Gurmat Sangeet : Ghoriyan

February 27, 2006

Guru Fateh!As I have mentioned in some of my earlier posts there are different kinds of styles of singing in Gurbani Kirtan. In the titles of some shabads the Guru Arjan Dev Ji actually instructed us to sing the shabad in a particular style. Personally I know of 2 folk styles one being Alahniya and the other being Ghoriyan

I have posted about Alhaniya. What it is and how it is related to Guru Mat Sangeet.

As for Ghoriyan:

There is one shabad in Ghoriyan and it is in Raag Vadhans. The shabad is written by Guru Ram Das Ji. Ghoriya – plural form of ghori, a mare. In Panjabi folk poetry, these types of lyrical songs, which are sung on the occasion of marriage.

Panjabi marriages comprise of a series of ceremonies performed at different stages. In one of these ceremonies, the bridegroom mounts a handsomely decorated mare to go to the house of the bride where a reception awaits (barat). The sisters of the bridegroom feed the mare with crushed gram from a plate and embellish the mare with bridle strings. They sing the songs
of ghori; other girls and wom en join them in chorus, as the bridegroom climbs up on the back of the mare.

In the ghoriyan shabad Guru Ji uses the example of marriage specifically the ceremony of ghori to explain the fact that human life is a precious opportunity to be united to God as marriage is the opportunity to be united with the bride. The human body is the mare, riding which the seeker of God could reach his goal. The mind is to be harnessed, conquered and controlled, just as the saddle and bridle only then will he reach his goal.

Another thing that Bhai Kahn Singh Nabha says is that the lyrics of panjabi ghoris were quite lewd and not appropriate. Guru Sahib transforms this cultural aspect and focuses the listener to “spiritual culture”. it shows us that there is indeed a “Sikh Culture” as opposed to a “Panjabi Culture”.

There is only 1 shabad in Ghoriyan and it is found on page 575 of the Guru Granth Sahib Ji. This shabad does not a rahao line thus the 1st line is used as the Asthai. Also if you listen carefully and read the words you will realise that Bhai Sahib adds the word “Ghori” in the begining of the first line. Now this was a puratan style to add words like “vah vah”, “piar” etc..

Dayh Tayjan Jee Ram Upaa-ee-aa Raam
I dont have a copy of this shabad so I have linked it from the archieve thus you will need realplayer to play the shabad.

The shabad is being sung in Raag Vadhans by Bhai Avtar Singh ji and the Dilruba/Taous is being played in the background.

Click here to read the translations from Guru Granth Darpan
the shabad is the 2nd one on the page.

I would like to thank Inderpreet Veerji for telling me about Ghoriyan.

Guru Ang Sang!

Angad Singh


February 25, 2006

Gur Fateh Ji

Off late I have been listening to some of the lectures done by the Raj Academy. These lectures have opend my eyes to a lot of things and answered a lot of questions I had about Gurmat Sangeet. Thus I would urge you to listen to them as well.

For those of us who really wonder is raag kirtan all that necessary I highly recommend you listen to Fusion is Confusion. This lecture will open your eyes to what careless experimentation can lead to in a few years time

History of Sikh Music

In this lecture Prof Surinder Singh takes us through the evelution of Sikh Kirtan An interesting lecture I must say.

Sikh Musicology – The Ancient Art of Healing

In this lecture Prof Surinder explains firstly what musicology actually means and how it has been misinterpreted in the recent past. He also goes on to exlpain the musicology behind 3 raags and shows how they heal a should. The way he explains Raag Maaj is beautiful..i am not going to describe it any further..go listen to it for yourself.

These lectures are about 90 mins long but I really recommend them PLEASE listen to them.

You need RealPlayer to listen to these lectures.

Hope you enjoy the lectures as much as I did.

Guru Ang Sang!

Angad Singh


February 21, 2006

This picture depects life to me..a long path where the end not in sight you dont know how far or near the end is so you keep going on and on..also you have no idea from where and when some thing might get in your way..and there is no one with you..people come and go its only the hand of god that stays with you.. Posted by Picasa

Some Shabads..

February 16, 2006


I have been listening to some shabads and I wanted to share them with you.

These two shabads were sung by Bhai Narajan Singh in 1991. After a number of years Bhai Sahib has started to sing in Title Raag once again. Most of the kirtan he does now is in title raag. Listen carefully you ll hear a stringed instrument playing in the back ground.

Ramiya Hon Barik Tera – Raag Assa – Bhai Niranjan Singh in 1991

Ram Nam Kau Namaskar – Raag Mali Gaura – Bhai Niranjan Singh in 1991

The 3rd shabad in sung by Bhai Amrik Singh Ji and his jatha. The dilruba can be heard in the background.

