Chands in Jaap Sahib

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A chand is a verse in which the syllables and the rhythm are arranged in a precisely controlled pattern. Following Chands are present in Jaap Sahib:

  1. Chhapai Chand - used Just Once(1 Vaar)
  2. Rual Chand - used Just Once(1 Vaar)
  3. Rasaawal Chand - used Just Once(1 Vaar)
  4. Harbolmana Chand - used Just Once(1 Vaar)
  5. Ek Acchhri Chand - used Just Once(1 Vaar)
  6. Charpat Chand - used twice(2 Vaars)
  7. Madhubhar Chand - used twice(2 Vaars)
  8. Bhagwati Chand - used twice(2 Vaars)
  9. Chachri Chand - used Five Times(5 Vaars)
  10. Bhajang Prayat Chand - used six times(6 Vaars)

History

In 1685, Guru Gobind Singh was still a youth of nineteen, and that hard road of destiny was a few years away from unfolding. He spent his days in Paonta Sahib as a poet and a scholar - teaching, learning and sharing his love for the One Lord. It was during this time that the Guru wrote his powerful prayer - Jaap Sahib. The Jaap Sahib is 199 verses composed in five languages, in rhymed couplets of defined and sophisticated meter. It does not narrate a story, and does not depart philosophical wisdom. Instead, it calls out 950 names of the unformed and limitless Creator. Some couplets speak of what God is, and others speak of what God is not. Together the words and rhythm create an experience of God that supersedes mere intellectual understanding. The rhythm of Jaap Sahib is like that of a horse at the gallop, and the beat of the hooves drum martial spirit into the heart. The cadence of the Jaap Sahib is used for marching, martial practice, and dance of the pantra. The Jaap Sahib is written in ten distinct meters, or Chands, that weave into the experience of the practitioner.

Understanding Jaap Sahib

All Gurbani in Guru Granth Saaheb is written in Poetic Metres and the same applies to Jaap Sahib. In order to understand Metre we need to first understand the meaning of Syllables. A Syllable is a Word or Part of a Word uttered by a single effort of the voice. Metre of Poetry is the uttering of certain groups of syllables of a Poetic line in regulated successions (long & short, stressed & unstressed). This uttering of syllables in regulated successions results in the generation of rhythm. Poetry and Metre are inseparable. All along a recitation, they exist together. On account of different rhythms produced by different Metres, they acquire different names.

During Bhakti movement, devotional poetry in India was mostly composed in Padas, Dohra, Chaupai, Svaeeyay, Kabit, Pauri, Chand, etc. Gurbani also uses these forms of Metres.

Jaap Saaheb is written in Chands and they follow the rule of Beat and Word. There are 10 types of Chands used in Jaap Saaheb. With exception of one, which has 6 lines (Padas or Charans), the rest 9 of them have 4 lines (Padas or Charans). Charans/Pads are the no. of lines that combine to form a single Chand. These lines (Charans) are like the legs of a Dining Table on which it stands. Each line (LEG – Pad/Charan) follows a specific rhythm rule, which combine together to form a Chand.

In Indian classical prosody the time required to pronounce syllables, according to their phonetic make-up, is designed into two forms: Short (Laghu) and Long (Guru), known by notations I and S, respectively.

Laghu, I denotes a Matra (time-division), which is the smallest division of time taken to utter a syllable. This is the smallest rhythm unit of Poetry.

Guru, S is made up of 2 Laghus. At a place where Guru (notation S) falls, the uttered syllable will be stretched to twice the time taken in uttering a similar Laghu syllable.

In mathematical form, the timing equation will be:
S = 2 * I

Usually, the Guru (S) falls on syllables that have a Kanna, Bihari, Dulonkar, Lan, Hora, Kanora, Tippi, Bindi, Dulaaiyaan. However, this does not imply that all syllables with these characters will necessarily be a Guru (S). This is a general rule but not a must.

Using the principles of Laghu and Guru we can attempt to understand the recitation method of Jaap Saaheb.

