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don't agree with every point. Author must provide references, sources from rehitnamas, maryada of takths. Nevertheless, good atempt to compile an keertan maryada

Keertan Tradition

The tradition of keertan developed over the period of the ten Gurus is as follows:

* Hymns from the following compositions only are permitted in keertan: Adi Granth, Dasam Granth, vaars and kabits of Bhai Gurdas, Bhai Nandlal’s poems.

* The keertan-group is generally seated on the right side of the palki of Guru Granth Sahib. No special seats or cushions are provided for the singers. However, in big diwans (Assemblies), the use of platform or dais is allowed, provided it is lower than the palki (seat) of Guru Granth Sahib. This is done to enable the ragis and the congregation to have full view of one another.

* In the morning, keertan of entire Asa-di-var (24 chhants, salokas and pauris) is completed. The singing of Asa-di-var is not to be interrupted by katha (exposition of a random hymn read from the Scripture) or lecture.

* Appropriate compositions of Gurbani are sung at certain functions. For example at the time of Anand Karaj (Sikh Wedding) Lavan, Anand and suitable shabads ar sung. At the funeral of a Sikh, appropriate shabads relating to death are sung. Keertan Sohila is recited before cremating the dead body.

* Every hymn should be sung in the indicated raga and tala. The singer should use the appropriate laya, tan and palta. However, he must not forget the rasa and the appropriate ethos, mood and spirit of the hymn.

* Vars should be sung as indicated in the Scripture. For example Gauri var should be sung in Gauri raga, Ramkali var in Ramkali raga, with appropriate dhuni if indicated.

* Display of musical skill and excess of alaap and tan are not permitted, as they tend to make the minds of singers and listeners mercurial and unstable.

* Correct pronunciation and intonation of Gurbani is essential so that the audience may understand the wording and the meaning of the hymn. The singer is not supposed to introduce any words of his own or make interpolations in Gurbani [1]. The use of extra words like ha, ji, wahwah, piyara, etc., is against the spirit of Gurmat.

* The raga-technique and the sounds of instruments are subordinated to the singing of the hymn. What is brought out prominently by the musician is the Gurbani and its rasa, and not the musical expertise. Parallel quotations (parmans) to illustrate the theme are permitted during the keertan.

* Any hymn that has been commenced should be completed. Lack of time is no reason for stopping the singing of a hymn in between.

* No keertan is permitted during Akhand Path (continuous reading of the Scripture).

* The listeners should not make offerings (donations) to the musicians while the keertan is in progress. Offerings can be made at the end of the keertan. The best way is one followed by Sufi Congregations, where the listeners make the offerings to the president of the function or the organiser who respectfully hands over the collections to the leader of the music-group at the conclusion of the function. No ragi should interrupt his keertan to acknowledge a donation or offering, nor should he mention the name of the donor. He should make a collective acknowledgement of the offerings at the end of the keertan. This procedure is in accordance with Resolution No. 5 dated 2nd January 1976 of the Keertan Sub-Committee of the Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee, Amritsar. In any case, interruption of keertan to praise a donor or office-bearer of the Gurdwara or a distinguished visitor by name is absolutely forbidden, as it is against Gurmat (Guru’s instructions).

Ragas in Keertan

Ragas have a direct relationship to human moods and the following are the connections between Ragas and feeling:

1. Soohi - joy and separation

2. Bilaaval - happiness

3. Gaund - strangeness, surprise, beauty

4. Sri - satisfaction and balance

5. Maajh - loss, beautification

6. Gauri - seriousness

7. Aasa - making effort

8. Gujri - satisfaction, softness of heart, sadness

9. Devgandhari - no specific feeling but the Raag has a softness

10. Bihaagra - beautification

11. Sorath - motivation

12. Dhanasari - inspiration, motivation

13. Jaitsree - softness, satisfaction, sadness

14. Todi - this being a flexible Raag it is apt for communicating many feelings

15. Bhairaagi - sadness, (Gurus have, however, used it for the message of *Bhakti)

16. Tilang - this is a favourite Raag of Muslims. It denotes feeling of beautification and yearning.

17. Raamkali - calmness

18. Nat Narayan - happiness

19. Maali Gaura - happiness

20. Maaru - giving up of cowardice

21. Tukhari - beautification

22. Kedara - love and beautification

23. Bhairav - seriousness, brings stability of mind

24. Basant - happiness

25. Sarang - sadness

26. Malaar - separation

27. Jaijawanti - viraag

28. Kalyaan - Bhakti Ras

29. Vadhans - vairaag, loss (that is why Alahniya is sung in this Raag when someone passes away)

30. Parbhati - Bhakti and seriousness

31. Kaanra - Bhakti and seriousness

Taals in Keertan

In connection with Tala or musical beats/rhythms and the ‘Ghar’ in the SGGS, the following can be concluded.

