Ragmala

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Ragmala or Ragamala (pronounced rāgmālā), literally means a 'garland of Ragas, or musical melodies'. "Mala" means "garland", while "Raga" is a "musical composition or mode", which has also given rise to the series of Ragamala paintings. This list differs according to the author and the music school it is based upon. Thus there exists a number of such lists in the music text books of India.

Ragmala is also the title of a composition of twelve verses, running into sixty lines that names various ragas which appears in most copies of the Guru Granth Sahib after the compositions of Guru Arjun Dev entitled "Mundaavani" (The Royal Seal). In many of the older copies of the Guru Granth Sahib, Ragmala appears at the end after other compositions which added by various scribes but later deemed unauthorised by Sikh Panth (nation).

Translation of ragmala composition in Sikh scriptures[edit]

Each Raga has five wives, and eight sons, who emit distinctive notes. In the first place is Raag Bhairao. It is accompanied by the voices of its five Raaginis: First come Bhairavee, and Bilaavalee; then the songs of Punni-aakee and Bangalee; and then Asalaykhee. These are the five consorts of Bhairao. The sounds of Pancham, Harakh and Disaakh; the songs of Bangaalam, Madh and Maadhav. ||1|| Lalat and Bilaaval - each gives out its own melody. when these eight sons of Bhairao are sung by accomplished musicians. ||1|| In the second family is Maalakausak, who brings his five Raaginis: Gondakaree and Dayv Gandhaaree, the voices of Gandhaaree and Seehutee, and the fifth song of Dhanaasaree. This chain of Maalakausak brings along: Maaroo, Masta-ang and Mayvaaraa, Prabal, Chandakausak, Khau, Khat and Bauraanad singing. These are the eight sons of Maalakausak. ||1|| Then comes Hindol with his five wives and eight sons; it rises in waves when the sweet-voiced chorus sings. ||1|| There come Taylangee and Darvakaree; Basantee and Sandoor follow; then Aheeree, the finest of women. These five wives come together. The sons: Surmaanand and Bhaaskar come, Chandrabinb and Mangalan follow. Sarasbaan and Binodaa then come, and the thrilling songs of Basant and Kamodaa. These are the eight sons I have listed. Then comes the turn of Deepak. ||1|| Kachhaylee, Patamanjaree and Todee are sung; Kaamodee and Goojaree accompany Deepak. ||1|| Kaalankaa, Kuntal and Raamaa, Kamalakusam and Champak are their names; Gauraa, Kaanaraa and Kaylaanaa; these are the eight sons of Deepak. ||1|| All join together and sing Siree Raag, which is accompanied by its five wives: Bairaaree and Karnaatee, the songs of Gawree and Aasaavaree; then follows Sindhavee. These are the five wives of Siree Raag. ||1|| Saaloo, Saarang, Saagaraa, Gond and Gambheer - the eight sons of Siree Raag include Gund, Kumb and Hameer. ||1|| In the sixth place, Maygh Raag is sung, with its five wives in accompaniment: Sorat'h, Gond, and the melody of Malaaree; then the harmonies of Aasaa are sung. And finally comes the high tone Soohau. These are the five with Maygh Raag. ||1|| Bairaadhar, Gajadhar, Kaydaaraa, Jabaleedhar, Nat and Jaladhaaraa. Then come the songs of Shankar and Shi-aamaa. These are the names of the sons of Maygh Raag. ||1|| So all together, they sing the six Raagas and the thirty Raaginis, and all the forty-eight sons of the Raagas. ||1||1||"

[1]

Background of ragmala and history of Indian music[edit]

In the course of the evolution of Indian music, many systems came into effect, prominent among them being the Saiv Mat, said to have been imparted by Lord Shiva, who is accepted as the innovator of music; the Kalinath Mat, also called the Krishan Mat, which has its predominance in Braj and Panjab and is said to have been introduced by Kalinath, a revered teacher of music; the Bharat Mat which has its vogue in Western India and was propounded by Bharat Muni; the Hanuman Mat; the Siddh Sarsut Mat; and the Ragaranava Mat. A large number of ragmalas pertaining to these and other systems that developed are, with some variations, traceable in such well known works on Indian musicology as Gobind Sangeet Sdr, Qanun Mausiki, Budh Parkas Darpan, Sangeet Rinod and Raag Deepak.

