Kaluram Bamaniya: Man Lagyo Mero Yaar Fakiri Mein

Look at yourself the way you look in the mirror to comb your hair, Kabir says. Wipe clean the mirror in your heart. When the self is free of lust, anger, greed, attachment, ego; that's freedom.

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In a radical departure from the norm of pursing wealth and success, in this song the poet Kabir celebrates the joy of poverty, and the beauty of simplicity. But this poverty is not wretched or empty – it is filled with the joy of Raam remembrance. Kabir claims that this joy is far greater than the joys afforded by material comfort or luxury. Saboori, or contentment, is the tool which takes one to fakiri, or the state of being utterly free – free of desires, wants and the incessant need for more!

A special presence on stage in this song is Kaluram ji’s daughter Arpita, singing with gusto while she plays the manjiras. This perhaps best exemplifies how learning happens in the folk traditions – the sounds and styles are imbibed and absorbed through many hours and years of inhabiting shared spaces of satsang, both on and off the stage. Kaluram ji himself started learning at the early age of 9, by accompanying his father, grandfather and uncle on the manjiras.

“Kabir’s songs are not just songs. They’ve got vazan (weight)…You get a lot of courage from them”, says Kalruram. “You stop believing that you’re inferior because of caste, or because you’re poor. Not a rupee in my pocket, not a grain in my kitchen! And yet, I’ll have the spirit to challenge a big-shot and say, hey you, know your place! In the scheme of Kabir, we’re all equal”

Kaluram comes from a family of farmers, and has little formal education. Apart from being a fine singer, he has a sharp and often mischievous wit and intelligence…”Kabir says, Liberation? She will be your slave! This almost arrogant confidence can only spring from the state Kabir is in”, says Kaluram. “Freedom is not something you’ll get from here or there. It can’t be given to you by someone. Going to temples, joining the Panth or singing his songs is not Kabir’s path to freedom!



Man lagyo mero yaar fakiri mein
Man lagyo mero yaar garibi mein

Jo sukh paayo raam bhajan mein
Voh sukh naahin ameeri mein

Man lagyo mero yaar fakiri mein 

Haath mein tumba bagal mein sota
Chaaron disha jaagiri mein 

Man lagyo mero yaar fakiri mein
Prem nagar mein rahni hamaari

Bhali bani aaye saboori mein
Man lagyo mero yaar fakiri mein

Aakhir yeh tan khak milega
Kyon phire magroori mein?

Man lagyo mero yaar fakiri mein
Kahe Kabir, suno bayi sadhu

Saahib milega saboori mein
Man lagyo mero yaar fakiri mein


Oh friend, my mind has
taken to living free!

The joy of Raam remembrance
Cannot be found in plenty 

My mind rejoices in poverty
My mind rejoices in simplicity
My mind has taken to living free!

A bowl and a staff is all I carry
Yet my kingdom stretches wherever I see
My mind has taken to living free!

Praise or abuse, listen to it all
But don’t stray from simplicity
My mind has taken to living free!

My dwelling in the city of love
Became beautiful with patience
My mind has taken to living free!

Your body will bite the dust one day
Why strut about, so smug, so vain?
My mind has taken to living free!

Says Kabir, listen seekers
The Lord is found in contentment
My mind has taken to living free!

Lyrics and Translation: Vipul Rikhi & Shabnam Virmani
Credits: Gayathri Ramachandran

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