Over one of the recent weekends, I had the chance to listen to the wonderful Asa ki Vaar at a residence in California. Bhai Kultar Singh sang some shabads that we used to hear from his father, Bhai Avtar Singh. I had my iPhone with me so I recorded two of the shabads.
The first shabad is in Raag Bilawal, Prabh ji too mere praan adhaare:
Bilawal - Prabh ji too mere praan adhaare - Bhai Kultar Singh
The second shabad is in Raag Ahir Bhairav, Rakho Kirpaa Dhaar. Bhai Swaran Singh was on the tabla and had to replace his "atta" in the middle of the shabad: thats the reason for the break in the middle of the recording.
Ahir Bhairav - Raakho Raakho Kirpa Dhaar - Bhai Kultar Singh
For a list of my favorite Asa ki vaar recordings see our other post: Asa Ki Vaar - The Ballad of Hope
A note for the classical enthusiast: The key difference between Bhairav and Ahir Bhairav is that "Ni" is komal in Ahir Bhairav.
On many occasions I make mistakes pronouncing a word in a shabad; and several times I correct myself. On each of these occasions where I have corrected the word, I have realized that each word and alphabet in the Guru Granth Sahib works to make a given shabad beautiful. So I try to correct myself whenever possible.
Here is a mistake I have made several times. I've called the ballad "Asa di Vaar;" and although I am not alone in this transgression (check the web -- there are more references to Asa di Vaar than Asa ki Vaar), that does not make it right. Now I know. Its more likely Asa Ki Vaar and not Asa Di Vaar.
Doesn't that sound more Hindi than Punjabi? Yes! But thats how the Guru's must have said it -- because all mentioned vaars use "ki" in the Granth Sahib. There maybe cultural reasons for the importance of Punjabi, but how can the Gurus who spread the message of equality differentiate between languages -- bani in the Guru Granth Sahib uses several languages. Everytime I hear Asa ki vaar, I am filled with hope. Because among several other lessons I learn every time I hear this beautiful ballad, the Guru reinforces in me that language is not important, the message is. Focus on the message!