God and the beloved

God and the beloved

‘Bas Tu Hi’ – That’s what the title of a concert by Vidya Shah was named. Held on Friday, 9th of March, it was organized by ICCR under the ‘Horizons’ series, to mark the International Women’s Day.

Vidya Shah is one of the great vocalists of our times. She not only sings, but also does a lot of research on music and has won accolades in India and abroad. She has been already introduced in this blog.

The idea of the concert was to celebrate the feminine in mystic poetry. Vidya said’ “The bhakti and Sufi poetry repeatedly has a feminine refrain”. The female devotion has been idolized by Sufis and other mystic poets. The devout identify himself/herself as the lover of the supreme God.

The first song of the evening was by the 15th century poet Kabirdas - ‘Dulhan gaave mangalachar’. The poet calls himself the ‘dulhin’ and ‘Raja ram’ her husband. The marriage is described as the union between the bhakt and his Lord- ‘Purush ek avinashi’. ‘Panchatatva baraati, vedi sharir, brahma ved uchari’ – are all symbolic of a wedding procession. The second composition was by Amir Khusrau, a Sufi poet- ‘mohe apne hi rang mein rang de rangeele’. This kind of imagery is very typical of Khusrau, who, in this song, wants to be dyed in the colours of his beloved. For that he can pay any price –‘Meri laaj sharm sab rakh le’. Next composition was by Wali Gujrati, a poet from the Deccan. ‘Jise ishk ka teere kari lage, use zindagi kyun na bhari lage’. The pain of love makes one lose happiness. The fourth composition was by Meerabai, one of the leading female devouts. The song had a sense of rebellion and abandon which was brought out by the rhythm of Vidya’s rendition. ‘Dharan sarikha pehnu dhadhra ambar sari pehru’ – she is also drawing parallels from nature. She wants to be decked up in the stars and the moon and the sun. The fifth composition by Punjabi poet Bulle Shah had been translated by Madan Gopalji – ‘Ik toona achraj gavoon ji, main rootha piyu manaun ji’.  
Again the bhakt identifies as the God’s beloved trying to woo him. Bulle Shah has very powerful visual imagery. The next composition was by Paltu Das, a poet so inspired by Kabir that he is called Chhota Kabir. ‘Prem baan jogi marlaho, daske hiya mor’. The song was popularly sung by Pandit Kumar Gandharva. In this song the bhakt says that ‘she’ does not like to stay on at her parents’ place, and would like to return to her husband’s place. ‘Naiharva na humko bhave, chand suraj jahan na pavan na paani ko sandesh pahunchave’. The mediator is the satguru who unites the two. The last song was by Rabbi Al-Barsri, translated by Madan Gopalji. She was the first Muslim woman devout. ‘Dhyavun tujhe, tujhe hi pavun, bas tu hi sain’. The concert bore this title, and it summarized the theme of the concert.

The repertoire was very well chosen and compiled and Vidya Shah has a wonderful and mesmerising voice which holds you awestruck. Her easy style of singing and frequent smiles make her very endearing.