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Gurbani Sangeet And Rag Maroo
07-31-2010, 01:22 PM
Post: #1
Gurbani Sangeet And Rag Maroo

Gurbani Sangeet And Rag Maroo- Dr. Jagir Singh


Gurbani Sangeet or Gurmat Sangeet is the category of music in which Gurbani is sung. Ordinarily, the hymns included in Shri Guru Granth Sahib are termed as Gurbani. Shri Guru Granth Sahib is a unique Granth in the history of mankind. In addition to the light thrown on the religious, literary and cultural dimensions, it has great importance in the musical dimensions also. The musical element in the Gurbani compositions is not externally imposed on these compositions. In fact, music itself provided the environment in which these compositions were intuitively revealed t the Gurus and the Bhagats.  This is made abundantly clear in the Janam Sakhies whenever there is a reference to the process or mode of composing through singing as the Gurbani was revealed. For example, whenever the moment for the revelation of Gurbani came to Guru Nanak Dev Ji, he instructed Bhai Mardana Ji to tune up the Rabaab for the Raag appropriate to the time for Guru Ji to sing the Gurbani while it was being revealed to him.

Guru Arjan Dev Ji organized the Gurbani in a very specific mode under 31 main Raagas along with 31 other Raagas which are derived from the main Raagas or are created by combining elements of two or more Raagas. While editing the Gurbani, he not only gave concrete indications for the manner of singing Gurbani but also established a tradition for making Gurbani as a part of daily performance in the life of the Sikhs.

Maroo Raag: Though Maroo Raag is at serial 21 in the sequence of Raagas included in Shri Guru Granth Sahib, it is the third in importance when judged by the quantum of Gurbani composed in it, the first being Raag Gauri and the second Raag Aasaa. It includes the Banies of Guru Nanak Dev Ji, Guru Angad Dev Ji (only one Slaok) Guru Amar Das Ji, Guru Ram Das Ji, Guru Arjan Dev Ji and Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji. In addition the Banies of Bhagat Kabir Ji, Namdev Ji, Ravi Das Ji and Jai dev Ji is also included in it.

The Correlation between the Sentiment of Raag Maroo Gurbani and the Sentiment of Raag Maroo: Raagas are created by combining different lower and higher musical notes. The internal structure of a Raag depending on the manner of sequential arrangements of musical notes and their relative quantum determines the sentiment of a Raag. The eminent musicologists of Indian music believe that the different Raagas create quite different types of sentiments.

In the ancient period in India, the present day entity of Raag was named as Jati. Bharat, an eminent musicologist of that period, in his Naat-Shastraa has discussed the mutual correlation amongst Raag, Rasa and poetry. He advocated that the poetical compositions permeated with a Rasa of a fundamental note-Sthai note-of a particular Jati, should be sung in that Jati. He indicated the Rasa associated with different fundamental notes as below:

Fundamental Note



Veer (Enthusiasm),  Raudar (Anger), Adbhut  (Wonder)


Veer (Enthusiasm), Raudar (Anger), Adbhut


Karun (Grief)


Shinghaar (Love), Haas (Mirth)


Shinghaar (Love), Haas (Mirth)


Veebhats (Disgust), Bhiyaanak (Terror)


Karun  (Grief)

Sharangdev and Damodar Pundit accepted Bharat’s viewpoint regarding concept of Raag-Rasa but another later musicologist Ahobal came out with a different correlation between the notes and their Rasa as below:




Haas (Mirth)


Shinghaar (Love)


Haas (Mirth)


Shinghaar (Love)


Bhiyaanak (Terror)


Veebhats (Disgust)


Karun  (Grief)

In modern times, musicologist Vishnu Narain Bhatkhande has propounded a theory regarding the Rasa of Ragas as determined by various combinations of notes in their structure as follows:

  1. The Ragas with Komal (flat) Re and Dha have a Rasa which is Shaant (Tranquility), and Karuna,
  2. Raagaas with Komal Ga and Komal Ni have Rasa/Bhaava of bravery.
  3. Raagaas with normal Re and Dha have Rasa of Shinghaar.

