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Friday, December 17, 2010

Saint Kabir's wedding night



Some things don't change, not over a few centuries. The flip-flop nature of the mind and the stilling, magnetic influence of art.Makes sense? Yes, but so what, right? There are innumerable ways of saying something. I shall say the same thing now through a story. Tell me how you like it.

Tore Sang Jaaungi

Once upon a time, there lived a man called Kabir who weaved cloth for a living. You probably had to study his poetry in your Hindi books. Forget all you ever read. Imagine yourself to be here, in Kabir's house, now, in the fifteenth century.

Kabir lives with his mother, and mostly spends his time weaving cloth and singing his own songs to the beat of the loom.

Seeing his detachment from the worldly and attraction for the spiritual, Kabir's mother takes him to a neighbouring village on the pretext of getting some cotton and gets him married to a young girl. Kabir is neither overjoyed nor unhappy.

On the wedding night, when everyone else is asleep and they are alone, his bride suddenly bursts into tears.

'What? Missing your family? Want to go back?' he asks her.

'No. Never,' she replies.

'Ok. That's fine. Then why are you crying?'

'I am missing someone.'

'Hmm.'

Kabir walks to and fro in the small room, as his bride sits in a corner and weeps.

'You love him?' he asks her.

'Yes,' she admits.

'And he?'

'He also loves me.'

'Then why did you marry me?'

'My family forced me to. He is from a different caste.'

'Caste is all crap. We are all the same. Get up, wipe your tears. I will take you to him. We will reach early morning.'

The young girl can't believe her good luck. She thanks him profusely and they sneak off into the night.

It has just rained, the sky is clear. The moon is full. A bride and her groom are walking back to her village to meet her lover. But the groom is a poet, and before the song, he warms up with a doha,

'Laali mere laal ki, Jit dekhun tith laal. Laali dekhan main gai, to main bhi ho gayi laal.'
(As I sought the beloved, I began to see Him everywhere. I was so enraptured that I lost myself in Him.)

The terrain gets rocky and slushy. After a while, the young girl begins to tire. Her mood drops and she starts crying again.

'What?'

'Slow down! I cant walk as fast as you,' she cribs.

'Why not? We are going to meet your lover. You should be walking faster than me.'

'Look at my clothes! Look at all this jewelry! Try walking two steps dressed like this.'

'All right, I get your point. Ok, sit on my back. We can't afford to slow down.'

So she climbs on his back and he carries her like a child. She is overwhelmed and can't stop crying. To soothe her, Kabir starts humming below his breath.

As he has intended, her curiosity is aroused.

'Can't hear you. Sing aloud, please,' she requests the master.

'Naiiharavaaaa humakaa na bhaaveyy, humakaa na bhaaveyy,
Naiharavaa... aaaaa'


Kabirs voice resounds in the dark night, lighting it up with melody.

Naiharwa humka na bhave

Sai ki nagari param ati sundar

Jaha koi jaaye na aave

Chand suraj jahaa pavan na paani

Ko sandes pahuchave

Darad yaha Sai ko sunave

Bin Satguru aapno nahi koi

Jo yaha raah bataave

Kahat Kabeera sunoh bhai sadho

Sapane na Preetam aave

Tapan yaha jiya ki bujhaave

Naiharwa

(translated to English by Linda Heiss)



I don't like my native place.
The lord has a city of absolute beauty
where no one comes or goes,
where there's moon or sun,
no water or wind.
Who will carry this message?
Who will tell the lord of my pain?
I can't see the path ahead,
and going back would be a shame.
Oh beloved, how can I reach
the in-laws' house?
Separation burns fiercely.
The juice of sensuality
keeps me dancing.
Without a true guru
there's no one we can claim,
no one to show the way.
Kabir says, listen friends, seekers,
even in a dream my love won't come
to put out these flames.

and sung aloud by Kailash Kher:



The innocent girl's entire turbulence flows out.

For a little while after the song, there is silence. A deep, beautiful silence, a vast space where something happens. Something that can change a person's life. Kabir starts wondering if she has fallen asleep, when, all of a sudden, she starts crying again.

'Now what? You hungry?'

'No.'

'Then?'

She is a fifteenth century village girl. But she finds her voice.

'Tore sang jaaungi.' I shall go with you.

He is a fifteenth century weaver. Who's just got wed.

'Pakkaa?' Sure?

'Sau takaa pakkaa.' Hundred per cent sure.