Bhai Baldeep Singh

Founder and Chairman

Bhai Baldeep Singh descends from a long lineage of masters of the Gurbāni Kīrtan maryadā, and today is its 13th generation exponent.  His repertoire includes masterpieces that were first composed by the Sikh Gurus and the Bhagats themselves. Bhai Baldeep Singh is also the prime exponent (khalifā) of this oldest gharāna of classical percussions, pakhāwaj/mridangplaying, of Punjab known as Sultanpur Lodhi – Amritsari Bāj.

Gold leafing and tribal folk art by Sidharth and Devangi.
Saranda designed and handcrafted by Bhai Baldeep Singh.

Dhrupad has been the music of the devotees of India’s many spiritual traditions. The Sikh gurus also expressed deep spiritual mysteries through musical compositions in the dhrupad style. Bhai Baldeep Singh has been mentored in the dhrupad genre by his granduncles Bhai Avtar Singh (1925-2006) and Bhai Gurcharan Singh (b. 1915) as well as Ustad Rahim Fahimuddin Dagar (1926-2011), a 19th generation scion of the Dagar-vani and Ustad Malikzada Mohammad Hafiz Khan Khandehre Talwandiwale (d. 2009), the 133th exponent of the Khandar-vani.

The Sultanpur Lodhi – Amritsari baaj is the oldest surviving pakhawaj-jori traditions in South-Asia. He is the for-bearer of one of the most illustrious lineages that was once known as Naeeyyan-da-gharana for Baba Maiyya Singh’s father was the Naee (hygienist) of Maharaj Ranjit Singh.

Baba Maiyya Singh (BMS)
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Baba Bhoop Singh (other students of BMS – Lala Bhawani Singh/Das, Bhai Mehtab Singh, Bhai Karta Singh, BMS’s sons Bhai Gurdit Singh and Bhai Sham Singh)
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Ustad Harnam Singh of Jammu (UHS)
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Ustad Bhai Arjan Singh Tarangar (AST) {other students of UHS — Ustad Pratap Singh s/o Ustad Harnam Singh of Jammu; Bhai Harnam Singh of Thatha Tibba; Bhai Pratap Singh – a pioneer who taught the family of the Afghan Ruler in the 19th century and started a business upon his return, Bhai Pratap Singh Ka Raag Ghar, to Lahore. He also published a magazine and wrote 6 volumes – 4 on tabla and 2 on Pakhawaj. Noted veena player, Sardar Ajit Singh of Dehradun is his grandson; Pandit Uma Dutt Sharma father of Pandit Shiv Kumar Sharma}
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Bhai Baldeep Singh (other students of AST – Bhai Bhagat Singh, Bhai Mohinder Singh, Bhai Balbir Singh, Ustad Sardul Singh of Nanded, Bhai Gurcharan Singh Ragi, Bhai Rattan Singh of Tarn Taran)

For his field-specific percussion related research and comparative studies, Bhai Baldeep Singh has also interacted with the exponents of various traditions, such as Padma Shree Pandit Shankarrao Shindey Appegaonkar, Ustad Gyani Darshan Singh, Bhai Narinder Singh, Pandit Laxmi-narayan Pawar, Pandit Gopal Das, Pandit Bal-krishan Sharma, Bhai Mohinder Singh, Bhai Balbir Singh, Maharaj Bir Singh Namdhari, Pandit Ram-ashish Pathak, Ustad Altaf Hussain, Bhai Ranjit Singh, Bhai Sham Singh, Shri Pawan Kumar Sharma and Pandit Panna Lal Upadhaya of the Gaya gharana.
For his vocals related research he has benefited from his conversations with Professor S. K. Saxena, Dr. Sumati Mutatkar, Sardar Balbir Singh Kalsi of Agra gharana, Bibi Jaswant Kaur, Raja Mrigendra Singh and Pandit Vidur Mallik.

Photo by Sarabjit Babra. 2004.

Bhai Baldeep Singh has inspired interest in the structure of the classic poetic forms found in Gurbani, has revived the rare art of singing the 22 vaars (odes) and other folk based genres, and has awakened the artist elements hidden in the old compositions.  In 1988, Bhai Baldeep Singh undertook a herculean project to revive almost all the instruments from the Gurus’ times by personally handcrafting them under the guidance of master luthier Gyani Harbhajan Singh of Village Dandian, Hoshiarpur. Today, he has the unique distinction of having carved the nomadic rebāb (also known as the hindustani or dhrupadi-rebāb), sarandā, tāus, dilruba, tamburni (tanpura), jori and pakhāwaj – mridang. In January 2002, he made a violin based on the Stradivari violin in Spring City, Utah (USA), under the guidance of his friend Paul Hart, a master lute-maker. He has designed four new bows for the tāus, which have been handcrafted by Allan Herou in Paris (2003) and Nicola Galliena in Milan (January and March 2007, January 2008).

He has also made a detailed audio-visual presentation on the subject, The Musical Instrument of Gurbāni and Bhakti Traditions, which has received rave reviews around the world. Bhai Baldeep Singh has inspired people around the world to take up the musical instruments of the Gurus’ court. Many institutions around the world have now included the playing of some of these instruments as a part of their curriculum.

Bhai Baldeep Singh has developed a comprehensive educative process, which consists of the original practices of nāda yoga, and the modes of teaching-cum-learning traditionally prevalent among the exponents of Gurbani and Bhakti traditions. Besides giving many concerts, he has also conducted workshops, lecture-demonstrations and seminars in India, Europe, North America, Southeast Asia and Australia. Several of his articles, poems and papers have been published in renowned academic journals. Since May 2009, he has been conducting interviews for the National television (Doordarshan) and All India Radio (AIR), in which eminent artists and musicians are featured.