The correlation amongst the Raagaas and their Rasa/emotion can also be known from their pictorial representations –Raagaa Paintings.

Rasa/Bhaava of Maroo Raag: Most of the scholars associated with Gurmat Sangeet are of the view that Maroo Raag originated in Maroo area i.e. Rajasthan and used mainly for music related to wars. Singing in this Raag is believed to eliminate one’s cowardice as per Buddh Prakaash Darpan. Bhai Kahn Singh of Nabha mentions in Mahaan Kosh that compositions in this Raag are sung during wars as also on occasions of death. The Raag Painting relating to this Raag also depict bravery as the Bhaava of this Raag.

There are references to the Bhaava of this Raag in Shri Guru Granth Sahib As follows:

Through the Word of the Guru's Shabad, I worship and adore the Naam, with love and balanced detachment.

When the five enemies are overcome, O Nanak, this musical measure of Raga Maaroo becomes fruitful. || 3 || (Guru Arjan Dev, SGGS, P. 1425)

In this Sloak, Guru Ji has dealt with the theme of conquering the five enemies i.e. Kaam, Karodh, Lobh, Moh, Hankaar). In the Bani of this Raag , the theme of war and victory have been dealt with. The Gurus have extensively used the vocabulary related to battles:

My body is pierced through with the arrow of love. How can any physician know the cure?
|| 1 || (Guru Nanak, SGGS, p. 993)

Amongst the battle weapons, not only arrows but Khandaa, Gadaa, Chakkar also find mention:

Taking up the five arrows of virtue, Death is killed, drawing the Bow of the Tenth Gate in the Mind's Sky. || 9 ||(Guru Nanak Dev Ji , SGGS, p. 1042)

Taking up the sword of spiritual wisdom, she struggles with her mind, and hope and desire are smoothed over in her mind. || 3 || (Guru Nanak Dev Ji, SGGS, p. 1022)

This path is very narrow, like the sharp edge of a sword. Guru Nanak Dev Ji, SGGS, p.1028)

He carries the conch, the chakra and the war club; He is the Great Charioteer, who stays with His Saints. || 10 || (Guru Arjan Dev Ji, SGGS, P, 1082)

The sharp tool cuts down the tree, but it does not feel anger in its mind. (Guru Arjan Dev Ji, SGGS, p. 1017)

The use of words like ‘Sanghaaran’ shows that the rasa of bravery is manifested in Maroo Raag Bani:

Eradicating sexual desire, anger and egotism,

she destroys the five thieves through the Word of the Shabad. (Guru Nanak Dev Ji, SGGS, p. 1022)

He seizes sexual desire and anger by their necks, and kills them; He eradicates egotism and greed. || 6 || (Guru Nanak Dev Ji, SGGS, p. 1040)

My Lord is the Destroyer of demons. (Guru Nanak Dev Ji, SGGS, p. 1028)

He is the Slayer of demons, our Supreme Lord and Master. (Guru Arjan Dev Ji, SGGS, p. 1082)

The Enticer of Hearts, the Lord of wealth, Krishna, the Enemy of ego. (Guru Arjan Dev Ji, SGGS, p.1082) The guidance given to the mankind also include element of bravery:

Look ahead; don't turn your face backwards.

O Nanak, be successful this time, and you shall not be reincarnated again. || 1 || (Guru Arjan Dev Ji, SGGS, p.1096)

There is a unique partnership amongst the Gurus and the Bhagats in portraying similar bravery Bhava in Maroo Raag Bani:

First, accept death, and give up any hope of life.

Become the dust of the feet of all, and then, you may come to me. || 1 || (Guru Arjan Dev Ji, SGGS, p. 1102)

The battle-drum beats in the sky of the mind; aim is taken, and the wound is inflicted.

The spiritual warriors enter the field of battle; now is the time to fight! || 1 ||

He alone is known as a spiritual hero, who fights in defense of religion.

