Kalyaan Bandish!

July 14, 2008


Gurmat Sangeet – it is the  singing the hyms of the Sri Guru Granth Sahib and other sikh scriptures as per the order of the Guru.

Before a shabad ( hym) starts its title states the raag and we ought to sing that hym only in that raag. Though today there are very few who follow this tradition and sing their own tunes, often popular movie tunes. There are 60 raags in the guru granth sahib ji. 31 main and 30 mixed raags. Raags like Sri, Malhaar, Kalyaan, Basant are taken from Indian Classical Music. In addition, there are number of raags that have been created by guru sahibs themselves. examples of this are Majh, Asa, Gond Jaijaiwanti and many other mixed raags likeAsa Aasawari etc. Jaijaiwanti is now often sung in the indian classical setting as well.

The style of singing varies from Dhrupad and Khyal which are very classical in nature and require intensive training to the simpler folk styles of singing known as Ghoriya ( sung at the time of weddings) , Alhaniya ( sung at times of death)etc..there are also 22 ballads in the Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji and all of them have to be sung in a particular tune or “dhun – nee”. In addition, there are some shabads to be sung according to carnatic style and they are indicated as DHAKNI…unfortunately a lot of this style of singing is now lost cause over the past 80 yrs or so kirtaneeas began to sing wht they wanted rather than singing what the guru wanted them to. This happened around the time when the Harmonium was introduced into the Sikh Music circles.

The main difference between Indian Classical Music and Gurmat Sangeet is that Indian Classical Music is centered on the singer and his/her ability thus you will hear a lot of Alaaps and Taans ( vocal acrobatics) while Gurmat Sangeet is centered on the  Shabad ( hym) and any alaaps and taans that are there are few in number and are added just to lay stress on certian words of the hym or to beautify the composition.

Moving on to instruments…In order to suit the style of singing some instruments were used that were already there while others were created. The Rabab was already there. The Saranda was invented by the 5th Guru sahib and the Taus by either 6th or 10th Guru sahib…we are unsure about who invented the instrument. The sarangi was already there and was apparently brought in to sing the ballads mentioned in the Sri Guru Granth Sahib ji. However, according to some scholars the sarangi is not allowed inside the inner santium of the harimander sahib as it has the ability to over power the singer. The Jori, sikh style pakawaj was also invented during these times.  Finally about 250 to 300 yrs ago the dilruba was invented.

Today, thanks to organizations like Raj Academy and individuals all over the world the instruments of the guru’s are being strung once again and the raags of the guru are being sung once again!

For audio lectures go to the raj academy site and listen to the lectures..there are 4 lectures if i am not wrong. In addition, there are numerous articles talking in depth about the various aspects of Gurmat Sangeet. Finally, you can go to my blog www.singhangad.wordpress.com on the left hand you will find some more articles on gurmat sangeet as well as links to some recordings.

Hope this helps!

Angad Singh