Mann Laago Yaar Fakiri Mein

In a radical departure from the norm of pursuing wealth and success, in this song the poet Kabir celebrates the joy of poverty, and the beauty of simplicity. But this poverty is not empty – it is filled with the joy of remembrance or meditation. Kabir claims that this joy is far greater than the joys afforded by material comfort or luxury. Saboori, or contentment, is the quality which takes one to fakiri, or the state of being utterly free – free of desires, wants and the incessant need for more!

I learnt this song through Kaluram Bamaniya ji of Malwa, Madhya Pradesh. Watch his wonderful rendition here. The audio recording uploaded here is from a live performance by me at Lamakaan in Hyderabad. Watch the video of it here. With Venkataraman Ramachandran on the kanjira.

Mann laago mero yaar fakiri mein
Mann laago mero yaar gareebi mein

Jo sukh paaya naam bhajan mein
Vo sukh naahin ameeri mein
Mann laago mero yaar fakiri mein…

Haath mein tumba bagal mein sota
Chaaron dishaayein jaageeri mein
Mann laago mero yaar fakiri mein…

Prem nagar mein rehni hamaari
Bhali ban aayi saboori mein
Mann laago mero yaar fakiri mein…

Aakhir yeh tan khaak milega
Kaahe phirat magroori mein?
Mann laago mero yaar fakiri mein…

Kahe Kabir suno bhai saadho
Saahib mile hain saboori mein
Mann laago mero yaar fakiri mein…

My Mind Has Taken To Living Free

Oh friend, my mind has
taken to living free!

The joy of mindful awareness
Cannot be found in luxury

My mind rejoices in poverty
My heart rejoices in simplicity
My mind has taken to living free!

A bowl and a staff is all I carry
Yet my kingdom stretches wherever I see
My heart has taken to living free!

My dwelling in the city of love
Became beautiful with patience
My mind has taken to living free!

Your body will bite the dust one day
Why strut about, so smug, so vain?
My heart has taken to living free!

Says Kabir, listen seekers
The Lord is found in contentment
My mind has taken to living free!

Translation: Vipul Rikhi & Shabnam Virmani

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Chun Chun Maati

Death. How can we forget it? The most basic fact of life is forgotten in the rush of life itself. Kabir reminds us – that which is built will fall; that which is born will die. This is a live recording from a concert given in Bangalore in January 2017.

I learnt this beautiful song through Bharmal Vagha of Kutch, Gujarat.

Chun chun maati mahal banaaya
Moorakh kahe ghar mera
Na ghar mera na ghar tera
Hai jagat mein phera

Khaak mein khap jaana re banda
Maati se mil jaana
Thoda (nahin) karo abhimaan
Ik din pavan sa ud jaana

Jaada pehro jheena pehro
Pehro malmal saacha
Rupya paawal mushroo pehro
Toye maran keri aasa
Khaak mein khap jaana…

Sona pehro roopa pehro
Pehro heerla saacha
Vaar vaar motida pehro
Toye maran keri aasa
Khaak mein khap jaana…

Maata roye janam janam
Aur behen roye baarah maasa
Ghar ki naari ter din roye
Kare beeja ni aasa
Khaak mein khap jaana…

Ik din jiyo do din jiyo
Jiyo varas pachaasa
Kahat Kabira suno bhai saadho
Toye maran keri aasa
Khaak mein khap jaana…

Laying Brick Upon Brick

Laying brick upon brick
The fool says, “My house”!
Not my house, nor your house
This world’s a merry-go-round

You’ll turn to dust one day
You’ll merge with the earth
Don’t be so proud, oh fellow
The wind will blow you away

Your attire may be fine or rough
You may wear the best silks
Spend a lot of money on finery
It all ends in death
You’ll turn to dust…

Wear expensive gold or silver
Or the finest diamonds
Wear pearls over and over
It all ends in death
You’ll turn to dust…

You mother may mourn for years
Your sister for many months
Your partner will wait a few days
Then look for someone else!
You’ll turn to dust…

You may live one day or two
Or a hundred years
Kabir says, listen friend
It all ends in death
You’ll turn to dust…

Translation: Vipul Rikhi

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Sat re Vachan

Words of truth fill the seeker to the brim; they fill up her every pore. With these beautiful words begins this extraordinary bhajan which we’ve heard from Mooralala from Kutch. It’s a poem by Kheem Saheb, describing the experience of fearlessness once one has drunk from the cup of the Name (one’s own breath?). You can listen to Mooralala’s own rendition on Ajab Shahar here.

