Part 3: “Vaishnava Jan To” for Our Times
July 29, 2019
During the Independence struggle, music was mobilised as a tool for political messaging. Songs across regions and languages united people in the wake of anti-colonial struggle. Narasinha Mehta's "Vaishnava Jan To" by itself was not "political" in nature, but owing to Gandhi's profound relationship with the song and his subsequent promulgation of its message the song became an idiom that brought people together.
In the second part, Neelima Shukla-Bhatt and Ananya Vajpeyi discussed how Mehta's bhajan "Vaishnava Jan To" became Gandhi's musical emblem and the "secular" musical emblem of the nation.
How relevant is the bhajan today? If instead of "Vaishnava Jan To", the prayer was "Christian Jan To" or "Muslim Jan To", would the meaning or message of the song change? In this third and final part, the scholars discuss how "Vaishnava Jan To" was adopted as a cultural resource by communities. Dr Bhatt also narrates from her own experiences of attending a chance Sonu Nigam performance of the bhajan in London.
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