The House of Mardana Volume 1 : Traditional Gurmat Sangeet by Devinder Singh Gulbagh Singh

The House of Mardana Volume 1

Album Notes

The practice of Gurmat Sangeet or Gurbani Kirtan was started by the First Sikh prophet, Guru Nanak, in the fifteenth century. Guru Nanak, a visionary poet and social reformer, laid the foundation of a monotheistic faith that was fiercely committed to equality and social justice. Guru Nanak undertook great journeys by foot, traveling to Baghdad and Mecca, Sri Lanka and Tibet, carrying his message of peace and universal brotherhood.

On all of his travels, Guru Nanak was accompanied by the legendary minstrel Bhai Mardana, who played the Rabab, a precursor to the modern day Sarod. Traditional accounts describe how Guru Nanak and Mardana would travel from village to village, where Mardana would play his Rabab and Guru Nanak would sing hymns that were revealed to him.

Guru Nanak combined the elements of North Indian Classical Music, Carnatic Music and Folk Music to give birth to Gurmat Sangeet, which, five hundred years later continues to be the primary form of worship in the Sikh tradition. This oral tradition has been kept alive through multiple generations by a few dedicated exponents and in the past decade or so, has been enjoying a renaissance, as young Sikhs in particular begin to seek out and master traditional compositions that define the form.

The Music

The House of Mardana Volume 1 contains four tracks from the Gurmat Sangeet tradition.

1. Sun Yare Hamare Sajjan Ik Karo Benantiya (Raga Desi Todi)

sun yaar hamaarae sajan eik karo baena(n)theeaa ||
this mohan laal piaarae ho firo khoja(n)theeaa ||
this dhas piaarae sir dhharee outhaarae eik bhoree dharasan dheejai ||
nain hamaarae pria ra(n)g ra(n)gaarae eik thil bhee naa dhheereejai ||
prabh sio man leenaa jio jal meenaa chaathrik jivai thisa(n)theeaa ||
jan naanak gur pooraa paaeiaa sagalee thikhaa bujha(n)theeaa ||1||

Listen, O my beloved friend – I have just one prayer
I have been wandering around, searching for that enticing, sweet Beloved.
I would offer my life, just to behold my Beloved for an instant
Eyes drenched with the Love of my Beloved, I do not have a moment’s peace.
My mind is attached to the Lord, as a fish is to water, as the rainbird, is to the rain
Says Nanak I have found the Perfect Guru; my thirst is quenched. ||1||

2. Jhim Jhim Jhim Jhim Varse Amrit Dhara Ram (Raga Lalit)

aasaa mehalaa 4 ||
jhim jhimae jhim jhim varasai a(n)mrith dhhaaraa raam ||
guramukhae guramukh nadharee raam piaaraa raam ||
raam naam piaaraa jagath nisathaaraa raam naam vaddiaaee ||
kalijug raam naam bohithhaa guramukh paar laghaaee ||
halath palath raam naam suhaelae guramukh karanee saaree ||
naanak dhaath dhaeiaa kar dhaevai raam naam nisathaaree ||1||

Aasaa, Fourth Guru:
Slowly, the drops of Ambrosial Nectar trickle down.
As the blessed one beholds the Beloved Lord.
The Name of the Lord, the emancipator is dear to him; it is his glory.
In this dark age His Name is the boat, which carries the blessed across.
This world and the next are adorned with His Name which steers the blessed
O Nanak, the kind Lord bestows the gift of His emancipating Name. ||1||

3. Sant Parsad Baidh Narain Karan Kaaran Prabh Ek (Raga Todi)

ttoddee mehalaa 5 ||
har kae charan kamal man dhhiaao ||
kaadt kut(h)aar pith baath ha(n)thaa aoukhadhh har ko naao ||1|| rehaao ||
theenae thaap nivaaranehaaraa dhukh ha(n)thaa sukh raas ||
thaa ko bighan n kooo laagai jaa kee prabh aagai aradhaas ||1||
sa(n)th prasaadh baidh naaraaein karan kaaran prabh eaek ||
baal budhh pooran sukhadhaathaa naanak har har ttaek ||2||8||13||

Todee, Fifth Guru:
Meditate on the lotus feet of the Lord
His Name is the cure; like an axe, it cuts through anger and ego. ||1||Pause||
The Lord soothes the three fevers; he destroys pain; he bestows peace.
No obstacles block the path of one who prays before Him. ||1||
By the Grace of the holy, the Lord heals me; he is the cause of everything.
He alone, bestows peace O Nanak; the Lord provides succor ||2||8||13||

4. Jap Man Satnam Sadaa Satnam (Raga Bilaskhani Todi)

dhhanaasaree mehalaa 4 ||
eishhaa poorak sarab sukhadhaathaa har jaa kai vas hai kaamadhhaenaa ||
so aisaa har dhhiaaeeai maerae jeearrae thaa sarab sukh paavehi maerae manaa ||1||
jap man sath naam sadhaa sath naam ||
halath palath mukh oojal hoee hai nith dhhiaaeeai har purakh nira(n)janaa || rehaao ||
jeh har simaran bhaeiaa theh oupaadhh gath keenee vaddabhaagee har japanaa ||
jan naanak ko gur eih math dheenee jap har bhavajal tharanaa ||2||6||12||

Dhanaasaree, Fourth Guru:
The Lord is the Fulfiller of desires, the Giver of total peace
So meditate on such a Lord, O my soul. And you shall obtain total peace
Chant, O my mind, the True Name
Forever your face shall be radiant; meditate on the immaculate Lord. ||Pause||
Remembering the Lord averts all misfortune; fortunate are the ones who do.
O Nanak , only by meditating on the Lord, is one safe form the perils of the world

The Musicians

Bhai Devinder Singh, Bhai Gulbagh Singh and Bhai Iqbal Singh represent the 17th generation in an unbroken line of musicians who trace their ancestry to the legendary Bhai Mardana. Bhai Gulbagh Singh was part of the legendary duo Dilbagh Singh Gulbagh Singh, who were among the foremost practitioners of Gurmat Sangeet for several decades. Their ancestors were mostly Dhrupadiyas, but in the last century, their style has gravitated much more towards Khayal. Miya Kalu, also known as Kalu Rababi, the father of ‘Jarnail’ Ustad Ali Baksh, the legendary founder of the Patiala Gharana was part of the same line of musicians that Devinder Singh, Gulbagh Singh and Iqbal Singh belong to.

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About Sarbpreet 7 Articles
Sarbpreet Singh is a playwright commentator and poet, who has been writing while pursuing a career in technology for several years. His commentary has appeared on NPR's Morning Edition, The Boston Herald, The Providence Journal, The Milwaukee Journal and several other newspapers and magazines. He writes a weekly column for the popular culture magazine, He is the founder and director of the Gurmat Sangeet Project, a non-profit dedicated to the preservation of traditional Sikh music and serves on the boards of various non-profits focused on service and social justice. He is very active in Boston Interfaith circles and was recognized for his interfaith work by the Boston Globe.