The Gurmatt Sangeet

Gurmat Sangeet is a unique musical tradition of the five centuries-old Sikh religion established and preached by all the Sikh Gurus, from Guru Nanak Sahib, the Founder of Sikhism onwards. With Gurmat Sangeet, the divine message is communicated through Shabad Kirtan. Shabad Kirtan has been made an inseparable part of the Sikh way of life. Kirtan Chauki tradition has been in vogue in the gurdwaras for centuries and the Kirtan tradition in practice on special occasions is an extended form of this tradition. This practical Kirtan tradition is in accordance with the Shabad Guru of Sri Guru Granth Sahib.

The Bani of the Granth Sahib, written and indexed according to the prescribed Raagas, singing forms, music signs/ headings and the other guidelines issued in the Bani, creates original and specific musicology. A scientific approach to music can help in recognising more explicitly the music tradition according to the Guru Granth Sahib.

Such system of music, enshrined in the Holy Guru Granth Sahib is exactly in accordance with the musical tenets established by the Gurus. What came to be known as Gur Shabad Kirtan is a unique confluence of Shabad and Kirtan propounded by the founder of Sikhism, Guru Nanak with the help of divine music emanating from Bhai Mardana's Rabab. This emerged as a unique system in the Indian and world music traditions. In Bani Gur Shabad, Kirtan has been assigned a very prominent status as stated in the following couplet:

Kaljug meh Keertan Pardhaanaa.

Gurnlukh Japee-ai Laa-e D1liuanaa
(Sri Guru Granth Sahib, Page 1075)

Har Keerat Kaljug pad uttam
har paaiai satgur maajhaa

(Sri Guru Granth Sahib, Page 697)

The Guru Granth Sahib contains Bani of the Gurus in addition to the Bani of contemporary and earlier Saints and Bhagats. The classification of Bani according to Raags makes it clear that the Bani is written in accordance with a particular system as conceived by Guru Arjun Dev the fifth Guru while compiling and editing the Guru Granth Sahib. Beside the Raagas, different classical and folk singing styles, Rahaao and other music signs are those elements of the Gurmat music system which always remain active due to their original musical characteristics and for the presentation of Shabad Kirtan. The Bani under Shabad Kirtan is to be sung according to the prescribed raags, raaga forms, singing styles, music sings, Rahaao, Ank (digit) and so on. Different music elements which discipline Shabad Kirtan, can be known by an independent systematic discussion about them and its functional aspect may become more clear by systematic thought.

The Raaga: The entire Bani of the holy Sri Guru Granth Sahib has been classified under 31 Raagas and 31 different Raaga forms (Parkaars) thus making a total of 62.

Raaga references on the Gurbani as headings are a clear indication for singing any piece of Gurbani according to the prescribed Raaga and that has been ordained in Sikh tradition and fundamentals. Importance of the Raagas has been stated as follows:

Sabhnaan raagaan wich so bhalla
bhaaee jit wasiaa man aaee.
(Sri Guru Granth Sahib, Page 1423)

Dhan su raag surangrhe 
aalaapat sabh tikh jaae.
(Sri Guru Granth Sahib, Page 958)

Gunh govind gaavah sabh harijan 
raag ratan rasnaa aalaap.
(Sri Guru Granth Sahib, Page 821)

Under the Gurmat Sangeet tradition, Raagas are in propagation with their original melodic forms. Sikh musicians, uninfluenced by the changes in Shudh Thaat notes as Bilawal scales from Kafi scale, kept the traditional purity of Gurmat Sangeet in practical form. As a sequel, a tradition which is more than 500 years old, remains very much in existence as the Sikh musical tradition. These original Raaga forms of Gurmat Sangeet are a unique contribution to Indian music's Raaga tradition.

