Sant Sucha Singh’s Campaign of Unadulterated Music: Dr. Vaneeta Kaur Delhi

Dr. Vaneeta Kaur Delhi



Sant Baba Sucha Singh brought about many important changes in the life and culture of Punjab. Among there the campaign of popularizing the unadulterated music, establishment of Jawaddi Taksaal or Gurdwara Gur Gyan Parkash etc. will always be remembered by one and all. The Baba felt the pulse of the cultural crisis of Punjab with great sensitivity. He felt that music in its unadulterated form, be it classical music or Gurmat music is disappearing. Most of the Ragis or Shabad singers are not singing in pure music. They are either moving out of the parameters laid down in traditional musicology on the influence of film music is so domineering over them that we can still have a feel of it. We have not only lost of music tradition but distorted our culture also. Sant Sucha Singh had to be preserved, the purity of music which is a great component of culture, too has to be maintained. The way our classical music tradition was linked to poetry is something unprecedented in the world. The Gurus perpetuated this tradition by relating Gurbani to the classical music.

When Guru Nanak Dev travelled far and wide in the company of Bhai Mardana, he disseminated his poetic message in the pure Raga. A tradition of kirtan emanated his poetic message in the pure Raga. A tradition of kirtan emanated from these odysseys and became a part of our history. now it has become so much integral to Sikhism that one cannot imagine the existence of Sikh religion, history or literature without it. This tradition has, at times been understood in its purest form by our eminent musicologist and saints. This fact not withstanding, it has been subject to adulteration from time to time. In such a situation, some great personality is required to purge it. Baba Sucha Singh was such apersonality who understood it and for the purpose of maintaining the purity of Gurbani music and in 1991 a committee comprising the distinguished scholars was instituted. I started deliberating over this issue and organized Adutti Gurmat Sangeet Sammelan based on 31 specified Ragas. To promote this cause, the scholars were awarded fellowships and ‘Gurmat Sanget Award’ was initiated. The recipients of this award include the luminaries of Gurmat music viz. Bhai Balbir Singh Amritsar, Bhai Avtar Singh, Gurcharan Singh Delhi, Dr. Gurnam Singh Patiala, Bibi Jaswant Kaur Delhi, Bhai Gurmeet Singh Shant, Dr. Jasbir Kaur Patiala, Dr. Jagir singh Chandigarh, Principal Baldev Singh Delhi, Prof. Paramjot Singh Mullanpur, Bhai Harjinder Singh Sri Nagar, Bhai Avtaar Singh ‘Naaz’ and ustad Principal Channan Singh Majboor, While talking this form of pure music tradition, it is imperative on us to remember that the tradition of sikh music is dual in character. On one hand we have the Ragas of Guru Granth Sahib which are used for singing the Gurbani in its pristine glory and on the other we have the music tradition brought to the face by the Dhadis. It related to the folk tradition as well. The Dhadi tradition had come into existence right from the times of Guru Hargobind. The Dhadi used to sing vars outside the Akal Takhat and created an atmosphere of heroism. Thus the performance of pure Gurbani music and heroic balladary by the balladeers simultaneously was a unique feature of Sikhism. This what led to the emergence of new man envisioned by the Gurus in the form of Khalsa. New man was a being endowed with double consciousness.

The sublime music of Gurbani elevated him on a spiritual plane while the Dhadi’s muxic infused in him a spirit of heroism. This was another manifestation of the revolutionary Miri (Power) – Piri (Divine Glory) concept of Sikhism propounded by the Sixth Guru. Baba Sucha Singh understood well the Dhadi tradition and kept honouring the well-known Dhadis through ‘Vismaad Naad’ with the ‘Gurmat Dhadi Award.’ This Award was conferred on Gyani Sohan Singh Seetal and Gyani Daya Singh Dilbar. ‘Gurmati Dhadi Award’ aimed at combining Dhadi music with Gurmati because sikh history and religion had a rich tradition of Dhadi music.

This tradition had been getting polluted. It was the aim of Baba Sucha Singh to purge this tradition. The subtlety of Gurmat Sangeet Sammelans organized by the Baba can be understood by knowing them in detail. That is why a Sangeet Sammelan based on the mixed Ragas was organized in 1992. This flow of music spread out of Jawaddi Kalan also. At Nanded even the Bani of Bhagat and Dasam Granth was sung in the specified Ragas. Under his campaign to restore the original beauty of Gurmat music, Sant Sucha Singh brought out some very important publications viz. ‘Gurmat Sangeet Vishesh Ank’, ‘Rag Naad Shabad Sohne’, ‘Dhann Su Raag Surangade’, Tini Paya Maan’, ‘Gaudi Raag Sulakhni’, Raag Sarup Nirnei Guru Nanak Sangeet Padhti Granth vol. II edited by Principal Sukhwant Singh and some other mentionable publication. Of these, ‘Guru Nanak Sangeet Padhti Granth’ deserves special mention. This book enriches us with the knowledge about the scholars of Gurmat music along with the nature and notation of the Shuddh (Pure) Ragas. This tradition has yet to flourish because even the modern knowledge is giving immense importance to the power of the word. Thus by initiating the tradition of publicatin, Baba Sucha Singh promoted the cause of Word-power encouraged pure music in the society.

The discussion on the power of the word will remain incomplete without mention of Naad-power. Sant Baba Sucha Singh realized the power of Naad and Gurmat tradition, Keeping in view the contribution of Kirtan towards promoting Naad, the Baba not only got the cassettes of Gurmat Sangeet prepared but also ensured that they reach every music-lover’s house. It helped in making a campaign of pure music. The concept of singing Nitnem, particularly ‘Asa Di Vaar’, ‘Sukhmani Sahib’, ‘Shabad Hazare’ and otherparts of Gurbani. Since modern age is media savvy and daily we listen and even watch kirtan on radio and television. So communication of pure music through audio-visual media has become the need of the day.

I have discussed at large the contribution of Baba Sucha Singh towards the purgation of music only to elucidate that the campaign of de-adulterating the sikh music launched by him is multi-dimensional and one-dimensional. When an idea blows up into a campaign, then, although started by only one person, its existence and expansion depend on how many people join it. The need of the day is that this one-man endeavour develops into a full-fledged folk movement and grows up with every passing day. It is so because Punabi society or Sikhism is facing a number of crises. The flaws afflicting the music part of it, are quite grave and they do have a bearing on the next generation. A pure, unadulterated music influenced most by the west. Therefore, the best homage to the great saint will be to understand his movements from all aspects and spread it as far as possible.