* GHAR 1 - DADRA TAAL (There are 1 Taalis and the Beat has 6 Maatraas)

* GHAR 2 - RUPAK TAAL (There are 2 Taalis and the Beat has 7 Maatraas)

* GHAR 3 - TEEN TAAL (There 3 Taalis and the Beat has 16 Maatraas)

* GHAR 4 - CHAAR TAAL (There are 4 Taalis and the Beat has 12 Maatraas)

* GHAR 5 - PUNJ TAAL (There are 5 Taalis and the Beat has 15 Maatraas)

* GHAR 6 - KHUT TAAL (There are 6 Taalis and the Beat has 18 Maatraas)

* GHAR 7 - MUT TAAL (There are 7 Taalis and the Beat has 21 Maatraas)

* GHAR 8 - ASHT MANGAL TAAL (There are 8 Taalis and the Beat has 22 Maatraas)

* GHAR 9 - MOHINI TAAL (There are 9 Taalis and the Beat has 23 Maatraas)

* GHAR 10 - BRAHAM TAAL (There are 10 Taalis and the Beat has 28 Maatraas)

* GHAR 11 - RUDRA TAAL (There are 11 Taalis and the Beat has 32 Maatraas)

* GHAR 12 - VISHNU TAAL (There are 12 Taalis and the Beat has 36 Maatraas)

* GHAR 13 - MUCHKUND TAAL (There are 13 Taalis and the Beat has 34 Maatraas)

* GHAR 14 - MAHASHANI TAAL (There are 14 Taalis and the Beat has 42 Maatraas)

* GHAR 15 - MISHR BARAN TAAL (There are 15 Taalis and the Beat has 47 Maatraas)

* GHAR 16 - KUL TAAL (There are 16 Taalis and the Beat has 42 Maatraas)

* GHAR 17 - CHRCHARI TAAL (There are 17 Taalis and the Beat has 40 Maatraas)

Quotes from Gurbani

The Sikh Guru gave huge importance to Keertan and this can be concluded from the following Shabads.

On 107-8 Guruji says that illnesses of countless lives are eroded by singing Keertan, thus:

* Your humble servant, who obtains the Medicine of the Naam, is rid of the illnesses of countless lifetimes and incarnations.

* So sing the Keertan of the Lord’s Praises, day and night. This is the most fruitful occupation. ||3||

On page 178, Guruji says that mind becomes peaceful when Keertan is sang -

* Singing the Keertan of His Praises, my mind has become peaceful;

* the sins of countless incarnations have been washed away.

* I have seen all the treasures within my own mind;

* why should I now go out searching for them? ||2||

On Page 196, Guruji says, Keertan can only be sung by good fortune, thus:

* By great good fortune, the Keertan of the Lord's Praises are sung.

* O Supreme Lord God, as You give, so do I receive. ||1||Pause||

On Page 199, the SGGS advices that Keertan keeps the mind awake and alert:

* Do only that, by which no filth or pollution shall stick to you.

* Let your mind remain awake and aware, singing the Keertan of the Lord's Praises. ||1||Pause||

On page 208, Guruji tells us those whose hearts are alight with God, sing Keertan:

* Between the Lord and His Saint, there is no difference at all. Among hundreds of thousands and millions, there is scarcely one humble being.

* Those whose hearts are illuminated by God, sing the Keertan of His Praises night and day with their tongues. ||3||

Also on the same page, Guruji says that ‘Keertan is my treasure’:

* To sing the Keertan of the Lord's Praises is my treasure. ||1||Pause||

* You are my delight, You are my praise. You are my beauty, You are my love.

* O God, You are my hope and support. ||1||

On page 214 Guruji tell us that by singing Keertan we will be saved, thus:

* As the Guru has taught me, so have I spoken.

