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Ustad Harbhajan Singh

Music World > Namdhari Artists

Ustad Harbhajan Singh has the distinction of having been bestowed the title 'Ustad' by His Holiness Sri Satguru Jagjit Singh Ji - as Satguru Ji said " Harbhajan is like the tree (ustad) from which many fruits (music students) will come forth".

Today he is one of the most prominent musicians to have combined the classical music of North India and the devotional gurbani singing unique to Sikhism.

Born in March 1945, Ustad Harbhajan Singh grew up in Kujhar, a remote village now in Pakistan. His passion for music was revealed at the tender age of eleven when, without having received any tutelage he was playing the harmonium in the divans and kirtan durbars of Sri Satguru Pratap Singh Ji.

Recognizing the exceptional talent Sri Satguru Jagjit Singhji undertook the long arduous task of training him in the complete discipline of Gurbani Sangeet. This started with Ustad Tara Singh who taught him the Dilruba, a prominent instrument of antiquity, played whilst singing Gurbani Shabads. His talent for singing was nurtured by Maharaj Bir Singhji, Shri Hazur Singh, Chander Hans, and renowned vocalist Pandit Mahadev Prasad (Kathak). Ten years of demanding discipline saw Harbhajan Singh emerge a master in the singing of such difficult compositions as those in the style of Dhrupad and Dhamar, as well as conventional classical singing, it goes without saying that he was also required to memorize an awesome array of Gurbani Shabads.

Under the directive of Sri Satguru Jagjit Singhji to learn to play the sitar, Harbhajan Singh became one of the few privileged students of the Sarod maestro Ustad Amjad Ali Khan, who tutored him for a further eight years. During this period Harbhajan Singh was appointed by Sri Satguru ji to impart his knowledge to the next generation of Namdhari students at Sri Bhaini Sahib. His skills in teaching can be seen in the numerous prodigies who are today names in themselves to be reckoned with. Whilst on tour to the outside world as Sri Sarguruj's Hazuri Raagi he has inspired young talent in places as far apart as Thailand, Kenya, Canada, U.S.A. and the United Kingdom, where by Sri Satgurujis directive he has taught many a students in all the various styles of Indian classical music.

By writing down in notational form compositions that were traditionally handed down by word of mouth he has made available an immense bank for reference to students and connoisseurs when he is not there to guide them. He has also emerged as an exceptionally gifted composer whose own compositions are being sung the world over.

Bestowing his blessings on Ustad Harbhajan Singh, Sri Satguru Jagjit Singhji once said that, he is the tree from which we cultivate new saplings.

A Reasoned Justification: Ustad Harbhajan Singh is one of the most important exponents of Gurbani Kirtan Parampara and the senior most among the Namdhari community. His mentorship under the likes of Ustad Tara Singh, Maharaj Bir Singh Namdhari and Pandit Mahadev Prasad makes him one of the last remaining links to Punjabs musical heritage. He has collected a very eclectic musical repertoire that consists of rare gurbani kirtan and dhrupad-dhamar compositions and hence makes his contribution to gurbani kirtan, phenomenal. He stands tall among his contemporaries as unlike other exponents, he alone has taught many famous gurbani kirtaniye including Shiromani Ragi Baljit Singh Namdhari, Mohan Singh Namdhari, Sukhdev Singh Namdhari, Harbans Singh Ghulla, Balwant Singh Namdhari and many others.

Ustad Harbhajan Singh, has been chosen for the prestigious Sangeet Natak Award for 2010. The awards carrying a citation, memento, shawl and a cash prize will be presented to each of them by the President of India at a national-level function to be held shortly. In all, 38 maestros will get the coveted awards for excellence in their respective realms of art besides two fellowships to classical vocalist Girija Devi and danseur Nataraj Ramakrishna.

Ustad Harbhajan Singh is being honoured for Gurbani kirtan. Recognising his exceptional talent, Sri Satguru Jagjit Singhji undertook training him in Gurbani sangeet. His talent was nurtured by prominent gurus and Sarod maestro Ustad Amjad Ali Khan. He has inspired Gurbani aspirants, taught kirtan, classical music and performed in Thailand, Kenya, Canada, the US and the UK. As the prominent exponents of Gurbani Kirtan parampara and the senior most among the Namdhari community, he stands tall among his contemporaries

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