May 19th – May 23rd, 2018

Earth. Water. Fire. Air. Space. The 5 Elements in us/ In the Voice of the Mystics

There are powerful evocations of the experience of the five elements in the poetry of Bhaktas, Sufis and Bauls such as Kabir, Mira, Shah Latif, Lalon and others. The Earth as our field of consciousness to be filled with attention or in the fragile beauty of our clay selves; the Fire of the ‘tap’ of our practice or in the blazing desires of our ego-selves; the Water of the source-ocean evoking our original, undifferentiated selves, or in the choppy turbulence of the ‘bhav-sagar’ – the ocean of becoming – which must be crossed; the Air as pillars of breath, that infuse our body-selves with a vital life force or those hurricanes of knowledge that blow the roofs off our huts of delusion; the Space of that limitless, the unbounded, the sky, the shoonya, our nirgun essence… to mention just a few.

Let’s gather every evening for quiet moments of deep listening to the songs of the mystics, sung and shared by Shabnam Virmani, along with reflective and personal conversations about the layers of meanings these poems open for us. Shabnam will be in residence from Saturday, 19th May to Wednesday, 23rd May, 2018.

To book your retreat at Vana or to express interest to attend Shabnam Virmani’s sessions, please email Retreat Reservations at [email protected] or call us on +91 135 3911114. You may also decide to attend these sessions after your arrival at the Retreat.


Shabnam Virmani is a filmmaker, singer and artist in residence at the Srishti Institute of Art, Design and Technology in Bangalore. Stung by the religious riots of Gujarat in 2002, she initiated the Kabir Project journeys in quest of the 15th century mystic Kabir, exploring how his poetry intersects with ideas of identity, religion, nationalism, impermanence and orality. Inspired by the spirit of Bhakti, Sufi and Baul oral traditions, the Kabir Project team has now been engaged for over 15 years in curating and re-expressing the power of this poetry through documentary films, music CDs, books, urban festivals, rural yatras, school workshops and a web archive called Ajab Shahar. | ajabshahar youtube channel