Sunday, 25 April 2010

Binding Love- Beyond Boundries

by- Ojasi Mehta

The hot summer afternoon of 9th April , a small room laced with a shelf of books and "gaddas" on floor and walls occupied with several colorful posters , a tv and dvd player and 10-15 curious young people - it was the office of Pravah Jaipur Initiative and we all were called up there for a movie screening - a documentary movie on Kabir. Everybody was chatting in low voices , I was sitting quietly as I was new at this place and knew no one particularly. I was quite excited about the movie but was afraid too as it could turn out very boring but I was wondering what others are talking about and not until the movie finished and some people confessed , I got to know they were also anticipating that movie would spoil their precious summer afternoon sleep. But guess what? After watching movie , everyone was in an ecstatic state , upon being asked the experience of movie , no one even could express the joy in words.
The movie was- Had Anhad , made by Shabnam Virmani under a kabir Project. It begins with a question - "Where I will find Ram?" And the first landscape is that of Ayodhya - Ram janm bhumi... but does she find Ram there? Some shopkeepers are interviewed by her and it is very realistic to see that what people actually think about Babri Masjid Case. It is a war between Ego and Belief. A war on God's name - to find God or save God- but does God reside in temple or masjid? God would be pleased by such wars? Such questions take her from Ayodhya to Madhya Pradesh to Rajasthan and finally Pakistan. Through Kabir she tries to find all these answers . She meets different people in her journey who are either local singers (folk singers) of Kabir or related to Kabir in one or the other way. Finally she goes to Pakistan where she feels most closest to Kabir and his philosophy.

Who is Kabir by the way ? - An incarnation of Vishnu ? A fakir or saint? A poet of Bhakti movement? A revolutionary man? Why not go back and see him first as a man... but something definitely makes him different from an ordinary man and that's his knowledge of Self .
Had-Had Karke Sab Gaye,
Per Behad Gayo Na Koi.
Kabir had crossed the limits between Soul n Bramha. There is one fine example in movie to describe Kabir's position that one who is in ship says- "Shore is coming" , One who is on the shore says - "Land is coming" but for one who is above both , no one is coming and no one is going - Kabir was like this.

When one knows himself , his own soul , from this knowledge one can embark on the journey of "search of God". And why kabir is relevant today? There are various reasons like his dohas and songs contain the eternal knowledge about "soul" , "god", "life", "love" but the most prominent voice of his dohas and songs are - "Humanitarian" which today in the world threatened by terrorism , existentialism , depression and loss of faith on God, we need to understand badly. He teaches us to see everyone as human and worship one God whom he called "Ram" - his Ram is not Dashrath's son Ram , an incarnation of Vishnu but his Ram lives in everyone's heart and if we love everyone , we are worshiping God.

Sakal Hans Mein Ram Viraje,
Ram Bina Koi Dham Nahi.

Ram resides in every soul,
There is no abode without Ram.

Through the screening of this movie , Pravah whose motto is - "Me to We" and whose Focus is on both "self" and "society" , tries to help us to see "what we are" , "who we are" , and "What we can do for our society and humanity?"

Thursday, 22 April 2010

Reflection on Self-exploration through Kabir Workshop conducted by- PRAVAH, Delhi

by Gopal Singh Chouhan

For me personally it was blessing to be part of the Self-exploration through kabir workshop organised by Pravah, Delhi from 29-1April, 2010 in Jamia Hamdard University, Delhi. It helped me to understand the essence of Kabir’s philosophy in deeper way. Having discussion in diverse and harmonious group is always meaningful to merge into focused themes and left a deep impact. Long discussions during three days workshop have also helped me to understand myself, improve my personal knowledge about Kabir and ability of knowing.

Kabir is not only about poetry, music, singing, philosophy but he emerged in various forms when we take him into the voice of self-dialogue, self-dualities, self-identities and in thousands of layers of self itself. In the process of joining kabir with highly motivated passion of knowing self and others as well it is more seems to be realistic and practical in all spheres of physical and metaphysical world. There is no more Nirgun and Sagun distinction when Kabir rejects social taboos, superstitions, Hindu rituals and Muslim doctrines. At the same time Kabir is able to reveal Love, Philosophy, Mysticism and his unbending love for the Supreme and that’s the beauty of Kabir’s poetry.

