Atul’s Song A Day- A choice collection of Hindi Film & Non-Film Songs

Bhajo re bhaiyya Ram Govind Hari

Posted on: June 5, 2012


This article is written by Sudhir, a fellow enthusiast of Hindi movie music and a regular contributor to this blog.

‘Kehat Kabeer Suno Bhai Saadho. . .’

A refrain that is now a well known by line by which one can recognize that a particular bhajan is by Kabeer. A name that is now a household word wherever Hindi is spoken and understood. And a poet whose verses and dohas (couplets) have found their way into the everyday spoken Hindi, as proverbs and adages. Yesterday, the Jayeshtha Poornima, was the birth anniversary of this great poet saint of India.

(NOTE: The write up is delayed, once again in an effort to search for an appropriate song, as explained later in the write up).

Kabeer, the most unlikely of all the mystics that have traversed this land. A householder, and a weaver by profession, the image of Kabeer is a permanent icon for the handloom industry and the weavers that are spread across all of rural India. And the metaphor of the weaver – ‘julaaha’, the thread – ‘taar’ or ‘dhaaga’, and the cloth – ‘chaadar’ or ‘chadariya’ is so powerfully intertwined into his writings and bhajans. The ‘julaaha’ is the God, the thread is this ‘maya’ in its elemental form and the ‘chaadar’ is this physical human form. The ‘julaaha’ uses the ‘taar’ of the base elements to weave together this ‘chaadar’ which is worn by the ‘panchhi’. ‘Panchhi’ or the bird, is another metaphor that abounds his bhajans. It is representation of the ‘aatma’ or the soul that resides inside this covering, this ‘chaadar’ that is the human body. The combined impact of these metaphors is so powerful. Think of a simple devoted person, crouching over the loom day in and day out. He has latched on to these metaphors, and the time spent creating the thread (or the ‘soot’) from cotton (or ‘kapaas’), then weaving this ‘soot’ into ‘chaadar’ (or the cloth). Imagine this persons meditation as he continuously does these tasks and the metaphors become stronger inside him, till at the end of the day, this meditative stream is expressed in the form of simple words that make a bhajan. That is how the historical chronicle the life story of this great mystic saint.

A major part of Kabeer’s life history is anecdotal, and there are details that are missing, as compared to many other historical personae. His true parentage is not known. He was found as a lost/abandoned child by Niru and Nima, a couple belonging to the weaver class, in the city of Kashi or Varanasi. They raised him in Islamic traditions and taught him the weaver’s trade. The inclination for spiritual pursuit and his thirst for the knowledge of the supreme was very strong with him even as a child. In his times, the great sage and teacher, Swami Ramanandacharya, lived in Varanasi. It was an age of heightened spiritual activity in the country, and Swami Ramanand was one of leading lights of the Bhakti movement in north India. The significance and the influence this sage has had on history of religious movement can be gauged by the list of his disciples. He is the spiritual Guru of such luminary saints as Nabha ji, Ravidas, Dhanna Bhagat, Bhagat Sain, Pipa ji, Narahari Das and many more. Of these, Narhari Das is the Guru of Sant Tulsidas, the great poet who authored the epic ‘Ramcharitmanas’.

Kabir’s thirst of knowledge brought him to the doorstep of Swami Ramanandacharya, but because of his uncertain lineage, he was either not allowed an audience with the Guru by other disciples, or maybe the Guru himself declined to meet him. But the compulsion in Kabeer’s mind was very strong. He used a simple and innocent ruse. Swami Ramanandacharya’s daily routine included a bath at the Holy Ganga river before sunrise. On an auspicious day, Kabeer went to the bathing ghat in darkness and lay down on the steps leading down to the river. He positioned himself such that when Swami Ramanandacharya came down the steps, his feet touched Kabeer lying there. In a reflex action, Swami Ramanandacharya uttered the words ‘Ram Ram’, and Kabeer turned and held on to his feet. The initiation was effected and Swami Ramanandacharya accepted Kabeer as a disciple. This decision did not go well with other disciples at the Swami’s ashram, and some of them even left on hearing that Kabeer has been accepted.

