‘Even Tagore said Guru Nanak’s aarti was the world anthem’
Bhai Baldeep Singh, the 13th generation exponent of Gurbani sangeet, said on Wednesday, that even Tagore had said that Nanak’s recitation of the aarti in Raga Dhanasari was the anthem for all of humanity.
Bhai Baldeep Singh was at Tagore theatre to perform at the three-day event organised by Chandigarh Sangeet Natak Akademi to commemorate the Guru’s 550th birth anniversary. Called ‘Ekas Ke Hum Barik’, the event kicked off with Bhai Baldeep singing praises of Guru Nanak from Sikh scriptures. He was accompanied by Pandit Mohan Shyam Sharma on the mridang and his students on the dilruba and tanpura.
He sang old reets, some as old as 900 years composed by Baba Farid. “The synergy between the taal, raga and shabad (the word) itself tells whether a composition is composed by human or revealed,” he said.
While singing Nanak’s rendition of the aarti, which is one of the oldest compositions of Gurbani sangeet tradition, he said even Tagore was inspired by Harmandir Sahib heritage of Amritsar.
“I am thankful to elders who, although they died in obscurity and undocumented, taught me the treasure, said Bhai Baldeep, who is the grand nephew of one of the greatest ragi duo of Sikh music, Bhai Avtar Singh–Gurcharan Singh.
Talking about the lost Sikh heritage, he said he has been documenting Gurbani music since 1989, which he has ‘painstakingly revived’. “When states were being integrated, we focussed on geographic integration but forgot about the cultural one. In the process, Sikh music was ignored and not given it’s due pedestal as an integral contemporary of Hindustani classical music,” he said.
Keeping with the theme, Bhai Baldeep sang, “Ek pita, ekas ke hum barik (There is only one Father and we are his children).”
The three-day event will see performances by Pandit Ajay Pohankar on Thursday and Dr Neera Grover on Friday.