These Raagas (31 Main and 31 Raaga forms) are Shudh (Siree, Maajh, Gaorhee, Aasaa, Dhanaasree, Soohee, Maaroo, Tookharee, Parbhaatee etc.) Chhayalag (nine Raaga forms of Gaorhee and Aasa Kaafe, Tilang Kafee, Soohee Lalit, Bilawat Mangal, Parbhatee Bibhaas etc.), admixture of two Raagas or including the melodic reflection of any other Raaga, and Sankeeran (Gaorhee, Poorbee, Deepkee), combination of more than two Raagas. Originality of seasonal (Malhaar Basant etc.) and regional (Maajh Aasaa, Tookharee etc) Raagas under Raag forms is another important feature of the Gurmat Sangeet System. With a view to disseminate the divine message to the people, Guru Nanak Sahib toured different places. These travels of Guru Nanak are popularly known as Udasis. During these long travellings (udasis) Guru Nanak Sahib used Raagas belonging to local tradition to propagate his message, of which the Deccani Raaga (Gaorhee Dakhnee, Wadhans Dakhnee, Bilwal Dakhnee, Raawklee Dakhnee, Maaroo Dakhnee, Parbhatee Dakhnee) tradition deserves special mention. Dakhani in word in the Sri Guru Granth indicates the southern music system. In Gurbani, the Raaga Dhyana (Sri Guru Granth Sahib, Page 83, 585, 791, 849, 950, 1027, 1285, 1419, 1425 etc.) of some Raagas have been given with a view to express the nature of different Raagas in their spiritual context according to the Gurmat.

Singing Styles: Bani has different headings alongwith Raagas such as Ashtpadian, Chaupade, Ghorian, Alahllian, Vnnr and the others in the Guru Granth Sahib. Under the Bani arrangement, these forms not only assume poetical forms but specific singing styles and music forms also which have a particular technique. The Gurus have not only used different classical and folk music forms in Buni but these have also been used in conformity with the Gurmat musical system which is based on elements of music like Raagn, Rahaao, Ank and other musical singes. Under this system, classical musical forms have been liberated from the rigorous discipline of the art of music and given an equipoise(Sehaj) by conforming it to the spirit of the Sikh musical system. Similarly spontaneous freedom of folk forms has been given the specific discipline of Gurmat Sangeet.

The Guru Granth Sahib contains Ashtpadi and Partal of classical music and Vaar, Chhand, Ghorian and Alahunian of folk music. Vaar (ballad) singing style has a special place in the folk music. In the Guru Granth Sahib different Vaars under different Raagas have been given a heading of traditional folk musical tunes.

Ank (Digit): In the Guru Granth Sahib, the digits have been marked at different places viz, 1,2,3,4.. etc. as Ank. In addition to the signs like Rahaao, the Bani has been divided through different digits. The line ending with digits (Ank) in a Shabad, provides serial to a Shabad unit. While being helpful in its systematic presentation, it also helps in understanding its meanings. In the presentation of Shabad Kirtan, Rahaao which contains the central idea of the shabad is to be sung as Sthaaee in the beginning and after everv Antra to make the spirit of the Shabad more explicit. The lines containing different similes, illustrations and reasoning etc. are also directed through different digits (Ank). These have to be sung in the fOrIn of Antrus.

Rahaao: Under the Gur Shabad Kirtan tradition, Rahaao has a central and important place. In Rahaao the shabad has its central idea which is to get activated as a centripetal force in the presentation of the Shahad. Literally, Rahaao indicates pause, rest or to be stable (Sahitya Kosh Paribhashik Shabddawali Page 871). In the medieval period system, Prabandha and Dhrupad singing style has one element, Dhruv which is known as Achal. The other name of Dhruv is Rahaao which has been used for singing of Bani. Medieval saints and bhagats or poets have also used Dhruv or 'Tek' for 'Rahaao' in their literary creations. In their works the first couplet is of Tek or Rahaao, while in Gurbani, Rahaao follows the first line or couplet of the Shabad with the mark Rahaao. The particular digits are also found to indicate the number of Rahaao. In certain Shabads, l Rahaao (ik Rahaao), 2 Rahaao (Do Rahaao), Guru Granth Sahib, Page 26-26, Rahaao (Tin Rahaao), 3 Guru Granth Sahib, Page 154, 4 Rahaao (Chaar Rahaao), Guru Granth Sahib, Page 96-97, 899 are also seen.

