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Gurmat Sangeet Maryada in Jeopardy

Discussion in 'Gurmat Sangeet' started by Neutral Singh, Dec 17, 2005.

  1. Neutral Singh

    Neutral Singh
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    Jun 1, 2004
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    To The Sounds Of Anandpur By Bahadur Singh
    Sunday, February 22, 2004 - 01:31 PM EST

    There is this somehow strange idea going through peoples' minds that keertan with harmonium or vaja is allowed and that it is the normal form of keertan.

    There is also this other idea that devotion is more important than the music itself and that the music is just there to carry the message.

    Keertan performed with classical Hindustani Sangeet instruments, such as the sitar, sarod, rabab, santur, taus, dilruba, pakhawaj, is a rare experience. It is indeed sad to see how people have become engrossed in keertan played in the most vulgar forms, now even with cheap electronic keyboards. People who complain about this state of things and who demand, and it is their right as Sikhs, to have keertan performed according to Keertan Maryada are viewed as elitists who want to impose their aesthetics on Gurmat.

    If devotion is the only important aspect of keertan, why then did the Gurus compose the bani in raags? If the message is more important than the form, then why use music? Can't people get the message just by reading Gurbani?

    The reason that keertan is important is that the genius of our Gurus recognised the importance and spiritual value of raags. Raags are the musical scales of classical Hindustani Sangeet. There are a few thousand of them. Raag means colour - it colours the mind. The Shri Guru Granth Sahib contains thirty-one raags, some of which can only be found in the compositions of our Gurus. To each raag is ascribed an aesthetic emotion, called rus, juice or essence, which itself is linked to a set of basic emotions, bhaav.

    The aim of the raag is to lead the listener to a very sublime emotion and become one with it. The genius of Gurbani keertan lies exactly here. One may find two banis that look similar when it comes to the text but are completely different from each other because of the individual raag they are set in. It is the raag that distinguishes one bani from another. More, the music is not just there to carry the message, it is part of the message. Without the raag the bani has no soul. It is only text. The raag enables the soul to grasp the very emotion of the bani where words can't go; the raag is the key to the bani enabling intuitive communion with it.

    It is, therefore, a fatal error to disrespect the raags of the Shri Guru Granth Sahib. In fact, Gurbani can be viewed as the result of innumerable permutations between japji Sahib, which is pure text and is never sung, and Raagmala (a purely aesthetic composition). Ignoring this fact is an insult to the mystical and aesthetic genius of our Gurus. Our Gurus had elitist taste but they wanted even the farmer to enjoy elitist culture as well!

    One needs to understand that raags can only be properly played with classical Hindustani instruments. Western wind or string instruments may be added, but with reservations. Why? Because the Indian musical scale has twenty-four shrutis or ¼ tones - very subtle musical units - whereas the Western scale only has 12 ½ tones. Because of the way they are built, Western instruments are not able to fit into Hindustani Sangeet with the exception of the violin, the guitar and the flute.

    The other criteria for an instrument, even Indian, to be accepted into classical Hindustani Sangeet is that the instrument be able to imitate the alamkaars, or ornaments, of the voice - such as meend (a type of glissando). The violin, guitar and flute can do this to some extent but the harmonium is totally incapable of it. The harmonium is a keyboard and cannot play shrutis, or, therefore, alamkaars. It's monotonous sound and lack of legato makes it the most unsuitable instrument for shabad keertan.

    How did we Sikhs start using the harmonium?

    Christian missionaries brought the harmonium to India and made its use popular amongst the masses. Classical Hindustani Sangeet demands years of devoted training for someone to be a good performer whereas the harmonium can be played very easily by anyone within a few hours. Out of laziness, a growing number of raagis started using the harmonium with the disastrous consequence that proper keertan has become rare. Raags themselves have started to be ignored by people. The idea that only devotion counts in keertan is an influence of Protestant Christianity in Sikhi.

