SearchGurbani.com

Gurbani Raag: Asa


Asa is a very old raga, once popular in the Punjab but seldom heard in concerts today. In the Ragmala this is a ragini of raga Megha. However, today it is assigned to the Bilaval thata.  Asa is a devotional raga for the cold season and is performed in the early morning just before sunrise. However, it is also known as a twilight melody with a calm mystical mood. Asa was used by Guru Nanak, Guru Afigad, Guru Amar Das, Guru Ram Das, Guru Arjan and Guru Tegh Bahadur.

Asa raga literally means the melody of hope. As the Gurus emphasised the singing of God’s praises before dawn, this raga is conducive to kirtan before day-break. It is a soothing and pleasing raga, appropriate for the singing of the Asa-di-var, the morning-prayer of the Sikhs. Guru Ramdas’s Chhants ser the tone of this blissful composition:

“My eyes are damp with the nectar of the Lord;
My soul is filled with His love” [7].

Aroh : Sa Re Ma Pa Dha Sa

Avroh : Sa Ni Dha Pa Ma Ga Re Sa

Vadi : Ma

Samvadi : Sa

Asa is a crooked (vakra) raga in that approaches to certain notes have to be made from a set position. Its variants as given in the Holy Book are Kafi and Asavari, both of which have many features in common with Asa. This raga may have originated in Maharashtra about the time of the major Muslim invasions. Its pleasing sound made it suitable bhajans by the Hindu devotees.

Introduction :

In Indian Musical system ragas are divided into two main categories: the Northern system and the Southern system. Raga Asa belongs to the Northern system and is very popular in Punjab, it evokes calm mystical mood and lends itself very well to rendering devotional songs and hymns. According to one school of thought, in fact, Guru Nanak Dev is the author of this raga. The notes of this raga are:

Arohi (ascending scale) - sa re ma pa dha ni pa dha sa (omitted note is -ga)
Avrohi (descending scale) - sa ni dha pa ma ga re ga sa
The vadi (most popular) note is 'ma' and samvadi (second most popular) note is 'sa'

This raga is recommended to be sung at the fourth part of the night i.e., from 3 a.m - 6 a.m.. The season of its recitation is winter (hement) i.e., during November and December. In the Sikh tradition this raga is also sung in the evening.

This raga is listed in the Ragamala as a consort (ragini) of Raga Megh, but in Guru Granth Sahib it is employed as a full fledged raga.

This raga has been linked with other sub-ragas in Guru Granth Sahib as under:

Raga Asawari -

Asawari is an independent raga, but its links with raga Asa is found only in Sikh School of music. It has note 'dha' as most popular note and note 'ga' as the second most popular note.

In Avrohi, notes ga, dha and ni are soft (komal) rest of the notes are sharp (tever)

Kafi -

This raga has been linked with ragas Asa, Tilang, Suhi and Maru in Guru Granth Sahib. Some school of music classify it as a complete raga while other call it a ragini (consort of a pure raga). Muslim Sufi saints sing most of their qwalis and thurnris in this raga. In its notes, 'ga' and 'ni' are soft notes while others are sharp notes. The recommended time of its singing is the fourth part of the day.

In this raga ( and also in raga Kanra) many shabads titled as 'Partal' have been composed. In these shabads the 'tal' is frequently changed/ repeated.

A title 'Sudhang' has also been used in this raga, which means 'pure scales'. It is not the name of any raga or sub-raga.

In Guru Granth Sahib hymns composed in this raga are on pages 347-488 (142 pages).

The Composers:

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

Gurus Sahiban

  • Guru NanakDev
  • Guru Angad
  • Guru Amardas
  • Guru Ramdas
  • Guru Arjan Dev
  • Guru Tegh Bahadur

Bhagats Sahiban:

  • Kabir
  • Namdev
  • Ravidas
  • Dhanna

The Structure:

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

Gurubani:

Shabads Sodar - a long shabad of one pada (Guru Nanak), Sopurkh five - ' - 'Guru Ramdas).