Mera Mun Lochey Gur Darshan – Bhai Amrik Singh

These shabads are sung in the Nirdhart Raags and the compositions are very simple and straightforward. This is to give you an idea as to how kirtan can be done in Raags and can yet be very simple.

In addition, if you have read my last post I mention that kirtan should have a slow pace. I believe that the pace of the kirtan is just right.

Hope you enjoy them.

Guru Ang Sang!

Angad Singh

PS. the linkes to the video under the post “A gem I stumbled on” are up and I have taken down the salok mehla 9.

Gur Fateh!Its been quite a while since I have been listening to kirtan done by ragis like Dharam Singh Zakhmi Ji, Bhai Autar Singh, Bhai Balbir Singh Ji. Most of the recordings are live and in the recordings,at times the kirtaneeias mention that they are singing a purtatan reet i.e doing kirtan as it was done in the past. Some of these reets date back to the times of Guru Ram Das Ji.

While listening I wondered what is the significance of purtatan reets. Must kirtan be done only according to purtantan reets? I was grappling with the issue for a while. I asked myself as to what the significance would be. In addition I spoke to Amardeep Ji and Prof. Surinder Singh Ji.

Before I go on to talk of to the Significance of the Puratan Reets, I would like to mention that our gurus instructed us to sing in title raag and in this article where ever I talk about experimentation it is within the Nirdharit Raag.

I realized that puritan reets were just the way kirtan was done in the past and that is part of our heritage. So we have an obligation to preserve as much of it as we can. Now when I talk about preserving our heritage, does it mean we have no room to experiment and come up with our own compositions? NO. The guru sahibs gave us the title raag, they did not mention that we should in dhrupad or khyal etc. So its perfectly ok to make a composition in the title raag.

However, this does not mean we chuck the puratan reets away. The reason for this I believe is that we have already lost a lot of our heritage. For instance, the community is divided over what does GHAR stand for in the Guru Granth Sahib JI( Click here to read more about ghar). Thus we ought to maintain and revive our heritage. Another example would be that we have lost the traditions of sining the 22 vaars in the Shri Guru Granth Sahib. Now the only two vaars that are sung are Assa Di War and Basant Ki Vaar. Even with Assa Di Waar we dont know what Tunde Aas raje Ki Dhune is. It is mentioned in the title so its a commmand to recite the vaar in the dhunie but its lost. Thus me must work to revove our heritage else 50 to 100 yrs down the road people may even start to forget some raags like Maajh that are only present in the Sri Guru Granth Sahib.

The next question I asked myself was that why did these reets get lost? What made them unpopular? The puratan reets are generally set to a slow pace and that is what makes them unpopular. To sing at a slow pace the singer needs to be well trained and must have adequate control over his/her voice. In addition when one sings slow, the sangat also have to tune themselves in. They have to focus and pay attention. They have to make an effort too.

Now why is it that puratan reets were set to a slow pace. When one sings slow, he/she takes his time to say each word out clearly so that the listeners can also catch the words and try to contemplate on the meaning. The nirdharit raag aids in the understanding of the underlying message in the shabads. On the otherhand when kirtan is set to a fast pace. The singer, does not have the luxury of saying each word our clearly. As a result of which the sangat is unable to under the words. Numerous times I have wondered. Is it “Aisee Hoye Pare” or Kaysi hoye pare”, is it “Kaysee Aaarte Hove or Aisee Artee Hove”… The message gets lost and I believe that kirtan loses it purpose then.

At times people when people come out a darbar saying, “the kirtan was very happening!” they are generally referring to the beat and tune not the meaning of the shabad. Remember we can experiment with the beat and the pace but the Shabad has to be the pardhan not the music.

So does this mean kirtan should not be done at a fast pace. We have close to 5500 shabds in the Guru Granth Sahib. In addition we also have the Dasam Granth, Bhai Gurdas Ji’s Vaars and Bhai Nandlal Ji’s bani. There are some shabads which out to envoke battle spirit( bir raas) are to be sung fast. Now if we sing Deh Siva Bar Mohe Hain to a slow pace its not going to invoke Bir Raas. However, if we sing the shabad to a slow pace we will be better able to understand the meaning in the shabads. So depending on what we are trying to achive at that point will determine how the kirtan should be done with regards to the pace/tempo.

Now one may argue that we have the translations so on the projectors (at least here in Singapore we do) so singing fast it ok. All I’d say is that it is one thing to read an interpretation and a totally different thing to realize it for yourself.

Coming back to should we always stick to Puratan reets, what is the significance of these reets. I firmly believe that its perfectly ok to come up with our own compositions, In addition I believe that the puratan reets are a major part of our heritage and if we don’t work to preseve it, who will? When coming with our own composition we much try not to sing too fast, remember we need to drive home the message not the beat and the tune..