Kabeer did never renounce the life of a householder. He continued his trade as a weaver, he married and had a family. But his routine always included a satsang session in the evening.

Kabeer’s writings are very simple, and yet very powerful. The concept of the ‘aatma’ (the soul) and ‘pramatma’ (the super soul, God) is very clearly enunciated in his verses. His couplets are terse, and emphatic, but they pack in such a deep understanding of what this life is all about. But besides the simple and earthy verses, his writings also include very complex representations of the basic philosophies of spiritualism. Some of his bhajans require a lot of contemplation to decipher, and when the words lead to the concept and meaning, the revelations contained therein are hard hitting and full of very surprising depth and imagery of thought.

His attack on the ego is paramount. In one of his verses, he commands that we should honor our worst critics, those who may want to pile abuses on us. We should get them a home next door, and be exposed to their virulent attacks daily. For they are the ones who know what is your true worth. In another anecdote, his annoyance is very apparent, with the social respect and deference that people would pile upon him. In the busy market street, he was becoming an object of veneration and respect for all people, those who had known him for long, and even those who were newly introduced to him. Kabeer was becoming wary of this attention and wanted to get rid of it. At the edge of the town, there lived lady of questionable repute. He went to her home. She knew about him, and felt honored that he had thought it fit to grace her place. Kabeer said he had come to ask for a favor. Just for once, he said, he wanted to walk through the market place in her company. She did not understand his purpose, but out of deference and respect, she agreed. Next evening, Kabeer passed through the market place in the company of this lady, with his hand on her shoulder. After reaching her place, he profusely thanked her, and then went his own way. The impact of this exhibition was that it turned most of his so called admirers into enemies who would now speak only ill about him. And that is what he wanted.

The other emphatic theme in his writings is the admiration and gratefulness for the Guru. His poetry is replete with praises for the Guru, as the only path to salvation. He criticizes all other means and methods that people employ in their pursuit for God, including penance, austerities and chanting etc. Once again, the indirect attack is on the ego, for the pursuit of such methods have a great risk of building into one’s ego. And Guru is the one person, who will by force, destroy the ego in the disciple.

I was trying to locate a bhajan in Hindi films that is a creation from Kabeer. And frankly was a little surprised not to locate something really suitable for the occasion. There is a Shyam Benegal film from 1986 – ‘Susman’ (The Essence). The film is about the handloom weavers in Andhra Pradesh. This film has a couple of very good bhajans by Kabeer. I have the video copy of the film, but unfortunately, the songs themselves are in background, and are overlaid with dialogue. I have been unable to track down the original audio of these bhajans. So I settled for the next best option, i.e. to use a non film bhajan. There are many such bhajans available online. And I selected this one, for another purpose also. That is to introduce the nightingale of south, MS Subbulakshmi ji, to this blog. MSS, as she is fondly called, has acted and sung in Tamil films, in the early to mid 40s. In 1945, Chandraprabh Cinetone, Madras released the film ‘Meera’, in Tamil. The film was remade in Hindi in 1947. MSS has sung seventeen or eighteen bhajans in this film. As far as I can ascertain, ‘Meera’ in 1947 is the only instance that MSS has sung in Hindi films.

This bhajan is a very simple eulogy singing the praises of the Lord’s name. Devotional poets and writers have written again and again about the significance of ‘naam’, the name of the Lord. In this short bhajan, Kabeer has very simply presented the importance of His name, and the exhortation is to remember and sing His name, always. The bhajan has been rendered with such sublime sweetness by MSS – it is just a pleasure to hear it.

bhajo re bhaiyyaa ram govind hari

O devotee,
Sing the names of the Lord
Sing Ram, Govind, Hari

jap tap saadhan kachhu nahin laagat
kharchat nahin gatthree
bhajo re bhaiyyaa ram govind hari