He may be cut apart, piece by piece, but he never leaves the field of battle. || 2 || 2 ||
(Kabir Ji, SGGS, p. 1105)

Bhagat Namdev Ji also remembers God as destroyer of demons:

For the sake of His devotee Prahlaad, God assumed the form of the man-lion, and killed Harnaakhash. (Namdev Ji, SGGS, p. 1105)

The following Shabads from Maroo Raag have a place of primacy amongst the Shabads sung during Guru Arjan Dev Ji’s martyrdom  Gurpurb:

The love which the Lord's servant feels for the Lord lasts forever. (Guru Arjan Dev Ji, SGGS, p. 1000)

Why should I come into the world again? (Kabir Ji, SGGS, p. 1103)

The shabads sung during cremation and subsequent events connected with the death of a Sikh include many shabads from Maroo Raag Bani:

O foolish mind, why are you so proud? (Guru Nanak Dev Ji, SGGS, po. 989)

Union and separation are ordained by the Primal Lord God. (Guru Arjan Dev Ji, SGGS, p. 1007)

Beneath the tree, all beings have gathered. (Guru Arjan Dev Ji, SGGS, p. 1019)

O father, now I shall not live in this village. (Kabir Ji, SGGS, p. 1104)

Relationship between poetic forms used in Gurbani in Raag Maroo and Raag Maroo Itself:
Some of the poetic forms used in Gurbani of  Maroo Raag are of the type normally used in conventional patterns like ‘Padey, Ashtpadi, Solhey, Anjali, and Sloak. Some of the forms are based on  the folk poetic forms like Vaars and Dakhney. In the Indian musical tradition there is an intimate relationship between the poetical forms and the Raagaas. Many of the Indian Raagaas are based on the folk poetry’s musical tunes. The names of some of the Raagaas are either associated with the caste of people or with a particular place. There are very clear indication to this effect in certain cases as follows:

Majh Raag is considered to be associated with Majhaa region of Punjab while some consider it to be associated with Madhya Pradesh. There is a poet form in Punjabi language, which is named Majh. Gauri Raag is associated with Gaur region while there is a poetical form called as Gaurhaar. Other examples include:




Gujrat/ Gujar Desh


Sorath/Saurashtra Desh


Maroo Desh/


Kanhar Desh


Telangaana Desh






Gaunda Caste

Dhanasri Raag is sung during crop harvesting and is believed to increase the crop yields. Thus this Raag comes closer to the folk tunes. Many folk tunes are based on Raag Sarang. The flute tunes used by the cattle grazers and the tunes used by the snake charmers are also based on Raag Sarang. Folk songs associated with expression of joy are called Malhar, which is also the name of a Raag. Thus there is a variety of relationships between Raagaas and the folk poetical forms.

Many of the poetical forms included in Shri Guru Granth Sahib are based on the folk music styles i.e. those tunes of the folk music with their associated rhythm and metrical dimensions which the Guru Poets used for the poetical forms such as Chhant, Aalahniyaan, Vaars, Ghoriaan, Birharey, despite the unique of themes dealt with therein.


Poetic Forms Used in Maroo Raag Gurbani: The following poetical forms have bee used for the Gurbani in Raag Maroo:

2. Vaar; 3. Sloak; 4. Anjuli; 5. Dakhney

Padey: A
variety of Padey forms such as Do-Padey, Ti-padey, Cho-Padey, Punj-padey, Chhey-Padet, Asht-Padi, Sohiley have been used. Sohley comprising of 16 Padeys has been used only in Raag Maroo. The poetical form of Padey has been used to the maximum extent in Shri Guru Granth Sahib. Guruwise extent of use of this form in Maroo Raag is given below:

  1. Guru Nanak Dev Ji-12 Padey, 12 Ashtpadi, 22 Sohley total 46 Padeys.
  2. Guru Amar Das Ji- 5 Padey, 1 Ashtpadi, 23 Sohley total 27 Padeys
  3. Guru Ram Das Ji-8 Padey
  4. Guru Arjan Dev ju-31 Padey, 6 Ashtpadi,
  5. Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji- 3 Padey

The Padey form has a special relationship with music. Almost every Padaa has a line called Rahao. According to Kahn Singh of Nabha, Rahao means that part of the Padaa, which is repeatedly sung subsequent to the singing of each one of the Antra of a Padda and hence is termed as “Tek or Sthai”.