1. Chachri Chand

The chandh written with a tone, tempo or pace mirroring sharp movement of a sword.

This Chand contains 32 stanzas in Jaap Saaheb. Each stanzas has 4 lines (Charans). Each Charan is to be recited with 4 syllables in the manner I S I, S

For example, Chand 30 of Jaap Saaheb will be recited as follows :

I S I S Alekh Hai - A le kh Hai
Abekh Hai - A be kh Hai
Anam Hai - A na m Hai
Akam Hai - A ka m Hai

2. Rasaaval Chand

This Chand appears 8 times in Jaap Saaheb. Each Chand has 4 lines (Charans). Each Charan is to be recited with 6 syllables in the manner I S S, I S S

For example, Chand 148 of Jaap Saaheb will be recited as follows:

I S S , I S S

Na Potrey, Na Putrey - Na Po trey Na Pu trey
Na Strey, Na Mitrey - Na S trey Na Mi trey
Na Tatey, Na Matey - Na Ta tey Na Ma tey
Na Jatey, Na Patey - Na Ja tey Na Pa tey


3. Bhujang Paryat Chand

The chandh written with a tone, tempo or pace mirroring movement of a python or snake

This Chand appears 62 stanzas in Jaap Saaheb. Each stanzas has 4 lines (Charans). Each Charan is to be recited with 8 syllables in the manner I S S, I S S, I S S, I S S

However, in Jaap Saaheb it is used in a variance form of Ardh-Bhujang (Half Bhujang), which is similar to Rasaval Chand. Each Charan is to be recited with 6 syllables in the manner I S S, I S S

For example, Chand 28 of Jaap Saaheb will be recited as follows :

I S S , I S S

Namo Jog Jogey - Na mo Jo g Jo gey
Namo Bhog Bhogey - Na mo Bho g Bho gey
Namo Sarb Dyaley - Na mo Sar b Dya ley
Namo Sarb Paaley - Na mo Sar b Paa ley

Bujang means the smooth and "back and forth" pattern of the snake, this is also related to gatka. Puratan Siksh in battle recited Jaap Sahib while engaged in battle.

4. Charpat Chand

The chandh written with a tone, tempo or pace mirroring movement of a Marching Army

This Chand appears 27 stanzas in Jaap Saaheb. Each stanza has 4 lines (Charans). It has 2 forms of recitation. In the first form each Charan is to be recited with 5 syllables in the manner S I I, S S

For example, Chand 74 of Jaap Saaheb will be recited as follows:

S I I , S S Amrit Karmey - Am ri t Kar mey
Amrit Dharmey - Am ri t Dhar mey
Akhal Jogey - Akh a l Jo gey
Achal Bhogey - Ach a l Jo gey

In the second form each Charan is also to be recited with 5 syllables in the manner I I S, S S

For example the Chand 78 of Jaap Saaheb will be recited as follows :

I I S , S S Sarban Devan - Sa r ban De van
Sarban Bhevan - Sa r ban Bhe van
Sarban Kaaley - Sa r ban kaa ley
Sarban Paaley - Sa r ban Paa ley

5. Madhubar Chand

The chandh written with a tone, tempo or pace stressing middle word

This Chand appears 17 stanzas in Jaap Saaheb. Each stanza has 4 lines (Charans). Each Charan is to be recited with 7 syllables in the manner I I I I, I S I

For example, Chand 87 of Jaap Saaheb will be recited as follows:

I I I I, I S I Gun Gan Udhar - Gu n Ga n U dha r
Mahima Apar - Ma hi m a A pa r
Aasan Abhang - A a sa n A bha ng
Upma Anang - U p m a A na ng

Madhubar Chand could mean "madh" (half) "bhaar" (weight) in that it is a chhand that you read not very slow and not very fast

Must be read with emphasis on the middle sound
eg: Gun Gan Udaar --> emphasis on Gan
MehMa Apaar --> emphasis on Ma

