The Kabir Project


The Kabir Project consists of many ongoing journeys exploring contemporary resonances of bhakti, sufi and baul poetry through songs, images and conversations. Started in 2003, these journeys inquire into the spiritual and socio-political resonances of mystic poetry in our contemporary worlds.


We journey through a stunning diversity of social, religious and musical traditions which Kabir and other mystic poets inhabit, exploring how their poetry intersects with ideas of cultural identity, secularism, nationalism, religion, death, impermanence, folk and oral knowledge systems. The core inspiration of the project is the wisdom contained in this poetry, and it’s capacity to transform our inner and outer worlds. The other core inspiration is music, and in the first phase of work we produced 4 musical documentary films on Kabir and 10 audio CDs with bi-lingual poetry books. Subsquently our work has included organizing festivals and supporting the oral traditions and local artists in Malwa and Bikaner.
To know more about our films, music, books, curations and festivals visit


Ajab Shahar

We are constructing a vast online bi-lingual (English and Hindi) repository of songs, poetry and ideas of Kabir and other mystic poets of the Indian region and thereabouts. The archive will offer a curated collection of over 500 songs, reflections and stories all carefully researched, translated and annotated. We are developing the website in partnership with ThoughtWorks, Bangalore. Extensive video editing, poetry research, translations and writing for the website is underway. We have launched a dedicated YouTube video channel called Ajab Shahar, where we have started uploading our materials in anticipation of the site being launched later this year. See a placeholder website at
Subscribe to the Ajab Shahar Youtube channel at: 

Design Charette for Srishti School Students:

In August 2014, Smriti Chanchani led a 2-week design charette for students of Srishti to create wall art & graffiti with the poetry of Kabir, and eventually capture it in photographs for an exhibition.
The experiment led to some evocative wall artworks in public spaces in the city of Bangalore, creating moments of urban pause, reflection and poetic irony. The Kabir Project team also conducted some sessions for students of the Metro Art project, creating an immersion in poetry around the themes of movement, stillness, loneliness, belonging and other themes of urban life.

Curating Shah Abdul Latif Bhitai

We are curating and translating the poetry of the Sindhi Sufi poet – Shah Abdul Latif Bhitai - whose oral traditions span both sides of the border between India and Pakistan. Shah’s poetry draws on the power and beauty of both Yogic and Sufi philosophy, melding the two streams into one poetic and spiritual vision. We are curating two distinct styles of music - kaafi & waee - in which Shah’s poems find contemporary expression in the Kutch region of Gujarat in western India. 
We have presented a festival featuring the music of Mooralala Marwada and the Waee singers of Kutch (Mitha Khan & Sumar Kadu Jat), interwoven with story telling and interpretation of the love legends through which Latif expresses his poems. We are finishing work on a book entitled "I Saw Myself: Journeys with Shah Latif in Kutch" co-authored by Vipul Rikhi & Shabnam Virmani and designed by Shilo Shiv Suleiman.

One Tree, One Parrot

This work is one of the tangible outcomes of our efforts to produce something of value for children. This is a slim book based on a Kabir song and Buddhist parable, which tells the story of a brave parrot who battles a forest fire. It is the result of a rich 6-month exchange between artist and educator Vishakha Chanchani and the children of the HBP government school in Bangalore, where they produced an original script, picture scroll and dance-drama inspired by this story. The script and children's illustrations have been adapted into this book, which is bilingual (Hindi + English). The book has been translated and designed by Smriti Chanchani.

Artworks for the Museum of Sacred Art, Brussels: 

The museum of Sacred Art approached the Kabir Project to create artworks on the theme of ‘nirgun bhakti’. Work is complete on three hanging panels blending photography & calligraphy entitled “Evocations of Shabd” and two animation Ajab Poems created by Smriti Chanchani & Shabnam Virmani. These will be launched in New Delhi in March 2015, and later travel to Brussels.

Festival of Kabir in LUMS, Pakistan:

In September-October 2015 the Kabir Project team crossed the border to have a week long festival on Kabir with students of the Lahore University of Management Studies, which featured the four documentary films, music performances, classroom discussions and an audio-visual exhibit. This led to a rich exchange of ideas and feelings that were recognised to be beyond borders.

Partnerships & Funding

The project has been supported by the Ford Foundation, New Delhi and Wipro Applying Thought in Schools, Bangalore and the Raza Foundation, New Delhi.


Currently the core team consists of Shabnam Virmani, Smriti Chanchani, Vipul Rikhi and Psalm Paul, supported by Medha Sutwala, Shruti Kulkarni and Kabir Khanna.

Classroom interaction with students of Lahore University of Management Studies.

Interacting with students at Wazir Khan Masjid in Lahore.

A design charette.

A design charette.

A design charette.

A design charette.

Curations: Shah Latif.

Curations: Shah Latif.

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