With the exception of the Sarsut Mat which subscribes to seven chief raags, all other systems acknowledge six chief raags, thirty (in some cases thirty-six also) "wives" and forty-eight "sons" or sub-raags, each raag having eight "sons." Thus each system includes eighty-four measures which itself is a mystic number in the Indian tradition, symbolizing such entities as the 84 siddhs or the 8.4 million species of life.

Though the details concerning the names of "wives" and "sons" differ in each raagmala, the chief systems, broadly speaking, have only two sets; one including Siri, Basant, Bhairav, Pancham, Megh and Nat Narayan, as in the Saiv and Kalinath systems; and the other including Bhairav, Malkauris, Hindol, Deepak, Siri and Megh as in Bharat and Hanuman systems. In some systems, the raags have, besides "wives" and "sons", "daughters" and "daughters-inlaw" as well. The chief raags are shudh, i.e. complete and perfect, while the "wives" and "sons" are sanktrna, i.e. mixed, incomplete and adulterated. Each of the six principal raags relates itself by its nature to a corresponding season.

Ragmala and Guru Granth Sahib's musical system[edit]

The raagmala appended to Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji is not much different from the others, and, by itself, does not set up a new system. This raagmala is nearest to the Hanuman Mat, but the arrangement of raags in Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji is nearer to the Saiv Mala and the Kalinath Mat which give primacy to Siri Raag. The only system wherein occur all the raags and sub-raags employed in Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji is Bharat Mat.

In Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji no distinction has been made between raags and rdgims and all the measures employed have been given the status of raags, each one of them recognized in its own right and not as “wife” or “son” to another raag. In practice over a long stretch of time, Gurmat Sangeet, i.e. Sikh music, has evolved its own style and conventions which make it a system distinct from other Indian systems.

There are 8 raags that are utilised in Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji that have not been mentioned in the Raagmala. These are: Bihagara, Wadahans, Manjh, Jaitsri, Ramkali, Tukhari, Prabhati and Jaijawanti. Mali-Gaura is not included in Raagmala but Gaura is.

Dividing issue on ragmala[edit]

The raagmala appended to Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji is not much different from the others, and, by itself, does not set up a new system. This raagmala is nearest to the Hanuman Mat, but the arrangement of raags in Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji is nearer to the Saiv Mala and the Kalinath Mat which give primacy to Siri Raag. The only system wherein occur all the raags and sub-raags employed in Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji is Bharat Mat.

In Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji no distinction has been made between raags and rdgims and all the measures employed have been given the status of raags, each one of them recognized in its own right and not as “wife” or “son” to another raag. In practice over a long stretch of time, Gurmat Sangeet, i.e. Sikh music, has evolved its own style and conventions which make it a system distinct from other Indian systems.

There are 8 raags that are utilised in Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji that have not been mentioned in the Raagmala. These are: Bihagara, Wadahans, Manjh, Jaitsri, Ramkali, Tukhari, Prabhati and Jaijawanti. Mali-Gaura is not included in Raagmala but Gaura is.[2]

“The last pages of the Kartarpur Beerh do not suggest, either because of the presence of blank spaces, or scoring out, or obliteration hortal, or otherwise, that there was or could have been the least intention to write these hymns in the Granth. The Mudaavni is on page 973/1. Pages 973/2 and 974/1 are blank, and on page 974/2 is Raagmala. As such, there could never have been the possibility, nor could it ever have been contemplated that these three writings requiring a space of over four pages could have been accommodated on the two blank pages 973/2 and 974/1.” [3]