6. Bhagvati Chand

This Chand appears 41 stanzas in Jaap Saaheb. Each stanza has 4 lines (Charans). It has 2 forms of recitation. In the first form each Charan is to be recited with 8 syllables in the manner I S I, I I S, I S

For example, Chand 150 of Jaap Saaheb will be recited as follows:

I S I , I I S , I , S Ki Jaahar Jahoor Hai - Ki Jaa ha r Ja hoo r Hai
Ki Haazar Hazoor Hai - Ki Haa za r Ha zoo r Hai
Hameshul Salam Hai - Ha me shu l Sa la m Hai
Samastul Klam Hai - Sa ma stu l K la m Hai

In the second form each Charan is to be recited with 6 syllables in the manner I S S, I S S

For example the Chand 103 of Jaap Saaheb will be recited as follows:

I S S , I S S Ki Aachij Desey - Ki Aa chi j De sey
Ki Aabhij Bhesey - Ki Aa bhi j Bhe sey
Ki Aaganj Karmey - Ki Aa gan j Kar mey
Ki Aabhanj Bharmey - Ki Aa bhan j Bhar mey

7. Har bol mana Chand

The chandh instructing mind, body and soul to recite Har Har

This Chand containss 14 stanzas in Jaap Saaheb. Each stanzas has 4 lines (Charans). Each Charan is to be recited with 6 syllables in the manner I I S, I I S

For example, Chand 171 of Jaap Saaheb will be recited as follows:

I I S, I I S Karunalay Hai - Ka ru na la y Hai
Ar Ghaley Hai - A r Gha le y Hai
Khal Khandan Hai - Kh al Khan da n Hai
Meh Mandan Hai - Me h Man da n Hai

8. Ek Akhari Chand

The chandh written with a single word

This Chand contains 8 stanzas in Jaap Saaheb. Each stanza has 4 lines (Charans). Each Charan is to be recited with 2 syllables in the manner I S

For example, Chand 189 of Jaap Saaheb will be recited as follows:

I S Ajey - A jey
Aley - A ley
Abhey - A bhey
Abey - A bey


Ek Achari Chand means "one letter" because there is a main letter in each word – it is said that all of the other "chhands" were in existence before, but Ek Achari Chand was invented by Guru Gobind Singh Jee.

9. Rual Chand

This Chand contains 7 stanzas in Jaap Saaheb. Each stanzas has 4 lines (Charans). Each Charan is to be recited with 17 syllables in the manner S I S, I I S, I S I, I S I, S I I, S, I

For example, Chand 79 of Jaap Saaheb will be recited as follows:

S I S, I I S, I S I, I S I, S I I, S, I

Aad Roop Anad Moort Ajon Purkh Apar - Aa d Roo p A na d Moo rt A jo n Pu rkh A pa r
Sarb Mann Triman Dev Abhev Aad Udar - Sar b Maa n Tri ma n De v A bhe v Aa d U da r
Sarb Palk Sarb Ghalk Sarb Ko Pun Kal - Sar b Pa l k Sar b Gha l k Sar b Ko Pu n Ka l
Jatr Tatr Bihajhi Avdhoot Roop Rsal - Ja tr Ta tr Bi ha j hi A v dhoo t Roo p R sa l

10. Chapey Chand

Chandh made of 6 lines

This Chand appears 1 time in Jaap Saaheb. This Chand is a combination of two different Chands, namely Rola Chand and Ulal Chand. First 4 Charans belong to Rola Chand and the last 2 Charans belong to Ulal Chand. Each Charan of Rola Chand has 24 Laghu Matras (I), whereas each Charan of Ulal Chand has 28 Matras (I). Therefore Chapey Chand has a total of 152 Laghu Matras. These are derived as

24 * 4 Lines of Rola Chand + 28 * 2 Lines of Ulal Chand = 152 Total Laghu Matras in Chapey Chand.

Chand 1 of Jaap Saaheb is a Chapey Chand with 6 lines. The first 4 Charans of this Chand are Rola Chand and the last 2 are Ulal Chand.