* Says Nanak, listen, people: sing the Keertan of the Lord's Praises, and you shall be saved. ||4||1||158||

On page 297, Guruji tells us that even death is overcome by singing Keertan:

* One is saved from hell, suffering is destroyed, countless pains depart, death is overcome, and one escapes the Messenger of Death, by absorption in the Keertan of the Lord's Praises.

* Fear departs, and one savors the Ambrosial Nectar, imbued with the Love of the Formless Lord.

'On page 322, Guruji says ‘lives of those who sing Keertan are approved’, thus:

* Those who are attached to the hem of the Lord's robe, do not suffer birth and death.

* Those who remain awake to the Keertan of the Lord's Praises - their lives are approved.

Guruji on page 363 tell us by singing Keertan, Naam (God’s remembrance) is instilled in the mind thus:

* Without the Shabad, no one is approved.

* Singing the Keertan of the Lord's Praises, the Naam abides within the mind.

* He Himself gives His gifts, without hesitation. ||2||

Guruji on page 454 tell us that all sins and sorrows depart when Keertan is sang:

* Sing the Keertan, the Praises of the Lord of the Universe, and all sins and sorrows shall depart.

* Says Nanak, chant the Hymns of the Lord, the Lord of the Universe, O mind, and enshrine love for the Lord; love the Lord this way in your mind. ||1||

On Page 642, Guruji tells us that singing Keertan is the ‘highest of all actions’ that we can perform:

* Singing the Keertan of the Lord's Praises in the Saadh Sangat, the Company of the Holy, is the highest of all actions.

* Says Nanak, he alone obtains it, who is pre-destined to receive it. ||8||

Guruji on Page 683 tell us clearly that ‘All desires, power, pleasure, joy and lasting bliss’ are found by singing Keertan:

* All desires, power, pleasure, joy and lasting bliss, are found by chanting the Naam, the Name of the Lord, and singing the Keertan of His Praises.

* That humble servant of the Lord, who has such karma pre-ordained by the Creator Lord, O Nanak - his efforts are brought to perfect fruition. ||2||20||51||

On page 1300, Guruji say by singing Keertan, all Evil-mindedness is removed:

* Whoever speaks and listens to the Keertan of the Lord's Praises is rid of evil-mindedness.

* All hopes and desires, O Nanak, are fulfilled. ||2||1||12||

On Page 1337, Guruji advises us that singing Keertan is equal to bathing at 68 sacred holy places, thus:

* Listen, O mind: the Keertan of the Lord's Praises is equal to bathing at the sixty-eight sacred shrines of pilgrimage.

* Listen, O mind: as Gurmukh, you shall be blessed with honor. ||1||

On page 1356, Guruji tell us how by singing Keertan, the entire world and Pride, Attachment, Greed, Anger and Lust (PAGAL, the five thieves) are conquered, thus:

* They walk fearlessly through the armies of their enemies; they attack them with the Keertan of God's Praises.

* They conquer the entire world, O Nanak, and overpower the five thieves. ||29||

And finally, on page 1075-6 Guruji tell us that in this era of the ‘Kal Juug’ Keertan is supreme, thus:

* In this Dark Age of Kali Yuga, the singing of Keertan (Lord’s Praises) is the most dominating force.

* Become Gurmukh, chant and focus your meditation.

* You shall save yourself, and save all your generations as well. You shall go to the Court of the Lord with honor. ||6||

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My farthings worth:

Keertan Tradition

The tradition of keertan developed over the period of the ten Gurus is as follows:

* Hymns from the following compositions only are permitted in keertan: Adi Granth, Dasam Granth, vaars and kabits of Bhai Gurdas, Bhai Nandlal’s poems.

Agreed, although Sri Sarbloh Sahib Ji is a contentious issue, as Nihangs claim to have kept the said Granth Sahib secret, so not sure how it would have formed part of a kirtan tradition in rest of the panth. Raagis like Bhai Nirmal Singh and Bhai Balbir Singh are fond of singing from Sri Sarbloh Sahib Ji now that it is publicly available (although Bhai Balbir singh Ji Nihang Raagi brother would have provided input for bhai sahib)…

* The keertan-group is generally seated on the right side of the palki of Guru Granth Sahib. No special seats or cushions are provided for the singers. However, in big diwans (Assemblies), the use of platform or dais is allowed, provided it is lower than the palki (seat) of Guru Granth Sahib. This is done to enable the ragis and the congregation to have full view of one another.

