A Man of the Masses – Biography Saint Kanwarram
A Man of the Masses – Biography Sain Kanwarram
DR. S. K. PUNSHI
Saint Kanwarram was a wandering Saint, exactly like Saint Gadge Maharaj of Maharashtra. Kanwar used to visit village to village for devotional songs. In the earlier days, he used to join his Guru in his singing engagements. He was respectful to his ‘Gurudev’. In his presence, he would never adorn his ankles with the small ringing bells. He used to wear a particular Sindhi Bhagat’s dress known as ‘Chher and Jama’ a long ‘Kurta’, a ‘Pagree’ and a red cloth on the waist and off course the ‘Gunghru’ or the small ringing bells, the dancer tie on the feet on lower portion of legs.
After the death of his Guru Satramdas, he used to visit various places with his own Mandli (combination of Harmonium, Tabla players and other helper singers or repeaters or reciters).
In all his music functions, he would preach the name of God through the songs of Saints like Mirabai, Lord Krishna, Rama, Kabir, Ravidas, Farid, Namdev, Tukaram and Gurubani (the teachings of Guru Granth Sahib – holy book of Sikhs). He would quote Ramayana, Gita. His voice was sweet and sonorous. He used to sing early in the morning – the ‘Brahma Mahurat’ or predawn period. He was fond of Lord Krishna’s songs – so called ‘Krishna Pada’ (praise of Lord Krishna). I like the following English rendering of the song entitled ‘Krishna’:
I paused beside the cabin door and saw
The king of kings at play.
Tumbled upon the grass is pied the little
Heavenly run away.
The mother laughed upon the child
Made joy by its ecstatic morn,
Yet the sages spoke of it as
Of the ancient and unborn.
I heard the passion breathed amid the
Honey suckle scented glade,
In addition, I saw the king pass lightly
From the beauty that he had betrayed.
I saw him pass from love to love
And yet the pure allowed his claim
To be the purest of the pure, thrice holy,
Stainless, without blame.
I saw the open tavern door flash
On the dusk a ruddy glare,
And saw the king of kings out case
Reel brawling through the starlit air
And by their silence men adore the
Lovely silence where dwells.
I saw the king of kings again,
A thing to shudder at the fear,
A form so darkened and so marred that
Child fled if it drew near.
And yet He is the light of lights
Whose blossoming is paradise,
That beauty of the king, which dawns
Upon the seer’s enraptured eyes.
I saw the king of kings again,
With a heart grown cold,
And yet He is the prodigal, the
Spendthrift of the heavenly gold,
The largesse of whose glory crowns
The blazing brows of cherubim,
And sun and moon and stars and
Flowers are jewels scattered forth by him’
I saw the king of kings’ descent
The narrow door way to the dust
With all his fires of morning still,
The beauty, bravery and lust,
And yet He is the life within the
Ever living, living once.
The ancient with eternal youth,
The cradle of infant suns,
The fiery fountain of the stars,
And He the golden urn where all
The glittering spray of planets
In there myriad beauties fall.
– A.E. – Cited in from Darkeness to Light by Victor Gollancz.
Saint Kanwarram was not only a terrestrial or earthly singer but also a spiritual and celestial singer. Some people believe that he was a celestial singer in the Court of God Indra (the king of Gods) in his previous birth. He enchanted the masses by his sweet voice. Whatever he used to collect as offering during the Bhajans he used to distribute among the poor and needy. He had many blind, crippled in his Ashram, who used to accompany Saint Kanwarram to far off places during his programs and devotional song assignment. He used to distribute money, corn and clothes to all these needy people. Kanwar was true trustee of God. He never spent a single pie from the public money. He served his family by running his small Kiryana shop. He used to say to squander away public money is to eat ‘iron grams’ difficult to digest. He used to help the poor families for the marriages of their daughters. He helped widow marriages. He helped many people to pay off their debts. His behavior was so humble and meek that he never allowed anybody to touch the feet on the contrary he would touch the feet of others and asking them for blessings.
Like Vinoba Bhave, he was a great champion of cow protection and he built many ‘Gaooshalas’ (cow protection sheds) in various places of Sindh. By his devotional songs a humble servant of humanity, a helper of the poor and needy Kanwar became a household name and a man of the masses.