As the Rahao part of a Padaa is specifically made distinctive, some scholars consider the Padey poetical form  meant for singing in Dhrupad style.  According to Bharati Sangeet Kosh, Dhrupad means stable or non-movable or some entity,
which lasts long. Such characteristics only God has and therefore Padeys, which are sung in the praise of God, are called Dhrupad. Going by such a criteria, the Padeya of Maroo Raag can be considered as meant for singing in Dhrupad style.
According to musicologist Bhathkhandey, Dhrupad compositions have 4 parts: Sthai, Antaraa, Sanchaari, and Abhogi. It is up to the composer to decide as to how many stanzas to keep in each part.  The Gurus have exercised such freedom and
have composed Padeys with varying numbers of stanzas –such as two, three, four, five, six, eight and sixteen.

VAAR Poetic Form:  This poetic form has a special place in Shri Guru Granth Sahib. Out of 22 Vaars, the Gurus have composed 21 Vaars. . Vaar poetic form was quite current even before the times of the Gurus.  We get an indication
of this fact from Shri Guru Granth Sahib as there are specific instruction given by the Gurus to sing these Vaars in a specific Dhun/tune of a particular Vaar current in that period. Vaars are therefore associated with music from the very beginning. According to Principal Teja Singh, Vaar poetical form arose out of the influence of  the Greek poetical form called Ode.  Two standing persons with instruments similar to those used by the Dhaadies of the Punjab also sing ode. Ode has three parts-Strafe, anti-strafe and Epode. One person sings strafe while anti-strafe is sung by the second person. The Vaars of Punjabi literature are also sung in a similar manner though the Dhaadies these days are not strictly following this practice. However, the Raagies while sing the Aasa-Di-Vaar follow this practice as one Ragie sings one Sloak while the second Regie sings the next Sloak. The Pauri is sung by all of them together.

Maroo Raag has two Vaars-one by Guru Amar Das Ji and the second by Guru Arjan Dev Ji.

Anjali. : This poetic form is used along with Padey. According to Bhai Kahn Singh of Naabhaa, there is a tradition of offering Tilan-jali- an extract of til seeds and other stuff- to the spirit of the deceased after cremation. In the Sikh tradition , Anjali as composed by Guru Arjan Dev Ji is also sung.


Sloak and Dakhnaa: Sloak poetic form has been extensively used in Guru Granth Sahib in Nitname Baanies, in Banies composed under Raagaas and also in Bani in the Non-Raag part. The Ragies may sing these in a particular rhythm or may recite them in the form of Aalaap without the use of any rhythm. The sloaks of the Vaars are sung in a specific rhythm. The Vaars in the Raag Maroo have sloaks in them.

According to Shabdaarth.
the sloakas which have been composed in the language of  Multan-Sahiwal rergion falling south of Guru Nanak’s birthplace are called Dakhney-i.e. pertaining to south. In the Gurmat Sangeet tradition, Dakhneys are sung  as independent entities while singing Vaars.,


Singing of the Bani in Raag Maroo: The practice of singing of Bani of Raag Maroo has been followed from the times of the Gurus. The Raagies-the singers of Gurmat Sangeet have been preserving this tradition by means of  their formal training in the performance of Raag Maroo. The performance related features of this Raag along with suitable notations for singing individual Shabads of this Raag have been published by Gian Singh Abottabad, Avtar Singh-Gurcharan Singh, Prof. Tara Singh, Principal Dyal Singh, Sant Sarwan Singh of Dumaili. As this Raag has been in use since old times, there are different versions of the performance related features of it. The musicologists have been making efforts to determine the appropriate features from time to time. Dr. Gurnam Singh in his books-‘Gurmat Sangeet Prabandh and Paasaar, Sikh Musicology’-has tried to lay down those features for this Raag along with similar features for other Raagaas as were prevalent in the Gurmat Sangeet tradition.

Maroo Raag is also called Maarav, Maarvaa, Maarvik etc in ancient musical treatises. It is called by only one name Maroo in Shri Guru Granth Sahib.

