AMC – Kabir Bhajans

Veena Sahasrabuddhe

I love bhajans. The wiki explain that the word bhajan connotes “attachment, devotion to, fondness for, homage, faith or love, worship, piety to something as a spiritual, religious principle or means of salvation.”

On its historical roots, it notes that “in Hinduism, Bhajan and its Bhakti term Kirtan, have roots in the ancient metric and musical traditions of the Vedic era, particularly the Samaveda. The Samaveda Samhita is not meant to be read as a text, but sung as it is like a musical score sheet that must be heard.”

Veena Sahasrabuddhe[1], a top favorite of mine among Hindustani classical singers, sang a most beloved bhajan — one by Sant Kabir.[2] Listen:

Of course I don’t have the skills to express how beautifully Veena-tai renders the marvelous words of Kabir. Consider this bit, starting around time 4:10 where she beings with an aakaar (the ‘aa’ sound) and transitions into the line “aakhir yeh tun khaakh milega . . .”

And then at 5:15, she starts with “kahat kabira . . . suno bhai sadho” Notice how many variations she does on those words — one of them very softly pleading (5:45) — and then moves on to “. . . sahib milay saboori mein . . .”

-*-

The next bhajan is also by Kabir. Sunta hai guru gyani sung by Pandit Kumar Gandharva.

And winding up this edition, we have Pandit Madhup Mudgal singing Kabir’s “Sadho sadho jab borana”:

NOTES:

[1] By the way, I like the name “sahasra-buddhe” – thousand-wisdom.

As an aside, I have to mention that I have a personal connection with Veena-tai. Her husband, Hari Sahasrabuddhe, was a computer science professor at IIT Kanpur, with whom I had taken a couple of courses during my masters degree. I had even visited them at their home in Pune years later. And one time when I was at the Savai Gandharv music festival (a fabulous Hindustani classical music festival), I requested Veena-tai to sing the bhajan. She said she can’t because the time she was performing at was not appropriate for the raga that the bhajan is sung to.

I always made it a point to see her whenever she performed in the San Francisco Bay area. Sadly she passed away in June 2016 at the relatively young age of 67. Her singing will continue to live on for a long time.

[2] Kabir Das (1398 – 1448) was a 15th-century Indian mystic poet and saint, whose writings influenced Hinduism’s Bhakti movement and his verses are found in Sikhism’s scripture Guru Granth Sahib, Satguru Granth Sahib of Saint Garib Das and Kabir Sagar.

Author: Atanu Dey

Economist.

2 thoughts on “AMC – Kabir Bhajans”

  1. Hi Atanu, A great post. One correction I thought I must point out. You have mentioned Kabir’s writing influenced the Bhakti movement. In fact, the movement was already 700-800 years old at the time of Kabir, who probably was amongst the last of the great Bhakti saints. Interestingly, most of the Bhakti movement leaders rejected gender discrimination totally. Kabir was an exception and a bit of a misogynist. This is not to take away the beauty and depth in his songs.

    Karthik

    Like

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