Singing the name
Needs no chanting, no penance, no practice
Really, it takes no expense from your pocket
O devotee,
Sing the names of the Lord

santat sampat sukh ke kaaran
jaa se bhool pari

The wealth and treasures of this world
The progeny, the next generation
Are all apparent sources of happiness
But in fact they are distractions
That makes one lose his path in this world

kehat kabeeraa jaa mukh ram nahin
wo mukh dhool bharee
bhajo re bhaiyyaa ram govind hari

Listen o devotees, Kabeer says thus
The tongue on which
The name of Ram does not reside
Is as good as full of dust
O devotee,
Sing the names of the Lord


Song-Bhajo re bhaiyya raam govind hari (MS Subbulaxmi NFS)(1950) Singer-M S Subbulaxmi, Lyrics-Kabeer

Lyrics

aaaaaaaaaa
bhajo re bhaiyyaa
ram govind hari
bhajo re bhaiyyaa
ram
ram govind hari
bhajo re bhaiyyaa
ram
ram govind hari
bhajo re bhaiyyaa
raaam
raaam govind hari
bhajo re bhaiyyaa
ram govind hari
bhajo re bhaiyyaa
ram govind hari
bhajo re bhaiyyaa
ram govind hari
ee ee ee
bhajo re bhaiyyaa
ram govind hari
ee ee
bhajo re bhaiyyaa
ram govind hari
ram govind hari
ram govind hari
ee ee ee ee
bhajo re bhaiyyaa
ram govind hari

jap tap saadhan
kachhu nahin laagat
jap tap saadhan
kachhu nahin laagat
jap tap saaaadhan
jap tap saadhan
aa aa aa
jap tap saaaaadhan
kachhu nahin laagat
jap tap saaaaadhan
jap tap saadhan
kachhu nahiiin laagat
jap tap saaaadhan
kachhu nahiiiin laaaaagat
jap tap saadhan
jap tap saadhan
kachhu nahin laagat
kharchat nahin gatthree
kharchat nahin gatthree
ee ee
bhajo re bhaiyyaa
ram govind hari
bhajo re bhaiyyaa
ram govind hari
santat sampat
sukh ke kaaran
santat sampat
sukh ke kaaran
jaa se bhool pari
santat sampat
sukh ke kaaran
jaa se bhool pari
kehat kabeeraa
aa aa aa aa
kehat kabeeraa
jaa mukh ram nahin
kehat kabeeraa
jaa mukh ram nahin
wo mukh dhool bharee
ee ee
kehat kabeeraa
jaa mukh ram nahin
wo mukh dhool bharee
ee ee
bhajo re bhaiyyaa
ram govind hari
bhajo re bhaiyyaa
ram govind hari
ee ee
bhajo re bhaiyyaa
ram govind hari
ram govind hari
ram govind hari
ee ee ee
bhajo re bhaiyyaa
ram govind hari
bhajo re bhaiyyaa
ram govind hari
hari
bhajo re bhaiyyaa
ram govind hari
bhajo re bhaiyyaa
ram govind hari
bhajo re bhaiyyaa
ram govind hari
eee
ram govind hari
eee
ram govind hari

15 Responses to "Bhajo re bhaiyya Ram Govind Hari"

Sudhir ji,
A very informative write up on Mahatma Kabir indeed.
In 1954,there was a film “MAHATMA KABEER” produced by M.S.Ahluwaliya and directed by Gajanan Jahagirdar.The MD was Anil Biswas,ably assisted by Raam Singh.
Manna Dey sang 4 wonderful Kabeer Bhajans in this film-
1.Manuwa tera din din beeta jaay
2.Ghunghat ka pat khol
3.Jhini Jhini re beeni chadariya and
4.Ram Raheem Ram Raheem.
This is for your information.
-AD

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contd….
Here is a link to one of the above Bhajans-

-AD

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I wonder of Kumar Gandharv ever sang for movies. To my mind he was probably the greatest singer of Kabir.

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A finely balanced piece where scholarship does not dazzle but eases the way thru maze that is Kabeer !

