the posts on this blog

for some reason some of the entries on the blogs appear in Hindi. I have not yet figured how why or how it happened. But I hope for those of you who are interested in what I occasionally share here, this is not a big problem. If it is please let me know, I will try to work things out a little better.
thanks and regards

days when life is too much to bear

On days when life gets too much to bear
I just want to look within, without and withdraw
And then the din gets so much that the din becomes an ocean
A time when only a single word of wisdom is needed to quell the surge
The word doesn't come, the inspiration does not dawn

But the guru is never faraway
And for today I am picking up something to inspire myself,
Let's see what Kabir says for today-
सुमिरन से सुख होत है, सुमिरन से दुःख जाय
कह कबीर सुमिरन किये, साईं माहि समाए

perhaps I should just be with this thought for today-
(oh, this blog entry is not meant to be a poem, though the format is poetic)


media report sent from Bhubaneshwar

A friend from Bhubaneshwar, Orissa sent me this via the internet...I thought I could share it here. In any case the program that I sang in I had already posted the following picture from that evening. If you notice carefully, the sari I am wearing in the newspaper photo and the one in the following blog entry is the same:). That means they were taken on the same day, but by two different people.


its ten years and more....

My journey in Kabir started over ten years ago- when I was a 27 year old...oh well! that makes its at least 11 actually. So finally, the road now brings me to that point where I am singing only Kabir in this program, as a little contribution towards peace, democracy.
At the start of the program someone commented, "why should artists be a part of a democratic struggle and lend their support to anything social?" I was surprised with the ignorance of the question. People do not realise perhaps that the mind of a person is a reflection of the predominant consciousness of the times. Those people who are at the helm of the artistic expression are not always the ones who are expressing anything different from the dominant themes.
In every time in society there are people who oppose the norms that prevail in those times. Kabir opposed a lot of things in the times he lived in- including Hindu-Muslim divide over religion, forms of worship, ignorance, patriarchy, greed, casteism and so much more. In his spirit I find my own spirit reflected. That is why I say that I live Kabir, not just sing. In so many of his verses my own soul finds an expression.
This photo was taken in a program in Bhubaneshwar, Orissa- the first where I sang only Kabir, no other poets. The new things I sang here included this doha-
मन मैला तन उजला बगुला कपटी अंग
तासों तो कौवा भला तन मन एक ही ढंग
this was sung as a prelude to my very favourite bhajan
मन न रंगाये रंगाये जोगी कपडा
आसन मारी मंदिर में बैठे, ब्रह्म छाडी पूजन  लागे पथरा*
मथवा मुंडाए जोगी कपडा रंगों ले, दाढ़ी बढाए जोगी होई गैले बकरा
मन ना रंगाये...

( the irony of this is that while Kabir himself laughs at those who grows their beards and he says they become like male-goats...he himself has been innumerably shown with a beard. I was careful of this thought when I designed my own album cover of Kahe Kabir, my kabir album and my Kabir did not have a beard, the way I thought he would have been himself:))
( I do not remember if this is already an entry in my blog)
जंगल जाए जोगी धुनिया रमों ले, काम जराए जोगी होई गैले हिज्र
मन ना रंगाये ...
(Kabir says by escaping into the forest and controlling Kama- lust, the god-fearing hermit thinks he can please god; if only he soaked his soul, not just his mere garment)

This bhajan has an interesting story behind it. This was recommended to me by a colleague of my father from Zakir Hussain College, who said to papa that maybe I should be singing this particular bhajan. Some of them even sent me a rudimentary tune. So I took the suggestion, without communicating with anyone of them myself, I composed the bhajan, from the lyrics they sent to me. Anyways, by the end of it, it became a very good, strong voice of protest from Kabir and me- to poke fun at all the sham that goes on in the name of GOD all over the world.

* that brings to mind another Kabir doha
पत्थर पूजें हरी मिले, तो मैं पूजूं पहाड़
तासों तो चक्की भली, पीस खाए संसार
my simple translation: In this doha Kabir is laughing at those who worship god in the form of idols and says that "if by worshipping a piece of stone I can get GOD then I would be willing to worship a mountain. Then illustrating the significance of the stone, he says it is better that the stone have a better utility, like a grindstone- at least it serves better by letting people grind their flour and fill their hunger." I have never yet sung this doha but I do have a tune in mind to sing it when there is a scope.
This program, from which I have put the foto here, was on 9th October 2010.


guru...an unending song...guru se lagan kathin hai bhai

there is so much that Kabir has left behind on the subject of the 'guru' and also at least some of the songs I have sung myself that it is not possible to make different posts out of them, so I will write most of them down here itself. Nature to me seems like the first guru- especially flowers when they bloom for a short while, enliven the soul and die...


