Meera - The Lover...

Meera – The Lover…

Devotion Embodied in Song: A Musical Story of Mystic, Heretic and Pious Indian Poetess Meera Bai. It all started in sixteenth century in the western Indian province of Rajasthan, when an adolescent Meera witnessed a marriage procession and asked, "Who will be my bridegroom." Her nanny playfully showed her a miniature idol of Krishna and said "Him!"

Thus began this Indian girl’s lifelong fascination. What started as an innocent childhood fantasy, led to her fervent love of Lord Krishna. Meera’s obsession became the defining factor in her life, causing her to leave behind wealth and royalty and become a wandering mystic with a great following. Now, five centuries later, her poetry is well-known throughout India and celebrated worldwide.

Meera Bai was a poetess of exceptional caliber from Rajasthan who single handedly changed the social and cultural scene of the province with her innocent romantic devotion towards God Krishna. Although she married a handsome prince at a very young age, during her marriage, she never lost her childhood infatuation towards Krishna, and prolifically wrote poems of her love for him. When her husband soon died in a war, and although she was expected to burn in his funeral pyre, Meera Bai refused to participate in the then prevalent widow-suicide tradition of sati, publicly declaring that her husband Krishna was still alive! This stance caused her significant duress in a patriarchal society where public expression of romantic feelings was taboo, even if for a divine idol. She was ostracized for her choices and her poetry by her in-laws, but she developed a following of many devotees who joined her in her loving devotion to Krishna. 

The intriguing story of Meera Bai’s mystical, fascinating, and tragic existence, comes to life on Meera – The Lover… , the debut album from Vandana Vishwas, whose own life story adds poignancy to the recording. Vandana’s musical exploration of Meera Bai’s life follows her poetry chronologically, with each poem representing a distinct moment in the emotional state of the spiritual leader.

While Meera Bai’s songs have traditionally been recorded and sung as Krishna bhajans – religious devotional songs in honor of Krishna, Vandana’s compositions emphasize the romantic side of Meera Bai’, hence the title, Meera – The Lover…  

Vandana’s connection with Meera began as early as her teenage years, when she was an All India Radio contract artist, and along with her Guru Mr. D.K. Gandhe, composed and sung some of Meera Bai’s songs. Legendary Indian songbirds Lata Mangeshkar and Kishori Amonkar, who have each beautifully sung Meera bhajans, also inspired Vandana’s fascination with Meera Bai.

Vandana’s dream as a little girl was to be a Bollywood playback singer, but the lasting effects of a painful and immobilizing physical disability, inflicted upon her barely two days after her birth by a nurse using an unsterilized syringe, prevented her from being able to pursue that dream.

Now, Vandana is fulfilling that dream all by herself. While there is no actual movie in the making, Vandana sings the story of Meera Bai’s life in a way that invokes a visual story. In this soul-hauntingly beautiful work, each song tells a piece of the story from Meera Bai’s life, and the components of each song are important parts of the telling. Vandana uses the sound of the flute to represent the presence of Krishna. It further represents the longing for something which is simply out of reach, which Meera can hear and feel, but never see. However, what stands out in the recording is Vandana’s melodious tunes sung in her flawless voice, and her perfect pronunciation of Hindi words – something that makes it hard to believe that she is based outside of India.

Like a Bollywood soundtrack, this recording follows the story of Meera Bai’s devotion and love for Krishna, a tale ripe with blockbuster themes of resilience in struggle, and the power of love to triumph. Vandana draws on her own personal experiences and lifelong studies of vocal technique to illustrate Meera’s story with meticulously painted aural landscapes.

Since its release on 11 October 2009, Meera – The Lover…  has been creating ripples in the ‘World Music’ scene of North America and has attracted the attention of many a music critics apart from generating a wide-spread media interest from mainstream newspapers and radio stations such as The Toronto Star, The Toronto Sun , CBC Radio 1 and CBC Radio-International’s Masala Canada apart from many other in the States. Also, since its release, the album has been consistently getting radio play in the many diverse fm channels all over North America such as the CIUT Toronto, CHUO Ottawa, CKXU Lethbridge, KPFK Los Angeles, KGNU Boulder, Galaxie Musique Diffuses (CBC Radio-Canada) etc, and has maintained its place at the top 10 of at least one of the charts by Earshot Magazine. To top it all, she has recently been nominated for the Favourite World Artist of the year by The Indies- the 10th Annual Independent Music Awards 2010!

Despite her physical limitations, what Vandana has achieved in such a short while is nothing short of phenomenal. She is a true representative of the South Asian culture and music in North America and deserves unreserved appreciation! Let us reverberate her spirit through her music and support her to win at the Indies when the public voting opens at the Indies site.

Meera – The Lover is available in the GTA at:

Maharani Emporium

Musideum

Toronto Women’s Book Club

Soundscapes

Apart from the above locations, the CD is available at HMV and Chapter/Indigo locations by order, and can also be purchased online or downloaded digitally from CD Baby, iTunes and Amazon.