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Raags colours and moods

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Gurfateh Ji..

To all you raag know it alls...

Das Ji Das... would like to ask if anyone knows what colours,, (or for you none brits who stole our language.. and spell everything wrong.. colors) are associated to the raags within Guru Granth Sahib Ji Maharaj.

I remember seeing it in a book once, colours and raags.. or something and it said each raag has an associated colour.. time, feeling, context etc.

I would be extremely greatful if anyone could find out for me..

PS... COLOUR>>> learn to spell or get your own language.. you none ENGLISH ... englishers. VIVA LA QUEEN...

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I am not a "Raag" know it all, but in the context of Sikhi (not Indian Classical) I can give you some thoughts.

Rang has been commonly refered to describe emotion, both in Vedic time period and our Guru Sahibans.

There are not actually physical colours associated with raag, but there are certainly emotions.

For those of you who read Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, you will notice a common theme (feeling) in each chapter, all the shabads within that chapter, irrelevent of the author (Guru Ji or Bhagat), invoke the same feeling when read, but especially when sung.

For instance the angs in Suhi, invoke a feeling of deep love, romance, longing, .. associated with Akaal Purkh.

Bhairow for instance invokes extremem devotion.. etc

There are number of places to gain the info regarding the emotions, they are pretty consistent with Indian Classical, but we must always refer to Bani in teh 1st and last instance to prove the mood.

Timings have nothing to do with Sikhi. This is Hindu/Indian Classical concept that has been absorbed by some Raagis of today who have been influenced by Indian Classical (whichi is most of them).

The great ex-Hazoori Nihang Raagi Bhai Balbir Singh replied when asked what time should raags be sung, replied "what time should one be happy, what time should one be sad or angry".

Sikhi is a faith of common sense, timings have a mythical source.

There are some shabads which are sung at certain times i.e. Asa di Vaar, but this was done for a practical reason, not mythical one.

Jassa Singh Aluvalia used to sing Asa di Vaar every morning to induce confidence, determintaion and bravery in his soldiers at the start of the day.

The most researched and most comprehensive data i have found on SIKH raaga and musicology (how to apply that emotion to the shabad, it's not simply a matter of using the set notes), is the book provided in the Mere Mun CD Set.

This contains 59 shabads which have been sung in every raag in Bani par 1, and contains details of the raag, researched in s Sikh context.

This is a treasure as all the instruments used are also of SIKH originb only, all the Guru's inventions.

The compositions, the dynamics and emotion in the emotion portrayed in the raag are amazing..

The below link gives details and allows you to listen to samples.



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There is an inextricable link between music and our moods. A lullaby soothes us to sleep; a love song arouses our amorousness; pop music sets our feet tapping; while devotional songs evoke our spirituality. Our sages and musicologists of yore studied this relationship between music and the human psyche and evolved raags that linked our changing moods to changes in nature. What emerged was what we refer to as the time cycle of raags. According to this theory there is a special raag for each period of the day., representing each mood. Such a finely tuned understanding of the mood created by different musical notes does not exist in any system of music, anywhere in the world.


The day is broken into eight periods (prahars) with specific raags for each

1st prahar (7am to 10am) Bilawal, Sarang, Hindol

2nd prahar (10am to 1pm) : Asavari, Jaunpuri,Shudhsarang,Todi

3rd prahar (1pm to 4 pm) : Bhimpalasi, Multani, Pilu

4th prahar (4pm to 7pm) : Poorvi, Puriyadhanashee, Puriya,Marwa,Shree

5th prahar (7pm to 10pm) : Yaman Kalyan, Bhupali, Shudh Kalyan , Kedar

6th prahar (10 pm to 1 am) : Behag, Bageshwari, Khamaj, Desh, Rageshwari

7th prahar (1 am to 4 am) : Adana, Malkauns, Chandrakauns, Darbari

8th prahar (4am to 7am) : Bhairav, Lalit, Gunkali

The first time cycle raag corresponds to that twilight hour, just before dawn, when the colour of the sky begins to change, the last to the velvety night, after sunset. When you see the changing colours of the sky at the break of the day or the glorious hues of sunset, you may feel the same quiet wonder at the sheer beauty of nature, yet hat you experience at daybreak may be different from your reactions to dusk. Similarly, a full moon and a moonlit night evoke an entirely different kind of mood. And capturing every changing nuance in our mood as the day runs its course are the different raags.

The elemental reaction of the human mind and body to the changes in nature was known to our great masters and that is why they were able to create the raags that evoked the right mood. The correspondence between nature and our feelings is natural because the human body is made of the five elements-fire,air,water,earth and sky.

If you study the way our musical notes unfold, you realize that they synchronize completely with nature. The different combinations of notes and the patterns in which they are played have a very distinct effect on emotions.

A raag creates an atmosphere which is associated with particular feelings and sentiments. If Bhairav has the serenity of early dawn, Darbari has the splendour of midnight. Bhupali can never be associated with mirth and fun whereas Bageshri is more suited for a lighthearted romantic mood. The Raagmala paintings of Rajasthan depict beautifully the underlying 'ras' or mood expressed by every raag.

In the time cycle , you first have raags based on 'komal swaras', what we call the flat notes. In all the komal swar raags you ( Bhairav, Gunkali), you have one thing in common: the note rishabh and dhaivat. The fourth note, madhyam, is also a komal swar, but it is used in teevra swar (sharp)when singing the twilight raags after sunset to define the change in mood between the two hours before sunrise and after sunset. So, with the subtle change in one note, the entire mood of the raag changes. All these twilight melodies called Sandhiprakash raags in our musical terminology, covey a certain pathos, a certain yearning. These are followed by the raags of the first quarter of the morning and night, such as Todi, Asavari, and then the midday and midnight raags.

more at http://santoor.com/strikingnotes.html

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The original question was based on the Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji,

To clarify:

Timing of raags has nothing what so ever to do with Gurbani.

It has however evolved as part of the Indian Musical system, but our Guru's were above this.

Bani is for man to sing when he needs to, when his soul demands, not restricted to certain times of days, there is not even 1 piece of evidence that exists to prove our Guru's practiced timings. It goes against all common sense.

None of the puratan texts from which the raag system started mention timings - i.e. the Sam Veda (Wisdom of Music) and the famous Natya Shastra, both of whcih are thousands of years old. The timing concept only started from the 11th century when music was becoming widespread and more and more scholars were studying and theorising.

By the time dhan Guru Nanak Dev Ji graced us, music was being used for entertainment of man, rather than devotion of God as it had been for hundreds of years, this was largley due to the Mughal Courts.

Bhai Mardhana the great Musicologist used to entertain man, until he met Guru Ji, from which point he solely used his skills under Guru Ji's guidance and instruction (raag) to praise Vahe-Guru and capture peoples minds and souls in the name of truth.

We need to be careful to keep evolving Indian Music seprate from timeless kirtan and correct puratan usage of raags.


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  • 16 years later...

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