Murshidi Gan devotional folk songs that evolved and flourished mainly through sufis. The word 'murshid', derives from the Arabic 'ershad', and means 'to order or give advice'. A murshid gives advice to his disciples and leads them to the spiritual way by means of devotional rites. A murshid has the same place in Muslim religious meditation as a guru has in yoga.
Bengal has a long tradition of guruism in the Hindu, Buddhist and Nath creeds. After the Muslim conquest of Bengal, the people of this land became exposed to the concept of murshid derived from sufistic and mystic practice. A murshid or pir is thought to have attained divine grace through which human beings can find Allah; the belief has given birth to the concept that 'the one who is murshid is maula (God)'. The murshid is the saviour both in this world and the world after. He is the guide who helps people enter the spiritual world. He shows the way of salvation from worldly illusions. The devotee surrenders himself without reservation before a murshid or seeks a place at his feet for salvation. Songs in praise of murshids are called murshidi gans.
The murshid's followers beseech him through songs such as o tumi aisare dayal amar murshid re (O my murshid, be kind and come to me), dayal amar kandari haio re (O my kind murshid, lead me through), and tumi dao dekha daradi re amay (O my kind murshid, reveal yourself to me). Unlike baul songs, which are about mysticism, arguments and conflicts, murshidi songs praise the murshid and appeal to him to guide the devotee.
Apart from eulogising the murshid, murshidi songs also speak of divine love. Rivers, boats, birds and Radha and Krishna are used in these songs symbolically. What makes them different from other types of songs is that they are about spiritual love and devotion.
The tunes of murshidi songs are essentially sorrowful and heart-rending, arising out of the pain of the followers' perception of inability, ignorance and non-attainment of spiritual bliss. Songs of bichchhed, marfati, dhuya gan as well as Baul songs praise murshids and crave their blessings. Murshidi songs are usually sung in slow measures, but sometimes rapid measures are employed to make them more attractive. [Wakil Ahmed]