Sikh Musical Instruments

Historical Instruments

Rabab - The Shadow of Guru Nanak
The Rabab of Guru Nanak followed him as his shadow for over 27 years on his travels around the world, played by his beloved companion Bhai Mardana. This was the start of the Sikh Rababi (kirtanee) tradition with the singing of Shabad pardhaan kirtan according to the hukam of the Guru's (following the specified raags).
India houses various types of rababs which vary from region to region, the Sikh Rabab is also known as the Firandia Rabab, named after Bhai Firanda who carved and created the original Rabab which Bebe Nanaki presented to Guru Nanak Dev ji as a gift.

Saranda - The Blessing of the Soul
The Saranda is a unique instrument which originated amongst the Sikhs, designed, created and also played by the Fifth Sikh Guru, Guru Arjan Dev Ji. He instructed his followers to practice and share the singing of sacred shabads with these instruments to elevate the soul to merge with the Creator.

Guru Arjan blessed the whole nation with this instrument which is still used in Pakistan from Sindh to Baluchistan, in Afghanistan from Kabul to Kandahar and known as Saranda/Sirinda/Sarinda to play regional folk music. It is important to note that the instrument used in these areas for folk music is NOT the same as the Sikh Saranda used for singing Kirtan. The size, wood, structure and strings used for both types of instruments are significantly different and one should not be confused with the other.

Jori - Balancing your Inner Rhythm
The Jori also known as Panjabi Pakhawaj is an instrument which was created in the court of the Fifth Sikh Guru, Guru Arjan Dev Ji by two musicians of the court, Sata & Balwand.
The Jori emerged from the Mardang which is a one barrel drum, they cut this one piece instrument into two seperate pieces to create the Jori which means 'pair'.
The sound generated from this instrument is much louder and deeper to that of tabla. If you think about the atmosphere 300 years ago before microphones and technology existed, you would have thousands of people sitting to listen to kirtan outdoors, therefore you will need versatile instruments which carry the sound. The Jori is a prime example of the acoustic art required to play in an outdoor sitting without technical aids, sadly this instrument is not commonly used in the modern day sittings to sing Kirtan.

The world famous Tabla evolved from the Jori during the microphone era and was commonly used to accompany playback singing as it has a considerably softer sound to that of the Jori.
The Jori requires the use of fresh dough on the bass drum (dhama) and the treble drum (dhaiya) has ink (shahee) on the skin. To apply and remove fresh dough for each sitting required a lot more effort and maintenance, therefore the table removed this effort as both drums for the tabla have ink on the skin. The material used to make the bass drum of tabla is metal, where for the Jori both drums are made of Dhunn wood which is classed as the best quality wood for musical instruments.

Sarangi - One Hundred Colors of the Soul
The Sarangi is a remarkably enchanting instrument which dates back to 5000BC, it was created by the great scholar, Raavan. The name of the instrument translates to mean 'one hundred colors', it is also known as the mother to all stringed instruments as well as the only instrument which is so close to the human voice.

This astonishing instrument was created to sing the praise of the Creator, it was used for this purpose and then with evolution it was used less. In the court of the sixth Sikh Guru, Guru Hargobind Sahib it was brought back to the spiritual arena and used to sing the 22 ballads (Vaars) from the Guru Granth Sahib Ji.

There is a huge difference between a Dhadd Sarangi or Tota which is used to sing Dhadi Vaars and this sarangi which is also known as a classical or full size sarangi, the purpose and sound of these two instruments separates them clearly.

Taus - From the Heart of Guru Gobind Singh Ji
The Taus is the blessing of the Great Tenth Master of the Sikhs, Guru Gobind Singh Ji, as a master of the Persian language he named this glorious instrument 'Taus' which is Persian for Peacock. This was an instrument which was designed and played by the great Guru himself to guide us by example.

The sound of this instrument is wonderfully melodious taking you to a complete heavenly state, where you can feel the warmth of the universe.

