Importance of Powade

"Vidnyaan Shahir" Prabhakar Jamkhedkar, and
"Rashtra Shahir" Vasantrai Nanivadekar

Powade represent evidence of important historical events. Their importance as historical evidence outweighs bakhars and other documents:

"... I will discuss some forms of pre-colonial history writing from Maharashtra in western India, especially two that flourished in the eighteenth century under the Maratha regime in the Marathi language: a prose form called the bakhar or chronicle and the oral tradition of the powada, or the ballad. My aim is to examine in some detail the ways in which history was practiced and address its relevance to the Maratha political environment, and briefly touch upon the complex transformation of these practices both in form and content under colonial rule. My primary argument is that these engagements with the past played an important role in the contestation and representation of Maratha power. As such, they need to be seen as histories in their own right and rescued from being bracketed into an undifferentiated "Puranic tradition".

Prachi Deshpande, "Rethinking the "Epistemological Break": History, Power and Identity in Pre-Colonial and Colonial Maharashtra," in New Perspectives on Regional, Religious, and National Identities in South Asia, 15-16 May, 2002, Cambridge, MA. [EXTERNAL LINK]

Powade are a unique medium - they combine entertainment with promotion (of, say, a social cause) because of its Geet Natya form (songs and drama).

Powade reflect the society of the day, allowing historians a glimpse of social, economical, religious, and cultural aspects

Possibly the most important aspect of powade is that they are the excellent medium of 'sarv dharm sam bhav' (equality of all the religions).

Shahirs belonged to a wide spectrum of society -- castes, communities, and religions -- which enriches the experience of Shahiri literature.

Shahir were/are on the fore front of national movemets like fighting British. Quit India, Goa Liberation, Samyukta Maharashtra, Emergency, and other such activities. Shahir played outstanding role of awakening the masses effectively. In to day’s context they are playing a role of social reformers.

Contribution of Muslims and their influence in powade

Muslim Shahir have equally contributed along with their Hindu brethren. This has a unique background. Basically shahirs are Addhyatmvadi. Shahiri sect is similar to the sect of Ramanand (Guru of Kabir) sect. Kabir bhajans and dohas were sung by members of all castes. So, there were no caste considerations in both the sects. Again their 'addhyatma' was concentrated in 'Pramatma' and not on a particular diety.

In Khuldabad, near Aurangabad, was Mumtajjbuddin Jarjari Jaribax-a muslim 'awalia' and his tomb. In the 'urus' festival both Hindus and Muslims participate. Jarjaribax and Shivdinnath (Nath sampradai) were close friends. 'Din' in his name signifies the fact. Due to their association many Muslims used to master and sing 'addhyatmik shihiri kavane' and sing them in public performances. Some important names amonst them are: Kavi Sayyad Hasan, Sayyad Mohidin, Husein Nabi (near Barshi), Babu Rangela, Lahari Haidr (Satara, Kolhapur). All in society were connected with shahiri excepting Pundits, Brahmins, Varkari, and Ramdasi. In a nut shell it can be said that "a literature produced by masses for the masses."

Last updated 200310211350.