by Hiranmayee Das Gogoi
Borgeet is the unique creation of Srimanta Sankaradeva and his ardent disciple Sri Sri Madhabadeva. In the musical hierarchy of Sankari Sangeet, Borgeet occupies the highest position. Scholars like Bani Kanta Kakoti, Kaliram Medhi, Debendra Nath Buzarbaruah, Maheshwar Neog, Keshavananda Devagoswami have described Borgeet .as Celestial song, Noble song, Holy song etc. Whatever its essence, we find all the essential qualities of classical music in Borgeet. It is a part of the Vaishnavite religion propagated by Srimanta Sankaradeva. It helps the devotees to develop Bhakti (devotion) to Lord Krishna and eventually attain Lord Krishna. This is Vaishnavite Bhakti Marga.
Now let us examine how the Dhrupadi (classical) elements are reflected in Borgeet. The six elements of Indian classical music are : Raga, Tala and Laya, Rasa, Bhava, Pada and Swara–sanjoga. There are many other smaller elements also in classical music. But here we will discuss only these five major elements.
Raga : The combination of several notes woven into a composition in a way, which is pleasing to ear is called Raga. Each Raga creates an atmosphere, which is associated with feelings and sentiments. Any stray combination of notes cannot be called a Raga. Mel (That) or group give birth to all Ragas. Mother of Borgeet is called ‘Mel’. In Borgeet, Swar (notes) are aesthetically appealing, Here Aroha (ascending notes), Avaroha (descending notes), Raga Chaneki ( flow or main combination of notes) etc complete its character. With the two immutable notes Sa and Pa, five other notes that have two states each, we get 12 notes in an octave. The notes that have two states are : Re, Ga, Ma, Dha, and Ni. Each and every Raga is composed with the help of these 12 notes i,e. Sa, Re, Ga, Ma, Pa, Dha, Ni,Re , Ga, Ma, Dha, Ni.
In Indian classical music including Borgeet, we get the following characteristics of a Raga.
1. That or Mel i,e. sequence of notes,
2. Jati or classification
3. King and Queen relation of notes, i,e. Vadi and Samavadi
4. The ascent and descent of Raga i,e. Aroha and Avaroha
5. Raga Chaneki i,e. the smallest combination of notes depicting the Raga,
8. Division of songs within the 24 hours time span. Borgeets are also allotted a particular time space in the cycle of the day. It is called the “Prahar’ of singing.
There are six Mel in Borgeet. The Mel and its Raga are given in following table. This table has been taken from ‘Sankari Sangeetar Adhar Grantha’ by eminent Sankari scholar Golap Mahanta
TAAL AND LAYA (Rhythmical grouping of beats)
The time-cycle is known as Taal. The Taal is an important factor in classical music. There is a perfect balance in the universe. This balance is the essence of Taal. In Borgeet 40 numbers of Taal is used. The rhythm has three aspects. Taal, Laya and Matra. There are 20 numbers of Taals running now. The laya is the tempo, which keeps uniformity of time span. It has three divisions- Vilambita, Madhya and Druta. Maximum used Taalas are Parital, Ektal, Rupak tal etc.
Ras : The aim of Borgeet is to elicit devotional and psychological response from the listener. Rasa has been referred to as aesthetic delight. We found the following Rasas in Borgeet.
1. Chor-chaturi (mischief)
2. Biraha (pathos)
3. Birakti (pestering)
4. Paramartha (ultimate truth)
5. Shringar (love)
6. Batchyalya (innocence )
7. Leela (divine illusion)
Pada (lyrics) : Pada literally derives the text or lyrics. It means that the songs, where the Pada’s are composed and designed in a specific and clear pattern are known as Dhrupadi Sangeet (classical music). All the Borgeets are highly reputed text with various Rasa.
Bhava:- Borgeet basically creates Bhakti Bhava (feeling of devotion). It leads to Bhakti Marga. Srimanta Sankaradeva created Borgeet to propagate Eka Sharana Nama Dharma. In all the Borgeets the hero is Lord Krishna, the Eka Deva of the Vaisnavas.
Let us now discuss the technique of performing Borgeet. To perform a Borgeet, the following stages have to be followed with three different tempos. It is popularly known as Khol Prasanga, as the main instrument for maintaining Taal is Khol, which is used in Borgeet.
The first step is Udgrah or Raga Talani. It starts with Hari Dhvani (chanting Lord’s name) ‘O-Hari-O-Ram’. In this part Bayans (Khol player) play the Guru Ghat that is some part of Taal in the honour of Gurujana. Then the Jurani (initial part of Raga alap); the Stovakshars like Krishna, Sankara, Hari, Rama, aa, ta, na, re etc are used to elaborate the Rag Alap. It is also called Tenak.
Bhujanga:- It is the part of Tenak. Here,” Hari a..he..,”,”a..he… ram”, “aare ..he ..Ram” etc group of words are used to create a devotional mood. It is the unique part of Borgeet singing.
Raga vistar:- Here Uroni (ascending elaboration of notes), Ghuroni (descending from taar saptak to madhya saraj) part is recited by using stovakshar without Tala.
Bak-alap:-Dhrung (Sthayi or beginning part of the Raga) part is recited here without Tala.
Tala’s ghat:-Here one or two cycle of the basic Tala is played before starting of the Raga.
Pada:-Songs/hymns are recited here with Tala. It starts with Dhrung part and followed by Pada (antara or follower stanzas ).Pada part is combined with verity of Talas with madhya and druta laya. It ends with ”eka tal” or “khorman tal”.
Swar-sanjug:-Till now Swar sanjoga is not present in Borgeet, but the road is open for the singer to combine it without damaging the beauty or the flavor of the Raga.
All these six components establish the Borgeet as a highly composed classical music of Assam. To compare Borgeet with Hindustani classical music is a meaningless task because Borgeet is 400 years older than Hindustani classical music. Now here is a question. Why the scolars had accepted 12 notes of Hindustani music. On the other hand Karnataki music is still following the 400 years old notes of Ramamatya’s time. Here Golap Mahanta explained that:
1. Sankari Sangeetar Adhar Grantha, .Golap Mahanta, 1st edition, Nagaon, February 2002.
2. Borgeet Mukur, Golap Mahanta, 3rd edition, Nagaon, January 1999
3. Sankari Sangeetar Dhrupadi Baishista Aru Uchanga Shaili, Golap Mahanta , 1st edition, Nagaon, March 2011
4. Ragparisay, Harichandra Shrivastava.