Shabads 2-6 padas

Shabads - Ashtpadis

Specialist compositions titled 'Patti'

Shabads - Chhants Var

Bhagat bani

Shabads of various padas

Matrix

VISUAL ANALYSIS

Count of the use of Mangals:

Complete Mool Mantar 3, pages 347 (start of the raga), 462 (start of Asa di Var)475 (start of Bhagat bani)

lk-ongkar Satgur Prasadh = 59

Placement and count of rahau verse/s:

First shabad titled 'Solar' has no rahau verse,

All other shabads and ashtpadis (pages 348 - 431 have rahau verses in them, placed mostly after the first padas, but also placed in the beginning of the shabad aswell (page 365);

In specialist compositions both 'Pattis' of Guru Nanak and Guru Amardas have one rahau verse each placed after the first padas

All shabads of the Bhagats have one rahau verse in them placed after the first padas of the shabads.

Analysis of the diversified headings and subheadings used in this raga:

Page number

Heading/Caption/Title

347

Raga Asa Mehla 1 Ghar 1 Sodar

358

Asa Ghar 3 Mehla 1

368

Mehla 4 Raga Asa Ghar 6 ke 3

369

Raga Asa Ghar 8 ke Kafi Mehla 4

369

Raga Asawari Ghar 16 ke 2 Mehal 4 Sudhang

401

Asa Ghar 9 Mehla 5

405

Raga Asa Mehla 5 Ghar 12

409

Raga Asa Mehla 5 Ghar 17 Asawari

431

Asawari Mehla 5 Ghar 3

440

Asa Mehla 3 Chhant Ghar 3

442

Raga Asa Chhant Mehal 4 Ghar 1

478

Asa Sri Kabir jeo ke chaupadas ik tuke

481

Asa Sri Kabir jeo ke tipada 8 dotike 7 iktuke 1

483

Asa Sri Kabir jeo ke dopadas

487

Asa Bhagat Dhanna jeo ke

488

Asa Sheik Farid jeo ki bani

Composers Structure of Bani

 

Padas

 

 

 

 

Ashtpadis

Specialist

 

Chts

Specialist

Var

Sloaks*

Gurus

2

3

4

5

6

8 (padas)

untiled

Titled

 

 

 

 

Nanak Dev

1**,2

1

30

5

1

22

 

Patti (35

padas)

5

 

1(24

pauris)

43

Angad Dev

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

15

Amardas

 

 

11

2

 

15

 

Patti (18

padas)

2

 

 

 

Ramdas

2

 

12

2

 

 

 

 

14

 

 

 

Arjan Dev

30

12

118

4

 

5 (3 titled

Birharae,

Chhanta

kijat)

 

 

14

 

 

 

Tegh Bahadur

1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bhagats

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kabir

3

8

17

9

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dhanna

 

1

1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Namdev

1

1

3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ravidas

 

4

2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Farid

 

2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

** One shabad titled 'Sodar' is counted as one pada shabad.

* All sloaks are included in the var. Comment 'Shud' is recorded at the end of the vars

*pds= padas

*chts = chhant

Guru Nanak Dev Ji 347 
Guru Ram Das Ji 348 
Guru Nanak Dev Ji, 348 
Guru Amar Das Ji 360 
Guru Amar Das Ji, (Quintets) 364 
Guru Amar Das Ji, In the Form Kafi 365 
Guru Ram Das Ji 365 
Guru Ram Das Ji, To the Tune Kafi 369
Guru Arjan Dev Ji 370 
Guru Arjan Dev Ji, To the Tune Kafi 396 
Guru Arjan Dev Ji, Asavari (sub-measure) 409
Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji 411 
Guru Nanak Dev Ji, Ashtpadiyan 411 
Guru Nanak Dev Ji, Ashtpadiyan in the tune Kafi 418 
Guru Amar Das Ji, Ashtpadiyan 422 
Guru Amar Das Ji, Ashtpadiyan in the tune Kafi 424 
Guru Arjan Dev Ji, Ashtpadiyan 430 
Guru Nanak Dev Ji, Patti (Acrostic) 432 
Guru Amar Das Ji, Patti (Acrostic) 434 
Guru Nanak Dev Ji, Chhant 435 
Guru Amar Das Ji, Chhant 439
Guru Ram Das Ji, Chhant 442 
Guru Arjan Dev Ji, Chhant 452 
Guru Nanak Dev Ji, Guru Angad, Asa Ki Var 462 
Bhagat Kabeer 475 
Bhagat Naamdev 485 
Bhagat Ravi Das 486 
Bhagat Dhanna 487 
Sheikh Farid 488 

 

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

Raags Index              Musical Instruments            Taal Index


Printed from http://searchgurbani.com/raags/raag_asa
© 2004 - 2014. Gateway to Sikhism All rights reserved.