Under the Gurmat Sangeet Shabad Keertan, Rahaao is taken as Sthaaee and the tradition is to sing it repeatedly after every Antru because the Rahaao line has the central idea of the Shabad while the Antra line resolves the problem by giving argument and evidence. When the problem is resolved and there is a change in thought the Rnhaao line also undergoes a change. If a Shabad has more than one Rahaao the second Rahaao line gets activated after the change in thought of the Shabad. The singing process of Rahaao in a Shabad is as follows:

According to the prescribed recitation system, Rahnno in a Shabad through the repeated singing of its line, is helpful in bringing forth the central idea and confirms the idea and increases its intensity. Rahaao is the central force in a Shabad which is active in the inner texture of the Shabad.

Ghar: Under the Gurmat Sangeet system in addition to the above function of Rahaao, there are other musical signs. In the Guru Granth Sahib for the recitation of Gurmat Sangeet, the next musical sign is that of Ghar. It is written as Ghar ek, Ghar do, Ghar tin. Total number of Ghars in the Guru Granth Sahib is seventeen. Scholars have different views about the concept of Ghar. According to Bhai Kahan Singh Nabha (Gur Shabad Ratnakar Mahan Kosh, Page 441) Ghar has two meanings: a Tala or a kind of Tal, Swar and kinds of Murchanna. According to Bhai Vir Singh, "There are three grams in musical instruments. Grams is constituted of Ghar. So Ghars are based on notes of these three Grams. Ghar indicates the prominent note of the Raaga being sung." (Guru Granth Kosh, Page 302). Majority of the music scholars take Ghar as Tala. This tradition of scholars seems to be influenced by the Persian Tala system where different Gala forms are addressed as Ek Gah, Do Gah, Sih Gah, and Chahar Gah. (Shabadarth Sri Guru Granth Sahib Pothi Pahli S.G.P.C., Page 74) Therefore, it is possible that the Gurus also used Ghar to indicate Tala. It is accepted under the Persian music tradition that Amir Khusro invented 17 Taalas which are almost identical to Hindustani Talas and came to be used in India alongwith Persian names. (Nibandh Sangoot Edi. Lakshmi Narain Garg, Page 557-558) Majority of the scholars accept Ghar as Tala though Ghar is not more in vogue due to fixed scale and time difference. Even then under the Gurbani musical system, Ghar is clearly indicated as a musical sign.

Jati: The heading Jati under Raaga Bilawal is indicated as Bilawal Mahala 1 Thiti Ghar 10 (Sri Guru Granth Sahib, Page 838) Under Indian musical system it is used as Jati. It means stages of rest in continuous tempo. In this regard Bhai Kahan Singh Nabha writes, "Concept of Music is Jati. " (Gur Shabad Ratnakaar Mahan Kosh, Page 502). Dr. Charan Singh wrote in the Guru Granth Bani Beura "Jai, Gat Sath".

4th Rahaaoo/Sthaaee
4th Ank/Antra

3rd Rahaao/Sthaaee
3rd Ank/Antra

2nd Rahaao/Sthaaee
2nd Ank/Anthra

1st Rahaao/Sthaaee
1st Ank/Antra
1st Rahaao/Sthaaee

All the three are combined functions (Kartab) of jorhi (Tabla), while the right hand acts as Gat. When both hands are free and the voice also comes out freely, it is called Karkat, means Sath [Sahib Singh (Prof.) Shri Guru Granth Sahib darshan (Pothi Six) Page 229]. Similarly, Jati is related to playing Gat on Jorhi (Tabla).

The above views make it clear that in medieval times, the Band Bol of Tabla were in vogue. Bhai Kahan Singh Nabha's view in this regard seems appropriate. Contemporary musicians define Jati as "when the right hand plays Khulla Bol on Jorhi and left hand plays on Band Bol, such a rhythmic process is called Jati. It is clear from the heading as mentioned in the Guru Granth Sahib that this hymn in Raaga Bilawal is to be sung in the modulation of Ghar 10, with the specific pauses in Jati style and the poetic form/singing style is Thiti.

