Weaver of Oneness: Maati Baani and The Poetry of Kabir
By Ushi Patel
The songs and dohas of the great poet-saints of the Indian Sub-continent have graced the shores of many countries, carried in the hearts of people of all creeds and cultures. Beyond religion, their potent verse encourages consideration of divinity within, no matter a person’s caste or lot, as well as assurance of bliss despite the fluctuations of everyday life. Centered on the dialogue between student and master, the lover and the Beloved, or the soul and creator, their words promise liberation right here, right now – bringing comfort to the masses – still today illumining and sweetening modern life.
I recall my grandmothers singing such lyrics throughout my childhood, amidst their daily duties, unifying their external and internal worlds, love permeating the atmosphere where they worked. Though I didn’t necessarily understand the words the feeling was clear and always stayed with me.
When I first listened to this rendering of Kabir’s Bhajan, “Banjara” by Maati Baani, featuring Sufi folk singer Mooralala Marwada, I instantly felt my late grandmothers’ touch, love unbound by physical space carried on the notes of musicians bowing to their craft.
Kabir is a revered 15th-century ecstatic Indian poet, saint and weaver. Simple yet full of depth and rich imagery, Kabir’s poems tear through the fabric of space time to unravel the dogma of a far-off heaven and unsew the seams of separation and duality.
Poet Mary Karr, featuring one of Kabir’s poems in the “Poet’s Choice” column in the Washington Post, noted that “Kabir lists ‘birds and animals and the ant’ in a way that draws the eye from the soaring sky to the earth’s crawly, exoskeletal creatures. In doing so he connects a vague, blank heaven and the tiny, miraculous particulars. He inspires us to re-observe the world.”
Language of the Earth
This recording of Kabir’s poem is set in Mooralala Marwada’s home in Dholavira, Kutchh in Gujarat located in western India. I picture Kabir sitting in a similar setting weaving his threads and words, all of nature tuning to his vibration.
Moorala Marwada is a beloved Sufi folk singer that sings in the Kaafi form of music, simpler than the Qawwali, bringing forth the essence of the poet’s lyrics. Maati Baani is a World Music band that combines elements of Hindustani Classical with various styles of Folk music and music across the Globe (funk, jazz, blues, rock, lounge etc.).
Maati Baani literally means ” The Language of The Earth”. How appropriate that the collaborative husband and wife duo, Nirali Kartik and Kartik Shah that unified 70 artists across 20 countries via the internet to create one sound, would bring the great Kabir and endearing Moorala Marwada to our homes. Their work, like that of Kabir’s sends a message of oneness within diversity and love ever-present.
This won’t be the last time I write about Maati Baani, so enamored I am by their sound, approach and purpose. For now, I urge you to listen.
Chakki chal rahi, Kabira baitha royee
Dono pud ke beech me saajha na nikle koi
Chakki chal rahi Kabira baitha joyee
Khoonta pakdo nij naam ka
To sajha nikle jo soyee
Chhod ke mat jaao ekli re
Banjara re Banjara re
Door des ka hai maamla
Ab jaago pyaara re
Apna Saahebne mahal banayee ,banjara re
Gehri gehri haye been bajai, banjara ho
Apna Saahebne baag banayee, banjara re
Phool bhari layee chhab re, banjara ho
Kahat Kabira Dharmidas ko
Sant amrapur maalna, banjara re
The millstone of life goes on moving, Kabir weeps
Between the layers of truth and untruth, no one is spared
The millstone of life goes on moving, Kabir observes
He who holds the anchor of His name, will always remain unhurt!
Don’t leave me now, O Breath, I am a wanderer!
Still have to travel faraway lands
O the one who is asleep, awake!
Our Master has made this body like a palace,
And He played the instrument of breath within!
Our Master has made this body like a garden,
And how He’ s filled it with a bowl of flowers!
Says Kabir he who follows the truth
Will attain the kingdom of immortality!
Music Produced by Kartik Shah
Video Shot and Directed by – Achint Bansal
Mixed by – Devang Rachh
Colorist – Swapnil Patole . Special thanks to After Studios.
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All Music Produced by Maatibaani © 2012