Bhakti Republic With Amit Basole — From Bollywood To Benaras And Beyond

The ideas of liberty, equality, fraternity and justice — the very values enshrined in our Constitution — have endured over centuries in the Bhakti tradition. The Bhakti poets always challenged the ideologies of their times that attempted to force the belief that people were not equal. In this show, Bhakti Republic, we explore the histories of these ideas in Bhakti poetry, and how they find resonance in the values underpinning the Constitution of a modern republic. 

Bhakti Republic

Over the centuries, poets have reminded us of the values we are in danger of forgetting as a society. The ideas of liberty, equality, fraternity and justice — the very values enshrined in our Constitution — have endured over centuries in the Bhakti tradition. The Bhakti poets always challenged the ideologies of their times that attempted to force the belief that people were not equal.

In this show, we explore the histories of these ideas in Bhakti poetry, and how they find resonance in the values underpinning the Constitution of a modern republic. 

We take you on a listening experience to Pandharpur with the songs of Namdev and Tukaram, to Benares with the poetry of Kabir and Ravidas, to Rajasthan in the rapture of Meera’s devotion, and to northern Karnataka where sharanas sing the vachanas. But first, we visit post-Independence Bombay where the expression of these ideas find an avenue in the film music of the times.

In twentieth century Bombay, the film industry has created a new public sphere for expression by artists, lyricists and songwriters, who speak to a pan-India audience through the immense reach of this new medium. The pre-Independence Progressive Writers Association and its successors, the Indian People’s Theatre Association, endeavour to create a new public consciousness. The lyrics of Sahir Ludhianvi, Majrooh Sultanpuri and Shailendra thrum with a yearning to remind people of their rights and duties.

Bhakti Republic is hosted by Amit Basole, faculty in Economics at Azim Premji University, where he also heads the Centre for Sustainable Employment. Basole has also hosted Yun Hota Toh Kya Hota? The World of Ghalib for Radio Azim Premji University.

Listen to Kayakave Kailasa — the soundtrack for Bhakti Republic Ep 3

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