DHUNĪ, from Skt. dhvani meaning sound, echo, noise, voice, tone, tune, thunder, stands in Punjabi generally for sound and tune. In the Gurū Granth Sāhib, the term appears in the sense of tune at the head of 9 of the 22 vārs (odes) under different rāgas or musical measures. Directions with regard to the tunes in which those vārs were meant to be sung were recorded by Gurū Arjan when compiling the Holy Book. The classical system of Indian music had well-established tunes and corresponding prosodic forms; but the vār, being basically a folk form, did not have any prescribed order. The Gurū laid down tunes at least for odes for which models existed. The vārs, with corresponding dhunīs, are :
1. Vār Mājh by Nānak I - Malak Murīd tathā Chandrahaṛā Sohīā kī dhunī (GG, 137).
2. Gauṛī kī Vār by Nānak V - Rāi Kamāldī Mojdī kī Vār kī dhuni (GG, 318).
3. Asā kī Vār by Nānak I -Ṭuṇḍe Asrājai kī dhunī (GG, 462).
4. Gūjarī kī Vār by Nānak III - Sikandar Birāhim kī Vār kī dhunī (GG, 508).
5. Vaḍahaṅs kī Vār by Nānak IV - Lalāṅ Bahalīmā kī dhunī (GG, 585).
6. Rāmkalī kī Vār by Nānak III - Jodhai Vīrai Pūrabāṇī kī dhunī (GG, 947).
7. Saraṅg kī Vār by Nānak IV - Rāi Mahme Hasane kī dhunī (GG, 1237).
8. Var Malār Kī by Nānak I - Rāṇe Kailās tathā Māl de kī dhunī (GG, 1278).
9. Kānaṛe kī Vār by Nānak IV - Mūse kī Vār kī dhunī (GG, 1312).
Some scholars following Gurbilās Pātshāhī Chhevīṅ, an eighteenth-century work, assert that these dhunīs were added in the Holy Book under the direction of Gurū Hargobind, Nānak VI. They support their assertion by stating that in the original recension of Gurū Granth Sāhib preserved at Kartārpur, near Jalandhar, directions as to dhunīs were written in a different pen above or in between the lines. But Bhāī Jodh Siṅgh who, along with Professor Tejā Siṅgh and Gaṅgā Siṅgh, minutely researched this rare manuscript in 1945, affirms that the dhunīs were recorded by Bhāī Gurdās who originally transcribed the sacred volume, there being no change of hand. Bhāī Jodh Siṅgh's finding is that a finer pen has been used by him in recording dhunīs above or in between the liines as he has done at places elsewhere to mark mahalā indicating authorship of the verses.
Major Gurmukh Siṅgh (Retd.)