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Padma shree Prahlad Singh Tipaniya: The Living Legend of Kabir Folk Singing

Kabir Mission news. In the heart of India, specifically Malwa region of Madhyapradesh , where the melodies of folk music resonate through the dusty lanes of villages and transcend the boundaries of language and culture, one name stands out as a living legend – Prahlad Singh Tipaniya. He is not just a folk singer; he is the torchbearer of the rich and profound tradition of Kabir folk singing, keeping alive the wisdom and spirituality of the 15th-century mystic poet , saint and a revolutionary Kabir.

Early Life and Inspiration:

Prahlad Singh Tipaniya was born in the small village of Luniyakhedi in Malwa region of Madhya Pradesh, India, on September 07, 1954. His early years were deeply influenced by his father, who was a Bhajan singer and a farmer and introduced him to the devotional and spiritual world of music. However, it was during his job as a primary teacher that Tipaniya’s life took a significant turn when he encountered the timeless verses of Kabir trough the nirguni Bhajans of Kumar Gandharva. Tipaniya ji’s first interaction with Tamboor(his musical intrument) was in 1978, when he first saw the Tamboor and got surprised by its resonating sound. He expressed his willingness to learn the Tamboor . He first time handed over the Tamboor in Gorkhedi Village of District Dewas , Madhyapradsh in a programme of Pt. Kumar Gandharva. With first experience of Tamboor ,he sang the song about the farmers in Malwi language i.e.  “kheti kare to tane samjh batau ,Aavatu esi kheti kije” meaning If you want to do farming then i will tell you the understandings of farming. This song justifies his strong feelings about the farming communities.

Kabir, a mystic poet and saint, composed verses that delved into the depths of spirituality, questioning established norms and advocating for a universal understanding of divinity. Kabir’s verses struck a chord with Tipaniya’s soul, and he decided to dedicate his life to propagating Kabir’s message through the medium of folk music.

The Kabir Folk Singing Tradition:-
Kabir’s verses are simple yet profound, and they resonate with the masses due to their timeless relevance. They tackle essential aspects of life, spirituality, and human existence. Prahlad Singh Tipaniya, as a custodian of the Kabir folk singing tradition, uses these verses to communicate deep spiritual insights to a wide audience.

The essence of Kabir folk singing lies in its simplicity. With just a few traditional instruments like the Tamboora and Dholak, Tipaniya takes his listeners on a spiritual journey. His deep, resonant voice carries the weight of Kabir’s words, creating an atmosphere that transcends time and space. Whether in a packed auditorium or an intimate village gathering, Tipaniya’s performances have the power to touch the hearts and souls of all who listen.

Contribution to the Preservation of Kabir’s Legacy:

Prahlad Singh Tipaniya’s tireless efforts have played a pivotal role in preserving and promoting Kabir’s legacy. He has collected and compiled Kabir’s verses from various sources, ensuring that these profound teachings are not lost to future generations. Through his performances, he has reached millions of people, introducing them to the wisdom of Kabir and inspiring them to seek deeper meaning in life.

Tipaniya’s dedication has also led to the establishment of the Kabir Smriti Sansthan in Ujjain, where he conducts workshops and seminars on Kabir’s philosophy and folk music. This institution has become a hub for Kabir enthusiasts, scholars, and musicians from around the world. Every year he organises the Kabir Yatra in which thousands of Kabir followers from India and abroad join hands.

Impact on Contemporary Society:

Prahlad Singh Tipaniya’s influence extends far beyond the realms of music. His performances are not just musical events but spiritual experiences that encourage introspection and self-realization. In a world marked by materialism and superficiality, Tipaniya’s renditions of Kabir’s verses offer a profound antidote, reminding us of the importance of inner peace and spiritual growth. As the teachings of kabir raises  the issues of vulnerable , Prahlad singh Tipaniya too worked for welfare of the vulnerable .

His ancestral village Lunyakhedi is surrounded by Kanjar community who are known for their occupation of stealing(as per the fake narrative set against them) . They are very much infamous for theft and general people got afraid of their presence in area. That’s why many executive / police actions worked against this community. But in a reality ,this community is very much generous but due to some socio-economic marginalisation ,some youngsters among them started thieving and narrative set by some influential people that whole community is involved in the sin. When Prahlad Singh Tipaniya got  informed about the problems of the kanjar community then he started some initiatives for upliftment of the community . He took various step in favour of the kanjars. He sang kabir verses among them slowly they became to able to do introinspection and self realization and they started to convert and become successful to change their image and life.

Prahlad Singh Tipaniya became successful to achieve the objectives of social change through folk singing .He spread Kabir verses over the United Kingdom, USA and Pakistan as well.

For his noble work in the field of folk singing and his contribution to society he was awarded by Madhyapradesh Shikhar Samman in 2005, Sangeet Natya Akadami Purushkar in 2007 and finally awarded by the Padmashree award in 2011 by then President of India Smt. Pratibha Patil.

Prahlad Singh Tipaniya is not just a folk singer; he is a cultural icon and a spiritual guide. Recently  in the Teachers day programme in Sarangpur , Madhyapradesh organised by Pragatisheel Balai Yuva Kalyan samiti , his speech on “Dharma and its relevance” is very much praised among the individuals and society.Through his unwavering commitment to Kabir’s legacy, he has touched the lives of countless individuals, helping them find solace, meaning, and spirituality in the verses of this timeless mystic poet. As long as Prahlad Singh Tipaniya continues to sing, the spirit of Kabir will live on, reminding us of the universal truths that transcend time, place, and language. His journey is a testament to the power of music to unite hearts and souls in the pursuit of higher truths.

writer in Nikunj Malviya

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