Prabandh, Vastu and Rupak

Prabandh, in the ancient style of singing is a ‘Nibadha Geetprakaar’ (singing within a definite framework). ‘Pra + Bandh’ and ‘Prakshena Bhandhanaat’ is how it is defined. Translated, it means, ‘A song bound by a specific framework of rules’. It has two main principles:


  1.  Rachanatmak Tatva (creative principle)
  2.  Shabd – Swar – Taal Bandhan (a set format of rules)


The first tatva is ‘Dhatu’ and the second is ‘Matu’. 


Dhatu has 4 types:


  1.  Udgraaha - The opening / initial portion of the song.
  2.  Melapak - The one connecting Dhruva and Udgraaha.
  3.  Dhruva - The third main part of the song. This is compulsory in every song.
  4.  Abhoga - The last part of the song. The Prabandh geet ends here.


Apart from these 4 angas (parts) of Prabandh, there are 6 more angas as follows:


(a) Swar    (b) Birud    (c) Tain   (d) Pad   (e) Paat    (f) Taal


The minimum requirement for a Prabandh is 2 parts. Prabandh is also known as Vastu and Rupak. But there is a minutedifference in all three. A composition which comprises of 4 dhatus and six angas is called a Prabandh. When a Prabandh is used in theatre performances, the piece which describes the protagonist is called Rupak. Vastu is a composition which completely blends anga and dhatu. Therefore these three terms: Prabandh, Vastu and Rupak complement each other. 


In modern times, these forms of song composition are no longer in use. However out of the six angas of Prabandh; Dhatu, Matu and Ang are still found in compositions today. 


In ancient style of singing, in the first charan (phase) of Prabandh, there were 15 matras (basic counting units of Taal ). Similarly the third and fifth charan also had 15 matras. The first half of the Prabandh would comprise of swars and paat, and the second half would comprise of swars and tain.