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Kabir Mela: O.S. Arun


O.S. Arun‘s collection of Kabir bhajan’s is one of my favorite all time records. I posted this originally on my old blog, Washerman’s Dog, way back in 2011.  Feel free to revist it there.

download-2There is a lot of clacking and howling going on these days. The triumphal volume has really jacked up several notches of late.  The internet is burning hot with everyone telling everyone else the “Truth” about Osama and Obama. It’s a bloody racket.

Let’s leave the pundits, mullahs, ministers, mercenaries, killers and corpses behind for a while and listen to some real truth. (full post).




Track Listing:

01 Na Mein Dharmi

02 Beet Gaye Din

03 Mann Lago

04 Naherva

05 Hari Bolo Hari Bolo

06 Sadho

07 Guru Rang Laga

08 Dohe

09 Jai Jai Aarati


Kabir Mela: Mukhtiyar Ali and Mahesha Ram


A companion double CD to the very first selection in this series, Kabir in Malwa, featuring two Rajasthani singers, Mukhtiyar Ali and Mahesha Ram.

The CDs are produced by the Kabir Project which “consists of a series of ongoing journeys in quest of Kabir, the 15th century north Indian mystic poet as well as other Bhakti, Sufi and Baul poets in our contemporary worlds. These journeys inquire into the spiritual and socio-political resonances of mystic poetry through songs, images and conversations. We have been engaged for the last 17 years in curating and re-expressing the power of this poetry through documentary films, music CDs, books, urban festivals, rural yatras, workshops and courses in schools/colleges and a web archive called Ajab Shahar“.

I would highly recommend both websites which are full of articles, videos and books about Kabir as well as such things as ‘useful terms’ and concepts found in Kabir’s philosophical writings.

2788169589_d037ed890d_bMukhtiyar Ali (in orange kurta) has a wonderful keening tenor that is full of melody and emotion.

He “sings Sufi and Bhakti songs with an intensity that is both delicate and powerful. Tucked away in the corner of Thar Desert in Rajasthan, close to the India-Pakistan border, is Mukhtiyar Ali’s village Pugal. He was born into a family of Mirasis – semi-nomadic community of singers who have kept alive the sufiana kalaam (poetry of Sufis like Bulleh Shah, Sultan Bahu, Shah Hussain) along with the bhakti songs of Kabir, Meera and Sagram. Mukhtiyar Ali has imbibed this music and poetry from his father and other village elders.

Mukhtiyar grew up performing at local satsangs and jaagrans (all-night musical vigils) where the overtly religious music would slowly veer into the songs of the mystics – both from the Sufi and Bhakti traditions. These songs apart from creating a common space for engagement and celebration for the Hindu and Muslim members of the village would also lead to intense discussions on ideas of mysticism. These gatherings still continue to take place though some note the dwindling numbers of both the listeners and the Mirasi singers.

For many years he was part of the Urmul Trust-initiated platform for folk singers and performing artists of the region, called Gavaniyar, singing and working closely with NGOs and other social initiatives in the region.

To reinvigorate the tradition of singing Sufiyana kalaam and to find new modes of patronage for Mir singers, Mukhtiyar Ali undertook a community project with the support of India Foundation for the Arts in 2005. The project involved research and documentation on Mir singers and facilitation of public performances, mehfils and baithaks. He has also trained several young children of his village and neighbouring regions in the tradition of Mirasi singing.

Today Mukhtiyar Ali is renowned for his extraordinary public performances in national and international concerts and his recordings are both loved and appreciated for being unique new compositions of Sufi poetry. A highly versatile artist, he has collaborated with other contemporary musicians such as Vasundhara Das and Mathias Duplessy and has sung for popular Hindi film albums like Tashan and Finding Fanny.”


Mahesha Ram “is a folk singer who belongs to the community of Meghwals from Rajasthan – the traditional carriers of the poetry of many Bhakti poets including Kabir, who have kept it alive through a powerful oral tradition. Mahesha Ramji hails from the village of Chhatangadh in Thar Desert of Rajasthan close to Jaisalmer, near the India Pakistan border. He has imbibed the spirit of the oral traditions from a very young age, listening to and singing the songs of Kabir, Meera, Rohal Fakir, Gorakh and other Bhakti poets, and the legacy continues with his son who also sings with him now.

Mahesha Ramji sings while playing the five-stringed folk tambura, and is accompanied by musicians on the manjirassarangi (or the kamaicha) and dholak. While he travels widely in India and overseas for performances, he continues to participate in the oral traditions of sant vaani in village jaagrans (all night music vigils) and satsangs (musical and spiritual gatherings) in his region, and also at ceremonies of birth, death and marriage, where his troupe is traditionally called upon to sing. Mahesha Ram also teaches these songs to others at the village and has also conducted singing workshops in parts of Gujarat and Bangalore.”

