The Contribution of Baba Sucha Singh to Gurmat Music
(Dr. Darshan Singh Narula)
In ancient times gods, goddesses, sages and seers always used to have with them one or the other musical instrument without fail. They employed numerous means to bridle the vagaries of mind. Vishnu Ji had a conch with him. Similarly Lord Shiva had Damru (Tabor), Rishi Narada had Veena, the Yogis had kingri and Lord Krishna used to cast a spell on even the cows with his flute. What I mean to say here is that the combination of Bhagti (devotion) ¬and music has always been there in the world to infuse more intensity in the Bhagti. That is why in Kaliyuga, Guru Nanak Dev always kept Mardana, the Rabab player with him throughout his life because when the Great Master had a divine revelation of Bani, he would recite it in Raga and Mardana kept company with him on Rabab.
Bear it in mind that the Guru have gifted us a music that binds the mind. Please do not forget that music binds as well as shatters the mind. The music in a religious shrine has the capacity to captivate you while the one in a brothel shatter your being. Music is path by itself and the path has the fundamental nature of leading man towards his destination. If you turn your back on destination it takes you always from the same.
That is why the Gurus inscribed on every composition the particular Raga in which to sing it. If we change the Raga its tune and rhythm will also change and it will not leave the desired impact on the listeners. Thus music creates as well as disturbs the peace within man. The Gurus have given us the Shabad by disciplining it with Raga and through singing it themselves. Thus, we must avoid the self-willed tunes. This is what is called Gurmat music.
Now the importance of Raga is established firmly to the extent that while earlier it was said, "Who will listen to Raga?" now they say, "Who won't listen to Raga? Raga is a global language. It is not at all sectarian in nature. Even the plants, trees and birds perched on them near around the stage would fain listen to music and feel at peace. The milk animals yield more milk as they vibrate with the notes of music. If the animals are so much music-loving, why can't the man be?
Thus when Guru Nanak Dev was blessed with a revelation if the Bani from the beyond, he would sing at the Rabab of Mardana with him. As a result, villages, cities, jungles and mountains as also fauna and flora reverberated with Divine music. It was under motivation of such feelings that Sant Sucha Singh launched a series of Adutti Gurmat Sangeet Sammelans. Besides, he also got these sammelans and seminars organized by Vismaad Naad, audio/ video recorded. This institution published a number of books which went a long way in establishing Gurmat Sangeet as a subject.
Named after Bhai Jawanda, the village Jawaddi Kalan-the Taksaal of Gurmat music-is situated near Model Town Extension, Ludhiana. Now it is just like a colony of Ludhiana city. Among the standardizing institutions (taksaals) of Gurmat music, Jawaddi Kalan is important because its chief Baba Sucha Singh gave a new direction to the rendition of Gurbani in specified Ragas. He took upon himself the onus of popularizing Gurmat Sangeet which assumed historical importance in the 20th century. He stemmed the tide of determination being experienced in the world of music for the last five year.
I had the privilege of being a member of Raga Judgement committee, performing Raga Gayan in Adutti Gurmat Sangeet Sammelans of 1991, 1992, 1997 and reading papers in Seminars. I also had a chance of getting various Ragas audio/ video-recorded Adutti Gurmat Sangeet Sammelan was really a great endeavour of the great Sant Baba Sucha Singh. It was really Adutti (unprecedented) in the real sense of the term.
To perpetuate the value of this venture, the Baba set up Vismaad Naad institution which released 16 cassettes of 31 Ragas and 3 cassettes of Asa Di Vaar sung by Bhai Balbir Singh Under the title 'A Unique Gift from Vismaad Naad' Dr. Jagir Singh writes that these cassettes have a speciality of their own in comparison to other Kirtan Cassettes. This Kirtan is in consonance with the Ragas specified in Guru Granth Sahib. The form of these Ragas has been determined by the Raga Judgement committee comprising scholars par excellence. The names of these musicians include: Dr. Ajit Singh Paintal, Dr. Geeta Paintal, Dr. Gurnam Singh, Singh Bandhus, Principal Baldev Singh, Dr. Darshan Singh Narula, Prof. Harchand Singh, Bhai Sukhdev Singh, Sant Niranjan Singh, Prof Nivedita Kaur, Dr. Jagir Singh, Bhai Dilbagh Singh, Gulbagh Singh, Prof. Kartar Singh, Bhai Prithipal Singh, Prof. Paramjit Singh, Bhai Sarabjit Singh Rangeela, Bhai Amarjeet Singh Taan, Bhai Iqbal Singh, Bhai Avtar Singh, Bhai Mahinder Singh Sagar, Bhai Balbir Singh, Bhai Narinder Singh, Bhai Ravinder Singh Ludhiana, Bhai Nirmal Singh Khalsa, Bhai Harvinder Singh, Bhai Harcharan Singh Fakkar, Prof. Gurinder Kaur, Bhai Harjinder Singh and Bhai Kanwarpal Singh.
