Formation of Raag Selection Committee
The divine blessings showered on Sant Bābā Suchā Singh ultimately ushered in the form of a unique Religious Musical Conference. After discussing with different scholars and saints some conclusions were drawn that how Gurmat Sangeet could be shaped into Rāgas in accordance with Gurmat traditions based on the philosophy of Srī Gurū Granth Sāhib. At the initial stage, it was noticed that the divergant views existed amongst various musicians regarding the unsystematic (shapeless) form of Rāgas. This diversity could be seen in the various reference books on Sikh Religion and Creative Books on kīrtan by the fundamentalists. Accordingly, limitations in the sounds of the specific words as recorded in the literature of musicians that how words could be gripped in notes/ tunes of music according to the specifications of music as were documented in the ancient and modern books on music.
In 1991, Sant Baba Sucha Singh formed a committee on the usage of Rāgas. The great musician, Pt. Dalīp Chander Bedī headed this committee. Pt. Bedi not only gave direction to the collective thought of the scholars but also created new forms of Rāgas from the ancient religious books through his deep and vast knowledge of music.
The committee on the usage of the Rāgas was consisted of Bābā Suchā Singh as Trustee, Gurmat Sangeet Sammellan and Pt. Dalīp Chander Bedī as head of the above committee. The other members included Principal Rajinder Singh of Lucknow, head advisor of Rāga Darbar Committee, Bhāī Avtār Singh of Delhī, Bhāī Tejpāl Singh (Singh Bandhū) of Delhī, Bhāī Prithīpāl Singh Kang of Indore, Bhāī Baldev Singh of Amritsar, Dr Ajīt Singh Paintal of Delhī, Principal Baldev Singh of Delhī, Prof. Kartār Singh of Ludhiānā, Prof. Paramjot Singh of Mullānpur, Prof. Charanjīt Singh of Ludhiānā, Principal Chanan Singh Majboor, Ustād Jaswant Singh Bhanwrā, Bībī Jasbir Kaur, Principal Shamsher Singh Karīr of Patiālā, Dr Jagīr Singh Chandīgarh,
Prof. Harchand Singh, Prof. Avtār Singh (Nāz), and Dr Gurnām Singh of Punjābī University Patiālā.
After an exhaustive discussion among the different scholars and musicians, they came to the following conclusions on the basis of available books on the Indian Music, books on Gurmat Sangeet and the ancient recordings of the old religious traditions.
Rāga Devgandhār falls in the most difficult and unprevalent Rāgas of the Indian Music. As is known from its name, it uses both Gandhārs in it. The only Shabad of Rāga Gandhār is inscribed on page 320 of the Srī Gurū Granth Sāhib in Mahalā ¤ apune harī Pahī bintī Kahīai, the other creations are under the Rāga Devgandhārī The form of the Rāga Devgandhārī is not available in the Indian music. Besides, the books on Gurmat Sangeet, some limited recordings were found. Pt. Bedī himself recited the true form of this Rāga. This Rāga includes dual Dhaiwat and dual Nishād tunes. It is a beautiful blend of Awroh in Āsā Rāga and Avroh in Āsāvarī Rāga. The creators of the Gurmat Sangeet have accepted this ancient form as original. The ancient recordings of this form were also consulted. Besides this, Pt. Bedī also approved this form of the Rāga. Similarly, there is uncertainty about the form of Rāga Mārū. Pt. Bedī made a distinction while singing in the form of this Rāga which was sung by Bhāī Chhail Rabābi some sixty years ago in the avan jaanu rahio He made it clear that this form was sung in Amritsar at the death of a person at the crematorium. He made use of dual Madhyam, dual Dhaiwat and dual Nishād and accepted this form as Rāga Mārū. The Indian Music finds the prevalent form of the Rāga Basants origin in the Eastern Thāt. The form of the Rāga Basant being used in the Harmandar Sahib (Golden Temple) from the ancient times should be used in practice also. The veterans of music use this form of Basant, while singing hymns at the Golden Temple. This is a Rāga of Bilāwal Thāt in which all the pure tunes are used. Pt. Jasrāj, the great artist, sang the true form of Rāga Basant on All India Radio in 1996. He named it Ādi Basant and accepted his form as geniune. Rāga Mājh is not popular in Indian Music. The Rāga Mājh is based on the popular folk tunes of Mājh and it is the great contribution of the Gurūs. It finds its origin in Khamāj Thāt. Dual Gandhār and dual Nishād are used in this Rāga .