Dhunee/Dhuni: Out of 22 Vaaras included in the Sri Guru Granth Sahib, 9 have different Dhuni headings. These Dhuni signs indicate the special basis for singing tunes. The headings of Dhunies are as follows

  • Vaar maajh kee tathaa salok mahalaa 1 malik mureed tathaa rhandarharhaa sohee-e kee dhunee gaasnhee. (Page 137)
  • Gaouri kee vaar mahalaa 5 raa-e kamaaldee moidee kee vaar dhun upar gasnhee. (Page 318)
  • Aasaa mahalaa 1 vaar salokaa naal salok bhee mahale pahile ke likhe tunde us raajai kee dhullee. (Page 862)
  • Goojree kee vaar mahalaa 3 Sikandar biraahim kee vaar kee dhunee gaavanhee. (Page 508)
  • Wadhans kee vaar mahalaa 4 Laila behleemaa kee dhunee gaavnhee. (Page 585)
  • Raamkalee kee vaar mahalaa 3 Jodhe weerei poorbaahee kee dht(nee. (Page 847)
  • Saarang kee vaar mahalaa 4 Raae mahime has7le kee dhunev. (Page 1237)
  • Vaar malhaar kee mallalaa 1 Raanhe kailaas tathaa maalde kee dhuee. (Page 1278)
  • Kaanrhe kee vaar mahalaa 4 Moose kee vaar kee dhlolee. (Page 1312)

These Dhuni headings are the special features of ballad singing style sung on the heroic deeds of the warriors of Northern India. In addition to their importance for Gurbani, it has great significance for the Hindustani Music. These headings also provide a new formulation for the division Of Indian Music into Hindustani and Karnatic systems. In the landscape of Northern Indian Music tradition, the Punjabi tradition emeges as a central source.

The above mentioned musical signs, in combination with Raagas and music forms, create a special tradition for the Shabad Kirtan tradition which is clearly based on the prescribed system of Hani in the Guru Granth Sahib.

Process of Shabad Kirtan: The process of shabad kirtan's singing/presentation, in the light of the above musical elements and music tradition as enshrined in the Guru Granth Sahib is as follows: Shabad has the basic importance in the Kirtan tradition. The basic purpose of Shabad Kirtan is to imbibe the light of the Shabad into the human mind. Under Gurbani, truth is as the central point. Rahaao lines are to be sung first as they form the central spiritual point of the Shabad. Under their specified musical forms of classical and folk traditions, Rahaao lines are to be sung as Sthaaee and other lines are to be sung as Antras after dividing them in the light of the given tips.

EK ONKAAR SATGUR PARSAAD
MAAJH MAHALAA 5 CHAOPADE GHAR 1

Meraa maM lochal gur darshan taaee.
Bilap kare chatrik kee niaaee.

Trikhaa na utrai saant na aavai bin darsan sant piaare jeeo.l
Trikhaa na utrai saant na aavai bin darsan sant piaare jeco.l

Hao gholee jeeo ghol ghumaaee gurdarsan sant piaare jeeo. 1 Rahaao

Teraa mukh suhaavaa jeeo sah dhun baanhee. Chir hoaa dekhe saaringpaanhee. 
Dhan su des jahaa toon vasiaa meet muraare jeeo. 2

Hao gholee hao ghol ghumaaee gur sajan meet mumare jeeo. 1 Rhaao

Ik gharhee na milte taa kaljug hotaa.

Hun kad mileeal pria tudh bhagvantaa.

Moh rainh na vihaavai need na aaval bin dekhe gurdarbaare jeeo. 3

Hao gholee jeeo ghol ghumaaee tis sache gur darbaare jeeo. 1 Rahaao

Bhaag hoaa gur sant milaa-i-aa. Prabh abinaasee ghar mah paa-i-aa.

Sev karee pal chasaa na vichhrhaa jan Naanak dass tumare Jeeo. 4

Hao gholee jeeo ghol ghumaaee jan Nanak daas tumaare jevo. Rahaao 1

(Sri Guru Granth Sahib, Page-96)

In the above Shabad, the Keertan process begins by making the first Rahaao as Sthaaee in which the Guru says:

Rahaa l.(First Sathaaee): Hao gholee ieeo ghol ghlenlnave gurdarsan sant piaare jeeo.l. Rahaao. (I am a sacrifice, and my soul, I sacrifice unto the sight of the Guru, the dear.1.)

Ank (Digit) 1. (First Antraa ): Meraa man lochai gur darsan taaee. Bilap kare chatrik kee niaaee. Trikhaa na utral saant na aaval bin darsan sant piaare jeso. I. (My soul longs for a sight of the Guru. It bewails like a piedcuckoo; my thirst is not quenched, nor peace I find without the sight of the dear Guru saint.1)

Rahaao l.(First Sathaaee): Hao gholee jeeo ghol ghljmaaee gurdarsan sant piaare jeeo. 1. Rahaao. (I am a sacrifice, and my soul, I sacrifice unto the sight of the Guru, and dear 1).

