Why Musicians Didn't Cover Their Heads in 'Raghunath'

When I first invited Rajhesh Vaidhya ji for playing Veena with me, it took several months of planning and booking a studio.  On the day of the recording, the engineers were setting up the microphones, I went to Rajhesh ji to explain he would need to have his head covered because we would be recording Gurbani. I didn't expect many issues because I assumed he was an Indian musician who would know (I generally tell non-Indian musicians in advance about Gurbani). But, to my dismay, he said he was not comfortable putting anything on his head during the recording. 

I came out of the green room thinking about what to do. One option that came to my mind was to cancel the recording.  The other option was to go with the flow and not think about it.  Then I was reminded of what my grandfather would have done when he was confused: he would ask the Guru. I opened a random shabad from my Gurbani app on my phone. The following shabad appeared: 

ਭਾਦੁਇ ਭਰਮਿ ਭੁਲਾਣੀਆ ਦੂਜੈ ਲਗਾ ਹੇਤੁ ॥
भादुइ भरमि भुलाणीआ दूजै लगा हेतु ॥
Bẖāḏue bẖaram bẖulāṇīā ḏūjai lagā heṯ.
In the month of Bhaadon, she is deluded by doubt, because of her attachment to duality.

ਲਖ ਸੀਗਾਰ ਬਣਾਇਆ ਕਾਰਜਿ ਨਾਹੀ ਕੇਤੁ ॥
लख सीगार बणाइआ कारजि नाही केतु ॥
Lakẖ sīgār baṇāiā kāraj nāhī keṯ.
She may wear thousands of ornaments, but they are of no use at all.

ਜਿਤੁ ਦਿਨਿ ਦੇਹ ਬਿਨਸਸੀ ਤਿਤੁ ਵੇਲੈ ਕਹਸਨਿ ਪ੍ਰੇਤੁ ॥
जितु दिनि देह बिनससी तितु वेलै कहसनि प्रेतु ॥
Jiṯ ḏin ḏeh binsasī ṯiṯ velai kahsan pareṯ.
On that day when the body perishes-at that time, she becomes a ghost.

ਪਕੜਿ ਚਲਾਇਨਿ ਦੂਤ ਜਮ ਕਿਸੈ ਨ ਦੇਨੀ ਭੇਤੁ ॥
पकड़ि चलाइनि दूत जम किसै न देनी भेतु ॥
Pakaṛ cẖalāin ḏūṯ jam kisai na ḏenī bẖeṯ.
The Messenger of Death seizes and holds her, and does not tell anyone his secret.

ਛਡਿ ਖੜੋਤੇ ਖਿਨੈ ਮਾਹਿ ਜਿਨ ਸਿਉ ਲਗਾ ਹੇਤੁ ॥
छडि खड़ोते खिनै माहि जिन सिउ लगा हेतु ॥
Cẖẖad kẖaṛoṯe kẖinai māhi jin sio lagā heṯ.
And her loved ones-in an instant, they move on, leaving her all alone.

ਹਥ ਮਰੋੜੈ ਤਨੁ ਕਪੇ ਸਿਆਹਹੁ ਹੋਆ ਸੇਤੁ ॥
हथ मरोड़ै तनु कपे सिआहहु होआ सेतु ॥
Hath maroṛai ṯan kape siāhhu hoā seṯ.
She wrings her hands, her body writhes in pain, and she turns from black to white.

ਜੇਹਾ ਬੀਜੈ ਸੋ ਲੁਣੈ ਕਰਮਾ ਸੰਦੜਾ ਖੇਤੁ ॥
जेहा बीजै सो लुणै करमा संदड़ा खेतु ॥
Jehā bījai so luṇai karmā sanḏṛā kẖeṯ.
As she has planted, so does she harvest; such is the field of karma.

ਨਾਨਕ ਪ੍ਰਭ ਸਰਣਾਗਤੀ ਚਰਣ ਬੋਹਿਥ ਪ੍ਰਭ ਦੇਤੁ ॥
नानक प्रभ सरणागती चरण बोहिथ प्रभ देतु ॥
Nānak parabẖ sarṇāgaṯī cẖaraṇ bohith parabẖ ḏeṯ.
Nanak seeks God's Sanctuary; God has given him the Boat of His Feet.

ਸੇ ਭਾਦੁਇ ਨਰਕਿ ਨ ਪਾਈਅਹਿ ਗੁਰੁ ਰਖਣ ਵਾਲਾ ਹੇਤੁ ॥੭॥
से भादुइ नरकि न पाईअहि गुरु रखण वाला हेतु ॥७॥
Se bẖāḏue narak na pāīah gur rakẖaṇ vālā heṯ. ||7||
Those who love the Guru, the Protector and Savior, in Bhaadon, shall not be thrown down into hell. ||7||

My takeaway here was that we are deluded that respect comes from wearing head coverings, wearing shoes, sitting on chairs and bowing down. When the Guru reminds us so many time in Gurbani that what is important is love and our action.  

The ulitimate check for anything I do is "How would Guru Nanak handle this?" Would he not feed the Sadhu in langar who did not have his head covered? Would he not let someone sing in sangat if they were wearing shoes? Did he himself not sing while he was walking with his shoes on? Did he himself not sing when he was taking a head bath in the rivulets?  The obvious answer to all these questions is No! However much we would like this or not, love matters not clothes. 

Since then I have heard back from Vaidhya ji how much he enjoys the shabad recording we did.  I think he genuinely respects and Gurbani and the composition we created. He does not need a head covering to love and respect what we did. 

I do not do kirtan without covering my head, and give the musicians the advice of covering their head. I have stopped worrying much about how others are dressed. I do not force musicians to wear head coverings if they are not comfortable.  How would that be different from forcibly converting someone's religion. The words of the Guru are equal for everyone, for Black and White, Hindu and Sikh, Muslim and Christian, poor and rich, big and small ... and yes, ones who dress in a certain way and the ones who don't. 

This is a rather liberal view of Sikh Kirtan.  I apologize to those who I have hurt feelings.  But I am confident the Guru is with me on this one.  May the Guru of all Guru's always guide us in the right direction. 


  1. Sooo Beautiful veerji
    Really inspired by you
    I am Avneet singh from Anaahad Animations
    If you remember we had a word on instagram
    Waiting if you can do a ਸ਼ਬਦ for our Channel 🙏

  2. Guru Ji went even further. They showed us even the very words spoken by our mouths are less important than the love spoken by our hearts. Remember "Aarta" wasn't even a word when Bhai Dhanna Jaat spoke it and then Maharaj made it into Gurbani. Love is the only way to Waheguru

  3. Tusi enne simple words ch o gal keh gye jehdi log saari umar baani padhke v nhi samajh pande. Log same baani nu v multiple versions ch translate kar sakde but what we should do is ask ourselves that baba ji ki karde te ki chaunde c.. and that should be the path for our lifetime..