"Raag to dharana
I salute and respect you that how prefer raag. There is nothing equal if you are aware of raag and you can play and understand the raag. But it does NOT mean that dharna is nothing. Dharna/Kachi bani: According to some: everything that is not included in Guru Granth Sahib Ji is kachi bani. Can they shed some light on: Why we discuss ithas of shahibzade and other Sikh ithas, that's not included in Guru Granth Sahib. Why don't we read Guru Granth Sahib Ji in raag as Guru Granth Sahib Ji is written in Raags. "
Just a few points veer ji,
I personally do not strictly class dharna as kirtan, I like to think of it as “Parchaari Kirtan” (apologies for inventing a new term).
It played an important role from it’s inception in the late 1800’s/early 1900’s, as at this time Christian Missionaries were relentlessly visiting village to village in Punjab singing hymns/giving sermons using the vajaa. The early Sants countered this by using the easy to learn and use vaaja (thus changing the traditional parchaarak role to dual kirtani/parchaarak role) and Ras Leela (Krishna pooja/kirtan) style of kirtan, which is very easy to follow and energetic, and uses basic rural/musical items like chimte and Chennai. This new system had the desired affect, and devastated the Missionaries task (one of the few places in the world where it did so). As most know, until then, very few Nirmalai, Nihangs, Seva Panthi etc also did kirtan, with a few famous exceptions like Baba Shaam Singh Ji Aden Shaahi. And although some people don’t want to consider it, the British did have a role and agenda in the decline of traditional kirtan as they did in the decline of traditional martial art (as per the Akali eradication). But that’s another subject.
So this was a matter of necessary adaptation at the time. Today, this type of kirtan is largely still only practiced because of recent cultural traditions, and is misunderstood by many who deem it “kirtan” in the strictest sense, hence a partial reason for the katchi baani accusations.