Ank2.(Second Antraa) Teraa mukh suhaavaa jevosa dh baanhee. Chir hoaa dekhe saaringpaa1lhee. Dhan su des ja11an toon vasiaa mere sajanh meet muraare jeeo. 2. (Thy face is beautiful and the sound of Thine \Vords imparts Divine knowledge. It is long since the sparrow havsTk has had a glimpse of water. Blessed is the land where Thou lives, 'O' venerable Divine Guru, my friend and intimate.2).

Rahaao,2. (Second Sathaaoo): Hao gholee hao ghol ghumaaee gur sajan meet muraare jeeo.l. Rahaao. (I am devoted, I am devoted unto the honourable, Godlv Guru, my friend and inhmate. 1).

Ank 3.(Third Antra): Ik gharhee na milte taa kaljug hotaa. Hun kad mileeal pria tudh bhagvantaa. Moh rainh na vihaavai need na aaval bin dekhe gurdarbaare jeeo.3. (Should I meet Thee not even for a moment, it amounts to the dark age, When shall I now meet Thee, 'O' my beloved auspicious Lord? I cannot pas the night and sleep comes not to me, mzithout beholding the Guru's Court.3).

Rahaao 3.(Third Sathaaee): Hao gholee jeeo ghol ghu11lnQee tis sache gur darbaare jeeo. 1. Rahaao. (I am a sacrifice, nnd I sacrifice my soul unto that True quart of the venerahle Guru. 1).

Ank 4.(Fourth Antraa): Bhaag hoaa gur sant milaa-i-aa. Prabh abinaasee ghar mah paa-i-aa. Sev karee pal chasaa na vichhrhaa jan Naanak dass jeeo.4. (It is my good fortune to have met the saintly Guru. The immortal Lord, I have found in my own home. I will now serve Thee and even for a trice and a moment will not separate from Thee Servant Nanak is a serf or Thine, O' reverned Master! 4).

Rahaao 4.(Fourth Sathaaee): Hao gholee jeco ghol ghumaaee jan Nanak daas tumaare jeso. Rahaao. 1. (I am devoted, and my soul is devoted unto thee, servant Nanak is a slave of Thine).

In the above Shabad Guru Arjun Dev is yearning for darshan (sight) of the saintly Guru and is expressing different psychological states in terms of separation. Four Rahaao lines with four different Rahaao 4 Ank / Digit (1,2,3,4) signs are being changed with directions as indicated in the Shabad after every Antra line; that is why the Shabad Kirtan process will be as follows:

	First Rahaao First Antra	First Rahaao

	First Rahaao Second Antra	Second Rahaao

	Second Rahaao Third Antra	Third Rahaao

	Third Rahaao Fourth Antra	Fourth Rahaao

Kirtaniaa/Kirtankaar: In the Guru Granth Sahib not only are musical elements and units determined but there are also many directions for the musician and presentation of Kirtan; the Guru says:

Bhalo Bhalo Re Keertaneea
Raam Ramaa Raamaa Gun Gaao
Chhod Maya kai Dhand Suaao
(Sri Guru Granth Sahib, Page 885)

According to the above couplet, the musician's ideal is Kirtan shorn of any greed and ego. The Kirtaniaa is not to show off his ego, but he is to render Kirtan with humility.

Ik gaavat rahe man saad naa paae. Haome wich gaavah birthaa jaae. (Sri Guru Granth Sahib, Page 158) (Some go on singing, but their mind deri-ves no solace. In pride, they sing and all goes in vain.)

The singer's heart is full of gratefulness, and he performs Kirtan by freeing himself from all ego and with a feeling of submission for the praise of God. Kirtan performed with the above feeling only is in accordance with Gur Shabad Kirtan tradition. Only by following this technique of recitation, the truth of the Shabad can be experienced.

