Renowned singer pays homage to Indian poet Kabir, March 24 at SU
Renowned singer pays homage to Indian poet Kabir, March 24 at SUFebruary 26, 2009Rob Enslinrmenslin@syr.edu
A program of music devoted to Kabir, the 15th-century mystic poet and saint of India, will be presented Tuesday, March 24, at 7 p.m. in Stolkin Auditorium in the Physics Building on the Syracuse University campus. The event features a performance by renowned folksinger Prahlad Singh Tipanya, accompanied by a group of musicians from the state of Madhya Pradesh in central India. The concert is free and open to the public, and is presented by the South Asia Center in the Moynihan Institute of Global Affairs in the Maxwell School. For more information, call (315) 443-2553.
One of the world’s great religious poets, Kabir lived in 15th-century North India. His poetry, which was collected after his death and spawned many folk and classical musical forms, spoke truth to power. Kabir exhorted his listeners to shed their delusions in favor of an intense, direct relationship with the truth. “Kabir was unclassifiable as Hindu, Muslim or yogi, though he bore the marks of all these traditions,” says Linda Hess, a Stanford University faculty member who is emceeing the SU concert. “He cut through the absurdities of caste ideology and declared the equality of all human beings.” Kabir’s disdain for sectarianism, she adds, was reinforced by the fact that he was raised Muslim but allegedly later trained under the Hindu guru Ramanand.
Today, Kabir’s philosophy resonates with millions of Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs, as well as with secularists, atheists and members of the Kabir Panth, a sect that worships the great mystic poet. Tipanya, who doubles as a rural schoolteacher, is generally regarded as one of the world’s leading exponents of Kabir. Last year, he was the only non-classical musician to earn the prestigious Sangeet Natak Akademi Award from India’s national academy of music, dance and drama. Tipanya has also been featured in “Journeys With Kabir,” a series of four films by Shabnam Virmani that are part of the acclaimed Kabir Project at the Srishti School of Art, Design and Technology in Bangalore, India.
At SU, Tipanya will sing and play the tambur (a long-necked stringed instrument with a pear-shaped body) and kartal (wooden claves). He will be joined by several other artists, who will sing and play indigenous instruments. The concert is sponsored by the Indian Council for Cultural Relations and Stanford’s Center for South Asia, as well as SU’s U. Encounter grant program, The College of Arts and Sciences, and the departments of religion and anthropology.
SU’s South Asia Center provides teaching and scholarship devoted to Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. The center actively participates in the Mellon Central New York Humanities Corridor-an interdisciplinary partnership with SU, Cornell University and the University of Rochester-and regularly presents colloquia, films, cultural programs and other activities throughout the region. More information is available at http://www.maxwell.syr.edu/moynihan/programs/sac/.