Friday, December 15, 2017
Gateway to Sikhism


Gurmat Sangeet

Ragas have two main parts, the first of which is the sthdi containing melodies locat-ed in the lower portion of the scale or lower register (mandar saptak). The second part is the antard which centres in the upper por-tion of the scale and the higher register (madhyantar saptak). In some rdgas the me-lodic material is not separated in this man-ner but may overlap in both sthd'i. istic phrase is used to show its completion. Finally, a short closing section in slow tempo concludes the piece.
Dhrupad was the popular form during the 16th century. S.M.Tagore claims that "Sultan Husain Sharqi ofJaunpur introduced this style in the 15th century." Earlier, in the 13th century Amir Khusrau is often credited with the invention of khaydl, but its popular-ity did not spread until some centuries later, although it must have been known to singers like Tansen. Dhrupad is slower, much less ornamented and more sedate than khaydl with its allowable freedom. However, the lat-ter style dominates North Indian classical music today.
Musical instruments commonly used in the gurdwdrds (Sikh temples) in the past or acceptable today for the accompaniment of gurbdm-kirtan are rabdb, sitdr, sarod, sdrdndd, sdrangi, tdus, dilrubd, tamburd, violin, and, the most common now, the harmonium. While the sitdr and sarod are admissible in some instances, today's models have been developed as solo rather than accompanying instruments. The sarod is a descendant of the rabdb (rebcck) and has taken the place of that instrument for concert performance. Its tone is more penetrating than that of the rabdb and its appeal lies in the extensive pos-sibilities for ornamentation. The sitdris prob-ably the best-known of the current plucked-string instruments and has acquired consid-erable secular popularity in recent decades. It, too, has a distinctive sound which was not designed for the accompaniment of singing. Paucity of players on the traditional sdrandd, sdrangi, tdus and dilrubd instruments suitable for vocal accompaniment presents a prob-lem which can be attributed to the difficulty in playing, the length of time required for training and the financial problems these present to the student who cannot be as-sured of a reasonable future income.
Guru Nanak used the rabdb for inducing meditation and for musical accompaniment
to his verses. Mardana, his constant compan-ion and musician, played the rabdb and may be seen with Guru Nanak in old murals and paintings in the Amritsar Temple Museum and elsewhere. The rabdb'is in use in Afghan-istan, the Middle Eastern countries, Kashmir and the Punjab. Regional variations may be found in other North Indian states. Persian instruments bearing the same or similar names are not necessarily of the same shape, but do have some similarities in tonal properties.
Carved from a single block of wood, the Indian rabdbh^s an exceptionally deep body, standing some nine or ten inches or more in height and perhaps seven or eight inches in width. The sides slant towards the bottom and are pinched in forming two sections of the body, the lower of which is covered with parchment and the upper with wood. The neck is wide, usually with no frets. Basically the instrument has four main strings, but the two upper-sounding strings may be doubled to increase the volume of the higher notes. Some sources say that Guru Nanak added these two strings. The bridge supporting the main strings lies on the lower parchment-covered portion of the body. Some nine to eleven sympathetic wires lie underneath the main strings and are fastened to pegs along the side of the body. Tansen is reputed to have played a rabdbwitYi six main strings and a limited number of sympathetic wires.
A rabdb which may be seen in the Clock Tower Museum of the Amritsar Temple has a body covered with fine leather. The finger-board above the peg box ends in a flared, carved ornament. The rabdbis usually played with a plectrum but a Bengali model is shown with a bow. (Generally, pinched-insides exist to facilitate bowing). The rabdb is reputed to have a mellow tone suited to the dignified character of religious music.
