Lok Sanskrutiche Upasak



In the wee hours of the morning, the Vasudev arrives at doorsteps of rural households. He is seen in colourful but peculiar attire which reminds one of Lord Krishna. He recites verses and invokes the name of god with a particular form of narrative. His songs have a definite rhythm, which he supports with the ‘Chiplya’ (a form of castanets) in the right and ‘Taal’ (symbals) in the left hand. Without moving around too much, the Vasudev performs some rhythmic steps and movements to the music, involving rotational motion as well. At the end of the performance, when he is usually paid by the householder or his wife in grain or specie, he departs in a contented manner- playing his flute, which reverberates in the minds of his audience for a long time.

Such scenes are becoming increasingly rare in the wake of rapid urbanization. That notwithstanding, he was never - and does not even now - be regarded as a beggar.

This folk performer hails from Maratha stock.  G.M. Kalelkar, in his volume “Mumbai Illkhyatil Jati” (Castes and Tribes in the Mumbai Presidency) provides some details. He states that, ‘they are prevalent throughout Sothern Maharashtra. They say that they are descendants of a Brahmin and his Kunbi consort. Their lifestyle resembles that of the Marathas. Making humble demands to meet the two ends is their livelihood. Their sons, after turning 15, are ceremoniously inducted into this profession’. Vasudevs are to be seen at rural fairs and carnivals. At many places, people sanction them a booty, while standing in the stream of a river. Prof. S.M. Mate has sympathetically discussed the fall of this institution. He has also given a narrative, informing his readers about the origin of Vasudevs, which this book mentions.

Further, the book very significantly presents some original text of verses, songs and poetry recited by the Vasudevs. Most of them narrate the biography of Krishna; some of them highlight the importance of the ‘Bhakti’ tradition. Some lucidly explain the contents of the Vedas as well.

Even in his attire, the Vasudev has been associated with the form of ‘Krishna’.Thus,a large part of his performance involves, among other things, narratives of Krishna and his childhood, and his affection for his mother, Yashoda.
Dr. Dhere reproduces some such original songs in this chapter.
The ‘Vasudev’ tradition, according to Dr. Dhere, has definitely been existing for at least a thousand to twelve hundred years. Even sages and saints like Dnyaneshwar, Namdev,have utilized the ‘Vasudev’ metaphor / symbol in their poetic works, while Mahanubhav literature copiously mentions the institution.


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