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Akhand Kirtan?


shaheediyan
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The new Tapoban site has an interesting article o nkirtan:

http://www.tapoban.org/stories/Bhai%20Sahi...tan%20style.pdf

Funnily enough, I agree with a large part of it and am glad it has been written, particularly as it is somewhat contradictory on important kirtan issues and allows AKJ to tackle some contraversial subjects internally.

If we could have a mature discussion on this would be appreciated, please, no tribal slandering.

1 - The article mentions Bhai Sahib hearing kirtan within himself - then expresses it. This seeks to explain where Bhai Sahib kirtan tunes came from, which is fine, maybe they were of such a high spiritual level, they are not here today to ask, and I would be no one to ask such a high soul in any case, none the less, it leaves the question unanswered, what tunes should the numerous AKJ youth now use?

Obvious answer would be look to Guru, learn raag vidya, learn to compose in nirdaareth raag, in doing so, that kirtan comes from within also.

Other than that, they can either use film/bhangra tunes like the rest of the kirtan world or wait to reach a level of spirituality the same as Bhai Sahib to "hear" the kirtan.

2 - I admire Bhai sahibs and the jathaas stance on not accepting money and therefore killing the current corrupted (sangat MTV led) kirtan tradition.

3 - Excellent point made about gurmantar dhunee not benig done by Bhai Sahib - and excellent points made as to the correct use of it in simran (private reflection/growth/experience).

This causes serious issues for 99% of current AKJ Naam Abyasi (I don't personal think it is, esp the speed and loudness in which it is shouted) kirtanees in teh west today.

4 - Finally! The Jatha themself somewhat diplomatically acknowledge the Mohinder Singh SDO started many of the current non-gurmat (in my opinion and as per what can be seen as clear maryada in Gurbani) started many incorrect practices which the whole AKJ youth have copied and exploded today i.e. Gurmantar in kirtan, jumping from one shabd to another (in between shabds), using "themes" i.e. film music etc......

I also acknowledge (as I always have) that singing with love and devotion is most important, regardless of raag vidya (same as any Guru di seva), but we must have a balance of both - if we follow Gurbani - and our Guru's traditions, we achieve this.

The Gursikh jeevan gives one devotion, mannerisms, nimrata, pyaar, vairaag etc, but also gives one discpline, confidence, intelligence etc needed to learn the worldy skills i.e. raag maryada, in order to ensure that mistakes like Mohinder Singhs do not occur.

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Kirtan is not kirtan if it isnt sung in its ordained raag, therefore any such justification for akhand kirtan in the AKJ style is irrelevant, if "bhai saab" heard kirtan within himself they way in which the celestial naads ring in param dhaam, then my cror namaskaars to his religious exerience, other wise its just a way of justifying the current way AKJ's do kirtan.

One thing is for sure that the AKJ do promote sikhi (a rather narrow minded sikhi) but then again in kal jug beggers cant be choosers.

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It's a tough subject when speaking of great souls.

Don't forget that Sant Nand Singh, Sant Ishar Singh Ji (Rara), Baba Jarnail Singh and many others never did kirtan in raag.

It's not so simple. There are many, many factors that a few posts cannot cover, but the essence of it is this, we can't question mahapurkh as they are no longer here, in any case, what they did was their choice, and they are answreable to Maharaj, we now as a community, who has complete resource in saaj and raag vidya, no longer have an excuse to not obey Gurbani kirtan maryada.

Reasons for the change to using chimtay/dholkee etc was to counter the Christian Missioneries style of preaching in the pinds (which they did using Hindu temple traditions) - and also singing one line and then talking about it etc was introduced here as per x-tian counter measure - as pind folk were responsive to easy to understand straight talk and easy to follow singing... don't forget much culture and education has been lost during the British Raj, we are takling of last few decades before the turn og the 20th c here.

In any case thats a different subject, point here is, no excuses exists today.

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Don't forget that Sant Nand Singh, Sant Ishar Singh Ji (Rara), Baba Jarnail Singh and many others never did kirtan in raag.

like to point out, all the great mahapursh may not have done kirtan in raagas. However they all emphasis importance of raag kirtan, for example- i clearly heard sant maharaj ji rara sahib divan on topic of dhyan of kirtan- he said raaga chh kirtan ch vich vi man jaldi teek janda hai tai te anand bahut aunda hai. And lets not forget Sant isher singh ji nanaksarwale blessed bhai avtar singh ji when bhai had darshan of baba ji, they blessed them to keep doing this mahan seva of gurmat sangeet maryada.

I don't think any mahapursh would deny effect of raag kirtan as compare to kirtan done in regular tunes. Then one can argue how come they dont do it themselves? At at end of day, everyone is in hakum, along with mahapursh...mahapursh are given certain task by sri akaal purkh to perform. Like for example- sant nand singh ji maharaj was given task to show how to respect sri guru granth sahib ji, they showed it how sri guru granth sahib ji is jaagdi jot of guru nanak dev nirankar to manmukhs during that time who find it alright too lock sri guru granth sahib in almeri or put it on their bicyle.