The sdrandd has some characteristics of the rabdb and the sdrangi and like the sdrangi, is of folk origin. Fashioned from a hollowed-
out piece of wood, its body is spherical in shape with a flat open top. The completely pinched-in design actually divides the body into two sections. The upper portion is left open, but is partially covered with a highly ornamented extension of the finger-board, ending in a point at the centre of the body. The lower portion is covered with parch-ment and a bridge rests in the middle of this section. The short stubby neck is less than half as deep as the main body with pegs along the side for sympathetic wires. The sdrandd has three heavy gut-strings and six or more side-strings. When playing, the musi-cian holds the instrument in vertical posi-tion in his lap. The bow is short and heavy like that used for the sdrangi and the neck has no frets. The sdrandd is a most pictur-esque instrument to behold and its tone re-sembles that of the sdrangi, but with more depth of sound.
The sdrangi, like the sdrandd, is a com-paratively short instrument of the bow-string type, ranging from two feet to 30 inches for concert models today. Folk sdrangis are much smaller. The body is carved from a single block of wood and is barely wider than the neck. The peg-box is left open and has four tuning pegs for three heavy gut main strings and a possible drone string. The sides of the body are slightly pinched in near the bridge which rests on a flat parchment top. When played, the instru-ment is held in upright position in the lap of the player who does not press the strings downward, as for most instrument, but de-flects them sideways with his fingernail pressed against the string sideways. The sympathetic wires lie underneath and to one side of the main strings and are attached to pegs along the side of the neck. The num-ber of these may be anywhere from 38 to 45 and this presents a tuning problem when making a change of rdga in a continuous performance. The sdrangi appears in trea-tises of the 12th and 13th centuries, but no
information is available of its having been used at the Mughal court, although it did appear in regional courts of the 17th and 18th centuries. Its ability to emulate the in-flections of the human voice makes it desir-able for vocal accompaniment especially for the initiative lines. Poor players can only produce a dry uninviting tone which an-noys the vocalists and does not enhance the performance.
The dilrubd is of comparatively recent origin (1850-1875) and was created from the neck of the sitdr and the body of the sdrangi. An instrument of the bow-string variety, its popularity has been mostly in Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh and Punjab. The tone is plain-tive with a sweet singing quality. Some North Indian vocalists of note prefer it to sdrangi and it certainly is more in keeping with the North Indian musical tradition than the harmonium. The neck of the dilnzbd\\a.s some 18 or 19 arched movable frets tied to the stem of the instrument with pieces of gut or plastic. This makes for quicker adjustment when changing from one rdga to another. The bridge is placed in the middle of the skin-covered body and all wires pass over or through this bridge. Of the four main strings, the one furthest to the left (as in the sitdr) is the principal one for playing. The first two strings on the player's left are of steel and the second two of brass. About 20 sympathet-ic wires are fastened to a scries of small pegs along the right side of the neck. No need exists for chikdn strings as on plucked string instruments. Unlike playing the sitdr, the dilrubd strings may not be deflected sideways to produce ornaments. The bow is like that used for the sdrangi, and the dilrubd rests in vertical position on the thigh of the player, sitting with folded legs.
The tamburdis the traditional instrument for producing the ever-present drone of In-dian classical music. Tamburds usually have four strings, but may have three, five, six, or even seven. When a tamburd has the usual
four strings, three are tuned to the tonic and one to the fifth (PA). Sometimes one of the tonic strings will be replaced with the sev-enth (AT) when this tone is prominent in a given rdga. The first three strings are of steel and the lower tonic is made of brass. Strings are set in vibration by pressing the fingers across them lightly over the upper part of the hollow stem which has no frets. Strings are never stopped completely and the result-ing sound is a blend of all pitches. Tamburds are almost five feet in length, but shorter models are also used. A wide ivory bridge sits on the thin wooden top of the body which consists of a grown gourd scraped thin. All tamburds use silk or cotton threads wedged between the bridge and the strings to pro-duce a buzzing sound and to emphasize the overtones. Tuning beads are inserted on the lower part of the strings between the bridge and the base of the instrument to facilitate accurate pitch for these unusually long strings. By moving the beads up and down, the tension is altered slightly, thus raising and lowering the pitch. The usual playing position is upright with the body resting on the floor or in the lap of the player. Some-times a soloist may use a horizontal position in which case the instrument will lie across the lap of the player. Because the drone is the basis on which the performer establishes his own pitch, the soloist may want to tune the lamburd himself.