It would also be pertinent to mention the names of scholars who are active in theoretical and practical sphere of Gurmat Sangeet. They are: Principal Satbir Singh, Dr. Ajit Singh Paintal, Dr. Jagir Singh, Dr. Devinder Singh Vidyarthi, Dr. Darshan Singh Narula, Bhai Avtar Singh and Bhai Gurcharan Singh, Principal Dyal Singh, Sant Swaran Singh, Bhai Uttam Singh, Prof. Paramjot Singh, T.C. Nagpal, Prof. kulwant Singh Grewal and Dr. Gurnam Singh.
In 1990, a seminar on 'Gurmat Sangeet: Vibhinn Pripekh (different perspectives)' was organized in collaboration with U.G.C. All the above-mentioned scholars had read their papers in this seminar and in the practical session, Gurmat music was performed also in its purest form. In 1995, Punjabi University Patiala published a book based on these papers under the same title i.e.
Gurmat Sangeet: Vibhinn Priepekh in addition to the research papers it has the notations of Bandishes (compostions) sung by the master vocalists.
In November 1997, as many as 52 vocalists participated in the Aduti Gurmat Sangeet Sammelan, Ludhiana individually as well as jointly. They included Singh Bandhus, Dr. Ajit Singh Paintal, Dr. Darshan Singh Narula, Dr. Gita Paintal, Dr. Nivedita Uppal, Prof. Paramjot Singh, Bhai Balbir Singh, Bhai Baldev Singh, Prof. Harchand Singh, Bhai Dilbagh Singh Gulbagh Singh, Prof. Bhag Singh, Dr. Gurnam Singh, Bhai Harcharan Singh Fakkar, Bhai Nirmal Singh, Bhai Channan Singh, Bhai Khem Singh, Bhai Prithipal Singh, Bhai Gurmeet Singh, Bhai Gurmeet Singh Shant, Prof. Charanjit Singh, Bhai Bachan Singh Alam, Bhai Amarjit Singh Taan, Bhai Niranjan Singh, Bhai Sarabjit Singh Rangeela, Bhai Baldeep Singh, Sant Anoop Singh, Bhai Kanwar Pal Singh, Bhai Chatar Singh, Bhai Mahinder Singh Sagar, Bhai Avtar Singh, Bhai Ravinder Singh, Bhai Gurdev Singh Khalsa, Bhai Manjeet Singh, Bhai Gurmeet Singh, Bibi Baljit Kaur, Bibi Jaswinder kaur, Dr. Gurinder Kaur, Dr. Jasbir Kaur, Bhai Iqbal Singh. Their melodious flow of Gurmat music notes continued for four days. The effort of making the conciusness of lacs of the listeners to the Shabad made the Gurmat Sangeet Sammelan unique. on this occasion all musicians and kirtanists were honoured.
Thus a number of Gurmat music concerts and seminars were organized successfully under the patronage of Baba Sucha Singh.
The musicians and kirtanists associated with these sammelans made a great contribution towards the development of Gurmat music in the present and are still ontributing to Gurmat Sangeet Sandarbh Kosh, Bal Vishwakosh, Bandishawali and in general propagation of Gurmat music. There is no compensation for the loss caused by the Baba's untimely demise but the edifice of Gurmat music can no doubt be built on the foundation laid by the holy man. And Lo! the construction of Gurmat Sangeet Bhawan has already started in the campus of Punjabi University Patiala.
Besides, the present chief of the Jawaddi Taksaal Sant Giani Amir Singh, Bhai Sohan Singh and Principal Sukhwant Singh are incessantly busy carrying forward the venture undertaken by Sant Baba Sucha Singh. It is especially worth mention here that Adutti Gurmat Sageet Sammelan were organized for the first time 55 Padtaals were sung by young Ragis as well as the veteran Ragis and Kirtanists. In all regularity after the passing away of the Baba the diligence and perseverance of his followers is a testimony to the fact that there is no laxity at all in their zeal for the mission bequeathed by Baba Sucha Singh. Besides, the Padtaal Gayan contests of students were also organized.