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Sudhirji,
Thanks for the post and info about Kabirji. I have few cds of MS and one has this bhajan. Subah mein sunti hoon. My favorite is Subhprabhatam. She is just like Juthika Roy. You can feel their devotion to Thy in their voice.
Santoshji,
Like you said, Kumar Gandharva has sung many Kabir bhajans. I do have his few cds with one being on Kabir’s bhajans, popular being
Ud jaayega hans akela

His second wife Vasundharaji has also sung few bhajans with him. here is a Kabir bhajan by this couple with lyrics on YT
Nirbhay nirgun gun re gaunga

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My comment is not meant to take the attention away from Sudhirji’s post, as erudite as ever. Nor to distract people from Atul’s stupendous effort on film songs. This is just to let those who like Kumar Gandharv know regarding a documentary DVD called ” Koi Sunta Hai” by Bangalore based film maker Shabnam Virmani an artist-in-residence based at Shrishti School or Art, Design and Technology, Bangalore. She has made some more films on Nirgun bhajans.

This is probably not available commercially but can be bought directly via the web, from the art school where she is based,

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Dear friends,
Thanks all for your comments and inputs.

Arun ji,
Thanks so much for the pointer to the 1954 film, ‘Mahatma Kabeer’. Now after reading your comment, I can only regret that I did know about this film earlier, but as I was completing this post, it did not occur to me to look for its songs. Somehow my mind got fixed on ‘Susman’, and just went in that direction only. ‘Susman’ has a wonderful bhajan, ‘Tero Hari Naam Hari Naam Hari Naam, Mein Julaahaa, Mein Julaahaa’. I so much wanted to post that bhajan but I could not locate a clear audio.

I did look up the details for the film, ‘Mahatma Kabeer’. One bhajan listed as written by Kabeer seems to be in error. The bhajan ‘Ghunghat Ke Pat Khol Re Tohe Piya Milenge’ is by Meerabai, and not by Kabeer. This bhajan also appears in the 1950 film ‘Jogan’ sung by Geeta Dutt.

Khyati ji,
Wonderful reminder of ‘Udd Jaayega Hans Akelaa’. This is probably my favorite bhajan, and I have a very special experience associated with it. The year was probably 1990, and I was in the US for my first assignment with the Tatas, working in Minneapolis. While coming from India, I had acquired a set of cassettes of Kumar Gandharva, all bhajans by Kabeer and other saints. I had not yet listened to these for some time. Then over some long weekend, 3, 4 friends got together to go on a driving trip up to Salt Lake and back. I carried these cassettes with me. I remember it was night, around 2 am. I was driving, rest of the friends were all fast asleep. We were passing through Badlands area of North Dakota. Something made be put one of the Kumar Gandharva cassettes in the player. The night was totally silent and dark, with no habitation, no sign of life anywhere in sight. And then the voice of Kumar Gandharv floated from the speakers, singing this bhajan, ‘Udd Jaayega Hans Akelaa’. And what I experienced I am stating truthfully. I felt the car slowly take off from the road. It rose up and floated. The entire world seemed to be in suspended animation, with no sense of time or space. The power of the words and the impact of Kumar Gandarva’s voice was such that I felt I was flying along with the car. Just the words ‘Udd Jaayega. . .’ seemed so powerful. It is an experience that will always remain with me, especially whenever I listen to this bhajan again.

Santosh ji, Khyati ji,
I would also agree, no other singer has done a better rendition of Kabeer’s and bhajans by other saints. Kumar Gandharv’s expressions of these philosphical gems is simply unique and completely true to the spirit of the words. His blending of the the folk and the classical singing bring out the best in Kabeer bhajans. The title of the documentary that Santosh ji mentions, ‘Koi Sunta Hai’ is probably a reposte on another one of his renditions, ‘Sunta Hai Guru Gyaani, Gagan Mein Awaaz Ho Rahi Jheeni Jheeni’.

I am familair with the work of Shabnam Virmani, through a common friend, although I have never me her. The Kabir project is a wonderful journey across the length and breadth of India, as she is gathering the performances of folk singers who sing Kabeer exclusively, from Gujarat, Rajasthan, UP, Bihar, MP, and even from across the border from Pakistan. I have some of the recordings. And these recordings are from live events that are organized by this project. And the recordings are accompanied by printed books of the same bhajans, done in a very beautiful format. For those interested, the wep page for this project is http://www.kabirproject.org.

