A unique textual compilation for the modern seeker, this exceptional book brings together some of the greatest songs by Bhakti, Sufi and Baul mystic poets of northern India for the first time. Kabir, Nanak Das, Gorakhnath, Mira Bai, Khwaja Ghulam Farid, Bulleshah, Lalon Fakir, and Parvathy Baul, among others, illuminate the human condition with an enduring wisdom that resonates today as it did in centuries past. Variously acerbic or sensual, irreverent or devotional—and always incandescent and intimate—these songs explode beyond narrow religiosity and open doorways to the palace of true experience: ecstatic unity of the self with the universe.
This carefully curated selection of 140 timeless songs in lucid translation and transliteration, accompanied with insightful commentary, is the result of Rikhi and Virmani’s extensive research and travel across the subcontinent over two decades. Drawing upon the shared and many-splendoured spiritual heritage of the Indic civilization, One Palace, a Thousand Doorways lights up a path to profound fulfilment and bliss amidst the frenetic demands of modern life.
‘Like Kabir’s “brilliant palace” (meaning the human body), this collection of poetry and reflection glows with vibrant colours. Through song and personal encounter, author Vipul Rikhi and his colleague Shabnam Virmani have met truth-seekers, lovers, mystics and musicians in varied languages and regions across north India and Pakistan. Because they have engaged closely with singers and listeners, because they understand and love the living oral traditions, and because they sing, their selections, translations, and commentaries are extraordinarily fresh and vivid. The thematic chapters—with key words like Path, Marketplace, Suffering, Longing, Mockery, Company, Guru, The Name, Ocean, Dying, Fulfilment—are gracefully and eloquently bodied forth. This book is a doorway to the living traditions of South Asia’s great mystical poetry. Step in to find joy, sorrow, wisdom, humour, love, challenge, and perhaps inspiration to enter the singing fields yourself!’—Linda Hess, author of Bodies of Song and The Bijak of Kabir