There is one shabd by Bhagat Kabir Ji in rāga maru that appears in three different rāga āsā compositions in Gurbāni Sangeet. What is it about this bāni that inspired the old kirtānyas to sing it over and over again, creating new melodies in different rhythms–pancham sawāri and tāl talvārā? Why did they like this shabd so much?
“O king, who will come to you? I have seen such love from Bidur, that the poor man is pleasing to me. Gazing upon your elephants, you have gone astray in doubt; you do not know the Great Lord God. I judge Bidur’s water to be like amrit, in comparison with your milk. I find his sāg to be like kheer; the night of my life passes singing the Glorious Praises of the Lord. Kabeer’s Lord and Master is joyous and blissful; He does not care about anyone’s social class.”
It’s easy to see why the ones who have chosen to walk on the path of kirtan love this bāni. They have found delight in the simple pleasures, realizing the distraction of possessions–in Kabir’s day, elephants, today perhaps it would be a Ferrari. They are delighted singing the praises, to them nām is delicious, their thirst is quenched.
Being in Punjab, this bāni is especially relevant. The pleasure of a good plate of sāg really is as good as dessert! We are in Sultanpur Lodhi, away from the comforts of home, meeting in an old fort that is also the home to a mosque visited by Guru Nānak and a darbār hall that once hosted important meetings with the king of Kapurthula. The king’s hall is now a ruin, but the songs that were sung at that time yet remain. The modern comforts and conveniences we are used to might not be here (although we do have wi-fi!), but how do you explain the comfort of a warm cup of cardamom-scented hot milk on a cold night, or a cup of hot tea and aloo paratha after morning practice? And in the evening, when the bones are tired and the chill sets in, what is more satisfying than singing and hearing rāga kalyān accompanied by kamaicha (bowed rabab), dholak and kartal?