As Maroo Raag has been in use from old times, there are a number of its versions, which are now prevalent. These are:

Bhai Kan Singh Naabhaa: This Raag is of ‘Shaadav category using only six notes of the scale omitting note Pa. Notes Sa, Ga Dha, Ni are Shuddh while Re is Komal (flat) and Ma is Teevar (sharp) Ga is Vadi while Dha is Samvaadi. (Some musicologist has classified it as ‘Sampooran’ Raag using all the seven notes all of which are Shuddh). It is at serial 21 in Shri Guru Granth Sahib. This Raag is sung in ordinary tunes in the afternoon during wars and at the time of death of a person.

Mr. Bali gives the above noted features with the modification that the Verdi note is Dhal and Samvaadi as Ga.

Sangeet Kosh: Thaat is Poorvi, Category: Sampooran-Sampooran,Vaadi:Re while Samvaadi:Dha;  Dha is Komal , Both Ma used. Time for singing: 4th Pahar of the day. Aroh: Sa, Re, Ga, Ma, Ma(sharp), dha, Ni, Sa; Avroh: Sa Ni,
dha Pa Ma(sharp) Ma Ga Re Sa.  

Some musicologists have classified Maroo Raag under Bilawal Thaat. Vadi is Ga while Samvadi is Ni. Re and Dha are omitted in Aroh while Avroh is complete and hence the category is Audav- Sampooran. This version is closer to Raag Maroo-Bihag but in Bihag both Mas are used while only Ma is used in this version of Maroo. Hence these two Raagaas can be differentiated.

Aroh: Sa Ma, Ma Ga, Ga Ma Pa Ni Sa

Avroh: Sa ni Dha Pa, Pa Ga, Ma Ga , Sa Re Sa.

Mukh Ang: Sa Re Sa Ni, Sa Ma Ma Ga , Ni Pa, Dha Ma, Pa Ga, Sa Re Sa.

v: Thaat Khamaaj, category: Audav-Vakr-Sampooran; Vadi Ga, Samvadi: Ni; Re and Dha omitted in Aroh; Both Ni and Ni Komal are used; time for singing: Third Pahar of
the day. Sa is nominally touched during Aalaap. Re is used minimally and is often used via ‘meendh’ in a hidden manner.

Aroh: Ni. Sa, Ga, Ma Pa Ni Sa.

Avroh: Sa Ni (komal), Dha, Pa Dha Ma, Ma Pa Ga, Sa.

Mukh Ang: Ni(Komal) Dha Pa, Dha Ma, Ma Pa Ga Sa.

In this version Bhai Avtar Singh-Gurcharan Singh have treated Sa as Samvadi note.

Vi: A committee comprising of eminent Sikh musicologists and Raagies have determined the following version of this Raag that is now being used by the Raagies performing Kirtan:

Notes: Both Ma and Ma (Sharp), both Dha and Dha (Komal), both Ni and Ni (Komal); category: Shadav-Sampoooran;Vadi: Ga, Samvadi Ni; Re omitted in Aroh.

Aroh: Sa Ga Ma Pa, Dha Ni Sa

Avroh: Sa Ni (Komal) Dha Pa, Ma (Sharp) Pa dha Ni dha Pa, Ma Ga Re Sa.

Pakkar (Catch Phrase): Pa Dha Ni Dha Pa Ma Pa Ga, Pa Dha Pa Ga Re Ga re Sa.


vii. Maroo-Kaafi: Only the Bani of Guru Nanak Dev Ji is given under this Raag name. As this Raag is not mentioned in the ancient treatises, Maroo-Kafi is there foe considered as originated in Gurmat Sangeet. This Raag is noted as “ Maroo-Kafi Mohalla 1, Ghar 2 after invocation which shows that it is different from Maroo Raag but it is a variation of Raag Maroo. Combining Maroo and Kafi Raag creates it. Two versions are prevalent at present:

  1. Category: Audav-Vakr Sampooran; Vadi Pa, Samvadi: Sa; time for singing: First part of the night; Notes: Both Ga and Komal Ga, Both Ni and Komal Ni, ; Notes omitted: Re and Dha in Aroh.

