Gurmat Sanggeet has lost an illustrious son

Bhai Nirmal Singh made it his mission to largely sing Gurbani per Raags (musical measures) prescribed in Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, which we must laud and emulate - GURMUKH SINGH

Ragi Bhai Nirmal Singh (1952-2020)
By Gurmukh Singh | OPINION |

The death of Bhai Nirmal Singh Khalsa, Hazoori Ragi, Sri Darbar Sahib Harmandhir Sahib, has shocked the Sikh Panth. Perhaps more so because his death is being attributed to the Covid-19 pandemic. A phenomenon that has borderlessly and indiscriminatingly gripped mother earth.

The Kirtan scene, more specifically Gurmat Sanggeet, has lost an illustrious son. One of its foremost exponents. Bhai Sahib’s dedicated mission in largely singing Gurbani per the Raags (musical measures) prescribed in Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji must be lauded and emulated.

If Guruji, in his infinite wisdom, compiled select shabads under specified Raags, the irresistible inference is that the said shabads should be sung in compositions conforming with the prescribed Raag.

Bhai Sahib’s contribution was enormous enough to have earned him the prestigious ‘Padma Shri’ award. A title bestowed upon citizens of India whose contributions to the growth of the Nation are significant.

It is my hope and aspiration as a Malaysian Kirtani that our Kirtanis follow suit and acquire knowledge of Gurmat Sanggeet notwithstanding the perceived ‘demand’ for Kirtan to be based on lighter, ear appeasing compositions.

Bhalo Bhalo Rey Kirtania. 

Gurmukh Singh is a Kuala Lumpur based lawyer and kirtani. He was one of the Ambassadors for Asia Samachar‘s #ShiningTurban campaign.



Renown ragi Nirmal Singh dies after testing positive for Covid-19 (Asia Samachar, 2 April 2020)

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  1. Well said Shotay Veer. Bhai Sahib’s loss is a monumental one for Sikhdom. Waheguru Ji, Bhai Sahib dhi ruh nu apdhe charni nivas bakhshay. I also will echo your sentiments on Raag based kirtan.

    But I do believe that sterling seva is being done by all other kirtenias and genuine creativity in presenting Gurbani should not be looked down upon. Qar qar kirtan hovay, however it is done. Not everyone has access to purist Raag teachers if there are purists.
    In fact I believe it is the fault of Raag based kirtan by those who are unable to do justice to it, that has to a degree turn Sangat away from Raag based kirtan.

    Bhai Sahib was very unique. His Raag kirtan renditions were of high quality but in fact his kirtan in simple melodies was not of that level.

    I was told of an incident in Houston Texas USA where Bhai Sahib was doing resident kirtan for I think one whole week. On the very first Hajri, he actually started with a ‘light melody ‘ shabad when a ‘bezurg’ got up in sangat and politely chided Bhai Sahib that the sangat had gathered to listen to his renditions in Raag. He ended up presenting kirtan in raags for the while week to his own joy and the Anand of the sangat.
    Having said that his light kirtan was below par of his Raag renditions, I must add that his rendition of ‘Gagan me thaal’ in the movie Nanak Shah Fakir is earth shattering. It is not in Raag form.
    So, where as Gurmukh Ji encourages, one should try to learn Raag based kirtan, do not allow such a limitation from stopping you from doing and enjoying sublime Gurbani to any form of music. The bottom line is ‘Just Do It’ and enjoy Gurbani presented in any way as long as the spirit of the message in Gurbani is not clouded by the music and melody.
    All said and done, the sublimity of kirtan presented ‘well’ in raags is paramount. I have also heard Gurbani supposedly presented in raags quite grating when presented by one who ‘thinks’ he or she ‘knows’ about raags.
    I also like to say that it is a joy listening to you Gurmukhi Ji, and I admire your humility that you take every opportunity to join me – one who can only pretend to know raags! Shabash Shotay Vir.
    Again, my deepest respects to the Late Bhai Sahib Ragi Nirmal Singh Ji. Guru Fateh Ji