By Samir Shukla
I sprinted across the street the other day. An SUV screeched past behind me as I jumped onto the sidewalk, feeling a breezy swoosh on my backside. I was on a stroll, lost in the sprinkling of buds and flowers on trees as the days warm in our part of the globe. High on pollen. I was dreaming, daydreaming, strolling past a raggedy fence in the sadder part of the neighborhood. A non-descript apartment complex was getting pieced together like children's toy blocks on a cleared strip of land a little further down the road. The woods in that land erased down to a grove of a few sad trees, clinging to the ground, bemoaning their lost comrades, slowly coming back to life in the warm sun.
By Samir Shukla
Singer-songwriter Vandana Vishwas's new single is “Mann Lago," a poem by the 15th century Indian poet and mystic Kabeer Das.
Kabeer Das, popularly known as Sant Kabeer, wrote poems that challenged the religious and social ethos of his era. He practiced “Fakiri" – a vagabond lifestyle based around minimal personal possessions. He lived the Fakir (a monk or seer) lifestyle and inspired India's Bhakti movement.
The opening line of the poem “Mann Laago Yaar Fakiri Mein" says “I am hooked into living as a Fakir." In the poem he writes that his biggest pleasure is in chanting the Almighty's name while forsaking possessions and worldly pleasures.
This poem has been recorded by other artists but Vishwas makes it her own with an original musical composition, her voice weaving through the music and words.
She gives a contemporary edge to “Mann Lago" while retaining a traditional, almost classical charm.
Vishwas says the lyrics are very relevant to the current times of isolation where people can reflect upon the global disturbances caused by the pandemic. The lyrics, which repeat in a chantlike manner, evoke life's higher meanings and simplicity.
This haunting version is composed and presented in the Raga Ahir-Bhairav. There is a cross-cultural musicality to this version that is stitched with Indian, Persian, and Western musical instruments.
The track is available on streaming and video services. Vishwas is an Indian-Canadian singer-songwriter who has released several recordings.
More information is available at www.vandanavishwas.com.