Within the last year I have posted several posts here with some of the Marathi songs that I find rather special. You can find them by the tag marathi. The posts themselves are in Ukrainian, but the videos and audios within the posts are in Marathi, so you can watch/listen if you like.
The video clip above is one of the songs that we have learned in a bhajan class this summer in Canajoharie Arts Academy, sung by our teacher, Ranjan, during the class. You can find a better audio of this song from that recorder that Alan is holding next to Ranjan here: http://alanwherry.tumblr.com/post/131307102785/heres-my-favorite-singer-ranjan-sharma-of-new
I actually wrote about this song last May, and posted a clip of one the “original” versions as well as a Ukrainian rendition: https://msvarnyk.wordpress.com/2015/05/01/маратське-музичне-3-вріндавані-вену/ If you follow the link, you will see that the first clip has English subtitles, so you can see what the song is about if you are interested.
The poem is written by a Marathi saint, Bhanudas, who is connected to Pandharpur, one of the places that is on my Indian “to visit” list. It is said that he was an ancestor of Eknath, another poet saint from that tradition, about whom I also wrote before :). It is really quite special, what these Nath tradition saints were doing. Some of them are perhaps more known for developing hatha yoga, but they also developed a body of spiritual texts (philosophical or perhaps in the West we would consider them theological), as well as beautiful poetry. They were quite famous for not supporting, and sometimes actively opposing, the conventional systems or religious practices and rituals as well social institutions, like the casts divisions. They were scholars and studies the Vedas, but are know for writing and teaching in Marathi rather than Sanskrit, so that they could be understood by simple uneducated people also, they translated some key texts from Sanskrit to Marathi and provided commentary to them.
I will probably continue this Marathi songs theme, and maybe will share some stories about these poet-saints as they surface within my contexts. Last Sunday, for instance, we were celebrating another personality who also was part of that Nath tradition, Gnyaneshwara, or Gnyanadeva, who is considered to be a saint by some and an incarnation by others. Maybe I will tell you about him on another occasion.
Back to the song, Vrindavani Venu, I said in May that would love to learn thins song, but that learning it on my own would be too difficult, someone would have to teach it to me. We often joke that yogis words are mantras, that if spoken with pure desire, they materialize. I guess my desire was pure enough – I sort of know this song now, and with some polishing here and there and a little practice could probably get it to the singable condition, which feels great. 🙂
I also took a harmonium class, where for the first time someone (well, not someone, but Ranjan also), showed us the first steps of how to practice a song, we learned one classical composition and also the basic layout of one bhajan, and I am amazed about how much easier it is to play it now than it was before this two-week crash course in the summer. I knew that harmonium is helpful for giving a basis for singing, especially for people like us, who do not have much of an experience of Indian music and lack precisely that feel of the basis, the grounding that harmonium provides, but I did not quite realize the extent of its helpfulness. Now I do, so it is likely that once I finish the song I am working on right now, I will try to sit down and learn to play Vrindavani Venu on harmonium, and after that is achieved, singing it will be a breeze :).