Sat re vachan saadhu ko bhar bhariya, ho ji
Bhariya hai taaram taar
Naam ro piyaalo saadhu nirbhay thi piyo, ho ji
Paayo mhaare satguru ae aaj
Surta chadhhi hai aasmaan maan, ho ji

Bhanvar gufa maan dhani mhaaro baithhiyo, ho ji
Bhanvaro kari le gunjaar
Unmuni aasan saadhu mhaara sevta, ho ji
Bhari rahiya hai bharpoor
Naam ro piyaalo…

Vina re vaadadiye veejo khavi rahyo, ho ji
Anhad varsya hai noor
Naam ro piyaalo…

Kheem re khaada vinya nar jhoojhe, ho ji
Bhaan guru bataaya hai bhed
Naam ro piyaalo…

Words Of Truth

Words of truth
Fill the seeker to the brim
They seep into her every pore, oh yes!

Drink fearlessly, seeker
From the cup of the Name
I’ve found my true guru today
Awareness climbs to the sky!
Drink fearlessly, seeker

In a whirling cave, my master sits
Hum and find him out, O bee
Strike an inward-looking posture
Get filled to the brim, oh yes!
Drink fearlessly, seeker

Lightning flashes on a cloudless day
Boundless light showers, oh yes!
Drink fearlessly, seeker

No spear or sword, yet Kheem wages war
My guru Bhaan has whispered the secret
Drink fearlessly, seeker

Translation: Vipul Rikhi and Shabnam Virmani

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Koi Nahin Apna

What is the ultimate truth of our existence? Is it that we are utterly alone? That we come alone, and leave alone? That no one can escape the clutches of death? Kabir invokes all these truths in this utterly direct and bare song, which goes to the heart of all that we tend to deny or forget. No one is your own – understand, oh heart.

I’ve heard this song in the raw and powerful voice of ‘Kabir baba’ (Vishnu Khuprao Deshmukh), an itinerant street musician in Malwa. You can find his original rendition on Ajab Shahar here.

Koi nahin apna
samajh mana

Dhan daulat tera, maal khajeena
do din ka sapna
samajh mana

Nanga aana, nanga jaana
nahin kapda rakhna
samajh mana

Trikuti mein se jaan nikal gayi
moonh par daalo dhakna
samajh mana

Chaar jana mil khatiya uthaana
jangal beech rakhna
samajh mana

Kahat Kabir suno bhai saadho
vo hi hai ghar apna
samajh mana

No One is Yours

No one is yours,
Understand oh heart

Your wealth and gold

Your precious riches
A passing dream
Understand oh heart
 
We come naked
And leave naked
No covering remains
Understand oh heart
 
From between the brows
Life escapes
A shroud is put on the face
Understand oh heart
 
Four men act
As pall-bearers
They take you to the jungle
Understand oh heart
 
Kabir says
Listen seekers
That is our real home
Understand oh heart
 
 Translation: Vipul Rikhi

 

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Ochintu Koi Mane

Like waves in the ocean, I’m at play!

In January 2016, while on a ‘Sadbhavana Yatra’ in north Gujarat organised by Sanjay-Tula of Vishwagram, I met Dhruv dada (well-known Sahitya Akademi awarded Gujarati writer, Dhruv Bhatt). As we travelled with him in his car, with great love, he shared with us those poems of his which come to him as songs (with tunes). We have so much enjoyed learning these songs of a modern/contemporary mystic poet, so to speak. 

In this song, he speaks of the great bounty and benevolence of nature (kudrat ni rehem) and the joy of being alive. While walking along the banks of the river Narmada, he once came across an old farmer working in his field under a blazing sun. When he asked him how he was doing, the farmer turned to him with a thousand watt smile, and replied with no hint of self-pity, that he was full of joy! That moved something internally for Dhruv dada in his attitude to the farmer, as he realised that even he, who was pitying the farmer, didn’t have that joy which the farmer did. Soon after, this poem/song ‘came to him’.

This yatra, mooted and part-sponsored by him, was his gesture of commitment to a larger culture of tolerance and reverence in India, done very quietly, away from the noise and controversy surrounding the debate around ‘intolerance’.

Ochintu koi mane raste made ne kadi
dheere thi poochhe ke kem chhe
To aapne to kahiye ke dariya si mauj maan
ne upar thi kudrat ni rehem chhe
 
Phaatela khissa ni aad maan muki chhe ame
chhalkaati malkaati mauj
Eklo ubhun ne toye mela maan houn
evun laagya kare chhe mane roj
Taalu vasaaye nahin evadi pataari maan
aapno khajaano hem-khem chhe
Aapne to kahiye ke dariya si mauj maan…
 
Aankhon maan paani to aave ne jaaye
nathi bheetar bheenaash thathi ochhi
Vadh ghat no kaanthaao raakhe hisaab nathi
parvaah samandar ne hoti
Sooraj to uge ane aathmiye jaaye
maari upar aakaash em-nem chhe
Aapne to kahiye ke dariya si mauj maan…

I’m at play 
If, suddenly, I were to come across
Someone on the way
And if they were to ask me
Softly,
“How are you doing today?”
Then I would say, 
Nature is so bountiful
And like waves in the ocean 

I’m at play!

