Friday, October 27, 2006


I have been listening to a lot of Bihags recently, after starting to explore the Raga myself. This post is about its characteristics and some common explorations. The Raga is a late night one, and primarily denotes longing for one's lover, often in a sorrowful mood. In other words, it embodies the shades of pathos, and in a personal opinion, shades more of melancholy than joy. However, I have heard renditions which are joyful. To note one bandish that simply cannot be expressed without happiness is one that starts with "Ali Ri Albeli", which has been exquisitely sung by Ustad Amir Khan. However, the rendition differs from what I have learnt upfront.

Pandit Bhatkhande's book categorizes the Raga to the Vilawal that, as Rajan Parrikar's website corroborates. The vadi swar is Gandhar, and samvadi is Nishad, aptly so, because the meends involving these notes form the marrow of the Raga. Another noticeable facet is the sensual use of both Madhyams. The use of the Teevra Madhyam and its distribution with respect to the Shuddha variety appears to be different in different rendition styles.

I have heard many recordings of the Raga. Since I am inclined to the Kirana Gharana a little bit, I would start by mentioning Pandit Bhimsen Joshi and Smt. Gangubai Hangal's renditions of the Raga. Both of their readily available tapes start with the Vilambit bandish "Kaise Sukha Sove", which is very popular, and indeed a very beautiful one. I don't remember Smt. Hangal's drut bandish, and commenters are most welcome to remind me of it. However, I do remember Joshiji's drut, "Lat Ulajhi Suljha ja Balam", which is one of the sweetest drut bandishes I have heard. I have a recording of Ashwini Bhide Deshpande singing the same bandish, and it is quite attractive. Rashid Khan's performance of the Raga is amazing, and I keep on listening to it very frequently. There's a long recording of Pandit Ravi Shankar, which is amazing, and is played with his idiosyncratic style of playing the Sitar. I am listening to more of him these days. Pandit Ranadhir Roy's recording of Bihag is again, one of the better performances when instrumental renditions are concerned. He is just astonishing like his recordings of Tilak Kalyan and Jaijawanti that have been mentioned on this blog earlier.

I am looking for renditions of two Bihag bandishes that I learnt, but have not heard in recordings or concerts. The first one is a Madhyalaya bandish in Rupak Tala called "Aaye Sab Mile", a Sufi kind of bandish, which is a prayer for the saint Khwaja Mainuddin Chisti and has some interesting words. It says:

Aaye Sab Mile
Tero Darbar
Khwaja Mainuddin, Garib Nawaj.

Chisti Peer Tum
Hind ke Bali Ho
Puri Karo Sab Man ki Kaaj

and there's immense scope of Laykari in it because of the Rupak setting. There's another bandish called "Chhup Jaa Re Chandni Raat", which typifies the Bihag-ish feeling, and portrays the Viraha that Bihag's a trademark of.

Two cents from my side. Contributors of this blog certainly have more to say. You are welcome to continue this post, so are the readers of the blog.


SVR said...

Nice! Now there's a long list of pieces I can hear for getting a grasp on Bihag :)

BTW, do you have pointer to somewhere where I can get a summary of some technical language (e.g.terms like vadi swar/samvadi/meend etc.) used in HCM?

expiring_frog said...

Kya be? No mention of Amir-kaku's "Kaise sukh sove"? No Sharafat (including the "Hazrat ali tum ho mahabali" sung when he was 13, and "Lat uljhe suljha ja")? No AAK even (or Bilu-da or NB)?

Gah. Grrrr... :P

As for the Gangubai, I have the cassette at home, will ask the sister to look up the bandish.

expiring_frog said...

PS: "idiosyncratic style of playing the Sitar"... wah wah :D.

DD said...

@shobha: check this website out. It has a lot of information about Indian Classical Music.

@expiring_frog: he the he, those are left out intentionally, you are welcome to continue the discussion. and yes :D, it is idiosyncratic indeed.

