Celebrating Kabir

22 02 2012

As I was reflecting on and blogging about current affairs, like last week’s Campus Crusade fiasco, Kabir kept coming to me as an example of a gadfly who did more than just challenge. Kabir is an Indian saint from around the late 1300s (or early 1400s). He was born Muslim but apprenticed under a Hindu guru. He was a gadfly to both sides. Kabir is a wonderful mix of sarcasm, wisdom and compassion and he expresses that wonderfully in his simple and lyrical poetry. I idolise him for that.

Reading about Kabir, I discovered that Shabnam Varmani has directed an enlightening four part documentary about him and written an article about her journey. If you are new to Kabir, I think that’s not a bad place to start. The account of her experiences and reflections is liberally peppered with Kabir’s verse and an accompanying translation.

Below is Kumar Gandharva’s rendition of Kabir’s Ud Jayega. Kumar Gandharva was a Hindustani classical singer from perhaps the 40s (I couldn’t find much information about this). There’s an interesting parallel between his refusal to follow any of the specific lineages in Hindustani music and Kabir’s rejection of religious labels (both Hindu and Muslim). This particular poem, at least to me, has a haiku like feel to it and it’s enhanced by Kumar Gandharvas almost melancholic voice.

The Last Flight

Ud Jayega Huns Akela,
Jug Darshan Ka Mela
Jaise Paat Gire Taruvar Se,
Milna Bahut Duhela

The Swan Will Fly Away All Alone,
Spectacle of the World Will Be a Mere Fair
As the Leaf Falls from the Tree
Is Difficult to Find
Who Knows Where it Will Fall

Read the full lyrics

How can she slap?

28 11 2011

Just recently, India’s Agricultural Minister, Sharad Pawar got slapped by a dude who was pissed off as hell at corruption. For those who don’t know, in Indian Culture, a slap, though not as physically damaging as a punch in the face, is considered defamatory and extremely insulting. I found the video amusing somewhat because of it’s resemblance to a recording of a gameshow on Indian TV. What also amused me was the widespread condemnation of his actions by Indian Politicians. It sounded like he threw a bomb in parliament or something. Usually, when there is a terrorist attack, there is a bit of sympathy shown towards the attacker and people discuss what root causes drove them to become terrorists. Harvinder, however does not seem to be shown that kind of sympathy from the press. I see politicians being distressed at the fact that this shouldn’t be happening in a Democracy, but forgetting to entertain the fact that it might a sign of a dysfunctional democracy.

Serious talk aside, I now present, the “How can she slap?” meme that made rounds on facebook a couple of years back! (Warning : Swear words)