Not sure about this, I believe kirtan would have been done to the Guru traditionally with all sangat facing the Guru as is done in Darbaar Sahib, plus pre Singh Sabha/SGPC, raagi jathaas used to consist of many people, at least 10 as there were not microphones of amplifiers, and numerous tanti saaj and joris were used, so the little space on the right side of Guru ji would have been limited, more sense that raagis would have sat with sangat singing to their Guru, as is done by AKJ at rehansavai and sort of done by Nanaksaar taath.

* In the morning, keertan of entire Asa-di-var (24 chhants, salokas and pauris) is completed. The singing of Asa-di-var is not to be interrupted by katha (exposition of a random hymn read from the Scripture) or lecture.

Agreed. Singing Asa di Vaar is the same as any other shabd, the shabd should be sung completely and nothing inserted (shabds from other raags) as is done today. More importantly, it is ASA di vaar, so should be sung in ASA!!

* Appropriate compositions of Gurbani are sung at certain functions. For example at the time of Anand Karaj (Sikh Wedding) Lavan, Anand and suitable shabads ar sung. At the funeral of a Sikh, appropriate shabads relating to death are sung. Keertan Sohila is recited before cremating the dead body.

This is tradition, is practical and is accepted, there are various historical references to this also.

* Every hymn should be sung in the indicated raga and tala. The singer should use the appropriate laya, tan and palta. However, he must not forget the rasa and the appropriate ethos, mood and spirit of the hymn.

Agreed, par the specific tala, which is not indicated.

* Vars should be sung as indicated in the Scripture. For example Gauri var should be sung in Gauri raga, Ramkali var in Ramkali raga, with appropriate dhuni if indicated.

Agreed.

* Display of musical skill and excess of alaap and tan are not permitted, as they tend to make the minds of singers and listeners mercurial and unstable.

Agreed , skill should be utilised within reason, to beautify the shabad and draw the sangats attention, not put the sangat off or use the kirtan as personal practice session.

* Correct pronunciation and intonation of Gurbani is essential so that the audience may understand the wording and the meaning of the hymn. The singer is not supposed to introduce any words of his own or make interpolations in Gurbani [1]. The use of extra words like ha, ji, wahwah, piyara, etc., is against the spirit of Gurmat.

Agreed. This culture of adding words etc is growing.

* The raga-technique and the sounds of instruments are subordinated to the singing of the hymn. What is brought out prominently by the musician is the Gurbani and its rasa, and not the musical expertise. Parallel quotations (parmans) to illustrate the theme are permitted during the keertan.

I don’t agree with parmans, I think this is what AKJ do, Guru Ji has composed the shabd to perfection, we don’t need to improve on it of further explain it, that is the purpose of Rahao and padas.

* Any hymn that has been commenced should be completed. Lack of time is no reason for stopping the singing of a hymn in between.

Agreed, especially in the case of singing Anand Sahib, which is never completed.

* No keertan is permitted during Akhand Path (continuous reading of the Scripture).

Personally agree, doesn’t make any sense, as sangat can only focus on one thing. And it doesn’t make sense to sing over Guru when he is talking.

* The listeners should not make offerings (donations) to the musicians while the keertan is in progress. Offerings can be made at the end of the keertan. The best way is one followed by Sufi Congregations, where the listeners make the offerings to the president of the function or the organiser who respectfully hands over the collections to the leader of the music-group at the conclusion of the function. No ragi should interrupt his keertan to acknowledge a donation or offering, nor should he mention the name of the donor. He should make a collective acknowledgement of the offerings at the end of the keertan. This procedure is in accordance with Resolution No. 5 dated 2nd January 1976 of the Keertan Sub-Committee of the Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee, Amritsar. In any case, interruption of keertan to praise a donor or office-bearer of the Gurdwara or a distinguished visitor by name is absolutely forbidden, as it is against Gurmat (Guru’s instructions).

Agreed.

Re the ghar and taals, I have posted reasons to refute this theory in another thread, prime contradiction being Ghar is derived from Greh which functions as a shruti (microtone) in historical literature (pre Sikhi), and par-taal and ghar hukum appear together in some shabds in Maharaj, which is contradictory.

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