The Western violin has been prevalent in South India since the early part of the 19th century, but its use in the North has come only in the last few decades. Most violins are imported from Europe, but there are indig-enous models too constructed after their Western counterparts. The violin is excel-lent for accompanying vocal music and is capable of producing all the nuances of the voice as well as the ornaments of the classical system. The instrument, about two feet in length, is held against the chest with the peg box resting on the knee when played Indian
style. The shallow body is longer than wide and has indentations on the rounded sides in line with the bridge which is placed in the middle of the thin wooden top. The body is made of thin, carefully shaped wood with two openings on top. The ebony finger-board has no frets and extends over the body al-most to the bridge. Four strings extend from the peg-box to the tailpiece which is fas-tened to the base of the instrument and ap-pears as an extension of the finger-board below the bridge. Inside the body and ap-proximately under the bridge is the sound post. The bow is thin and straight, about 29 inches in over-all length strung with horse-hair, with tension controlled by a screw. The most famous families of violin-makers prac-tised their craft during the 17th and 18th centuries in Cremona, Italy.
The harmonium and sruti peti are two drone instruments gaining favour in recent years. The sruti peti is a mechanism enclosed in a small box with bellows operated by moving one side of the box backwards and forward. Some models are made to be op-erated electronically. In either case once the correct pitch is set, it will be retained indefinitely. The harmonium was intro-duced to India in the nineteenth century and came from Europe where it was invent-ed in 1840 by Alexandre Debain. The ear-lier models were not well adapted to the Indian classical idiom, but in recent years improvements have been made and tuning adjustments in the better models are so arranged that a fairly accurate rdga scale can be played. The basic principle is the same as for the sruti box, but the instru-ment is more complex. Tones arc produced by depressing the keys on a piano-type key-board of about two and a half octaves. The dynamic level can also be controlled from loud to soft. Harmoniums arc in use in most gurdwdrds today with each singer playing his own accompaniment.
The invention of the tabid, the most
commonly used instrument for rhythmic tune, is credited historically to Amir Khusrau of the 13th century court of 'Alauddin Khaiji in Delhi. The name tabid is derived from the Arabic tabi, a general term for small and medium sized drums in Arabic countries. The smaller of the tabid pair of drums is called tabid or daggd and the larger, a metal drum, is known as bdydn. The tabid is made from a hollowed-out block of wood. The skin for both drum heads is stretched over the top and fastened to a braided hoop with thongs which extend over the sides of she body to a small leather ring at the base. The tabid uses cylinderical tuning blocks placed between the thongs and the body of (he drum. These can also be used on the bdydn if desired. By pushing the blocks up and down with a specially shaped hammer, the pitch of the drum head may be raised or lowered. The two drums are usually made to sound an octave apart but the interval of a third, fourth or fifth may also be used. Three important areas, each with its own sound, are found on the drum heads: the outer rim where the skin is double, the plain section with single skin and the centre black patch made of rice paste and iron filings. On the head of the bdydn the black patch is off centre and the pitch of the bdydn head may be varied by pressing the heel of the palm of the hand on the plain surface while stroking the head with the fingers. The second, third and fourth fingers are the ones generally used for strokes. A system of mnemonics called bols indicates which fingers are to be em-ployed on which portion of the drum head. A common substitute for labid, where this instrument or its performer is not available, is the dholak, a two-sided drum, the one serv-ing as daggd and the other as bdydn.
Kirtan derived from Sanskrit root kirti means singing a devotional song in praise of the Lord of the Universe. The form of the kirtan was derived from the old prabandha-
gana described in the Sangita-Ratnakara of Sarangadeva in the 13th century. Padaprabandhas were early classical songs which led to dhrupad under the impetus of Raja Man Singh Tomar of Gwalior (1496-1517). Praband has were systematically orga-nized with three to six sections. Kirlan pre-served this sort of classical arrangement us-ing classical rdgas and tdlas. These devotion-al songs were popular all over India and used limited improvisation and ornamentation. This made them a desirable model on which to develop the Sikh shabad.
