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L.Srikumar Pai
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 Bharat Ratna Pandit Bhimsen Joshi

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Pandit Bhimsen Joshi is a legendary vocalist and can be described  as the 'Kohinoor' of Hindustani classical music. He was conferred  Bharat Ratna, the highest Indian civilian award in the year 2008.  He was the undisputed emperor of the Hindustani classical music

Bhimsen Joshi was born in Gadag, Karnataka in 1922. His father Gururaj Joshi was a school teacher, and his paternal grandfather Bhimacharya Joshi, a noted musician. As a child, Bhimsen was deeply influenced by his mother, whose bhajans the young boy loved to hear. A wanderer both in life and in music, Bhimsen would often go missing from home, to his parents’ great worry.  As if in a trance, the little child would follow bhajan mandalis and wedding processions, completely tuned to musical notes and switched off to all else. His father would often lodge complaints with the police, only to find that a good samaritan had brought the boy back home. However, at 11, the boy left home for good after quarrelling with his mother, because she could not afford to serve him ghee with his rice.

This turned out to be the turning point in his musical journey too. Listening to the gramophone recording of Raga Jhinjoti sung by the maestro of the Kirana gharana, Ustad Abdul Karim Khan in a nearby tea shop, his heart was set on learning from him. He stood at the Gadag station and took a train that was heading north. The penniless lad gave the slip to ticket collectors by moving between compartments, singing songs for fellow passengers and begging for food. He stopped at Pune, Bombay and finally, after three months, reached Gwalior. He met and learnt from various maestros, but was not satisfied.

He then went from Kharagpur to Calcutta, and on to Delhi, finally reaching Jalandhar where the Gwalior maestro Vinayak Rao Patwardhan advised him to learn from Sawai Gandharv in Kundagol, Karnataka. Sawai Gandharv was an outstanding disciple of Ustad Abdul Karim Khan.

Bhimsen shared an exceptional relationship with his teacher Sawai Gandharv, but continued to work hard even after that to earn enough to study music. It is said that sometime in 1960, when Bhimsen Joshi sang for the Calcutta Music Circle, the famous actor Pahadi Sanyal was present in the audience.

Once the concert was over, Bhimsen Joshi went up to the actor and, much to the actor’s embarrassment, reminded him that he had worked as a domestic help for him in the years that he was looking for a suitable guru.

He worked as a staff musician at India's state-run radio station, All India Radio, before he recorded for the first time in 1944.

Some of Pt. Joshi's more popular Raags include Shuddha Kalyan, Miyan Ki Todi, Puriya Dhanashri, Multani, Bhimpalas, Darbari, and Ramkali. Other than Utd. Abdul Karim Khan, Pt. Joshi has been influenced by many musicians, including Smt. Kesarbai Kerkar, Begum Akhtar and Utd. Amir Khan.

In devotional music, Pt. Joshi is most acclaimed for his Kannada, Hindi and Marathi Bhajan singing. His commercially successful CDs Daaswani and Enna Paliso included Kannada Bhajans, and Santawani included Marathi Abhangs.

Joshi has sung for several films, including Basant Bahar (1956) with Manna Dey, Birbal My Brother (1973) with Pt. Jasraj and Nodi Swami Naavu Irodhu Heege. He also sung for films Tansen(1958) and Ankahee(1985).

Pt. Joshi organized the Sawai Gandharva Music Festival as an homage to his guru, Pt. Sawai Gandharva, along with the Arya Sangeet Prasarak Mandal in 1953, marking Pt. Gandharva's first death anniversary. The festival has been held ever since, typically on the second weekend of December in Pune, Maharashtra and has become not only a cultural event for the city, but an annual pilgrimage for Hindustani Classical Music lovers all over the world. Pt. Joshi conducted the festival annually since 1953, until his retirement in 2002.

Pt. Joshi's family arranged his marriage at his early age to a girl named Sunanda Katti; she was his cousin. They had four children .Later, Pt. Joshi married Vatsala Mudholkar with whom he had two sons. and one daughter. 

Joshi passed away in the year 2011 at the age of 88 at a Pune  following old age related ailments.


1972 - Padma Shree
1976 - Sangeet Natak Akademi Award
1985 - Padma Bhushan
1985 - National Film Award for Best Male Playback Singer
1986 - "First platinum disc"
1999 - Padma Vibhushan
2000 - "Aditya Vikram Birla Kalashikhar Puraskar"
2001 - "Nadoja Award" from Kannada University
2002 - Maharashtra Bhushan
2003 - "Swathi Sangeetha Puraskaram" by Government of Kerala
2005 - Karnataka Ratna
2008 - Bharat Ratna
2008 - "Swami Haridas Award"
2009 - "Lifetime achievement award" by Delhi government
2010 - "S V Narayanaswamy Rao National Award" by Rama Seva Mandali, Bangalore

( Sources: Article by Deepa Ganesh / The hindu and Wikkipedia )



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