Meditative and mesmeric – these are the qualities of Mahesha Ramji’s music. Unhurried and not in an eager rush to please the public, Mahesha Ramji slows you down, and compels you to step into his rhythm.


cd case front

Track Listing Disc 1 (Mir Mukhtiyar Ali)

01 Heli Mhaari, Nirbhay Rije Re

02 Kue Re Kinaare Avadhu

03 Jaro Garav Kare So Givaara

04 Nit Khair Manga

05 Kari Bharamna Door

06 Karmaari Duniya Gyaan Bin Kaise Tiriye?

07 Chadariya Jheeni Re Jheeni


Track Listing Disc 2 (Mahesha Ram)

01 Ber Chalya Mere Bhai

02 Evi Evi Sen Bataai

03 Kyun Sove Re Banda

04 Savaliye Bin Kaun Bandhaave Dheer

05 Darshan Kar Banda Dehi Mein

06 Chaalat Chaalat Jug Bhaya

Kabir Rajasthan

Kabir Mela: Rajasthani Folk


Continuing with this series here is a collection compiled and recorded by the fantastic label De Kulture out of Jaipur.

Pure, unsanitised folk music from India’s western deserts.  Nothing more needs to be said. This is probably the closest you’ll get in terms of what singing Kabir’s poetry sounded like during his time.  Drum, tiny hand cymbals, drone and voice.  No guitars, no electronics, no overdubbing.  Straight. No chaser.


Track Listing:

01 Bhakti daan Mohe Dijiye

02 Gaful Bhulo

03 Hansa Re Hans Hans

04 Is Bangle Ka

05 Mera Bhed Kisi Nai Paya

06 Mil Gayo Man Khario Nagina

07 Nij Ghar Alakh Jagaya

08 Sadguru Arji Sunlo



Kabir Mela: Classical Approaches


For this fourth volume of Sant Kabir’s music we move away from slick pop production to the classical and semi-classical world.   This collection is really quite impressive.  A double CD of over 2 hours of music performed by a diverse group of India’s (Abida Parveen is the sole Pakistani represented) top rung classical singers.

The CD opens with a bhajan (Bhajo re Man) sung by brothers Rajan and Sajan Mishra which from the very opening taal locks into a trance-inducing rhythm powered by their powerful voices and a supportive tabla. The brothers represent the Benaras gharana, Kabir’s purported city of birth so this track is especially meaningful.  This is followed by Ustad Rashid Khan, arguably India’s greatest living classical singer, singing Dukh mein Sumiran

Dukh Mein Simran Sab Kare, Sukh Mein Kare Na Koye
Jo Sukh Mein Simran Kare, Tau Dukh Kahe Ko Hoye


In anguish everyone prays to Him,
in joy does none
To One who prays in happiness,
how can sorrow come

And so the music flows. Incredibly high quality singing, wonderful arrangements and diverse styles.  The scholar, entrepreneur and artist Shubha Mudgal contributes two tracks as does Pandit Sanjeev Abhyankar whose records should always be sought out.  He is one of my favourite bhajan masters.  Here he contributes a surprising (complete with piano, drums and guitar) interpretation of one of Kabir’s most beloved doheMano Laago Mero Yaar 

जो सुख पावो राम भजन में,
सो सुख नाही अमीरी में ॥


The ecstasy I get from chanting God’s name/is greater than the pleasure  I find in riches

Abida Parveen‘s stunning Sahib Mera Ek Hai (see earlier post) opens the second CD which in some way is the more interesting of the two if you are looking for a bit of change up in styles.  The CD ends up a very almost jaunty rendition of Jhini Jhini Chadariya by Rekha Bhardwaj.

Just dip into this collection at any point and you’ll be sucked in, blown away and elevated to another plane.  This is true devotional music. Mystical music that comes from the spirit but resonates with our very human, pumping and aching hearts.

A five star compilation.



Track Listing:

Disc. 1

01 Bhajo re Man

02 Dukh Mein Sumiran

03 Na Kachu Ram Bina

04 Mero Haar Heraano

05 Beet Gaye Din

06 Mano Laago Mero Yaar

Disc. 2

01 Sahib Mera ek Hai

02 Amarpur le Chal ho Sajna

03 Saeen Bina Darad Kareje Hoye

04 Rehna Nahi

05 Bhajo re Bhaiya

06 Jhini Jhini Chadariya


Kabir Mela: Jagjit Singh


We continue with our celebration of the poetry of Kabir with a smooth-as-silk collection from the one and only Jagjit Singh.

Jagjit Singh may have looked like a bureaucrat or provincial cement magnate with his full jowls and plain plastic aviator spectacles, but he sang like the beautiful Himalyan Flamecrest songbird.  Probably the most popular musical personality of northern India  if not the entire country during the 80s and 90s, Jagjit sahib needs about as much introduction to readers of this blog as Elvis does to lovers of rock n roll.

download-1This album has all the hallmarks of a Jagjit Singh record, and for which he is rightly famous:   precise arrangements, tasteful and gentle instrumentation, acoustic guitars, bamboo flutes, crisp tabla and slick (but never over ripe) production.  And of course his astounding tenor so full of grace and peace and rapture.

Kashi Kaaba ek hai/Ek Hai Ram Rahim

(Kashi and Kaaba are the same/ there is no distinction between Ram and Rahim)

Track Listing:


01 Paani Mein Meen Pyasi

02 Rehna Nahin Des Birana

03 Hari Bin Kaun Sahay

04 Apna Karam Ki

05 Beet Gaye Din

06 Gagan Ki Ote Nishana

07 Lagan Bin

08 Dohe