SVR said...


BTW, I found a Carnatic piece in the same raga ("Behag", but afaik, it's not used v. much in Carnatic): The second Thillana, here. I _think_ it was a composition of Lalgudi Jayaraman. (And MLV, of course, was one of the stars of Carnatic vocal in the 20th century...)

DD said...

@shobha: listened to that piece. interesting :-). however, i don't know anything about carnatic music at all. what do you call bihag in the carnatic domain?

Rapid I Movement said...

Ok, the lyrics make some sense now (still in the dark about Hind ke Bali ho - Moinuddin was a Persian as far as I know...or mebbe Bali means ruler). Most khayals are sung in such inordinately undecipherable fashions...unless you know the piece, it's difficult to follow the context.

SVR said...

@DD: I believe it's called Behag/Bihag, and is pretty much derived completely from the Hindustani raaga. Afaik, it's considered a "light" raga (maybe because there aren't too many traditional "heavy" compositions? just a thought :).

A thillana is a piece sung near the end of the concert; completely classical but short, never sung w/ alaap or other extensions. Its structure is that it contains "taal phrases" in the pallavi and anupallavi, and the charanam contains lyrics. It tends to be more of a highlight in Bharatanatyam, to show off the dancer's skills in pure footwork. :)

DD said...

@rapid i movement: hind ke bali ho means "veer of hindustan", or the valiant from india. they are indeed sung with undecipherable fashions. but i find the hard rock vocalists' pronunciations undecipherable too :D.

@shobha: thanks very much for the information. why don't you join this blog and post stuff about carnatic music?

Rangakrishnan Srinivasan said...

@ DD : thanks for reviving this blog! interesting post.

SVR said...

@DD: I'd love to -- My technical knowledge in Carnatic isn't particularly strong either, but if you're okay with semi-technical posts, I'd definitely like to join! :)

DD said...

@ranga: post something!

@shobha: invit sent, expecting post.

and rim, sorry for the terrible typos, extreme semantic ones moreover

SVR said...

@DD: Thanks! I'll have to think about what to post :), so I'll post by weekend :)

Ragunath_Siromani said...

have you ever tried imagining bihag without the teevra madhyam? i think sounds more solemn that way.

Rangakrishnan Srinivasan said...

@ DD: been thinking of a post for quite some time.

@ shobha: looking forward to your post! btw, welcome!

Anonymous said...

hey DD, i'm very keen to know how i can get hold of ranadhir roy's bihag (being an esraj player myself). thanks.

Anonymous said...

@dedalus: please leave your email address here, i will send you the copy.

Shobha said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Shobha said...

"Chipp ja chandini raat has been rendered by Shubha Mudgal.
Am looking for "langar dheeth mag mag rokat..." madhyalaya teentaal.

Abhik Majumdar said...

Arun Bhaduri has a commercial release where he's sung Aaye Sab Milke. That exposition of Bihag ranks among the finest I've ever encountered.

And yes, the first line of the antara is actually 'Chishti Peer, tum Hind ke _wali_ ho'. "Wali" is very much a Persian word, and is translated variously as 'master', 'ruler' or 'prince'.

Somesh said...

Does anybody have notes for "lat uljhe suljha jaa balam"?

Somesh said...

Never mind about the notes for
"lat uljhi...". I heard it on
an web-site and got the basic melody
on the keyboard. I just have to
perfect it now.

Simoqin the dreamer said...

do listen to the bihag by the gr8 ashesh bandopadhyay in esraj..go to and search'll get bihag by ashesh babu!

Priyo said...

Just chanced upon this blog while researching Pt. Ranadhir Roy. A participant, I think Anonymous indicated that he has a copy of Prof. Roy's Behag. I would much appreciate if it can be shared with general public. If avaialbe commercially, please let me know. I have a wonderful Iman Kalyan long alap with Briz Kabra which I will be glad to share.