Kabir Project: Wikis

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Kabir Project
Formation 2003
Headquarters Srishti School of Art, Design and Technology
Location Bangalore

Kabir Project is an Artist-in-Residency project at the Srishti School of Art, Design and Technology.

Shabnam Virmani is director of the Kabir Project. Started in 2003, the Kabir project brings together the experiences of a series of journeys in quest of this 15th century mystic poet in our contemporary worlds.It consists of 4 documentary films, 2 folk music videos and 10 music CDs accompanied by books of the poetry in translation.The films journey into contemporary spaces touched by his music and poetry.[1]“The films journey into contemporary spaces touched by his music and poetry,” says Shabnam. In her films, Shabnam juxtaposes the urban and the rural, the Indian and the foreign, the classical and the folk, and the secular and the fundamentalist, in their many approaches to Kabir and the search for a universal voice. “Had-Anhad” was a joint prize winner at the recent documentary film festival, One Billion Eyes,organised by Prakriti Foundation in Chennai.[2]

Contents

Kabir - A glimpse

From the book "Bijaks of Kabir" translated by Linda Hess and Shukdev Singh

..."There are volumes of legendary biography about Kabir, but the widely accepted "facts" about his life can be summarized in a few sentences. He was born in Varanasi around the beginning of the fifteenth century in a class of weavers recently converted to Islam. He learned the family craft (later composing a number of poems with weaving metaphors), probably studied meditative and devotional practices with a Hindu guru, and developed into a powerful teacher and poet, unique in his autonomy, intensity, and abrasiveness. His verses were composed orally and collected by disciples and admirers after varying periods of circulation.

...While drawing on various traditions as he saw fit, Kabir emphatically declared his independence from both the major religions of his countrymen, vigorously attacked the follies of both, and tried to kindle the fire of a similar autonomy and courage in those who claimed to be his disciples.Kabir's provocations often take the form of questions, skillfully inserted to ruffle us up or draw us out. Questions are used in a variety of ways—in openings or conclusions, singly or in series, as bait or goad, as funnel to point our inquiry. Sometimes a single question comes like a sudden jab: "When the pot falls apart, what do you call it?" (s. 75). The jab may be just a setup: when we rise to it, a hard slap may hit us from another direction. Sometimes questions are shot in rapid series, like blows from a boxer, left, right, left, right, left, right. When they end we may find ourselves staggering.

...Kabir is going to take you—if you want to hear his word—to a place of no help, no hope, no solace. He refers to the delusional nature of hope, which is hope for some thing, some security against the nothingness we fear. This hope must be jettisoned. He exposes the silly ways in which we comfort ourselves, showing a comic strip of animals mimicking our little dramas of marriage and domestic flurry.He leads us to a place where there will be nothing under our feet, and invites us to step off." [3]

Video, Audio& Books

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Documentary Films

Journeys With Kabir : 4 films by Shabnam Virmani


These films journey into contemporary spaces touched by the music and poetry of the 15th century mystic weaver-poet of north India, Kabir. We meet a diverse array of people – an urban folklorist, a street fruit seller, a social activist, a Dalit folk singer, a Zen Buddhist scholar, a neo-fascist cleric of a Kabir sect, a Muslim qawwal – each encounter offering a moment of insight into the poetry and its contemporary meanings. We glimpse not one but many Kabirs. Sometimes he beckons, sometimes he baffles, but always he pushes you to self-interrogate, to question the boundaries of your identity, nation, ideology, caste and religion… making these journeys unrelentingly inward even as they venture outward.

The Kabir project is a 6-year initiative undertaken by filmmaker Shabnam Virmani as an artist-in-residency project at Srishti. It brings together the experiences of a series of journeys exploring how this 15th century mystic weaver poet lives in diverse social, political, religious and spiritual spaces in India (and Pakistan). The core inspiration of the project is music, and Kabir comes alive in 4 documentary films, 2 folk music videos and 10 music CDs and poetry books through the power of song.We meet a diverse array of people in the films – an urban folklorist, a street fruit seller, a social activist, a Dalit folk singer, a Zen Buddhist scholar, a neo-fascist cleric of a Kabir sect, a Muslim qawwal – each encounter offering a moment of insight into the poetry and its contemporary meanings. We glimpse not one but many Kabirs. Sometimes he beckons, sometimes he baffles, but always he pushes you to self-interrogate, to question the boundaries of your ego, identity, nation, ideology, caste and religion… making these journeys unrelentingly inward even as they venture outward.