The puraatan (old) saroops that did or do include Raagmala (like Bhai Banno Beerh) also included other compositions after Mundaavni (but before Raagmala), such as: (i) Jit Dar Lakh Mohammada, (ii) Siahi Di Bhidhi, (iii) Ratanmala, (iv) Hakeekatrah mukam, (v) Praan Sangli, (vi) Rab Mukam Ki Sabk, (vii) Baye Atisb (16 saloks) etc. All seven of these compositions that existed after Mundaavni (but before Raagmala) were all unanimously discredited by the Panth and it was acknowledged that mischievous individuals had over time included these compositions at the end of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji but had no standing against Gurbani.

Maha-Kavi Santokh Singh (1787-1843), the famous historian that is most quoted by Kathavachiks (preachers), writes in ‘Sri Gur Partaap Sooraj Granth’ (pages 430-431):

ਲਿਖੇ ਸਮਸਤ ਸਵੈਯੇ ਸੋਅੂ, ਸ੍ਰੀ ਗ੍ਰੰਥ ਸਾਹਿਬ ਕੇ ਮਾਂਹਿ । ਅੰਤ ਸਰਬ ਕੇ ਲਿਖਿ ਮੁੰਦਾਵਣੀ, ਮੁੰਦ੍ਰਿਤ ਮੁਹਰ ਲਗੀ ਜਨੁ ਵਾਹਿ । ਭੋਗ ਸਕਲ ਬਾਣੀ ਕੋ ਪਾਯਹੁ, ਮਹਿਮਾ ਜਿਸ ਕੀ ਕਹੀ ਨਾ ਜਾਇ । ਭਵਜਲ ਭੈਰਵ ਕੋ ਜਹਾਜ ਬਜ਼, ਪ੍ਰਭੂ ਕ੍ਰਿਪਾ ਤੇ ਪਾਰ ਪਰਾਇ ॥੩੯॥ “Then Guru Ji wrote all the Svaiyye in Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji. In the end (Guru Ji) wrote Mundavani as a seal indicating that Gurbani is no longer after this seal. One cannot measure the great spiritual benefit of reading a complete reading of whole of Baani. Siri Guru Granth Sahib Ji is the ship to get across the this ocean of world. By the great grace of God this ship has been sent to this world and by his grace alone one can get onto this ship. ||39||"[4]

ਰਾਗਮਾਲ ਸ਼੍ਰੀ ਗੁਰ ਕੀ ਕ੍ਰਿਤ ਨਿਹਂ, ਹੈ ਮੁੰਦਾਵਣੀ ਲਗਿ ਗੁਰ ਬੈਨ । ਇਸ ਮਹਿਂ ਨਿਹਂ ਸੰਸੈ ਕੁਛ ਕਰੀਅਹਿ, ਜੇ ਸੰਸੈ ਅਵਿਲੋਕਹੁ ਨੈਨ । ਮਾਧਵ ਨਲ ਆਲਮ ਕਿਵ ਕੀਨਸਿ, ਤਿਸ ਮਹਿਂ ਨ੍ਰਿਤਕਾਰੀ ਕਹਿ ਤੈਨ । ਰਾਗ ਰਾਗਨੀ ਨਾਮ ਗਿਨੇ ਤਿਹਂ, ਯਾਂ ਤੇ ਸ਼੍ਰੀ ਅਰਜਨ ਕ੍ਰਿਤ ਹੈ ਨ ॥੪੦॥ “Raagmala is not Baani of Guru Sahib. Only up to Mundaavni is Gurbani; don’t doubt this statement and don’t let any cloud of doubt come in front of your eyes. A book named Maadhavaanal was written by Poet Aalam, this Raagmala is part of that book (the Niratkaari chapter of it. Niratkaari means dance. Raagmala appears in the scene when Kaam Kandhala the dancer dances and sings a song in front of the king while Madhavnal watches and plays instruments). Aalam Kavi has written the names of Raags and Raagnis that were sung at that time. Therefore, this baani is not the work of Siri Guru Arjan Dev Ji.||40||”[5]