Aroh : Ni Sa Ga Ma Pa Ni Sa

Avroh: Sa Ni Pa, Pa Ma Pa Ga, Ma Ga(Komal), Sa Re Sa.

Catch Phrase: Sa Ga Ma Pa, Dha Ma Pa Ga,  Ma Ga, Sa Re Sa.

  1. A committee appointed for determinig the structure of Gurbani Raagaas and some other musicologists have considered the following version as authentic for Gurmat Sangeet:
  2. Category: Sampooran; Vadi: Pa while Samvadi as Sa; time for singing: first part of night; Notes: Both Ga, Both Ma, both Ni other notes pure; no note omitted.
  3. Aroh: Sa Ga Ma Pa, Pa Ma(sharp) Dha Ma Pa, Dha Sa, Ni Sa.

Avroh: Sa Ni Dha Pa, Dha Pa Ga(Komal),  Re Ni Sa.

Catch Phrase: Pa Ga Ma Pa, Pa Dha Pa Ga Ma Pa, Pa Ma Pa, Ni Dha Pa, Ma Pa Ga Re Sa.


viii. Maroo Dakhni: Only the Bani of Guru Nanak Dev Ji is under this Raag. The musicologists have determined the following features of it:

Thaat: Mayamalavgaur-Karnatak Music Janak Mela

Vadi: Dha, Samvadi : Re;

Category: Shadav-Vakr Sampooran; time for singing: first part of the morning;

Aroh: Sa Ga, Ma Pa Dha(Komal) , , Ni Dha (Komal),Pa Sa;

Avroh: Sa Ni Dha (komal), Pa, Ma Dha (Komal) Ma Pa,Ma Ga Re(Komal) Sa..

Catch Phrase: Ni Dha (Komal), Pa, Ma Dha (Komal) Ma Pa, Ma Ga Re (Komal) Sa.

The Sikh musicologists including the special committee appointed for the purpose have accepted the above noted version. 

Gurbani in Raag Maroo has abundantly been sung in different rhythms. Quite a number of  Gurmat musicians have set many shabads to different tunes and rhythm giving their notations. Following are the details given  Guru wise/ Bhagat wise:

Guru Nanak Dev Ji:

The double-minded person comes and goes, and has numerous friends. (Guru Nanak Dev Ji, SGGS, p. 1014) Teen Taal

Deep within the body-village is the fortress. (Guru Nanak Dev Ji, SGGS, p. 1033)-Teen Taal

He Himself is the Doer, and He is the deed; He Himself issues the Command. (Guru Amar Das Ji, SGGS, p. 1087)-Ek Taal

O my mind, chanting the Naam, the Name of the Lord, you will be saved. (Guru Ram Das Ji, SGGS, p. 995)-Teen Taal

The Name of the Lord is forever the Giver of peace. (Guru Tegh Bahadur, SGGS, p. 1008)-Teen Taal

What should I do now, O mother? (Guru Tegh Bahadur, SGGS, p. 1008) Teen Taal

O my mother, I have not renounced the pride of my mind. (Guru Tegh Bahadur, SGGS, p. 1008)-Teen Taal

O Pandit, O religious scholar, in what foul thoughts are you engaged? (Kabir Ji, SGGS, p. 1102)Teen Taal

The battle-drum beats in the sky of the mind; aim is taken, and the wound is inflicted. (Kabir Ji, SGGS, p. 1105) Teen Taal

Meditating on the Sovereign Lord God, who has not been saved? (Namdev Ji, SGGS, p.1105-Teen Taal

Within my mind, I chant the Name of the Primal Lord God, the Source of virtue. (JaiDev Ji, SGGS, p.1106)-Teen Taal

O Love, who else but You could do such a thing? (Ravi Das Ji, SGGS, p.1106)-Teen Taal

In summary, it can be said that Maroo Raag is of great importance in the Sikh  Musical tradition. There is a close relationship between the Raag and the Bani composed in this Raag. The Bani of this Raag is meant to be sung in this Raag though some Ragies these days are taking liberty of singing this Bani in other Ragaas too.

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