Sagun and Nirgun in Manganiar tradtion : Padmaram Meghwal
thought – steeped in bhakti – is broadly
classified as saguna and nirguna. Saguna is devotion
to a personal god – one with gunas, or attributes.
The devotee remains distinct from his deity and,
usually, takes recourse to certain rituals to
reach the latter. Bhakti for Rama or Krishna,
generally, offers the best examples of saguna
bhakti and Tulasidas, Surdas and Mira are the
finest poets of this stream. Nirguna bhakti is
devotion to an impersonal, attribute-less godhead.
Kabir is a poet par excellence of this stream.
Meghwal mainly sings the bhajan of Mira, Kabir,
Ramdeo, Tulasidas and Sadaram. “I, somehow,
believe I am from their clan,” he says and
resolves the differences between the two streams.
Padmaram Meghwal is one of the finest singers
in Barmer, where he lives. He learnt to play the
tandura (veena) from his guru Sahja Bai Saadh
with whom he lived for 10 years. Music is a source
of emotional succour and connects him with God,
he says. His haunting voice, coupled with the
rich lyrics of Meera and other poets, makes his
renditions a truly moving experience. Applauded
by the illustrious folklorist and ethnomusicologist
Komal Kothari several years ago, Padmaram specializes
in singing for Jagrans, the all-night gatherings
of devotional songs. He also sings in Sindhi.
He still does riyaz and sings in a temple in his
village. “With time, my talent has risen
to new heights… but I can no longer perform
the way I used to. Yet, growing older has not
broken my confidence.”