Kavi Santokh Singh writes that “Ragmala is not authored by the Guru” and that the author of the composition is “Aalam.” Based on Sanskrit and Praakrit books, poet Aalam is a contemporary of Emperor Akbar, in 1640 Bk. He wrote the book Maadhavaanal Katha in Hindi. This has 353 verses and most of it is Chaupai style. This story was first very famous in Gujarat and so, after Akbar had conquered Gujarat, he had it translated into Hindi. Aalam has hinted at this in the start of his work. Although Giani Dit Singh produced research and photographs of Saroops of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji that end with Mundavani and the Salok in his book entintled “Mundavani”, some scholars strongly claim that pro-Raagmala supporters mischievously unnecessarily cremated volumes of Saroops that didn’t contain Raagmala and other disputed compositions.

Similarly Giani Gian Singh (1822-1921), infamous Sikh historian, writes in Tavareekh Guru Khalsa:

ਸਾਰੀ ਬਾਣੀ ਲਿਖਾ ਕੇ ਗੁਰੂ ਜੀ ਨੇ ਅੰਤ ਨੂੰ ‘ਮੁੰਦਾਵਣੀ’ ਉ੍ਨਤੇ ਭੋਗ ਪਾ ਦ੍ਨਿਤਾ, ਕਿਉਂਕਿ ‘ਮੁੰਦਾਵਣੀ’ ਨਾਮ ਮੁੰਦ ਦੇਣ ਦਾ ਹੈ, ਜਿਸ ਤਰ੍ਹਾਂ ਕਿਸੇ ਚ੍ਨਿਠੀ ਪ੍ਨਤਰ ਨੂੰ ਲਿਖਕੇ ਅਮਤ ਵ੍ਨਿਚ ਮੋਹਰ ਲਾ ਕੇ ਦੇਈਦਾ ਹੈ ਕਿ ਏਦੂੰ ਅ੍ਨਗੇ ਹੋਰ ਕੁਛ ਨਹੀਂ | “Writing all the Bani, Guru Ji completed it with ending with ‘Mundaavunee’ because ‘Mundaavunee’ means seal, just like after writing a letter you seal a letter with a stamp, similarly nothing (in Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji) comes after.”[6]

According to Giani Gian Singh (1822-1921), infamous Sikh historian, a Sarbat Khalsa gathering was held in 1853. In this gathering it was declared that Raag Mala is not Gurbani. He writes: “In Samvat 1906 Bikrami (1853 AD), during the month of Katak, at the Dera of Sant Dyaal Singh, a large Panthic gathering took place. On the Diwali day, after detailed exchange of ideas and considerations, it was concluded that Raag Mala is not Gurbani.”

In 1900, at the time of the founding of the Chief Khalsa Diwan, Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji was printed without containing Raagmala. One such Bir is reported to be present now at Gujarwal in Ludhiana District. Again another printing of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji took place in 1915 without Raagmala in Gurmat Press at Amritsar – one of which is also present in Singh Sabha Gurdwara at Gujarwal. At that time the two main Sikh organizations, Tat Khalsa and Chief Khalsa Diwan, propagated zealously against reading Raag Mala.

According to Dr. S. S. Kapoor, the Sikh scholars differ in their opinion about its inclusion in the Granth. The traditional school thinks it to be a part of Sri Granth Sahib Ji and asserts that it is an index of the raags used in Sri Granth Sahib Ji. This argument can be challenged on the grounds that a number of raags mentioned Raagmala are not in Sri Granth Sahib Ji and a number of raags used in Sri Granth Sahib Ji are not in the Raagmala. Another argument of the traditional schools that it is a part of the original copy and is written in the same ink and with the same pen as was used for the other parts of the Granth. This plea also does not carry any weight as in those days all the scribes used almost the same ink and the same type of pen. As the writing of the Gurmukhi characters was also the same so it becomes rather difficult to identify the handwriting. It is said by the modern scholars that it was Bhai Banno who might have been instrumental in its inclusion (along with other compositions that are considered ‘kachi bani’) in the Granth as he had the possession of the original copy of the Granth when he took it to Lahore for binding.