The 4 films (Had-Anhad: Journeys with Ram & Kabir, Koi Sunta Hai: Journeys with Kumar & Kabir,Chalo Hamara Des: Journeys with Kabir & Friends,Kabira Khada Bazar Mein: Journeys with Sacred & Secular Kabir) are interwoven in significant ways, but each can be viewed independently.[4]

Music & Books

Ghat Ghat Kabir (Kabir in Every Body)

Set of 3 music CDs and 100-page book of the songs and poetry with translations and annotations.

In these music CDs the words of Kabir speak through a wide array of musical genres – folk, classical, dhrupad and sufi – through the voices of 10 singers

Rajasthan Mein Kabir (Kabir In Rajasthan)

Set of 2 music CDs and 80-page book of the songs and poetry with translations and annotations.

Featuring songs by Mukhtiyar Ali, a Mirasi folk singer from Bikaner, and Mahesha Ram, a Meghaval singer from Jaisalmer, Rajasthan. Translations and notes by Vidya Rao.

Pakistan Mein Kabir (Kabir In Pakistan)

Set of 2 music CDs and 80-page book of the songs and poetry with translations and annotations.

Featuring Fariduddin Ayaz and Brothers, qawwals from Karachi, Pakistan, and Shafi Mohammed Faqir, a Sindhi Manghaniar folk singer from Umarkot in Sindh, Pakistan. Translations and notes by Homayra Ziad.

Thumri Mein Kabir (Kabir In Thumri)

Set of 1 music CD and 35-page book of the songs and poetry with translations and annotations.

Featuring songs by Vidya Rao, a thumri singer and writer based in Delhi. Translations and notes by Vidya Rao.

Malwa Mein Kabir (Kabir In Malwa)

Set of 2 audio CDs and 80-page book of the songs and poetry with translations and annotations.

Featuring Prahlad Tipanya and Kaluram Bamaniya, two of the best folk singers of Kabir from the Malwa region of Madhya Pradesh in India.

Translations and notes by Shabnam Virmani.

Ajab Shahar (Kabir In America)

Set of 2 DVDs and 70-page book of the songs and poetry with translations and annotations.

The films feature the live recordings of Kabir songs performed during a concert tour by the Malwi folk singer Prahlad Tipanya in the USA in 2003, interspersed with glimpses of these folk singers from India encountering for the first time, the culture and music of north America.

Translations and notes by Linda Hess and Shabnam Virmani.

People

Project Director: Shabnam Virmani
Research & Advisory Support: Tara Kini
Advisors: Linda Hess, Ashok Vajpeyi, Vidya Rao, Purushottam Aggrawal, Arvind Lodaya
Designers & Illustrators: Smriti Chanchani, Vishakha Chanchani, Roy & Arati, Kumkum Nadig and Kena Design team
Film Editors: Rikhav Desai, Shabnam Virmani, Arati Parthasarathy, Vasanth D. Kummy, Paramesh K., Waseem Shaikh, Rumah Rasaque
Animation: Orijit Sen, M M Pradeep
Film Direction Support: Rumah Rasaque, Smriti Chanchani
Sound Recording & Mastering: Fireflys Post-Sound, Mumbai
Financial Support: Ford Foundation, New Delhi
Seed Support: Srishti School of Art, Design and Technology, Wanaparthy Educational Trust}

Notes

  1. ^ Article on Kabir Project
  2. ^ The Kabir Legacy - From the Indian National Daily -The Hindu
  3. ^ Hess, Linda (2002). The Bijak of Kabir. Oxford University Press. pp. 6–54. ISBN 0-19-514876-2.  
  4. ^ Kabir Project

See also

Further reading

"The Bijak of Kabir"(Paperback), Translated by Linda Hess and Shukdev Singh, pp 6–54, Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-514876-2.

External links


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