Indian Muslims had a devotional music which came into being as early as the end of the 12th century' among the Sufi followers of Chishti saints. A group of Chishtis from Khurasan in Iran settled ai Ajmer and other places in northern India, establishing a chain of monasteries between 1200 and 1350. The Chishti order extended throughout the Punjab and neighbouring areas and re-mained active up to the 18th century when its decline began. Its votaries came from both Hindu and Muslim communities. The Sufis believed that "musical sound produces an influence in the soul because of its musical structure and similarity to the soul." From this devotional music came the later serious qawwdH which used rdga tunes with a limited number of tdlas.
Sabda kirtan has been an integral part of Sikh worship from the very beginning. Hymn-singing was in fact the earliest form of devo-tion for the Sikhs. Even in the time of Guru Nanak, the disciples assembled together to recite the shabads, i.e. hymns composed by the Guru and thus to render praise to the Lord. Kirlan has since been appropriated into the regular gurdwdrd service. But Sikh kirtan eschews all expression of abandon or frenzy in the form of clapping and dancing. Laudation is proffered to the Supreme Be-ing who is without form, nirankdror nirdkdr, and not to a deity in any embodiment or incarnation. The texts of the shabad kirtan
are those that comprise the Holy Book of Sikhs known as the Guru Granth Sahib, or Adi Granth, compiled by Guru Arjan in 1604. Probably no other religion shows a closer relationship between music and its scriptures than does Sikhism. The Holy Book is orga-nized according to rdgas, 31 in number, to which the poetic hymns belong. The total number of hymns is 5,694 with 4,857 (the author's figures) contributed by six of the ten Gurus and 837 by Hindu bhaktas, Sikh devotees and Sufi saints. Under each rdga the hymns of the Gurus are recorded first and are arranged in the order of chaupadds and dupadds (hymns of 4 and 2 verses, re-spectively), astapadis (hymns of 8 verses), longer poems organized around a motif, and chhants - hymns of four or six verses, lyrical in character, vdrs on the pattern of ballads consisting of pauns, each paun preceded by two or more slokas, and hymns by bhaktas and other devotees similarly arranged.
The Gurus were highly knowledgeable of music and well-versed in the classical style. Guru Nanak kept with him as con-stant companion a Muslim musician, Mardana, who played the rabdb or rebeck. Guru Nanak wished his hymns to be sung to rdgas that express the spirit of the text and performance style to be compatible with the meaning of the hymn. The succeeding Gurus followed his example. The rdgas named in the Holy Book were selected prob-ably because of their suitability for express-ing the ideals represented in the texts for which they were to be used. Over the cen-turies rdga names and the exact pitch of the tones may have varied. Lack of a pre-cise national system for Indian music indi-cates that the preservation of rdgas has been dependent upon oral tradition.
Rdga variants are those melodies to which a rdgior rabdbi, i.e. musician, may move when beginning a new line of text or when insert-ing explanatory material. Over the centuries more rdga variants have been approved than
the few given in the Guru Granth Sahib. Rdga variants have some points in common with the main rdga but sufficiently different to set off the textual material musically, thus keeping the many verses from becoming musically monotonous. For example, the Gauri group offers many possibilities. A main rdga from another section of the Holy Book may also be used as a variant. Tolas are left to the discretion of the performer and are usu-ally those of the classical system although regional ones may be used for the lighter forms. Vdrs (slokas and pauns) may be set to authorized folk tunes, some selected by the Gurus themselves, and treated in light classi-cal style. A vans not counted as one unit but according to the number of slokas, pauns and couplets that are included in it.