Divided opinion on ragmala amongst 20th and 21st century Sikh scholars[edit]

Scholars and Saints for Ragmala: Bhai Vir Singh, Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale, Dr. Jodh Singh, Akali Kaur Singh, Sant Giani Gurbachan Singh Ji (Jatha Bhindran), Sant Giani Kartar Singh Ji, Sant Baba Bishan Singh Ji (Murale Wale), Baba Deep Singh Ji, Bhai Mani Singh Ji, Sant Baba Mkhan Singh Ji (Sato Gali Wale), Sant Giani Kirpal Singh Ji (Sato Gali Wale), Sant Baba Nand Singh Ji (Kaleran Wale), Sant Baba Isher Singh Ji (Kaleran Wale), Sant Baba Isher Singh Ji (Rara Sahib) and the rest of Bhai Daya Singh Ji Samparda, Sant Samaj (Society of Saints), Shaheed Gurbachan Singh Manochahal, Sant Kartar Singh Bhindranwale, Baba Thakur Singh Bhindranwale, Baba Nihal Singh Tarna Dal, Sant Harnam Singh Rampurkherewale, Giani Sant Singh Maskeen, Giani Pinderpal Singh, Udasis, Nirmalas, Sewa Panthis, Akali Nihang Singh Khalsa.

Scholars and Saints against Ragmala: Famous Sikh historian Giani Gian Singh, Â Giani Ditt Singh, Prof. Gurmukh Singh (founders of Singh Sabha Movement); Pandit Tara Singh Nirotam; ; Sant Arjun Singh Vaid; Sadhu Gobind Singh Nirmala; Prof. Hazara Singh; Bhai Sahib Bhai Kahan Singh Nabha, the author of Mahan Kosh; Master Mota Singh; Master Mehtab Singh; Master Tara Singh; Gyani Sher Singh; Babu Teja Singh; Giani Nahar Singh; Principal Dharmanant Singh; Giani Bishan Singh Teeka-kar; Sant Baba Teja Singh Mastuana Wale; Principal Ganga Singh; Dr. Ganda Singh; Prof. Sahib Singh; S. Shamsher Singh Ashok Research Scholar of S.G.P.C.; Bhai Randhir Singh, research scholar; Pandit Kartar Singh Daakhaa; Principal Bawa Harkishan Singh; Principal Narinjan Singh; Prof. Gurbachan Singh Talib; Principal Gurmukhnihal Singh; Shaheed Bhai Fauja Singh; Shaheed Bhai Sukhdev Singh Babbar; Shaheed Bhai Anokh Singh Babbar etc.

Official Sikh standpoint on ragmala[edit]

Article XI (a) of the Sikh Rehat Maryada (SRM): "The reading of the whole Guru Granth Sahib (intermittent or non-stop) may be concluded with the reading of Mundawani alone or the Rag Mala according to the convention traditionally observed at all the concerned places. (Since there is a difference of opinion within the Panth on this issue, nobody should dare to write or print a copy of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji excluding the Raag Mala)." [7]

Ragas[edit]

Six are male (parent) ragas; the thirty raginis are their wives and the remaining forty-eight are their sons. These are listed is as follows:

  • (1) Parent Raga: Bhairav raga

Wives: Bhairavi, Bilawali, Punyaki, Bangli, Aslekhi. Sons: Pancham, Harakh, Disakh, Bangal, Madhu, Madhava, Lalit, Bilaval.