koi sunta hai


This is a link for the movie made by Shabnam Virmani, which talks about the life of Pt.Kumar Gandharva. Now this documentary is available for viewing on the internet itself. Someone just sent me a link. I thought I could share it here. I appear in a very brief part here, singing one of my Kabir pad, which brought a number of people to me asking me about the lyrics of the song, till I finally decided to make a blog out of all the Kabir work that I have done and will continue to do. The very first entry of my blog contains the lyrics of that song, that I have sung in this film- Jaag Piyaari. To go to it, you will have to go to the 'older posts' section which appears at the right hand bottom of the blogposts, till you reach the last page of the blog. I hope to soon someday, put the song here itself for you to hear. I do not have the means to execute that desire of mine, but I am sure it will work out soon someday.


cassette release function of kahe kabir album

I am just trying to get the old website here, before the next website of the Foundation is put in order. This website was online from 2004, till I wound it up in 2009.
In this foto you can see me with the tanpura. The year was Jan or Feb of 2001. Towards my right hand is seated Sher Khan or Anees Bhai; who was a most affable tabla player I was to ever meet in my life. Sadly, he is no more with us in his body form: had a very sudden demise in his early fifties.
Next to him, is the most faithful tabla accompanist anyone could have-Mishraji, who has been with me since March 2000- so much like an elder brother. Always dedicated, always ready to play to make me do my riyaaz-till date.
This program was inaugurated by Sardar Surinder Pal Singh, the older of the duo of Singh Bandhus, the singing brothers' duo. It was an early lesson about what all should not be done in organising a program!!!! ha ha ha!!


Language and Music I use in compositions

Kabir has lived in an age where language was slightly different from the manner we use it today. So in my choice of pada, doha or saakhi (पद, दोहा, साखी) I have deliberately tried to use those poetic pieces which are clear in meaning even to the modern man. I have not tried to things whose meanings are not clear to me myself. But sometimes I must admit that when I did start the singing the meanings were not as clear as they became much later as I sang them over years and the many layers of thoughts came to me.

I am sure, knowing Kabir for what he was, he never tried to make things difficult to understand. Sometimes when I hear from people from the countrysides of UP and Bihar speak with one another I find those same sounds and I am so happy to see that language is still being spoken in its sweetness and melody. Its another matter I hardly understand most of it!!

Moreso, my music. Though I have had a long training with a number of gurus, in at least two different gharanas of singing, my bhakti music is devoid of any affectations of classical styles. This is for two reasons. Firstly, when I started to compose music (at 27 years) I did not have such a grasp of composition and ragas. Secondly, I started to sing Kabir as an answer to my inner quest- not as a thing which was an extension of my singing. So for me bhakti came first, not the raga. The raga is a tool, not the paramount thing in singing Kabir.

Before, I started to sing Kabir of my own sort, the only other person whose Kabir singing I had heard was Pt.Kumar Gandharva. Having heard him, there was no way I wanted to sing Kabir in that manner. His style was the acme of his singing and established him as a singing Nirguni singer, made him popular among the educated, middle class audiences and created a new wave of bringing Kabir into the mainstream consciousness of India. His classical music was a different story altogether. And yet, it was not a style that could be easily emulated.

I certainly can sing a few bhajan in the manner he sang them, but I do not want to compose music like that (not that I can either) I wanted to have such a simple musical expression that anyone who heard them could learn them easily and my Kabir (merakabir) could become  a part of day-to-day lives. The additional deliberation I did in this case was I did not record the albums in any other format than a solitary voice. I could easily have got a chorus together...but I chose to remain singular, so that it could be the scenario anyone could be in - alone by themselves and singing.

Much later, I heard a lot of styles of singing Kabir. Some of it also came from the movies Shabnam (Virmani) made. But I realised all the more that these are not the styles that most people can sing by themselves, unless they are trained in a certain way. All the more I am comfortable within me about what I made out of my Kabir consciousness. It is an offering out of my deepest love for that man, who had the highest philosophy to offer to the world- love. Since then my whole quest has been to become more and more simple, at peace within (though life is as difficult and heart-breaking as it could get) and grounded in music and service rather than aggrandizement of the Self.

पोथी पढ़ पढ़ जग मुआ, पंडित भया न कोय
ढाई आखर प्रेम का, पढ़े सो पंडित होय 
pothi padh padh jag muva, pandit bhayaa na koy
dhai aakhar prem ka, padhe so pandit hoy

My simple interpretation-
with all its scholarly searching and reading numerous books, nobody became learned- a scholar (in the true sense). He alone is learned who has learnt the meaning of the simple word 'love'

Mera Kabir, whether as my writing, my singing or my lecturing is a part of that simplicity of Kabir as I see reflected within and borne out of that same small word love.


financial express article

I think this article had appeared in 2003! not a recent one...so funny that a 30-31 year old is saying that i am at peace. is it possible? i should have taken to the Himalayas then. the journey is very much on, and peace is a process that goes along as you go along. It shows up in little specks here and there, you get there at times, once in awhile and reminds you of the possibility of getting there finally. But as long as there are commitments, there are responsibilities, there is love (for anything, whether human, divine or intellectual) you continue to be in that churning, you remain in that dance of maya. Of course, it is better on days when you can watch the dance like an outsider.

Satguru mohae bhaavae

From my four CD Kabir album, called Kahe Kabir, this is one bhajan that I am now in a position to share. It was recorded when I was i...