Monday Musings 268 -Kabeer in Lunyakhedi
Around a 100 kms from Indore is Lunyakhedi, a village made famous by perhaps its most accomplished son, Padmshree Prahlad Singh Tippania. Lunyakhedi is the epicentre of what can be safely called the ‘Kabeer belt’ of India – the culturally rich malva region of central India. Prahladji is a very well known folk singer of national and international repute who sings Kabeer in the quintessentially Malva style, with a tamboora in one hand and manjeera in the other.
There are more ‘fragile stickers’ that the airlines paste on his dholak cover than would be scratches on it, which indicates that the extent he has taken the sound of Kabeer through his singing. A humble school teacher who breaks into the maalvi dialect more often than not, lives Kabeer even as the world perceives him to be only singing him, is an absolute delight to watch, meet and talk to. He is child when he cracks up, a philosopher when he makes a point and a saint when his fingers caress the tamboora.
Every year this time around he hosts a few people in his village for 5 days of singing and talking Kabeer – a kind of workshop if you may call it. This year I was a part of those lucky few. My comrades were a picture in contrast – A few classical music aficionados, a music band lead vocalist, a few Corporate types, a mother with a kid, a few school teachers, others with journeys best left un-described – all with Kabeer on their lips, mind and heart. I am not sure where these 5 days came from and where have they gone because they rest lightly on my memory, for I struggle to chose words to describe them fully and completely – and yet I know I did walk on those sands. I have the experience; I do not have the perfect expressions.
So what did we do for 5 days? Outwardly we sang Kabeer (for the record – others sang – I listened; me singing would have been a disruption!), discussed what he said and what he meant and what it means now; However inwardly I think each one of us were in our own journey. Simple questions – but big questions; Questions about meanings, meaningfulness and meaninglessness, about futility, about connections, about simplicity, about relatedness, about being wanting to be good but struggling with it, about going beyond symbols and connecting with the essence, questions about denials and projections, questions about the known and the unknown, about boundaries and liberation, questions that have answers and mostly questions that do not have easy answers. Everyone had his own personal tryst with the questions of their lives – and may be for a moment through Kabeer they also figured out the futility of questions. Being was more important than becoming!
We must know Kabeer more deeply than we know him today. Kabeer is the voice of sanity during the times of tumult; he is also the voice of revolt in the times of utter ludicrity; He is the voice of masses during the times of shameless elitist dominance; Kabeer is the voice of simplicity when it paid to be pedantic. Kabeer is the voice of reprimand during the times of nauseous politeness and he is the voice of connection during the times of vitriolic intolerance.
Most discover Kabeer on their own and out of fortunate serendipity. People like Prahladji have done more to reclaim and rediscover Kabeer than institutions that were supposed to do that job – but then that has been the story of Kabeer even when he was alive – institutions always failed him; he was a darling of the masses then as he is now.
I don’t know what exactly we brought back from those 5 blissful days in that world – maybe we left a part of us back there and maybe we brought back a bit of Lunyakhedi with us. My love for Kabeer has only entered a new level and the love of Lunyakhedi has only begun. It will be difficult not to go back there soon.
PS: Having authored a book based on Kabeer's writings I had begun to imagine I know a bit of Kabeer. This ego was punctured in the first few hours only at Lunyakhedi. Kabeer continues to punctures egos even today. You rock buddy!!