Where the voice of the wind calls our wandering feet,
Through echoing forest and echoing street,
With lutes in our hands ever-singing we roam,
All men are our kindred, the world is our home.
Our lays are of cities whose lustre is shed,
The laughter and beauty of women long dead;
The sword of old battles, the crown of old kings,
And happy and simple and sorrowful things.
What hope shall we gather, what dreams shall we sow?
Where the wind calls our wandering footsteps we go.
No love bids us tarry, no joy bids us wait:
The voice of the wind is the voice of our fate.
Who are these singers? The Bauls, the Vaishnavites or the Krishnites? Are they the bards or the singing fakirs? The Bhartriharis, the ragged singers of India, the nirgunias too may be the ones discussed here. Some takers of Ram-naama too may be the people here.
The poem also reminds us of the kirtan-doers, Hare Rama, Hare Krishna singers. But not the professional ones as the folk singers; those who are detached will not attach to the amorous and will not keep wandering. By the folk singers she means to hint towards the bards and the minstrels whose deep devotion, dedication and bhakti flash upon the mind's plane.
We are the wandering singers, wandering singers, wherever we go, we go on singing, camping and passing through. Under the bivouac of trees we can live and pass by our time. Under the canopy of the skies, we can live and pass our days. By the roadside leading out of the town or on the outskirts of, we can sojourn. Our destinations are unknown. Wherever we like or the spirit leads to, we go to, wherever the wind carries our voice to, we go to, singing and passing through. With lutes into the hands, we keep roaming and singing with our vagabond, vagrant bands. We have nothing to attend to, nothing to fear it. The whole world is our family. All the people are our relatives, kith and kin, kindred people. What it is ours, what it yours, we are not in it. We move from cities to cities, towns to towns. We have nothing to be attached to, nothing to be fascinated with, infatuated with. What is it to do with laughters, joys and sorrows? Laughters are long dead, lost in them. What is it to attract in the name of beauty? We are but detached people, we are the vagrant singers, singers of India. The kings and the common men are alike to us in love and affection. Instead we sing of the battles lost and fought long ago, about the glories of kings and queens, their good and bad days, the crowns and palaces commemorating grandeur and fall both, beauty and laughter. We draw the things from our old stock.
Wherever the wind calls, our wandering feet move in to, go to, we are the wandering singers, the wandering singers of India. Our houses lie they forgotten, our identities quite obscure and unknown.There is nothing as that to do with nostalgia and homesickness. Where we live there lies our home, where we stop it that is the place of our sojourn. We do not have any permanent address. We are the bairagis, homeless people, the saintly beings, the wandering singers. Bhakti, kirtana is our job. To sing of old things is our stock.
Wandering Singers is a poem about the folk singers of India, the gypsy bands, the nomadic groups, wandering bards and minstrels moving from town to town whose echoes can be heard even in the suburban forests while passing through the ways. Saints too first and foremost are the singers, the singers of devotional hearts. Bairagis, renouncers are the experts of this field singing with home-made instruments. The Ramayana singers, the Mahabharata singers, recreating from and singing in vernaculars the scenes and references, where, where are they? The mind goes to Fiji, Mauritius, Java, Sumatra, Bali and Kampuchea. The portions of the Ramlila and the Krishnalila flash over the eyes. The pictures of Kabirdas, Mirabai, Surdas, Kabirdas, Tukaram, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and Jayadeva hover before kaleidoscopically.
The poem is a peep into the heart of the devotional singers of India, the mystic singers, the bairagis and the fakirs of India. They have nothing to wait for and get. They are the wandering singers, the folk singers. To spread the message of love and affection is their joy cutting across the lines. This is their philosophy of life and the world. This is how they have understood the world. What is to get from or lie in the hope of? To be a singer of life is the main thing; to be a traveler on the path of life. The devotional heart, love-full heart, we fail to feel it.