This is the accepted form of Rāga Mājh. Rāga Tukhārī does not fall in the prevalent Rāgas of Indian music. In Gurmat Sangeet, blending of the forms of the prevelant Rāga Tukhārī and Pā Dhā Nee Dhā Pā of Rāga Madhuwantī takes the form of Rāga Tukhārī and this is the accepted form. It is complete in Gandhār Komal, madhyam Tīvar and individual Aurav. But Rāga Sūhī has its own distinct form which is the Rāga of Bilāwal Thāt. Nishād komal is used in Avroh. The scholars of Gurmat Sangeet have put limitations in this form. So, Sūhī Rāga of Bilāwal Thāt has been accepted as such. Rāga Gaurī is sung in two different ways of Pooravī Angh and Bhairavī Angh.The scholars of Indian and Gurmat Sangeet have given more importance to the Gaurī of Bhairau Angh. Aurav has been accepted as auhentic form. Rāga Kānrā has a unique form in Gurmat Sangeet. It is quite different from the prevelant forms of Indian Music. It includes Gandhār komal, dual Nishād and other pure tunes. Rāga Sorath, Nat-Narāian, Bairārī, Mālī Gaurā, Prabhātī fall in the category of unprevelant Rāgas of Indian music. But well-known musicians in Rāgas sing them only in Rāgas. The forms of these Rāgas are based on the old traditions of singing and books on Gurmat Sangeet. In Indian music, the form of the mixed Rāgas is usally based on two main Rāgas in some Rāgas; the mixed Rāga takes the form in Pūravang & Utrang. But there are mixed Rāgas in which the Aroh of the first Rāga and Avroh of the second Rāga is taken into account while singing. The form of mixed Rāgas is based on the second rule as well as the old traditions of old limitations of Gurmat Sangeet. In this category falls Gaurī Deepakī, Gaurī Pūrabī Deepakī, Gaurī Pūrabī, Gaurī Mājh, Gaurī Bhī Sorath Bhī, Āsā Kāfī, Tilang Kāfī, Sūhī Kāfī, Sūhī Lalit, Bilāwal Gond, Mārū Kāfī, Basant Hindol, Kalīān Bhupālī, Prabhātī Bibhās and Bibhās Prabhātī. These four Rāgas decide the form by taking the Avroh of the first Rāgas and Avroh of the second Rāga. The other forms of the Gaurī like Gaurī Guārerī, Gaurī Bairāgan, Gaurī Mālā, Gaurī Mālwā and Gaurī Chetī do not fall in the category of the mixed Rāgas. As they have an independent form so to say. On pages 844 and 847 of the Srī Gurū Granth Sāhib, the following shabads Chhant Bilāwal Mahallā £ Mangal and Bilāwal Mahallā ¤ Chhant Mangal appear respectively. Similarly, there is a stanza of Bilāwal Rāga in the Srī Gurū Granth Sāhib on page 845 which begin with mangal sājū bhaiā
prabhū apnā gāiā rām. There is something of great concern that the stanza begins with the mangal but there is no indication of mangal anywhere. The indication of mangal or the title of mangal needs serious studies.
Some scholars put mangal as a song of happiness. Bilāwal Shabad also indicates Bliss but it is also a popular Rāga. The Gurbānī also enlightens this aspect of the meaning. On page 849 of Srī Gurū Granth Sāhib we find instances of the above aspect in Saloka Mahallā ¢, bilāwalū tab hī kījīai jab mukhī hovai namū of Duje bhāia bilāwalū nā hovāī man mukh thāi nā pāī. According to Dr Bhāī Veer Singh, whereas another Rāga has been introduced into the already existing Rāga, its indication has been made in the beginning like jehā ku mangal, dakhnī mālwā, guārerī this becomes clear from another reference that mangal and Manglin are independent and unique forms of Rāga. The reference of Manglin Rāga also appears on page 432-33 of the Srī Sarab Loh Granth. This Granth also contains four Bishan Pad entitled as Bishan Pad Rāga Manglin, Bishan Pad Manglin, Bishan pad Manglin and Bishan Pad Manglin (Third part of the Book). Another very popular book on sangeet entitled Sawartāl Samooh contains 15 types of Bilāwal on page 113, out of which one is Mangal Bilāwal. From the above references, it becomes quite explicit that the Mangal or Mangalin Rāga was popular in the medieval ages. Many Rāgas have disappeared from the world because of the lack of systematic studies. Bilāwal Mangal Rāga is the most unpopular Rāga in the Indian Music. It might have been a popular Rāga in the medieval ages, but it has become an unfamiliar Rāga among the modern musicians. Āsāvarī Rāga was as popular in medieval ages as Komal Rishab Āsāvarī is famous in the modern times in which people considered Āsāvarī Sudhang as Komal Rishabh Āsāvarī. Āsāvarī which is popular in the modern times as the same Rāgas. Devgandhārī and Natt Rāgas fall in the category of unpopular Rāgas in the Indian Music. Besides this, in the Srī Gurū Granth Sāhib there are six Rāgas which belong to the music tradition of the south. Srī Gurū Nānak contributed in bringing the Souhern and Northern sangeet closer to each other through his creation of Gurbānī in Dakhinī Rāga. This includes Gaurī Dakhinī, Mārū Dakhinī and Prabhātī Dakhinī. The forms of these six rāgas have been defined by taking into consideration the forms of the Dakhinī Rāga. On the basis of
Dakhinī Rāga, Gaurī to Gaurī Dakhinī, Bālhans to Wadhans Dakhinī, Belāwali to Bilāwal Dakhinī, Rāmkirla to Rāmkalī Dakhinī, Mārve to Mārū Dakhinī and Prabhātī Rangani to Prabhātī Dakhinī Rāgas took their forms.
Late Sant Suchā Singh who took upon him this task of giving a definite shape to the tradition of singing in Rāgas further culminated in the formation of a committee in Rāgas and that got full support from the Sikhs as a whole. The musicians recited their hymns in Gurmat Sangeet Conferences in the forms of the Rāgas which were fixed by the committee on the Rāgas, leaving aside some people who had different opinion on the forms of these Rāgas. At the academic and practical level, these forms are used as accepted forms in music. This will act a boon to the coming generations. The personalities who sing hymns in these accepted forms, will command respect among the people.
The task which was undertaken by Sant Baba Suchā Singh, has taken the shape of book entitled Rāga Sarūp Nirnai : Srī Gurū Granth Sāhib is being presented to the people for its use in music. I am grateful to renowned Sikh Scholar Prof. Anurāg Singh, Ludhiānā for translation from Gurmukhi to English and critically going through this manuscript. He made valuable suggestions for improvement of this manuscript. Thanks are also due to Dr Gurnām Singh, Head, Department of Sangeet, Punjābī University, Patiālā for his contribution in this noble cause. My heartfelt gratitude and indeptedness to Sant Baba Amir Singh Ji, Chairman, Gurshabad Sangeet Academy for moral support and constant encouragement.