All designed session went well but the discussion on hall mark of Kabir’s poetry that he convey in two line DOHA were really influencing. I think that was the guiding part of the workshop when the whole group needed to open up the discussion surrounding different themes. The group able to reveal his mysticism, spirituality, death, soul, the conscience, the sense of awareness and the vitality of existence in a manner that is unequalled in both simplicity and style. We came to know that kabir says not much, but between the lines, he tends to shake up the entire universe.

Is kabir really simple? His simplicity is not all the difficulties? Does he talk about complexity in his two lines verses? Yes, he urged us to see ourselves stark naked. What does mean following kabir? Knowing one’s inner self or realizing one self? Accepting oneself or becoming harmonious with one’s surrounding?

There are so many questions unanswered after the workshop but I am really thankful to organizer that they gave me the chance to take away so many questions for self-exploration. I would also love to thank all participant who made this event very successful with their immense support and specially Ashraf and Ravi who encourage us to do this workshop.

Friday, 2 April 2010

Koi Sunta Hai..

Text: Arati , Photos: Hari

It was early night in Bagli - a crowd had gathered in curiosity and anticipation - a film was about to be shown - in the town centre, in fact in midst of its chowraha (cross roads), and for free!

The muddled confusion of rigging the white cotton sheet across a rickety central stage, setting up laptops, projectors, missing extension cords, multi-pin plugs, while kids ran around with their lollipop ices, women sat in relaxed groups to gossip, and men sombre and plumed in their colorful turbans of oranges and yellow - all gathered on tarps laid across mid-roads.

When all was set, someone called out to shut the street lights. A spindly ladder was conjured up, set against electric pole and a person climbed up, skinny and steady, to reach for the wires, identify and 'yank it off'! And the movie began...

I have seen Koi Sunta Hai before, twice. I find it more hauntingly beautiful, more internally 'disturbing', and even more sorrowful, compared to Shabnam's other movies. I especially like the very beginning of it. This time, I was sitting with some children grouped in a clump - obviously friends, on one side and another cluster of women at first huddled in a circle, on my other side. In the informal, or really, easy way of rural India, even as the movie started, these people continued to be engrossed with themselves, occasionally turning towards the screen to see what was going on...women continued conversations on domesticity, tinkling their bangles, jingling their anklets, occasional soft laughter arising near by. The children were first curious about me and wanted to know what I was called, where my home was - all this after the movie had begun. However, slowly the audience around me settled down - orienting themselves more and more towards the screen. They fell silent, engrossed. Some women and children had left in the first half hour of the film - but most others stayed and watched. I remember thinking - how bright are the eyes of people here - how brightly shine children's eyes - maybe it was this light - of the screen reflecting in their eyes, at night.
Watching 'Koi Sunta Hai' in Bagli

At one point in the movie, a kid turned towards me and reached for my hand, saying "I know him" (i.e. Kumar Gandharv), "How?" I asked him, he smiled and replied " He is in my book" (in his 7th std., social text). He further elaborated that he knew Kumar Gandharv from the section on music which also contained Tansen (the renowned singer in Mughal emperor Akbar's court) and Lata Mangeshkar ( a very popular playback singer of Bollywood)! I laughed at the strange combination of musicians that had made it into the MP govt's curriculum texts for 12 year olds. I also remember humming or softly singing with the songs in the movie - and being asked if I liked these songs...Oh yes, very much..did they like it? , a big smile now and yes! The women never directly addressed me, but turned and partook in my conversations with the kids, smiling.
Kumar Gandharva on screen

And so we watched this movie together, in middle of Bagli's chowraha, its haat, turning towards each other, when something touched us, with a look, a smile, an acknowledgment - as one does with one's family, watching something on TV that we all like - comfortable and happy together, all listening - 'Koi Sunta Hai'.

Another Gift...

Again from Anand Balasubramanyan, we have a rare gift - he has uploaded a favorite Kabir Song, sung by Shabnam, with lyrics, for our listening and singing along pleasure!

Check it out here.