Kirtan Chaukies: Original kirtan chauki tradition of Gurmat Sangeet was started from the time of Guru Nanak Sahib, developed and propagated by all the Sikh Gurus. Sri Darbar Sahib Harmandir Sahib (The Golden Temple) has a unique Kirtan tradition in the form of different keertan chaukees, such as:

  • Tinpaher dee keertan chaukee
  • Aasaa dee var di chaukee
  • Bilawal dee chaukee
  • Anand dee chaukee
  • Charn kamal dee chaukee
  • Sodar dee chaukee
  • Aartee or kaliaan
  • Kalyan's chaukee
  • Kaanrhaa or keertan sohile dee chaukee
Besides these chaukies, determined according to Raaga and time, there is a particular Kirtan tradition for different occasions, festivals and ceremonies. Singing of Raagas according to different weather and seasons creates particular Kirtan Chaukies. Apart from these Sahad Kirtan Chaukis, Kirtan in folk style, Vaaran da Kirtan and chauki sahib's Kirtan also deserve special mention. Vaar Kirtan performed at the holy Darbar Sahib since the times of the 6th Guru and the singing of Vaar (Ballads) by the Dhadis, also forms a characteristic part of Sikh Music.

Kirtan Instruments: The Gurus while creating the above Kirtan tradition not only started different Kirtan Chaukees in functional from but also chose special musical instruments. Playing on the Rahab by Bhai Mardana during Guru Nanak's time, Siranda during the times of Guru Amar Dass and Guru Ram Dass, Siranda and Israj during the period of Guru Arjan Dev, Taus and DhadSarangi for Vaar singing during the period of 6th Guru, Mirdang during the ninth Guru's time, Tanpura during Guru Gobind Singh's time, were particular which explicity proves the use of special musical instruments. The use of special musical instruments in vogue was also done in an original way. The use of those 'Tanti (stringed) instruments are especially useful for purity of notes, of the Raaga and traditional excellence of the Gur Shabad Kirtan.

Kirtan Centres: In development of the great original tradition, the Gurus beginning with Guru Nanak Sahib along with Sangat (congregation) set up some Kirtan centres where musicians (performers of Kirtan) practically and fractionally developed such tradition. Sikh history bears testimony to the fact that after the second Udasi, Guru Nanak Sahib set up the Sikh Dharamsal (Gurdawara) as an institution where the tradition of Kirtan started by the Guru was specially reiterated. Historical references make it clear that Gurbani was sung twice a day, in the morning and in the evening at Kartarpur.

Sodaru Aartee Gavveeai Amrit Vele Japa Uchaaraa (Bhai Gurdas, Vaar 1, Paurhi 38)

At this place, first by making Bhai Mardana stay on, Guru Nanak proceeded on his third udasi. Bhai Mardana continued to perform Guru Nanak Bani's Kirtan. After Bhai Mardana's passing away, his son Bhai Sajada (Sehjad) used to sing in the Guru's abode. Hence Kartarpur emerged as the first centre of Gurmat Sangeet. In addition, Guru Angad Dev founded Khadoor Sahib and continued with the Kartarpuri standard tradition. Besides Bhai Sehjad, Bhai Saddu Baddu were the famous Rababis at the Guru's abode. Guru Amardas founded Goindwal as a special centre for the propagation of Sikhism, 22 Manjies (Seats) were founded where as Sikh traditions and Sikh ways of life were propagated in different areas. Gurmat Sangeet was also popularised among the Sikh congregations . Bhai Deepa, Bhai Pandha, Bhai Bhula were the famous Kirtaanias of the Guru's period. After Guru Amardas, Guru Ramdas laid the foundation of Chak-Ram Das Pura, which later became famous as Amritsar. Satta and Balwand were the famous Kirtanias of Guru Ram Das's time. Here singing of Asa Di Vaar in the morning, Sodar in the evening and Arti at night, remained in practice. By the time of Guru Ram Das, the Shabad Kirtan tradition of Gurmat Sangeet was fully developed and established under which a unique singing style like Partal came to be practised, not found in any other musical tradition.

