We journey to the ancient, timeless city of Varanasi, its ghats washed by the river Ganga, to find ourselves enmeshed in the warp and weft of Kabir’s verse. Kabir the weaver venerates the Almighty without question, but equally, he scorns the hollowness of rituals in society that clutter the path to this sacred union. His poetry is simple and accessible, yet pungent with wit and incisive with insight. And though provocative, it resounds with wisdom and truth of a kind that many of his contemporaries, even his detractors, dared not confront.
Within this city of brick and stone, which also goes by Benares and Kashi, is ensconced a place of dreams, a utopia where the working class is free and spared from taxation, and where society is not riven by caste or stigma. Begumpura (literally, a city without sorrow) is a realm in the imagination of another of Varanasi’s most illustrious sons — Ravidas the leather-worker. A famous parable, which engendered the phrase after which this episode is titled, goes that the saint-poet equated the water in his humble tanner’s bowl (kathauti) to the sacred waters of the Ganga.
Join Amit Basole for the second episode of this series, in which we explore how the histories of the values enshrined in our Constitution find resonance in the poetry of the Bhakti tradition.
Akshay Ramuhalli, Atif Anwar, Bijoy Venugopal, Bruce Lee Mani, Narayan Krishnaswamy, Prashant Vasudevan, Riju R Krishna, Sananda Dasgupta, Seema Seth, Shraddha Gautam, Supriya Joshi and Velu Shankar
Akath Kahani Premi Ki by Purushottam Agarwal | Amazon
Kabir legends and Ananta-das’s Kabir Parachai by David Lorenzen (PDF) | Archive.org
Ramaini, Beejak of Kabir — Nawal Kishore Press (PDF) | Archive.org
Kashi Ka Itihas by Dr Motichandra (PDF) | Archive.org
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