Music

The Kabir chronicles

WORDS OF WISDOM: Jaya, Bindumalini and Archana present Akatha Kahani. Photo: M. Karunakaran  

Maala pherat jag bhaya, mita na man ke pher,

Kar ka manka chhor de, man ka manka pher.— Kabir (“For ages you have been turning my beads, but is your mind restful? Why not leave me alone and rotate the beads of your mind instead?”)

The mystic Kabir - irreverent and iconoclastic in his views - who never sought sainthood, unfolded himself ever so gently impacting one and all equally, and strode like a gentle colossus at Ambalam, Besant Nagar. The soulful utterances of Jaya Madhavan, Bindumalini and Archana made this possible.

What seemed remarkable was the informal atmosphere at the venue which was put to use effectively by this threesome, without disturbing the existing peace even by an iota. The theme was ‘Akatha Kahani, the untellable story.’

Songs and dohas of Kabir were sung and read, at times in chorus, at times solo, but it was a ‘lovely communion,’ always. Jaya announced: “If Kabir had a basic quality, it could be named ‘sahaja’, a term that combined the meaning of simplicity, spontaneity and naturalness.”

It was also revealed that Kabir did not sit to write poetry but blurted out his insightful and truthful deliveries. They were rooted in fearlessness.

Jaya quoted relevantly from the Mahabharata to drive home the concept of Maya that had always been the cornerstone of Kabir's philosophy. The Pandavas, except Dharma, are lost to Yaksha, guardian of the lake, and resurrection becomes possible only if he answers a set of questions. Replying to a question, Dharma says that the most miraculous event of all was the constant, daily occurrence of death and mankind hoping and expecting that they would never “face” this leveller.

Towards the end, Archana, who has translated Kabir into French, rose up to dance. She limited herself to offering certain context-sensitive postures that completed the process of communication.

Bindumalini led the singing from the front. The particular song the group rendered on Maya and the harmonising of voices they attempted and executed successfully, was itself an experience - travelling in a boat on still waters. Subtle gaps between sahitya was a welcome feature but still one wondered whether the singing could have been complemented with a caressing flute (bansuri) in the background, the sound of jalra (hand cymbals) and the intermittent drone (ektar).

Jaya thanked both Kumar Gandharva, whose tunes she had adopted, and Linda Hess's translations that she had freely used in this presentation. The select audience was generous in complimenting the performers. In a word, the session had created Kabir-consciousness with a sense of ease and brevity.

(Jaya Madhavan has authored a book - “Kabir The Weaver-Poet”)

Quotable Kabir quotes

Here are samples of Kabir’s sayings:

“However well you nurture and water the plants, flowering will not happen as you wish. It will occur only at the appointed hour. Nothing therefore is under your control.”

“Yama, the God of death, with his messengers will always arrive on time. It is we mortals, who think he has come a bit too soon.”

“I play within myself. Like oil within seed, like fire within flint, God is right inside you... Find him if you can”


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Printable version | Jul 27, 2021 8:30:06 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/friday-review/music/the-kabir-chronicles/article3380183.ece

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