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Gurbani Raag: Basant


The name Basant is from Sanskrit vasant meaning spring, and during that season of the year Basant may be performed at any time of the day or night. Otherwise, it is reserved for the night between 9 p.m. and midnight. The Ragmala gives Basant as a putra (son) of Hindol, also a spring raga. Today it belongs to the Purvi thata. The only variant noted in the Holy Book is Basant-Hindol. Basant is a very old raga dating from the 8th century. Guru Nanak, Guru Amar Das, Guru Ram Das, Guru Arjan and Guru Tegh Bahadur composed sabdas to this raga. Performed in slow tempo, this gentle melody depicts quiet joy. The descending scale is usually found at the beginning of a composition with the ascending form following later.

Aroh : Sa Ga Ma Dha Ni Sa

Avroh : Sa Ni Dha Pa Ma, Ga Re Sa

Vadi : Sa

Samvadi :Ma

Introduction :

According to Indian Schools of music this raga has very gentle mood and represents loneliness and quiet joy and is to be performed in a dignified slow tempo The raga belongs to Purvi thaht.

This raga is mentioned as a son of raga Hindol in the Ragamala listed at the end of Guru Granth Sahib.

There are many variations of this raga. It is believed that the Basant raga recorded in Guru Granth Sahib is in its original and true variation. According to a tradition this raga is sung in the Sikh Gurdwaras from the festival of Magi to the festival of Hola Mohalla. During this period the singing of raga Sarang is prohibited. The Sikh ragis start the singing of this raga on the first of the month of Mag, after saying their prayers and purifying the prasad. They sing five shabads of the raga and then sing the 'var' of Basant and declare that they have opened the raga Basant. On the day of Holla Mohalla they sing the shabad 'surah ki jaisi teri chaal.._' (Bhagat Kabair page 1196) and end the singing of the raga.

The scale and notes of the raga are as follows:

Arohi (ascending scale) - sa ga ma ma ga ma dha ni sa re

Avrohi (descending scale) - sa ni dha, ni dha mm, ma ga sa

The vadi (most popular) note is 'sa' and samvadi (second most popular) note is ' ga'.

This raga can be sung at any time, though some prefer it to be sung at late night time. The season of its recitation is spring (basant) i.e., during February, March.

In Guru Granth Sahib it has hymns from pages 1168 - 1196 ( 29 pages).

The Composers:

The composers of bani (hymns) in this raga are:

Gurus

  • Guru Nanak Dev
  • Guru Amardas
  • Ramdas
  • Guru Arjan Dev
  • Guru Tegh Bahadur

Bhagats:

  • Kabir
  • Namdev
  • Ravidas
  • Ramanand

The structure:

The sequence of the structure of compositions in this raga are:

Gurubani:

  • Shabads (2-5padas)
  • Ashtpadis
  • Var

Bhagatbani:

  • Shabads (3-5 padas)

Matrix

VISUAL ANALYSIS

Count of the use of Managals:

  • Complete Moor Mantar = 1 at page 1168
  • Ik-ongkar Satgur Prasadh = 21

Placement and count of rahau verses:

All shabads have numbered rahau verses placed at the end of the first padas of the shabads, except a shabad at page 1185 where it is unnumbered and it is placed in the beginning of the first pada, and Guru Tegh Bahadur's shabads (pages 1186 - 1187) where the numbered verses are placed in the beginning of the padas of the shabads. In the ashtpadis the rahau verse is numbered and is placed at the end of the first padas of the ashtpadis.

In the Bhagat Bani the numbered rahau verse is placed at the end of the first padas of the shabads, except the bani of Bhagat Ramanand, where the numbered rahau verse is placed in the beginning of the first pada of the shabad.

Diversification of headings & subheadings in this raga:

Page number

Heading/Subheading

1168

Raga Basant Mehla 1 Ghar 1 chaupads do tuke

1171

Mehla 1 Basant Hindol Ghar 2

1177

Raga Basant Mehla 4 Ghar 1 Ik tuke

1185

Basant Mehla 5 Ghar 2 Hindol

Composers Structure of Bani

 

Paths

 

 

 

 

Specialist

Ashtpadis

Specialist

Chts

Sohle**

Var

Sloaks*

Gurus

2

3

4

5

6

Titled

8 (padas)

 

 

 

 

 

Nanak

Dev***

 

1

9*

 

 

 

8

 

 

 

 

 

Angad

Dev

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Amardas

 

 

19**

1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ramdas

 

 

7

 

 

 

1

 

 

 

 

 

Arjan

Dev

1

 

20

 

 

 

2

 

 

 

3 pauris

(title

'pauri

is not

given

This var

has no

Sloaks

Tegh

Bahadur

1

4

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bhagats

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kabir

 

5

2

1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Namdev

 

2

1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ravidas

 

 

1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ramanand

 

1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • * One shabad of 4 padas and one shabad of 5 padas of Mehla 3 are included with Mehla 1 on pages 1169-1170 in the old birs (recensions).
  • ** 18 shabads plus 1 shabad included with Mehla 1 shabads.
  • *** Guru Nanak's shabads count in pothi sahib is=12; but two shabads out of this number are of Guru Amardas. Thus Guru Nanak's final count=12-2=10 shabads.

Excerpts taken from:
Guru Granth Sahib: An Advance Study
Dr Sukhbir Singh Kapoor
Vice Chancellor World Sikh University, London

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