    It is about time we Sikhs wake up and realise that our Gurus gave us a distinctive musical system for Gurbani. We should educate our children in classical Hindustani Sangeet without the use of harmonium. So that every sangat in every Gurudwara resounds like the Darbar of Guru Gobind Singh in Anandpur where keertan was played only in raags. It then filled the Sikhs' heart with joy and brought them nearer to Vaheguru, the Beloved One. May it do so now.
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  3. Guglani

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    Dec 28, 2006
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    In this respect i here quote a beutiful poem by chrismooney singh.I also long for that there are more more listners for gurbani kirtan in raagas.http://www.geocities.com/sydney_sikhi/Poems/poems.html
    Inside Harimandir, 1854 (a painting, by William Carpenter)
    Come and sit at the navel of the earth,
    The birth-place of the Adi-Granth.
    See winter shawls, each down-flowing turban.
    The sangat listening; the four doors are open.
    Rababi art expounds the Guru's Word,
    Praise of the Name ascending like a bird.
    Hope is fluttering; time has no end
    As longing flies to meet the beloved Friend.
    The rababi plucks his round-bodied saj -
    It's face of goat-skin, the neck - long and large
    Resonating deeply - the six taut strings
    Tuned to the Sound that the cosmos sings.
    How rabaab vibrates within the soul
    No one can say exactly. The whole
    Of the Nam of Nanak is heard within
    Plucking heart-strings and praising the One.
    The seva of kirtan began with Mardana;
    His descendents maintained the rababi gharana.
    Generations have sung since the Guru's day.
    Walls dissolve when their instruments play.
    Some could sing the rain from a raga,
    Through shabad's power and sur sadhana.
    The science of song only rare ones hold,
    Passed from Guru Nanak like precious gold.
    Kirtan is the bone-marrow of this place -
    Its golden walls and upper-vaulted space.
    The Lord is Sound: the Resonance lives on
    At Hari Mandir Sahib, the Temple of Song.
    A mother and child have had their darshan;
    Sparrows come and go, the doors are open.
    The scene's the same as the painter once saw:
    Worship through music sits humbly on the floor.
    Chris Mooney Singh
  4. Gyani Jarnail Singh

    Gyani Jarnail Singh Malaysia
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    Sawa lakh se EK larraoan
    Mentor Writer SPNer Contributor

    Jul 4, 2004
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    As i have noticed...our Kaum's backslide is contributed by our "turning of backs" ( Pitthh denee)towards...

    1.GURMUKHI as most vital part of learnign Gurbani/Gurmatt - other languages are OK..BUT the Essential Essence of Gurbani is in GURMUKHI. WE must try and figure out WHY GURU Nnak ji turned away from the many established and popular languages already prevalent at His time..sanskrit/hindi in devnagri script/persian farsee/arabic/brij bhasha/ and the southern languages of kannada/tamil/ and the eastern ones of Bengali/ marathi etc etc..and instead chose to write Gurbani in GURMUKHI ( an improved version of Landeh).....and then we will realise why the SGGS must be learnt and studied in its ORIGINAL SCRIPT and Language. Its difficult..time consuming..Gurmukhi ahs not much economic advantages..yes yes yes...BUT the GURU is much more important than all those ??yes !!
    2. We also turned our backs on GURMAT SANGEET...and turned to the vaja....the instrument used by street beggars/travelling salesmen/gypsies...and in houses of ill repute for mujra etc. Then we furtehr added insult to injury by DISTORTING the Origianl Rags of SGGS by introducing Hindi FILM TUNES into Shabad Kirtan.... and some are into commercilisation of even this by COPYRIGHTING GURBANI KIRTAN/KATHAS. What a shame..Guru Ji GAVE us this treasure FREE..we sell it for profit.
    Christians give their religious literature for free..we sell ours and have copyrights...
    3. Recently a most dear friend bought and sent me the latest DVD/CD set by Prof Surinder Singh of RAAJ ACADEMY... "THE PARTAAL.. a tribute to Guru ramdass Ji..inventor of the PARTAAL ." This DVD is Priceless ( even though out of necessity it does have a street price in British pounds sterling ). I missed out on personally seeing Prof Surinder Singh ji when he visited malaysia some time back....but i bow my head to his dedication and love of Gurmat Sangeet. We sorely NEED more of such Guru Ke Kirtaniyas...who will take us back to our ROOTS in Gurmat Sangeet.
    4. We must all take a pledge to begin studying GURBANI in its original GURMUKHI...and actively PROMOTE GURBANI in its original Gurmat Sangeet...the ordinary Sikhs also have a role to play.
    By the way ever since SPN has begun putting up Gurmat Sangeet on this site..i visit it more than five times a day.... what a FEAST for the ears !! THANK YOU big time to the SPN Admin Jis for this.

