Borgeets (Assamese: বৰগীত, songs celestial) are a collection of lyrical songs that are set to specific ragas but not necessarily to any tala. These songs, composed by Srimanta Sankardeva and Madhavdeva in the 15th-16th centuries, are used to begin prayer services in monasteries associated with the Ekasarana Dharma; and they also belong to the repertoire of Music of Assam outside the religious context. They are a lyrical strain that express the religious sentiments of the poets reacting to different situations, and differ from other lyrics associated with the Ekasarana Dharma. Similar songs composed by others are not generally considered borgeets.
The first Borgeet was composed by Srimanta Sankardeva during his first pilgrimage at Badrikashram in c1488, which is contemporaneous to the birth of Dhrupad in the court of Man Singh Tomar (1486-1518) of Gwalior.
The borgeets are written in the pada form of verse. The first pada, marked as dhrung, works as a refrain and is repeated over the course of singing of the succeeding verses. In the last couplet, the name of the poet is generally mentioned. The structure of borgeets is said to model the songs of 8-10th century Charyapada.
The first borgeet, mana meri rama-caranahi lagu, was composed by the Sankardeva at Badrikashrama during his first pilgrimage. The language he used for all his borgeets is Brajavali, an artificial Maithili-Assamese mix; though Madhavdeva used Brajavali very sparingly. Brajabuli, with its preponderance of vowels and alliterative expressions, as considered ideal for lyrical compositions, and Sankardeva used it for Borgeets and Ankiya Naats. Sankardeva composed about two hundred and forty borgeets, but a fire destroyed them all and only about thirty four of them could be retrieved from memory. Sankardeva, much saddened by this loss, gave up writing borgeets and asked Madhavdeva to write them instead.
The music of borgeets are based on ragas, which are clearly mentioned; and raginis, the female counterparts of ragas, are emphatically not used. The rhythm (tala), on the other hand, are not mentioned; and borgeets need not be set to rhythm. Nevertheless, by convention tala is used when a borgeet is performed for an audience, or in a congregation, and in general specific ragas are associated with specific talas (e.g, Ashowari-raga with yati-maan; Kalyana-raga with khar-maan, etc.). The lightness that is associated with the khyal type of Indian classical music is absent, instead the music is closer to the Dhrupad style. The singing of a borgeet is preceded by raga diya or raga tana, the local term for alap, but unlike the syllables used in Khyal or Dhrupad, words like Rama, Hari, Govinda, etc. are used. Furthermore, raga diya is fixed as opposed to alap which is improvised.
The strict rules that are associated with the Borgeets, and still practiced in the Sattras, are eschewed in popular renderings. A very knowledge Khol player and a renowned singer Khagen Mahanta has sung and documented some Borgeets in its pure form in an album called Rajani Bidur. He was from the family of Satradhikars. He and his sister Nikunjalata Mahanta from the Gajala Satra were very well versed with this form. Borgeets were also used by Bhupen Hazarika, in movies, and popular singers like Zubeen Garg have released their renderings.
Borgeets have recently been translated into Hindi by Devi Prasad Bagrodia.
- (Neog 1980, p. 178)
- The other forms lyrics are the bhatima (laudatory odes), kirtan- and naam-ghoxa (lyrics for congregational singing), ankiya geet (lyrics set to beats and associated with the Ankiya Naat), etc.
- (Sanyal 2004, pp. 45–46)
- Dhrung is likely an abbreviation of Dhruva, the dhatu named in the Prabandha musical tradition (Mahanta 2008, p. 52)
- (Neog 1980, p. 278)
- (Barua 1953, p. 100)
- "Madhavdev did not use Brajabuli the way Sankardev did. If we dropped a few words, the language of most of Madhavdev's Borgeets reduce to old Assamese" (Mahanta 2008, p. 15).
- (Barua 1953, pp. 98–100)
- (Sarma 1976, p. 60)
- (Neog 1980, p. 286)
- (Neog 1980, p. 278)
- (Neog 1980, p. 278)
- Tejore Kamalapoti, by Madhavdeva, sung by Bhupen Hazarika (1955) Piyoli Phukan
- Pawe Pori Hori, by Shankardeva, sung by Zubeen Garg.
- Barua, B K (1953), "Sankaradeva: His Poetical Works", in Kakati, Banikanta, Aspects of Early Assamese Literature, Gauhati: Gauhati University
- Das-Gogoi, Hiranmayee (December 6, 2011). "Dhrupadi Elements of Borgeet". Society for Srimanta Sankaradeva. Retrieved October 23, 2012.
- Mahanta, Bapchandra (2008). Borgeet (in Assamese) (2nd ed.). Guwahati: Students' Stores.
- Neog, Maheswar (1980), Early history of the Vaisnava faith and movement in Assam, Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass
- Sanyal, Ritwik; Widdness, Richard (2004). Dhrupad: Tradition and Performance in Indian Music. Ashgate Publishing, Ltd.
- Sarma, Satyendra Nath (1976), Assamese Literature, Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz