Saturday, September 12, 2009
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.
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”.