This instrument is played with a bow and is hand crafted from one piece of high quality wood (Dhunn wood). This is one instrument which requires a vast amount of hard work, effort and craftsmanship to produce such a graceful instrument.

Dilruba - The Soulful Heart Stealer
Dilruba was also blessed by the Tenth Guru, Gobind Singh Ji, it is an instrument which he designed and created. Dilruba is Persian for 'Heart Stealer', the instrument itself has a wonderfully enchanting sound which takes away your heart in an instance.

The Dilruba is a smaller and modified version of the Taus. The reason for its creation was predominantly due to the practicality of carrying it for the soldiers and warriors who served in the army of the Tenth Guru Sahib, as all soldiers kept their instruments with them at all times. The Taus had storage issues due to its size and the Dilruba resolved these issues for the Sikhs as it is much smaller in size and much cheaper to produce compared to the Taus.

Dilruba is also the easiest and lightest instrument to play and it is incredible simple to understand. It takes simply 10 minutes to pick up and start playing.

Rabab & Saranda
Jori & Sarangi
Taus & Dilruba
All Together 

Historical Instruments
Page Source:
The Gurmat Sangeet Network

Some More Picture On Historical Sikh Instrument By Navroop Sehmi from 500px
(Click To Enlarge the pictures)





Dhadi Instruments

In the court of the sixth Sikh Guru, Guru Hargobind Sahib it was brought back to the spiritual arena and used to sing the 22 ballads (Vaars) from the Guru Granth Sahib Ji.
This instrument has been very popular with the Dhadies, who sing traditional ballads of brave warriors and heroes drawn from history eg. Sikh Gurus and Sikh Maharajas.

Dhad is a small percussion instrument or an hourglass- shaped of the Damru style. Held in one hand, it is struck on either side, with the other hand holding the skinned sides vertically or horizontally. This instrument has been very popular with the Dhadies, who sing traditional ballads of brave warriors and heroes drawn from history eg. Sikh Gurus and Sikh Maharajas.
The simple earthen pitcher serves as a musical instrument in a number of folk songs. The Garah player strikes its sides with rings worn on fingers of one hand and also plays on its open mouth with the other hand to produce a distinct rhythmic beat.

Classic Indian Shaped Bells used to produce ringing tune. Ghungroo is fixed on the handle of the Bow of Sarangi, which gives a parallel ringing tune while playing Sarangi. Its an important instrument for Dhadi Music.

Dhadi Musical Instruments Videos

Other Instruments

Harmonium / Waja - The Harmony
Harmonium  derived from the word 'Harmony'. Its a Western instrument invented by Alexandre Debain. 
A harmonium is a free-standing keyboard instrument similar to a reed organ. Sound is produced by air, supplied by foot-operated or hand-operated bellows, being blown through sets of free reeds, resulting in a sound similar to that of an accordion.

During the mid-19th century missionaries brought French-made hand-pumped harmoniums to India. The instrument quickly became popular there: it was portable, reliable and easy to learn. It has remained popular to the present day, and the harmonium remains an important instrument in many genres of Indian music. It is commonly found in Indian homes. Though derived from the designs developed in France, the harmonium was developed further in India in unique ways, such as the addition of drone stops and a scale changing mechanism.

The tambura, tanpura, tamboura or taanpura is a long-necked plucked lute (a stringed instrument found in different forms and in many places). The body shape of the tambura somewhat resembles that of the sitar, but it has no frets – and the strings are played open. One or more tamburas may accompany other musicians or vocalists. It has four or five (rarely six) wire strings, which are plucked one after another in a regular pattern to create a harmonic resonance on the basic note (bourdon or drone function).

Extra Knowledge

Small form of Dhol, Striked with hands. The name Mridang may also refer to a slightly different instrument that uses high-pitch tabla style syahi masala on its treble skin.
The Sikh Instrument Jori / Pakhawaj was made from cutting Mridang into two parts.