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Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Sachkandvasi Bhai Avtar Singh Ji

Guramukh janam savaar dharageh chaliaa Spending this life fruitfully gurmukh goes to the other world. Sachee dharageh jaae sachaa pirr maliaa There in the true court (of lord) he gets his true place.
Bhai Avtar Singh ‘Raagi”, born at Saidpur in the erstwhile state of Kapurthala, passed away on November 24, 2006, after a brief illness in Delhi. He and his brother Bhai Gurcharan Singh were the sons of the legendary Sikh kirtania, Bhai Jawala Singh. They were the 11th-generation flag bearers of the original style of shabad singing of Sikh Gurus in the medieval Punjab. The compositions they sang date back to the period of the Gurus and some of them were sung note by note as the Gurus sang them. For 60 years they performed kirtan. They were accompanied by their nephew Bhai Swaran Singh, an accomplished artist of tabla. Bhai Gurcharan Singh, the elder brother, is still living but he has not sung kirtan for over a decade. With the younger brother’s death, another generation has passed into history.The brothers were apt in singing all the raag variants, lores (dhunian) and the other variants of the music forms incorporated in the Sri Guru Granth Sahib. At least for the last half century their kirtan was regarded as a standard against which gurmat sangeet of shabad reet parnali (traditional compositions/ kritis) singing was to be measured.Gurmat sangeet, or shabad kirtan, was not mere singing of gurbani in raags, rather it was a unique fusion of shabad raag and tal. Shabad-reets are compositions of the Guru period. Some of them were the originals sung by the Gurus themselves. Besides other achievements and their contribution to this art form, the two brothers did a great service to the world of musicology by recording 500 of their original medieval compositions (48 hours) and annotating them before donating the same to Punjabi University, Patiala. The two volumes, Gurubani Sangeet-Pracheen Reet Ratnavali, were published in 1976. This was a unique gesture in itself as very few artists of repute would easily share the core of their art with outsiders, leave alone documenting and donating the same to an institution.They extensively disseminated their art in the UK, North America and Canada - both in the community and outside. In fact, there seemed to be more admirers of this tradition of kirtan outside than in India.Bhai Avtar Singh and Bhai Gurcharan Singh were perhaps the only kirtanias who reflected the original intent of the Gurus in their kirtan. Their work is a cherished heritage of the sacred music of North India.The tradition has been passed on to the next generations in the family. Kultar Singh, son of Bhai Avtar Singh, a mechanical engineer by profession, joined Bhai Avtar Singh’s jatha in 1999. Since then he has been practising the family tradition with his father and carrying it forward. Bhai Baldeep Singh, rooted in the family tradition and a grandnephew of the senior Bhai Sahib, is an accomplished musician, researcher, preservationist and a musicologist in his own right carrying the heritage into the 13th generation.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji

Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji

Guru Ji whose original name was Tyal Mal (Master of Detachment) spent his childhood at Amritsar. In his early years he learnt Gurmukhi,Hindi, Sanskrit and Indian religious philosophy from Bhai Gurdas Ji, and archery and horsemanship from Baba Budha Ji while his father Guru Hargobind Ji, Master of Miri and Piri taught him swordsmanship. At the age of 13, a brave young warrior fought alongside his father in the Battle of Kartarpur. When the victorious Sikhs returned home they praised their latest hero and Tyal Mal Ji was renamed Tegh Bahadur Ji (True Ma ster of the Sword). He was married to Mata Gujri Ji at Kartarpur in 1632. When his father nominated his grandson Har Rai Ji as his successor in 1644, Tegh Bahadur Ji moved with his wife to the village of Bakala.
For the next 20 years the Master of Detachment spent most of his time in an underground room absorbed in meditation. Guru Ji also went on missionary tours in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Bengal. Before Guru Har Krishan Ji passed to God’s court, he indicated that his successor would be found in Bakala. When the Sikhs arrived in the village they found 22 false Gurus claiming to be Baba Bakala. A wealthy Sikh called Makhan Shah came to Bakala. He bowed to each Guru and gave 2 gold pieces; each Guru was pleased and blessed him. But Makhan Shah was unhappy, then he learnt of a holy man meditating in an underground room. Again Makhan Shah bowed and placed 2 gold pieces. Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji said: “Why have you broken your promise ?, when you prayed to God to save you and your ship from the terrible storm you promised 500 gold pieces to the Guru”. Makhan Shah was overjoyed, he gave the rest of the gold as promised and ran to the roof shouting “The True Guru has been found, O Sikhs come seek his blessing”. The false Gurus all ran away.
After a short time oppre ssion and intolerance reared it’s ugly head. The Moghal Emperor Aurangzeb ordered Hindu temples to be destroyed and that idol worship was to be stopped. He had a temple converted into a Mosque and slaughtered a cow inside it. He also had Hindus sacked from their government jobs and employed Muslims instead. Aurangzeb also ordered Gurdwaras to be destroyed and expelled many missionaries from the main cities. Despite some resistance after many years of persecution people were being forced to take up Islam.
Aurangzeb being clever, decided if he could convert the leaders of the Hindu religion then millions of followers would also convert. He started persecuting and harassing the Hindu Pandits of Kashmir. The Pandits overcome by panic came in a delegation to Anandpur Sahib and requested Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji’s help. At this time Guru Ji’s 9 year old son Gobind Rai Ji told his father that “Who would be better than you to defend the poor Brahmins”. Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji decided to stand up for the right of freedom of worship and told the delegation he was ready to sacrifice his life to protect the Hindus from mass conversion.
Guru Ji nominated Gobind Rai as his successor and left for Delhi with 3 other Sikhs, Bhai Sati Das Ji, Bhai Mati Das Ji and Bhai Dayal Das Ji . Along the way all were arrested and taken to Delhi were all accepted death by torture rather than give up their ideals and convert to Islam. Guru Ji was beheaded on 11 November 1675, Bhai Jetha took Guru Ji’s head to Anandpur Sahib were it was cremated and Bhai Lakhi Shah carried Guru Ji’s body to his house, which he then set on fire to cremate Guru Ji’s body.
Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji had a versatile personality, a warrior, family man with social commitment and a preacher of great understanding and vision. His martyrdom broke the myth of Aurangzeb’s religiosty.
The achievements of Guru Tegh Bahadur are remarkable;
• During the last period in Guru Ji’s life, Guru Ji founded a new town called Anandpur Sahib (City of Bliss) and went on missionary tours to UP and Bengal. Guru Ji also initated welfare projects all over northern Panjab.
• Guru Ji symbolised the triumph of good over evil, Guru Ji’s martyrdom unique in the history of mankind, inspired many Sikhs to lay down their lives for noble causes and moral values.
• Guru Ji was also a versatile poet and embodied a message of freedom, courage and compassion; “Fear not and frighten no“

Friday, November 17, 2006

Kirtan Darbar in memory of Bhai Gian Singh Ji Surjit

"The God-conscious being lives forever, and does not die."

Keertan Darbar in memory of Giani Gian Singh Surjit
Kirtan darbar is on SATURDAY 18th NOVEMBER from 6pm - 10pm at Gurudwara Dasmesh Darbar, East London 97-101 Rosebery Avenue, Manor Park, London E12 6NQ. Ragis jathas that are attending are below:
Bhai Amarjit Singh Ji Gilligham Wale
Bhai Amarjit Singh Ji Nanaksar Wale
Bhai Daya Singh Ji
Bhai Sital Singh Ji Sitara

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Kirtan Darbar in memory of Giani Gian Singh Ji Surjit

Spending this life fruitfully gurmukh goes to the other world. There in the true court (of lord) he gets his true place.
In memory of Bhai Sahib Bhai Gian Singh Ji Surjit there will be a Kirtan Darbar on Saturday 11th November 2006 from 6:00 p.m to 10:00 p.m at Shri Guru Nanak Darbar Gravesend Kent. Ragi Jathas that will be attending are:
· Guru Nanak Komal Sangeet Acadmey, Gravesend
· Bhai Waryam Singh Ji
· Bhai Sital Singh Sitara
· Bhai Ajit Singh Ji Bilga
· Bhai Sewa Singh Ji Lalli
· Bhai Harbans Singh Ji Suraj
· Bhai Gurmail Singh Ji Manakpuri and Jathedar Tirath Singh

Please attend and remember this great Gurmukh Pyara through Kirtan. The Kirtan darbar is being held by Guru Nanak Komal Sangeet Acadmey Gravesend to support Guru Nanak Mission Neterheen Birdh Ashram GT Road, Sapror Nangal Phagwara ,Punjab, India.

For further information contact the numbers below:
Parvinder Singh – 07817695042
Bhai Sital Singh Sitara – 07877743341
Gurdwara Guru Nanak Darbar Gravesend – 01474 534121