The Fifth Guru, Arjan Dev Sahib had the onerous responsibility of developing Gurmat Sangeet tradition on a firm footing. By this time the Harmandir had been founded at Amritsar where continuous singing of Shabad Kirtan Dhuni was performed by different Chaukies. At this Centre of Guru Arjan Dev, where Rababi Kirtan Tradition emerged in a distinctive form, common Sikhs were also encouraged to perform Kirtan which is illustrated by the Satta Balwand story of getting annoyed with the Guru. At this time, besides professional Rababis, amateur Shabad Kirtan by Sikh sangat tradition also came into being. After Guru Arjan Dev, Guru Hargobind introduced Vaar music by Dhadies along with Kirtan. Guru Har Rai and Guru Har Krishan Sahib further propagated Gurmat Sangeet tradition. Anandpur Sahib was founded by Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib where he made the traditional Kirtan an inseparable part of practical tradition. Bhai Saddu and Maddu were the famous Kirtan performers at this great Sikh centre.

From the period of the Gurus, the same technique of training and propagation of Gurmat Sangeet has continued. According to one tradition, Rababi Kirtan performers continued to impart training on individual basis and with professional efficiency. As a result, different Rabab players and their progeny continued to perform Gurmat Sangeet, using the art of music. This tradition was in no way inferior to the contemporary tradition of the Mughal Court. In the world of music, these Rabab performers of the House of the Guru were recognised as Babe Ke. On the other hand, court musicians were known as Babur Ke. Babe Ke held a respectable place among the contemporary musicians because of their association with spiritual music traditions. This tradition of Rababi kirtankars continues till this day. Their particular style of singing and their perfection of Gurbani recitation successfully helps in differentiating their style. Many Kirtan performers became famous as a result of the amateur Kirtan tradition started during Guru Arjun's time. These Rabab performers who were recognised in comparison to the professionals, used to get their training from such musicians who were conforming to Guru's tradition and were well associated with the principles and practices of Gurmat Sangeet. Of these famous Kirtan performers of the Guru period Bhai Deepa, Bhulla, Narain Das, Pandha, Ugrsain, Nagori Mal, Bhai Ramu, Jhaju, Mukand are better known. Under the Gurmat Sangeet training tradition, where Rababis had family traditions, the amateur Kirtan performers had institutional traditions. Though historical sources of the contemporary taksals (institutions) are not available, their functioning at different places bear testimony to the fact that the seeds of this tradition were there in the Guru's period.

In the contemporary Gurmat Sangeet tradition, some taksals and institutions are as follows:

  • Damdama Sahib, Taksal
  • Budha Jor Taksal
  • Mastuana Taksal
  • Taran Taran Taksal
  • Damdami Taksal
  • Daudher Taksal
  • Singhwala Taksal
  • Hargana Taksal
  • Sewa Panthi Taksal
  • Dumali Taksal
  • Kleran Wala Taksal
  • Gurmat Vidyalya Rakabganj Taksal
  • Yateem Khana, Amritsar
  • Sourma Ashram, Amritsar
  • Jawadhi Kalan Taksal
  • Gurmat Sangeet Study Circle, Punjab
  • Gurmat Sangeet Academy, Punjab
  • Gurmat Sangeet Society, Patiala
  • Amrit Kirtan Trust, Chandigarh
  • Gurmat Sangeet Society, Chandigarh
  • Punjabi University, Patiala
  • Gurmat College, Patiala
  • Gurmat Sangeet Academy, Anandpur Sahib
  • Sikh Missionary College, Amritsar (S.G.P.C.)
  • Sikh Missionary College, Damdama Sahib (S.G.P.C.)
  • Gurmat College Delhi Gurdwara Management, and others

Sikh Music Literature: Since the beginning of the 18th century, many a scholar had composed shabad kirtan compositions in music notaions. This parallels the efforts made in the arena of Hindustani music. Beside this practical performance on record, many scholars have contributed to the establishment of Gurmat Sangeet theory as well.

In the contemporary world of Sikh music, Gur Shabad Kirtan tradition, as founded by the Gurus and developed by the Sikh Panth, has established itself as an independent and original identity. This tradition of Gurmat Sangeet prescribed in the holy Guru Granth Sahib can be termed as Sikh Musicology. In order to understand the Gurmat Sangeet tradition as directed and determined by the Gurus, such Kirtan is to be performed in a particular Raaga according to the established tradition.


BIBLIOGRAPHY

  1. Dr. Gurnam Singh Punjabi University, patiala Acknowledgement: Amrit Kirtan, Chandigarh. Nishaan II/2001