In my torn trouser-pocket hide 
Many joyful, dancing waves

Even when alone 
I’m in a carnival each day 
In a tiny bundle
Which can never be locked
My treasure is as safe as day 
Like waves in the ocean
I’m at play! 

Water in the eyes comes and goes
But the moistness within never dries
The shore may keep accounts
Of less and more
The ocean doesn’t bother about such scores 
The sun may rise and set everyday 
The sky over me is always the same 
Like waves in the ocean
I’m at play! 

Translation: Vipul Rikhi

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Lena Hue So

In this song, the Sufi-Bhakti poet Rohal Fakir urges us to receive – and the moment to receive is always now. This moment, this birth, is extremely precious, like a jewel or a diamond that may not come our way so easily again.

We learnt this song from a recording of Om Prakash Naik ji made by Gopal Singh Chouhan of Lokayan, who has worked with several folk singers and artists in Bikaner, Rajasthan. Watch his beautifully sung version here.

Lena hue so leeje mhaara bhaaida re
Ab aayi levan ke bela, re saadho
Maanako janam heero haath nahin aave re
Phir bhatkat chauraasi ra phera, re saadho
Edo ratan heero haath nahin aave re

Shyaam jata sir shvet bhayi hai re
Tane aje yun na aave re laaja
Tirya jake nar karni su tir gaya re
Ab sariya jaka ra kaaja
Maanako janam…

Gyaan kathe nar rehni nahin rehta re
Ab bin toh rehni kaisa gyaana
Mann parmod sake nahin apno re
Phir auraan su poochhe re myaana
Maanako janam…

Hansa hue so hans gati haale re
Phir chheelar paanv na mele
Saadh hue mhaara ghat ujiyaara re
Ve toh akel kala maahin khele
Maanako janam…

Kirpa bhayi jad sauda rachiya re
Ab bhaavbhagat kaisi aasi
Rohal ratan amolak paayo re
Ve toh sir saate avinaashi
Maanako janam…

If You Wish To Receive

If you wish to receive, do so now
Now is the hour for receiving, seeker!
This human birth is hard to come by
Stumbling through endless cycles of being
You may not find this priceless gem again

The dark hair of your youth has turned grey
But has that made you mend your ways?
Kind acts, not grand words, bring grace
One who turns around does not again stray
This human birth…

You blabber fine words – do you live them?
What good is such wisdom, unlived?
Will it quench a thirsty heart’s seeking?
Won’t you wander again, lost, unhinged?
This human birth…

Swan, walk with the gait of a swan
No stepping in shallow puddles anymore!
Radiance floods the seeker’s whole being
Alone, with art, she plays, she sports
This human birth…

When grace was felt, the deal was struck
And Royal secured the priceless jewel
Now what thirst for respect or fame?
He cuts off his head, and becomes immortal
This human birth…

Translation: Vipul Rikhi

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Guru Vinya Ghor Andhaaro

Guru shatters the pitch darkness, the lamp destroys the utter blackness, says Kabir, urging us to light the lamp in our own self-temple. As he says, light the lamp and there’s radiance!

I learnt this song from Asariya Bhai Jagariya of Kutch, Gujarat. ‘Jagariya’ means one who awakens.Watch his beautiful rendition with his mandali on ‘Ajab Shahar’ here.

Jal vinya jyot, pavan vinya paani
Al pal vaar leher laagi re
Mandariye maan
Deepak baryo ajvaado

Guru vinya ghor andhaaro mandariye maan
Divle vinya ghor andhaaro mandariye maan
Deepak baryo ajvaado

Etleek chhe potli padi jaase hethi
Padi jaase maati maaylo gaaro re
Mandariye maan
Deepak baryo ajvaado

Seelari nu saanto ras bharyo meetho
Guriye guriye ras nyaaro re
Mandariye maan
Deepak baryo ajvaado

Haath maan chhe vaatko ne saaro sheher bhatkyo
Moorakhda ne tel nahin aale koi udhaaro re
Mandariye maan
Deepak baryo ajvaado

Kaho ho Kabir suno bhai saadho
Naam liyo nirakaaro re
Naam liyo niradhaaro re
Mandariye maan
Deepak baryo ajvaado 

Guru Shatters the Pitch Darkness

Water douses fire, wind dries up water
Each moment a new wave rises
In the temple
Light the lamp and there’s radiance

The guru shatters the pitch darkness
In the temple
The lamp dispels the utter darkness
In the temple
Light the lamp and there’s radiance

Such a small bundle
It will bite the dust one day
It will mingle with the mud
In the temple
Light the lamp and there’s radiance

The sugarcane stem
Is juicy and sweet
Each knot has a special taste
In the temple
Light the lamp and there’s radiance

Begging bowl in hand
You went round the whole town
No one lends oil to a fool
In the temple
Light the lamp and there’s radiance

Says Kabir, listen seekers
Dwell upon the formless
Take the name of the nameless
In the temple
Light the lamp and there’s radiance

Translation: Vipul Rikhi & Shabnam Virmani

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