata ko thir kar launji, pancho tatva milaunga
Ingala, pingala, sukhaman nadiji, tiraveni par ho nhaunga
Panch pachiso pakad mangaunji, ek hi dor lagaunga
Shunya shikhar par anahad bajeji, rag chhattis sunaunga
Kahat Kabira suno bhai sadhoji, jit nishan dhuraunga

All his life Kabir insisted on the concept of Koi bole Ram Ram Koi Khudai. In other words, he never espoused any specific form of God or Lord. In fact constant insistence on simplicity and directness, the hatred of all abstractions and philosophising, the ruthless criticism of external religion are his characteristics. For him the Lord is nirgun (one without virtues or attributes). This very philosophy of his is summed up best in this composition of Kabir. He says he will fearlessly sing the attributes of the one without attributes. In this context Kabir once again talks about the body, its structuring out of the five elements, in all twenty-five derivations of the same, three each virtues (sattva, raja and tama) and states (jagruti, svapna and sushupti) are the thirty-six ragas that he says he will sing sitting atop the shunya shikhar, the state where an ascetic reaches oneness of the soul with the universe.

Listen a small piece of this bhajan:

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

6. Sunata Hai Guru Gyani

Sunata Hai Guru Gyani
Gagan mein avaj ho rahi jhini
Pahile aye nad binduse, piche jamaya pani
Sab ghat puran pur rahya hai
Alakh purush nirbani
Vahanse aya pata likhaya
Trishna to une bujhai
Amrit chod chod vishay ko dhave
Ulati kas phasani
Gaganmandalmein gau biyani, bhipe dui jamaya
Makhan makhan santone khaya
Chhach jagat baparani
Bin dharati ek mandal dise
Bin sarovaraju pani
Gaganmandalmein ho ujiyala
Bole gurumukh bani
Oham, soham baja baje
Trikuti dham suhani
Ida, pingala, sukhaman nari
Sun dhaja phaharani
Kahe kabira suno bhai sadho
Jai agan ki bani
Dinbhar re jo najar bhar dekhe
Ajar Amar ho nishani,
Ho ji nishani ho ji

Kabir speaks about the process of Yogsadhana in this composition. He has used the term Gagan – the skies – to describe the body. The skies are full of music of salvation. It is coming from shunya or nothing from where the soul has come. The soul gets a name here in this world and then forgets its origins and gets trapped with the illusions of this world. Scholars do not get trapped by the five senses. They keep learning through the Yogsadhana and thus they get the cream of life and the rest have to remain satisfied with the residual milk (here Kabir has used the terms of butter and buttermilk). Once the ascetic reaches the pinnacle of soul searching it is all pure bliss – bliss of knowledge, says Kabir.

Listen a small piece of this bhajan:

Monday, October 12, 2009

7. Avadhoota

Avadhoota, Gagan Ghata Gaharani Re
Paschim dishase ulati badal, rum jhum barase meha
Utho gyani khet sambharo, bigei nisarega pani
Nirat surat ke bel banavo, bija bovo nij dhani
Dubadhya dhup jaman nahi pave, bovo nam ki dhani
Charo kono char rakhavale, chug na jave mrig dhani
Katya khet bhinda gharalyave, jaki puran kisani
Panch sakhi mil kare rasoi, jihame muni aur gyani
Kahe Kabir suno bhai sadho, bovo nam ki dhani

Yet another masterpiece by Kabir, the composition is about the search of self through meditation, no doubt; but with a different metaphor. Kabir uses the activity of farming. As the clouds gather a farmer gets ready for sowing and cultivation. Kabir tells the ascetic that the clouds have started roaring, and hence he should prepare himself. Kabir asks the ascetic to prepare the soil of deliverance. Renunciation be soaked in this shower. The harvest should be taken to home like a wise farmer as it would take care of him as well as the wise men and the saints.

Listen a small piece of this bhajan:

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Kabir Bani

Kabir, a thirteenth century poet-saint, from the Bhakti tradition of India, sang the ideals of seeing all of humanity as one. He viewed all life as an interplay of two principles: the personal (Aatma or Jeevatma) and the God (Paramatma). According to Kabir, salvation is the process of bringing into union these two divine principles. Kabir’s works resonate with praise for the true guru who reveals the divine through direct experience, and it denounced the conventional ways of attempting god-union such as chanting, austerities etc. His verses, which being illiterate he never expressed in writing and were spoken in Hindi, often began with some strongly worded insult to get the attention of passers-by. Kabir Bani comprises of 7 Bhajans*, the interpretations of which are presented here are provided by noted Kabir-scholar Prof. S. M. Paralikar.

About Kabir Bani

Kabir (also Kabira), (1398—1518), a mystic poet and saint from the Bhakti movement, is known for his two-line couplets called dohas. He could say in two lines what people never are able to say in hundreds of lines. Apart from dohas there are numerous bhajans written by Kabir and are traditionally sung in the northern parts of the country. Popularly known as Nirguni bhajans, these were rediscovered by Pandit Kumar Gandhrva and he sung them in such a way that it made waves in the early seventies. A powerful mixture of philosophical lyrics and classical music, Kabir Bani is the first album produced by Saaniya Media. A collection of 7 Nirguni Bhajans – 6 by saint Kabir and 1 by Gorakshnath – all sung by upcoming promising singer Rahul Deshpande, Kabir Bani is also a tribute to Pandit Kumar Gandharva, who popularized the Nirguni Bhajans. Even while maintaining the reflections of Pandit Kumar Gandhava behind the style of composition of these songs, Rahul has given them a touch of contemporariness by adding the flavor of pakhavaj and dholak as accompanying instruments. While well-known artist Bhavani Shankar has accompanied Rahul on Pakhvaj and dholak, Satyajeet Prabhu is on synthesizer, Aditya Oak on Harmonium and Nikhil Phatak on tabla. The album has been recorded at the Yash Raj studios in Mumbai. Although these bhajans are called as devotional, the basic principles Kabir espoused are simple. According to Kabir, all life is interplay of two spiritual principles. One is the personal soul (Jivatma) and the other is God (Paramatma). It is Kabir's view that salvation is the process of bringing into union these two divine principles. They also talk about true guru. Kabir Bani is a combination – the power of Indian classical music to heal and relax the human mind and at the same time provide a positive direction to the thought process. In other words, a dual weapon to fight the stress, tensions and, through it, the disorders. How it works? Well, as said earlier, each of the song in the album has a deep meaning hidden into it. For example, the ‘Avadhoota, gagan ghata gaharani re’ bhajan, on the face of it, appears to be dealing with monsoon and agricultural activity. Hidden in those words, is a different meaning – the fields Kabir is talking about is nothing but the human body, the seed he is talking about is nothing but devotion to one’s guru. On the face of it, Gorakshnath is talking about villages, localities and cities etc. Here again the description is about human body. Gorakshnath provides a different context to the thought process. Thus, these bhajan, when composed on the premise of ragas, provide dual benefit – calming impact of the raga, thanks to the particular order of notes; and the thought provocation, in-ward looking and contemplation thanks to the meaning hidden in the mystic constructs of Kabir or Gorakshnath.And this explains why the album is titled “Kabir Bani: Music for Soul”.