The​ ​ Women​ ​ Warikaris

A presentation of unsung ​poems of the Santakaviyatris ​of ​Maharashtra

Shruthi Vishwanath presents known and unknown poems of the women warikari poets.While the warikari tradition is well known, and the songs of the warikari saints are sung throughout the region, the poetry of the women saints is not as well known. They talk about bhakti in myriad hues, going beyond the regular frameworks of worship and devotion, and take on forms and characters that we would hardly expect. Janabai and her daring defiance of custom, Aubai’s experience of formlessness, Soyrabai’s struggle with both caste and gender, Kanhopatra’s life and heartbreaking pleas, Muktabai’s riddles, Gonabai’s complaints- these poems paint an intriguing story of these women from 600 years ago, and shine a new light on women’s poetry from the era and its implications​ ​ on​ ​ linear​ ​ notions​ ​ of​ ​ bhakti.

Shruthi has been researching these poems and setting them to music. While most of these poems exist in print, they have been largely ignored in traditional performance and practice. Inspired by the translations of Dr. Jacqui Daukes, Shruthi set out to compose and record these poems, using both traditional musical idioms of the abhang, and going beyond. While all of these compositions are rooted to a tradition, they take on new meanings and forms with music that brings out nuances of the poetry. The composition work is currently being supported by the India Foundation for the Arts, under​ ​ the​ ​ Arts​ ​ Practice​ ​ program.

The Artists:

S​hruthi​ ​Vishwanath​​ ​is​ ​a ​​musician,​ ​composer​ ​and​ ​educator​​ who​ ​has​ ​trained​ under some​ ​of​ ​the​ finest​ ​voices​ across​ ​the​ ​folk and​​ classical​ ​landscape.​ ​For​ ​over​ ​20 years,​ ​she​ ​learnt​ the​ ​rigours​ ​and​ ​joys​ ​ of Carnatic​ ​music​ ​ with​ ​ Sangeeta​ ​ Kala Acharya​ ​ B.​ Krishnamoorthy​ ​ and​ ​ Sri. Komanduri​ ​ Seshadri.​ ​Touched​ ​by​ ​the visceral​ ​nature​ ​of​ ​Kabir,​ ​she​ ​plunged​ ​into the​ ​worlds​ ​ of​ ​mystic​ ​poetry,​ ​and​ ​nowperforms​ ​a ​wide​ ​repertoire​ ​of​ ​abhangs, nirgun​ poetry​ ​and​ ​dasapadagalu.​

Her interpretations​ ​of​ ​abhangs​ ​have​ ​resulted in​ ​several​ new​ ​revivals​ ​of​ ​unknown​ ​works.​ ​ She​ ​ has​ ​ performed​ ​ at​ ​ venues​ ​ and​ ​ festivals across​ ​India​ ​and​ ​abroad.​ ​Major​ ​performances​ ​include​ ​the​ ​Kabir​ ​Festival​ ​of​ ​Mumbai, Malwa​ ​Kabir​ ​Yatra,​ NCPA,​ Raga​ ​Forum​ ​for​ ​Indian​ ​Music​ ​Vienna.​ She​ is​ ​a ​grantee​ ​of​ theIndia​ ​Foundation​ ​for​ ​the​ ​Arts.