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It's a tough subject when speaking of great souls.

Don't forget that Sant Nand Singh, Sant Ishar Singh Ji (Rara), Baba Jarnail Singh and many others never did kirtan in raag.

It's not so simple. There are many, many factors that a few posts cannot cover, but the essence of it is this, we can't question mahapurkh as they are no longer here, in any case, what they did was their choice, and they are answreable to Maharaj, we now as a community, who has complete resource in saaj and raag vidya, no longer have an excuse to not obey Gurbani kirtan maryada.

Reasons for the change to using chimtay/dholkee etc was to counter the Christian Missioneries style of preaching in the pinds (which they did using Hindu temple traditions) - and also singing one line and then talking about it etc was introduced here as per x-tian counter measure - as pind folk were responsive to easy to understand straight talk and easy to follow singing... don't forget much culture and education has been lost during the British Raj, we are takling of last few decades before the turn og the 20th c here.

In any case thats a different subject, point here is, no excuses exists today.

You make a valid point. And as for your comment that there is no excuse today you are absolutely right.

With the case of the xtians, its understandable then why the mahapurshs of the adopted the folk aspect. Just like for example (goin a lil off topic) Bhagat Dhana, murti pooja is condemned by Guru Sahib but due to Dhana Bhagats understanding and budhi was of a low level (not trying to blasphemous) ie he was very bhola he obained God through a stone.

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N3O Ji,

Could you point me towards the recording of the said Baba Ishar Singh Ji divaan? Thanks.

It's not just a spiritual matter but more relevantly a practical, social and political matter. The style of current sant and AKJ kirtan, started most likely from Sant Attar Singh Ji, who was one of the 1st to counter Missionery mass conversions via vaaja, Punjabi Gospel and Punjabi hymns (based on basic pooja/folk style - very clever strategy to convert the uneducated masses).

But Sant Ji's response was equally as clever. Only shame is that the style replaced puratan kirtan and lead to being opened up to all other types of kirtan (as we see today).

Like I said, if we look at it objectively, there may have been justifiable reasons for the change in the 1870s> etc, but there are no reasons today.

I know of some famous sant today who have been politley questioned in sangat as to why they don't follow Guru's hukum, and you would be shocked as the responses given - i.e. "BE QUIET, you don't what your talking about...."

The panths problem today is they are obsessed with latter day figures in history. No one is questioning these great souls kamai or intent, but when it comes to Sikhi ravaaj - surely we should always default to our Guru?

That is the only way many on-going problems in the panth are ever going to be resolved, when people quit quoting their respective role models and start accepting what Guru says.

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Interesting.... personally I think different types of Kirtan appeal to Sangat at different avasthas - I kid you not when I say dharmik hip-hop got me on the first steps to Sikhi. Raag Kirtan at that time was just boring - like A-level maths would be to a kid in year 1.

BTW, Rarasahib style (especially the original) and AKJ are very different. Sant Isher Singh Ji always asked the sangat to sit still, close their eyes or look only at Guru Sahib and was 'shant'....

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As much as I agree keertan should be done in raag, is there any historical source that says that keertan was ever only done in raag? Isay this because I heard that after Guru Amardaas jee recited anand sahib they asked their sikhs to take dholkis and chhanae and sing anad sahib. i heard this in gyani Takhur SInghs katha a while ago, and am assuming that this taken from sooraj prakash.

Don't get me wrong, I don't agree with mainstream keertan tunes, nor modern day AKJ keertan...they play somewhat complex tunes instead of simple ones, and instead of learning these tunes, they could learn raag tunes in the same time. However, if you listen to old skool AKJ keertan the tunes were VERY simple, and required very little, if any skill to play and had none of the VAAAHGROOO in the middle either. Hence, I have no problem with people do keertan the way old skool AKJ did it...if anything I think that the older style AKJ keertan just makes keertan is more accessible to a common person.

Also....thought I should point out that tapoban shouldnt be taken as a spokeperson for AKJ...tapoban gurdwara doesnt do VAAHGROOO in the middle or keertan, nor do they support switching shabads without finishing the original shabad, and some of them even believe keertan should be done in raag. Mainstream AKJ and tapoban are not as similar as they are made out to be.

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  • 2 weeks later...

G Singh - there is one historical source - Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji.

If you take some time to study the structure and baani therein, you will see why gurmat raag is so important, it brings bani to our ears how Guru ji intended - as per his hukum before each shabd.

Guru Amardaas Ji's Anand Sahib is intricate and complex, and quite challenging to sing - esp as it is in Ramkali and is quite long.

I have heard many Raagis use the excuse that it's too difficult, too long (hence 5 pauris) etc etc.

