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Sakal Hans Mein Ram Biraje - Nanak Das

‘ “Do remember this bhajan speaks of Ram not as you hear of him today, reduced to being the king of Ayodhya, the son of Dashratha, this is the all-prevailing Ram of Kabir and of the nirgun poets” who were devoted to a formless god, he said.…When Nanak Saheb speaks of Ram, or of Chitrakoot, he is not talking of a king, or a pilgrimage spot, he is distilling the message of the nirgun as that which is everywhere but has to found within,” he said’ - How an inadvertent error in the ‘Paatal Lok’ credits led me to a Dalit Bhakti poet in Gujarat

I share this Nanak Das poem today against the backdrop of Caravan journalists who were attacked in North East Delhi, while reporting a story that referenced saffron flags suddenly emerging overnight in a mosque (calls of Jai Shree Ram were reported across the violence that happened in North east Delhi), the head of the Ram Janmabhoomi Trust testing positive for corona virus, and many scholars, artists and ideologues attempt to disinter a lost idea of Ram in the wake of the laying of the bhavya Ram temple foundation. (For eg. this TM Krishna piece, too) Nanak Das was a Dalit poet from Gujarat, who was a bard in the Ravibhan Sampradaya “a stream of the Kabir Panth with a large following in the Saurashtra region of Gujarat”. This song became more popular recently as a version sung by Prahlad Tippaniya was used in the end credits of a popular web series, Paatal Lok. As the scroll article points out the series misattributes the song to Guru Nanak, but again, it becomes important to insist on correct authorship because the context of the poet’s caste and tradition, and the poem’s import itself is significant in a time when a ruthlessly exclusionary and brahminical idea of Ram is mirrored in events and opinions echoing across the country. Read this poem maybe as a continuation after the earlier post where I shared Kabir’s Moko Kahaan Dhoondere Bande.

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