    Regards to all
    Gyani jarnail Singh
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  5. Admin Singh

    Admin Singh
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    Jun 1, 2004
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    Gyani Ji

    This is really shocking/amazing as to how the sikh sangat has been deprived of this timeless/priceless treasure...
  6. dalbirk

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    May 24, 2008
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    Dear Aman Ji ,
    I'm quite agreed to views put up by Jarnail Singh Ji . But one thing always I wonder about is why Sikhism has not made that much progress in India with its booming population of 1.15 Billion why Sikhs r only 22 Million only. I always feel while reading Gurbani that Sikhism in India has agreat scope of expanding because Gurus put their views in a very simple, subtle way taking all the Indian relevant examples maybe it was meant for the whole people of India or maybe whole of the world as a common Gurbani reader can make up easily it is meant to be a UNIVERSAL RELIGION . Guru Ji while discourses with Sidhs in Sidh Gosht used Yogic terms like Asan , Mudra ,& many more . In mecca he used the terms Khuda , Allah for Akal Purakh to make his point clear . One of the reasons of Gurus inventing Gurmukhi script for Punjabi was due to their intention of taking Gurbani to each of the common people in the language they spoke & understood instead of Sanskrit ( The so called gods' language ) for Hindus & Arabic , sacred for Muslims though not many people in the Indian sub- continent understood or spoke that language . It is commonly believed the Guru Nanak Dev Ji made about 30 million followers in his life time much more than now 500 yrs later . We Sikhs r perhaps the only people in whole of this Universe who r afraid of people converting to our faith . But Gurbani in recent years despite the media & internet boom taking off is not being spread as it can be or ought to be . See how much progress these Derawallas have made like RadhaSoamis , Nirankaris , Ashutosh , Sacha Sauda , Sant mat , Ruhani Mission , GuruPriti Guruma using Gurbani & idea of Sikh Gurus mixed with some ghost wriiten literature . Yesterday I saw on TV Bapu ASARAM of Gurjarat using Sikh ideology & putting the name of some non- descript Puran quoting a story from it preaching & exhorting people to aim for the concept of Jivan Mukt ( Living Emancipation ) instead of Moksha attaining a state of Sehaj in life which is clearly a Sikh concept not Sanatan ( Hindu ) . My idea is that Gurbani has not been preached properly among the masses . Seeing a Gurudwara or Guru Granth sahib Ji 's Bani written in Gurmukhi they all start thinking ' Oh this is for Sikhs only , not for us ' Yet these r the same people who flock to Derawallas & idolise them . Same is the situation in the Western countries . Maybe if we use Guru Granth Sahib Ji's Birs in respective local languages outside Punjab & stress more on Explaining Gurbani in LOCAL LANGUAGE , it might do wonders for our biggest weakness ie LACK OF NUMBERS . Wonder why Sikhs' demands regarding justice for Blue Star , Nov 84 Genocide were not met . It was all due to our this glaring weakness only ie LACK OF NUMBERS . In democracy only the no of heads count , not the quality . Christians r up to 5% of the population & Muslims r more than 15 % of the population up from 1% & 8% respectively from 1947 . Nobody is stopping us from doing this in India . We surely can do it without compromising on any of our Principles & Beliefs no compromise on Sikh Rehat Maryada , Independent identity of Sikhism as a religion . More & more people will join us as history has shown us , converts like Master Tara Singh , Prof Sahib Singh Ji did more for Sikhism than even the so called original Sikhs . Please enlighten with ur views on this . If possible start a new thread .
    Regards ,
    Dalbir Singh
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  7. Naam

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    Oct 16, 2010
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    Just a quick reply

    The raga is not the raga "we" sing eg how did kabir ji learn raag... he did not from any music teacher, so all these raags that are in the bani are "holaraa".

    Have you ever wondered that there is no sagum for these raags.....

    In the anand sahib these raags come to you when you reach these spiritual stages "raag rathan parvar paria sahbad gavan aheha" which raags is this that mala 3 is talking about???

    The message "shabad" is more effective when sang with instruments ,then just read out alone, but the effect should be that the "mun" does naam abass, which is the ONLY thing that goes with us.
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  8. max314

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    May 28, 2006
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    A word is but a shell, made by man, made for man.

    But Truth is beyond any and all words known to the ear of man.

    Relinquish the shell. And embrace Truth.
  9. kds1980

    kds1980 India
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    Apr 4, 2005
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    One of the main reason Sikhism never spread in India was/is the 5ks. Sikhs don't accept Sehajdhari's /monay and it is not possible for a new follower to immediately change his/her image. Also there are more Hindu's in India than Sikhs who have faith in Guru granth sahib, Gurdwaras, but they don't call themselves sikhs as they don't find any reason to call them self a Sikh. They can go to Gurdwara, do paath, even do Kirtan so the question why do they call them self a Sikh?
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