So I humbly request you to sit and try to focus the next time a kirtaneea is making an effort to sing slow. Make the effort and you will see the result of that in no time…remember..god takes care of everything but you are the one who has to take the first step.

Bhot Janam Bichrey They Mahdo rendered by Bhai Amrik Singh Zakhmi is a very good example of what I am trying to explain.

To listen to some kirtan done by some of the kiranteeas of today in Nirdhart Raags and at a slow pace:

Bhai Kawarpal Singh

Bhai Gupal Singh

Bhai Rai Singh

Please feel free to share you views.

Amardeep Ji if there is anything that I have mentioned is not correct please correct me or if there is anything you would like to add please do.

Guru Ang Sang Hove!

Angad Singh



February 9, 2006

the salok from Asa Di War by the Nanak II Posted by Picasa


February 8, 2006

Dear All

Gur Fateh!

I am glad to know that people actually are taking a keen interest in Gurmat Sangeet!Over the past two days I have received numerous emails telling me that the links to the videos in my previous post are not working. I believe that the server on which it has been hosted is down. Please check again a few days. If it is still not working please contact me I will try and upload it to google video.

Guru Ang Sang!

Angad Singh

Ps. This is also the reason why some photographs are not loading.

A gem I stumbled upon!

February 5, 2006

Gur Fateh!

I was browsing through and I came across some rare videos( obviously related to gurmatsangeet!). I was absolutely delighted when I saw the videos. However, there were some things I noticed in the video that saddened and scared me.There are 3 videos that I will share with you today. 2 of them are video recordings of Bhai Avtar Singh Ji, 11th generation Kirtaneea doing Kirtan in Canada. And the last one is of a Muslim Rababi Kirtaneea – Bhai Ghulam Mohd. Chand.

In the first two videos there are certain things I would like to point out to you.

The video gives us a chance to see how gurmat sangeet is done in the purtaan maryada. We get an opportunity to see first hand how much of concentration and effort is needed when singing the puratan reets. Puratan reets are those that were sung in the courts of Sikh Gurus. Some reets are said to have been composed and sung by the gurus themselves.

The other thing to note in this video is that playing a tanti saaz( stringed instrument) is not an easy task. It requires a lot of practice and effort. When Bhai Avtar Singh Ji is singing see for yourself the effort that is required. In addition you will notice Bhai Avatr Singh Ji uses the Taos for the Mangla Charan and the 1st Shabad. For the second shabad he uses the Vaja. When I saw this happen I realized that Bhai Sahib is not young anymore! We need to do something about this. Its our heritage if we( Sikhs) dont preserve it who will. However, before I could realize what was happening Nampreet Singh from Canada comes to the stage and picks up the taus and start playing it! I was smiling once again =)

In each of the video there are 2 shabads being sung.

Mehervan Mehervan Sahib Mayra Meheravan – Bhai Avtar Singh Ji – 145MbAisee Preet Gobind Sio Jore – Bhai Avtar Singh Ji – 154 Mb

In the last video Bhai Baldeep Singh Ji ( grand nephew of Bhai Avtar Singh Ji and the person who revived the Taos ) talks about how during his research trips to Pakistan he was fortunate to meet some of the survinging members of the Rababi community. After partition in 1947 they most of them migrated to Pakistan and now they have no source of lively hood. Sikhs dont invite them to do kirtan as they are muslims and not sikhs. However, some of them still sing the guru’s bani.Bhai Ghulam Mohd. Chand. sings a bandish in Dhrupad. I am not too sure what he is singing though. I will not spoil the video for you watch it your self.

Bhai Ghulam Mohd. Chand.

I hope you watch these videos and realize that we are loosing our own heritage everyday. We ought to do something about it.

Guru Ang Sang Hove!

Angad Singh

More Shabads in Basant

February 1, 2006

Gur Fateh Ji

I hope you enjoyed the shabads in Basant Raag. I am adding some more shabads.

Dekh Phool Phool Phooley
Sung by Bhai Avtar Singh ji in a Purtan Basant Bhahar and the taal being played in Chotti/Waddi Teen Taal ( 16 beats)

Basant Chareaa Fooli Banraaey

Sung by Bhai Avtar Singh Ji in Basant Raag and the taal being played is the Panj Taal( 15 beats)

Man Kahan Bisariyo Raam Naam
Sung by Bhai Balbir Singh Ji in Basant Hindol.

Nanak Tina Basant Hai
Sung by Bhai Balbir Singh ji in Basant Mah.

Guru Ang Sang!

Angad Singh