  • (2) Parent Raga: Malkaus raga

Wives: Gaundkari, Devagandhari, Gandhari, Seehute, Dhanasri. Sons: Maru, Mustang, Mewara, Parbal, Chand, Khokhat, Bhora, Nad.

  • (3) Parent Raga: Hindol raga

Wives: Telangi, Devkari, Basanti, Sindhoori, Aheeri. Sons: Surmanand, Bhasker, Chandra-Bimb, Mangalan, Ban, Binoda, Basant, Kamoda.

  • (4) Parent Raga: Deepak raga

Wives: Kachheli, Patmanjari, Todi, Kamodi, Gujri. Sons: Kaalanka, Kuntal, Rama, Kamal, Kusum, Champak, Gaura, Kanra [36].

  • (5) Parent Raga: Sri raga

Wives: Bairavi, Karnati, Gauri, Asavari, Sindhavi. Sons: Salu, Sarag, Sagra, Gaund, Gambhir, Gund, Kumbh, Hamir.

  • (6) Parent Raga: Megh raga

Wives: Sorath, Gaundi-Malari, Asa, Gunguni, Sooho. Sons: Biradhar, Gajdhar, Kedara, Jablidhar, Nut, Jaldhara, Sankar, Syama.

Ragas in Guru Granth Sahib[edit]

If we compare the above scheme with the ragas of Guru Granth Sahib, we find that only two major ragas - Sri raga and Bhairav - have been included in the Scripture. The remaining male parent ragas, namely Malkaus, Hindol, Deepak and Megh have been excluded. Sri raga is the first raga in the Scripture instead of Bhairav raga of the Ragmala. Asawari used in the Scripture as a part of Asa raga is according to ragmala the wife of Sri raga. The following eleven wives (raginis) and eight sons of the parent-ragas are included in the Scripture:

There is no mention of Bihagara, Wadahans, Mali-Gaura, Kalyan [37], Manjh, Jaitsri, Ramkali, Tukhari, Prabhati and Jaijawanti in Ragmala.

References[edit]

1. Śabadārath Srī Gurū Granth Sāhib. Amritsar, 1964

2. Shamsher Singh Ashok. Rāgmālā Nirṇai. Amritsar, n.d.

3. Surindar Siṅgh Kohli. A Critical Study of Adi Granth. Delhi, 1961

4. Max Arthur Macauliffe. The Sikh Religion: Its Gurus, Sacred Writings and Authors. Oxford, 1909

5. Professor Sahib Singh. About the Compilation of Sri Guru Granth Sahib (Tr. Daljit Singh). Amritsar, 1996

6. Madan Singh. Raag Maala - A Re-appraisal in the Context of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji. Amritsar, 2003.

7. Taran Singh. Ragmala. The Encyclopaedia of Sikhism, Vol. III. Ed. Harbans Singh. Punjabi University, Patiala, 1997. P 426.

8. Kavi Santokh Singh. Sri Gur Partap Suraj Granth. http://www.ik13.com/Rasses/SGPS%20Raas%203.pdf

External links[edit]


  1. ^ P. 1429-1430, www.SriGranth.org
  2. ^ Surindar Siṅgh Kohli. A Critical Study of Adi Granth. Delhi, 1961
  3. ^ Professor Sahib Singh. About the Compilation of Sri Guru Granth Sahib (Tr. Daljit Singh). Amritsar, 1996
  4. ^ Kavi Santokh Singh. Sri Gur Partap Suraj Granth. http://www.ik13.com/Rasses/SGPS%20Raas%203.pdf
  5. ^ Kavi Santokh Singh. Sri Gur Partap Suraj Granth. http://www.ik13.com/Rasses/SGPS%20Raas%203.pdf
  6. ^ Giani Gian Singh, Tavareekh Guru Khalsa
  7. ^ http://www.sgpc.net/rehat_maryada/section_three_chap_five.html