But it's not impossible, it's song of devotion, so effort is required, and thus Anand is experienced.

anad sunhu vadbhaageeho sagal manorath pooray ||

Guru Amardas Ji is said to have invented the Saranda (Guru Arjun Dev Ji also holds this credit - depending on which source one believes), I seriously doubt they would have used chhanae.

Our Guru's continued and evolved traditions, not devolved. Kirtan grew from strength to strength - from Guru Nanak Ji's specially designed Rabab to the Saranda, to the Jori, to the Sarangi, to the Taus, Sitar and Dilruba....

Chhenai/dholki were and are a primitive folk musical form used in ras leela and such, and were adopted first time by Sant Attar Singh Ji's generation to combat missioneries who very cleverly adopted the common folks music to propogate their message.

Sarangi was the instrument that Guru Hargobind Sahib introduced to render folk themes as per the relevent Vaaran dhuni renditions.

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why duznt the rabab entice anybody to play it these days? Sure in raag kirtan people play sarangi( i play kinda badly) , saranda , taus etc, but no-one is learning rabab. Is there no-one available to teach it?

in the kirtan class i attend, there 1 sarangi learner, 2 taus learners and about 6 dilruba leaernes. no one is learning rabab.

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Raj Academy have designed a rabab based on puratan models:

http://www.rajacademy.com/shop/product_det...amp;item_id=150

They also teach, there are around 5 students in UK I think, maybe more, some more learn the Sarod, which is a modern version of the rabab, played in the same style, but has a more tight and sharper sound - via a metal face/board.

Rabab course:

http://rajacademy.com/shop/product_details...amp;item_id=168

Chris Mooney has spent many years researching the rabab, and has also produced versions based on Guru Gobind Singh Ji's rabab"

http://rajvisitsingapore.blogspot.com/

http://www.geocities.com/sydney_sikhi/

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i discussed this matter with another Sikh, and he says that the reason is it okay to do "Akj kirtan", is because Sikhism is a universal faith, for all times and ages, and Guru Nanak spoke to the masses in the language they understood, instead of talking sanskrit or some other language that they would not be able to understand.

with this said, he then went on to explain, that in these days, Raag and classical musik is not the norm, and therefore it is acceptable to use modern forms of music in order to attract the masses, so that they will understand and relate to the Kirtan, the same way Guru Nanaks message could be related by the farmers and workers as they understood what was being said.

they say that if you do everything the way the Gurus did, then you are limiting sikhi into being a simple 14-18th century religion, and not a universal religion for all times and places...

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Amardeep, tell your friend that we in the west are not poor and uneducated village folk, who don't have access to teaching, resources, instruments and Gurbani.

Nirdaareth Raag forms the skeleton of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, Guru Arjun Dev Ji didn't devote the best part their life to creating the ultimate form of worship (both spiritually and scientifically) so that some lazy "21st C Sikh" could turn around and say that drum and

bass/RnB/Raggae/Bollywood kirtan is the way forward.

Comments like that put one onto a very dangerous road, be warned, if a direct hukum from Gurbani is no longer valid, then not much else is either.

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im not saying that i agree with him, im just giving his point of view.

The Gurus presented their message in a way that was normal and known to the masses, and did not as such present them with something unfamiliar..

Today, Raag and classical indian music in not known in the west, so for this sangat of the west,(according to his understanding) it is acceptable to use bollywood kirtan, as it is GurBani that is central, and not the music as such.. GurBani is unchanged.

Guru Nanak also adopted various forms of clothing, dependent on which sangat he was in. With Yogis he wore the clothes of Yogis, with muslims the clothes of muslims etc..

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Guest Javanmard

Your argument doesn't hold Amardeep.

1. Gurbani is written in raags and these are CLEARLY mentioned by the Gurus at the beginning. To not obey that command is a sin. Pure and simple.

2. Guru Nanak wasn't changing his clothes all the time for his audience. He always wore seli, topi, chola and khirqa. Maybe here and there he would add fur for colder cimates but that's it.

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Guru Ji travelled over 3 continents - and through lands of many languages and cultures.

Bhai Mardana played a crucial role in communicating a common language to the diverse masses i.e. music.

Guru Ji would tell Mardana which notes to pluck on his Rabab and Mardana would play that heavenly sound which translated/duplicated the exact mood, emotion and message that Sat Guru Ji would be doing kirtan of. Even if people could not understand the words, they would understand the devotion and the message.

It's not a classist thing, simply a matter of Sat Guru choosing the highest form of art known to man to commnicate the divine truth in the most sublime way imaginable.

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  • 8 months later...
  • 1 month later...

I was listening to baba isher singh and baba ji said that keertan in sangat is the primary way of bringing tikaa to the mind, they said "raag dae naalon, sidhae shabadaa'ch bolna hor vee bahuta faidaa mandaa" babaji then proceeded to say when everyone sings together it brings more ikagartaa to the mind.

This is from file 11 of baba isher singh on gurmatveechar, forward to 58 minutes 30 seconds.

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