At the conclusion of the Guru Granth Sahib is Rdgmald, a classification of rdgas list-ing 84 measures. The Holy Book contains only 31, eight of which are not given in this Rdgmald. This circumstance can be interpret-ed to mean that the classification was not done primarily for the Guru Granth Sahib, but was included as it had existed. The pur-pose of classifying rdgas according to a par-ent and its offspring, rdgims and putras, is to clarify and retain the individual character of each rdga. Historically this has been the con-cern of music theorists rather than perform-ing musicians. Since the basic notes of two or more rdgas may be the same, the perfor-mance rules and the melodic material are the chief means of maintaining the proper mood and individual character. In the Guru Granth Sahib, a number of affirmations have been made about the virtue of the various rdgas to induce piety and devotion. The majority of these are from Guru Amar Das, third in Guru Nanak's line, but the other Gurus too have set forth their experience about the rdgas us aids to spiritual experience. About kirlan (music directed to the expres-sion of devotion) it has been said: kirtanu nirmolak bird dnand gum gahird - kirtan is an
invaluable jewel, bringing bliss, treasure of noble qualities (GG, 893). Guru Arjan says about the beauty and harmony of music to induce the mood of devotion: dhanu su rag surangare aldpat sabh tikh jdi - which are blessed as the beautiful musical measures when performed all desire then ends (GG,
Guru Nanak, warning the mind against voluptuous indulgence in music such as had been current in India particularly among the upper classes, says:
git rdga ghan Idl si kure,
trihu-guna upjai binasai dure;
duji durmati dardu na jdi,
chhutai gurmukhi ddru guna gdi,
False are such songs, musical measures and reverberating accompaniments
As arouse the Three Qualities and, de-stroying devotion, draw the self away from God.
By duality and evil thinking is suffering not removed:
Liberation by the Master's guidance comes.
Chanting Divine laudations is the true remedy for life's ills (GG, 832).
Guru Nanak (in RagaAsa) on the ecstasy devotional music evokes:
rag ratan pand parvdr;
tisu vichi upjai amritu sdr;
ndnak karte kd ihu dhanu mdlu
je ko bujhai ehu bichdru.
The jewel music, born of the fairy family,
Is source of the essence of amrita;
This wealth to the Creator belongs - Few arc there this to realize. (GG, 351)
The musical directions given in the text of the Guru Granth Sahib are detailed so as to guide the composer and performer to adhere to the proper classical tradition in music. On page 838, at the opening of the
composition bearing the title Thilm (the dates) in the measure Bilaval, the musical direction is ghar 10, jaii. This refers to the particular score in which the music is com-posed as also to the rhythm on the labid or drum.
Guru Amar Das, whose attachment to music and its modes is deep and ecstatic, has set down his impressions of some of the mu-sical measures in which he has composed his bdm.
On Siri Raga:
rdgd vichi sn rdgu hai je sachi dhare pidru;
sadd hari sachu mani vasai nihchal mati
Sri Raga is to be reckoned superior to the other rdgason\y if it induces love for holy Truth, whereby the holy Lord should in the self be lodged, and the mind find poise. (GG, 83).
On Gauri believed to be a female Ragini:
gauri rdgi sulakhamje khasmai chiti karei;
bhdnai chalai Satiguru, kai aisd sigdru karei.
The Raga Gauri is reckoned noble, should she in the Lord fix the self;
Induce obedience to the Divine Will Which is the best make-up. (GG, 3ll)
Suhl (lit. vermilion) is woven into a fig-ure (GG, 785). Not the flashy vermilion dye, symbolical of voluptuous pleasures but the fast red of madder {majlth} symbolizing con-stancy in devotion is commanded.
Bilaval, in Bilaval ki Vdr (GG, 849-55), is mentioned to express constancy of devotion, twice by Guru Amar Das and twice by Guru Ram Das. Bilaval is the rdga expressive of joy. True joy, however, comes not from melody but from the holy Name of God. Says Guru Amar Das:
bildvalu tab hi kijiaijab mukhi hovai ndmu;
rdga ndda sabadi sohane jd Idgai sahaji dhidnu.
raga ndda chhodi Hari seviat ta dargah paiai mdnu;
ndnak gurmukhi brahmu bichdriai chukai mani abhimdnu.
