At 68, the silver-haired people singer Prahlad Tipaniya has a devoted following amongst as we speak’s city youth. Acting at festivals throughout the nation, he sings bhajans in Malwi people type and performs tambura alongside, triggering a rising curiosity in Kabir Das, the fifteenth century mystic poet
His expertise as a instructor in a authorities faculty in a Madhya Pradesh village finds a method to the stage. In between songs, the Padma Shri awardee’s performances are laced with delicate messages by way of Kabir’s sharp verses. He explains the gist of the layered couplets, after playfully telling his know-it-all city viewers, “Aap toh jante hello hain (you folks already know)….”
Edited excerpts from a freewheeling dialog earlier than a efficiency in Delhi:
Q / Why do you suppose it took time for Kabir to seek out area in an city milieu?
I really feel he was stored out as a result of Kabir brazenly talked towards hypocrisy and ostentation. His message couldn’t attain as many individuals because it ought to have. There are compilations of his compositions however not many litterateurs wrote about Kabir earlier than the twentieth century. It was Hazari Prasad Dwivedi who wrote about him and his work, centuries after he lived.
Q / Then how did his songs survive?
Like many medieval saints from the nirgun parampara (the custom that follows the formless god), Kabir was not formally educated. He got here from the decrease strata of society that had no proper to training and restricted entry to worship. However he continued to seek out an viewers as a result of he talked of cherishing shared areas in a divisive world within the language of the frequent man. I’ve not visited any faculty or college library for the songs of Kabir. What I’ve gathered is thru the oral custom by listening to native Kabir teams in villages who themselves have had no formal training. That is how his thought survived.
Q / How had been you launched to Kabir?
Via an instrument. I’m the primary individual in my household to get into music and singing. As a pupil, I got here throughout Kabir’s sakhis (a string of couplets) within the faculty curriculum out of which one was obligatory for the examination. A lot later, once I grew to become a college instructor of Biology in Madhya Pradesh, I realised that Kabir sang bhajans as nicely. Lots of them usually are not in books. One evening, I went to attend a efficiency of Kabir songs by an area mandali in a close-by village. Greater than the songs, I favored the sound of tambura. After I requested about it, the group gifted me one. As I used to be keen about it, I shifted to the village. There, I used to be instructed that if I’ve to play it, I ought to first be taught to sing. That is how I began singing Kabir. Being a science pupil, I observed that no matter Kabir wrote is drawn from nature and experiences. This made me a lifelong disciple.
Q / Hindu, Muslim, poet, saint, avatar, folks see Kabir from completely different prisms. What’s your take?
Kabir — like Bulle Shah and Guru Nanak — belongs to all. Kabir spoke towards orthodoxy, communalism and casteism. He stated Ram and Allah belong to all, not only one group. When the followers of Kabir meet, they do bandagi to one another; it means wanting into eyes of one another. Once you see your reflection within the eyes of the individual in entrance of you, you realise that the drive that runs him drives you as nicely. Then you’ll not deceive one another.
Q / How did your songs unfold?
Within the late Nineties, we approached an area music label to document Kabir songs but it surely refused. We determined to pay them for recording 200 cassettes and recovered the associated fee by promoting them throughout our programmes in villages. Throughout these performances, we got here throughout members of denotified tribes who had been referred to as to serve tea and clear the venue. Impressed by what they listened to, they requested us to carry out of their deras (camps) . Over a time frame, lots of them shed their aggressive behaviour and their lifetime of crime and bootlegging. In a single occasion, after a efficiency in a village at the Rajasthan-Madhya Pradesh border, a dacoit turned up for the programme and expressed regret over his actions, after the efficiency.
Q / However the reformist strategy didn’t assist if you fought the Lok Sabha election?
Those that need to serve can’t survive amongst those that search. Additionally, the citizens’s expectations from politicians are fairly completely different. Folks know the correct path however they don’t essentially stroll on it.
Q / Did you face discrimination due to your caste?
No, I used to be by no means discriminated towards however some folks discover it laborious to digest that Kabir sang bhajans. It took a while for the classical artists to take up Kabir. When the grasp of Hindustani classical music, Kumar Gandharv, got here to Devas to recuperate from an sickness, he didn’t sing for a very long time. Throughout this era, he listened to native teams who sang Kabir. When he recovered, he included Kabir into his repertoire however his detractors requested why is he singing songs of low-caste folks. This mindset has not fully vanished.
Q / Maybe, as a result of he talked of a formless almighty?
Each can coexist; however kind can at occasions confuse folks, formless (expression) can’t.