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Borgeet - Assamese Holy Songs

Bhakti or Vaishnav movement in India gave birth to a new genre of religious poems and songs in 14th - 16th century. The same trend was brought to Assam by Srimanta Sankardeva(Xonkordev in Assamese) and later his disciple Srimanta Madhabdev in the form of 'Borgeet'(Bargit/Bargeet). Out of innumerous creations by the great saint, Borgeet stands at high position. Borgeets are very rich in both Lyrics and music and superior to many other regional Bhakti songs during the movement...

Srimanta Sankardeva

Mahapurush(Great Man/Saint) Srimanta Sankardeva created the backbone of Assamese society and culture around 500 years back. This great leader of Hindu Vaishnav movement was born in Bordowa, Nagaon in 1449 AD. All his creations were Vishanav religion oriented and one of them is the 'Holy Songs', which are known as 'Borgeet(Bargit or Bargeet)' till date in Assam.

Srimanta Sankardeva probably started some songs in his mid-age at around 1515 AD. The first known Borgeet wrtten by the Shankardev was 'Mon meri Ram Saranehi Laagu'. He wrote around 240 Borgeets and put them all together in a book. Unfortunately that book was burnt in some wildfire. The Mahapurusha felt sad about that and stopped writing any more Borgeet.

Sankardeva's truly capable disciple Srimanta Madhabdeva was no less scholar and talented than the Great Sankardeva. Madhabdeva took the trend of Borgeet forward and wrote around 157 songs. He added 34 Borgeets of Sankardeva along with his compositions and put them together in a new book of Borgeet (Bargeet). These Borgeets still very much alive in the current Assamese society, in the Satras and Naamgharas.

Almost all Borgeets were written in the Brajavali Language. Both the Mahapurusha accepted this language as the base of their bhakti movement. This language is not the spoken Assamese language of the region. Apart of Assamese influence, Bjravali has influnce of Sankskrit, Maithili, etc languages popular in other parts of India during the Bhakti movement.

The speciality of the lyrics of Borgeet is in the reticence. The principles of Vashnavism and also life of Lord Shree Krishna, Rama are depicted in a very simple manner in these Borgeets. The lyrics don't have an insight to the love-romance activities of Bhagwan(God) Shree Krishna. Instead the songs are fully devoted to the religious and spiritual aspects of God's life.

Apart from the simple spiritual lyrics, the Borgeet are bound to very melodious classical music. These are close to Hindustani Classical music, but has it's own signature. Borgeet(Bargeet) follows various Ragas like any other Hindu classical music. Tala(beats) are mentioned of some of the Borgeet(Bargit), but for the rest there is no mention by the two Mahapurusha.

Use of musical instrument is not necessary for Borgeet. But instruments like 'Khol', 'Taal' and 'Flute' adds more charm to the songs. These are high pitch classical songs and need good practice to sing in a perfect manner.

There are lots of research done in Assam on Sankardeva, Madhabdeva and also Borgeet. The great literate Dr. Banikanta Kakoti has named Borgeet as 'Noble Numbers'. Simiarly Kaaliram Medhi called them 'Great Song' or 'Song Celestial'. Historian Devendranath Bezbaruah mentioned them as 'Holy Songs'.

Borgeet(Bargit) has completed a journey of more than 500 years, and still very much fresh in every Assamese's heart. These songs are well practised still in the Satras and any other religious place of Assam. Kalaguru Bishnu Prasad Rabha known to be very good singer of Borgeet in modern days. In recent days great singers like Dr. Bhupen Hazarika / Zubeen Garg have also sung Borgeet giving them the finest touch.

Listen to few Borgeet

Please be patient till the player gets downloaded below.

Tejore Kamalapoti By Dr. Bhupen Hazarika
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Xuno Xuno Re Xuno By Zubeen Garg
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You can listen to more Borgeet in the playlist of Assamese religious songs.
You can also discuss about Borgeet in the Music Forum.