True joy comes only by utterance of the holy name;
Music, melody and the words acquire beauty from the mind in poise fixed.
Leave aside music, melody and words;
serve the Lord; thereby may ye be honoured at the Divine Portal.
Saith Nanak: By contemplation of the Supreme Being through the Master's guid-ance is egoism from the mind banished. (GG, 849)
On the same page occurs another sloka:
bildvalu karihu turn pidriho ekasu siu liv Ide.
Ye loved ones, in devotion to the Sole Supreme Being, find you joy;
Thus will your suffering of transmigra-tion be annulled, and in Truth shall ye be absorbed.
Ever shall ye live in joy (bildval) and bliss, should you obey the holy Preceptor's will. (GG, 849)
Guru Ram Das, earlier on the same page, at the opening of this Vdr, thus expresses the joy of Bilaval, the word itself implying "joy",
hari utamu hari prabhu gdvid kari nddu bildvalu rdgu;
upadesu guru suni mannid dhuri mastaki purd bhdgu.
The Lord exalted, Supreme Master have I lauded in the tune of Bilaval;
The Master's teaching have I followed, by Supreme good luck ordained in Primal Time.
Day and night have I ever uttered the Lord's praise with devotion for Him in my heart lodged.
My mind and body, in bloom, are like a
garden fresh.
By the lamp of Enlightenment by the
Master lit,
The gloom of ignorance is lifted. Nanak, servant of God, finds life from
beholding the Lord's face, even though it be
for a short hour. (GG, 849)
Thus Guru Amar Das on Ramkali:
ramkali rdmu mani vasid td banid sigdru.
In chanting Ramkali as the Lord in the self is lodged, that is the truest self-decora-tion;
As through the Master's land is abloom lotus of the heart,
On the seeker is bestowed the treasure of devotion.
With illusion gone is the self awakened,
And gloom of ignorance lifted.
She alone has true beauty that with the Lord is in love;
Awoman of good repute, everlasting bliss has she with the beloved.
Egoists know not of the true make-up,
Their life is all lost.
One that has the make-up of other than devotion,
In transmigration remains caught. (GO, 950)
On Sorathi, the same vision is expressed by Guru Nanak and Guru Ram Das. Guru Nanak in the opening sloka of Rdgu Sorathi VdrM.IVKi:
sorathi sadd suhdvanije sachd mani hoi. Sorathi is pleasing should it bring to mind the holy Lord. It is pleasing, should teeth not be fouled by food unjustly obtained.
And on the tongue should run the Lord's holy Name. (GG, 642)
Guru Ram Das in the same Vdr (the same page):
Sorathi is pleasing should she go out in quest of the Lord's Name
The Master, exalted being, should she propitiate,
And by wisdom granted by the Master, the Name Divine utter;
Day and night should she with Divine love be surcharged.
And dyed in God, her vest will strive to be most comprehensive directory of Historical Gurudwaras and Non Historical Gurudwaras around the world.

The etymology of the term 'gurdwara' is from the words 'Gur (ਗੁਰ)' (a reference to the Sikh Gurus) and 'Dwara (ਦੁਆਰਾ)' (gateway in Gurmukhi), together meaning 'the gateway through which the Guru could be reached'. Thereafter, all Sikh places of worship came to be known as gurdwaras. brings to you a unique and comprehensive approach to explore and experience the word of God. It has the Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, Amrit Kirtan Gutka, Bhai Gurdaas Vaaran, Sri Dasam Granth Sahib and Kabit Bhai Gurdas . You can explore these scriptures page by page, by chapter index or search for a keyword. The Reference section includes Mahankosh, Guru Granth Kosh,and exegesis like Faridkot Teeka, Guru Granth Darpan and lot more.
Encyclopedias encapsulate accurate information in a given area of knowledge and have indispensable in an age which the volume and rapidity of social change are making inaccessible much that outside one's immediate domain of concentration.At the time when Sikhism is attracting world wide notice, an online reference work embracing all essential facets of this vibrant faithis a singular contribution to the world of knowledge.