Bhai Baldeep Singh hand carving a Rabab.
Photo by Parminder S Bhamra. 2006.

In 1997, he received the prestigious Bhai Batan Singh Memorial Award and Delhi State Annual Award (2002-03) for contribution in the field of Music. He has also been conferred the Sikh Gaurav Award for the year 2003 at Amritsar and in 2007, the Kapurthala Heritage Award at Kapurthala. On August 15, 2011, he received the Punjab State award for his seminal contribution to music (Gurbani Kirtan and classical music) and the arts.

Bhai Baldeep Singh has been very active in the contemporary Indian cultural scene by producing and publishing recordings of rare Indian musical instruments and contributing to the inter-religious and inter-cultural exchange organizing musical festivals and lectures. Some of his most successful presentations include Laya Darshan: Revealing the Riches of Indian Rhythm in 2005, Jashan in 2006, ANĀD Kav Tarang in April 2008, November 2009, November 2010, May 2011 and November 2011, Expressions On Nature: Dhart Suhavi in December 2008 as well as in September 2011 and Venice and Punjab: Water Memoirs on February 8, 2010 at the Tagore Theatre, Chandigarh.

Bhai Baldeep Singh with his handcrafted Rababa.
Photo by Thomas R Hughes. 2012. Edits by Manpreet Singh Khalsa.

Bhai Baldeep Singh is also a sensitive interpreter of the need for a cultural transformation and rejuvenation. He is the Founder and Managing Trustee of The ANĀD Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to the promotion and preservation of traditional culture, with particular focus on the preservation of South Asia’s intangible heritage and cultural traditions. One of The ANĀD Foundation’s aims is, in fact, to establish institutions as a means of facilitating the recovery and enhancement of the intangible (sukham virsā) and tangible (sthūl virsā) heritage. Bhai Baldeep Singh is in the process of developing the ANĀD CONSERVATORY: An Institute of Arts, Aesthetics, Cultural Traditions and Developmental Studies, a 120 Crore project at Sultanpur Lodhi, Kapurthala (Punjab). To encourage the young talent to dedicate and express themselves in various artistic forms, including poetry and literature, especially in the vernacular arts, crafts and musical forms, the Foundation confers ANĀD Sanmān, in the fields of poetry, music, dance, sports, science, technology, art, literature, theatre, cinema and handicrafts. In memory of the Punjabi poetess Baljit Kaur Tulsi, the Anād Foundation organizes since 2008 the poetry festival Anād Kāv Tarang and confers the Anād Kāv Sanman, which is offered to eminent poets and carries a cash prize of Rupees 2.25 lacs, a citation and a tamra-patra.

Over the years, Bhai Baldeep Singh has served in many boards and committees notably in the Core Committee of the Khalsa Heritage Complex (Anandpur Sahib), Executive Committee of the Punjab State Sangeet Natak Academy (2001-3 and 2004-6). He served as member of the Advisory Council of the Punjab Languages Department (2008-10) and helped the Punjab Government form the Sultānpur Lodhi Development Board in 2007 and served on its Board. He is also a patron of the Kapurthala Heritage Foundation, Kapurthala. From 2009-14 he represented the State of Punjab in the General Council of the National Academy of Music, Dance and Drama (Sangeet Natak Akademi) in New Delhi, where he also served in the Executive Board, in the Advisory Committees for Music, Archives and Documentation and in the Advisory Committee for Grants.

 

14 thoughts on “Bhai Baldeep Singh”

  1. I was referred by a member of Riaz practice in Espanola to contact Bhai Baldeep Singh about my sarangi’s bow. It needs to be rehaired, yet I have been unable to find anyone to do it. Can Bhai Baldeep Singh help in this regard?

    Blessings,
    SS Guru Prem Kaur Khalsa

    • Sat Kartar!
      Are you by any chance coming to India? Is it possible for you to take a few images of your bow and email them to me?
      I will be in Albuquerque in the first half of July teaching an intensive retreat but am leaving India on June 15.
      Warmly,
      bbs

  2. Sat Nam and thank you Bhai Baldeep Singh ji. Yes, I will try sending a photo by email today. Will you be coming to Espanola, too? I have no immediate plans to go to India.

  3. Also, kindly give me the email address the photo should be sent to.

  4. one suggestion yet deep heart felt apologies for to suggest a diehard and god like figure in kirtan or sikh spiritual music like you sir my suggestion is that the name of sardool singhji have to come as ”ustad ragi bhai sardool singh of hazur sahab (nanded), sorry if any undesired act done on my part honourable sir !!

  5. Charanjit Singh Sandhu said:

    I it great to know Bhai Baldeep Singh Jee

  6. How we can contact Bhai sahib Ji, he is touring USA we would like him to visit us in Atlanta , if I can get his contact information, I will contact him.

    I love to listen his compositions, he is great.

    Guru Nanak mission society of Atlanta

    Surinder singh
    President
    404-819-3890

    • I am sorry about this delay in getting back but due to some technical difficulties at Anad Office, I was unable to get this message until now. I have since returned back to India. There is a chance that I will be able to visit the US in October. I would be glad to see you all then.
      Warmly,
      bbs

      +919810002653
      bhaibaldeep@gmail.com

  7. Invite Rajasthani folk. Groups

  8. Very nice Ji

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