Thanks for writing in. 🙂

Rgds
Sudhir

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Sudhirji,
What a enlightening experience you had! You must have thought if you could experience same during day time. These type of bhajans/prayers when sung by these kind of devotes and listened in the early morning time (प्रातः समय ), gives you uplifting thoughts.
BTW, we have visited The Badlands National Park and other attractions in South Dakota when my husband had a CME meeting in that area, probably in 1994. तब मेरे पास cassette की बजाय दो छोटे बच्चे थे तो इस सफ़र में भजन की बजाय मैं उसके सुरीले गाने सुनती थी 😆

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Sudhir ji,
Thanks for your comments.
As Santosh ji said,the idea is not to take away the attention from your excellent article on Kabir,but to take an opportunity to bring forth additional info in support of what you have said.
When I took an extensive search,I was surprised that not just 4 but there are many more Kabir dohas used in various films.The most surprising was the revealation that as famous a film like KANGAN-1939 had 2 Kabir bhajans,sung by Pradeep ji.
The other point is about “Ghunghat ke pat khol” ,according to my info,it is not a Meera Bhajan,but a bhajan by kabir ji only.As far as I know,it is so,but should contrary proof be there,I am open for correction.
Here are Kabir bhajans and the names of Films having them-
1.Ghunghat ke pat khol-Azadi-1935,Jogan-50,Mahatma Kabir-54
2.Are re kabir,sun le kabir-Kangan-39
3.Jako rakhe Ram maar sake na koy-Kangan-39,sri Ramanuj-40
4.Haariye na Himmat-Azad-40,mahapooja-54
5.Jaise taruvar beej mein
6.mohe dekhat ave haansi
7.Ek sahib ki sahibi and
8.dulhan gaon hu——–all above 4 from film Bhakta Kabir-42
9.bhala ji tum dekho-Bhedi dushman-46
10.Guru bin kaun and
11.Bhajan bin kaise from Bhakta Gopal Bhaiyya-48

12.bhajan bin banwre-mehfil-57
13.Kahe ka rona dhona
14.Darshan dena Ram and
15. Maya ka sansar hai all from Ram aur Raheem-68 etc etc.
Some of these may be on UT also,I have not checked.
Our Film industry has been using famous songs,poems,Bhajans,Gazals,geets etc written by famous personalities since its inception,so usually something can be found somewhere sometime.
-AD

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Aankhin Dekhin (1978)
Ankahee (1985)
Sutradhar (1987)
Atithi Tum Kab Jaoge (2010)

–I think these films also include dohas by Kabir.

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Sudhir ji,
please see this link.
Juthika Roy sings ‘Ghunghat ke pat khol’ in her album ARPAN-Kabeer Bhajans.
-AD

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I do have this bhajan in Juthika Roy’s “Bhajan Aalekhya Vol I,” and in Millenium Devotional Vol I cd. At the end of the bhajan, it says- Kahat Kabir Aanand Bhayo Hai……. Listening to these bhajans of JR’s, I go back to my childhood days when in early morning, we used to listen these bhajans while getting ready for school.

Here is the link

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I wonder why the picture is of Meera Bai.

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I have been looking for the actual wordings of this bhajan by Kabirji which I found here in English alphabet – this is better than nothing. I am a great devotee of Kabirji and also greatly admirer our north Indian classical (no disrespect to that form the south) music and listen to it fairly regularly. Many thanks

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Further to my short comment yesterday for short of time I did not do full justice to Mr Sudhir’s greatly commendable very big interesting and informative article and so are very informative comments by a few who took time to write them. About the north Indian classical music I can go on and on about it. I may add here a comment made by one of the western musicians, sorry I have forgotten his name, was that Indian classical music is so perfect that it can produce anything asked for.

Thank you Mr Sudhir Kapoor

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