Abhangs – Music of the Bhakthi saints

You will reap wholesome fruits if you sow a pure seed. He, who speaks sweet honeyed words, puts his body to good work and has a mind as pure as Ganga, relieves you of your sorrows and agony on casting a look at him. source:Tukaram’s abhangs translated to English

Vittala Vittala! The words reverberate in the air. There is a huge procession of  pilgrims chanting these words. They are playing the dholak and singing in Marathi as they head towards the Vittala temple at Pandaripur. The devotional songs of these pilgrims are called Abhangs.

Abhang means that which is endless. Abhangs are Marathi compositions of  saints which speak of their  intense devotion towards Lord Vittala. The songs throw light on the social issues of the times. Jnaneshwar, Namdev, Tukaram and Eknath were some of the pioneers of the abhang form.

Here is a popular abhang of Eknath sung by Pandit Bhimsen Joshi. In this abhang, the composer draws an analogy between a new bride and himself. The composer feels most at ease in Pandaripur which he regards as his home and the Lord as his parent just like a woman feels most comfortable in her parental home even after getting married. The word maher in Marathi refers to the maternal home.

Soyarabai was a mystic who belonged to the Mahar community. Her abhangs which are few in number, reflect her anguish at the injustices meted out to her in society and convey her intense piety towards the Lord. Here is an abhang of Soyarabai rendered by Kishori Amonkar.


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