The classical Indian music is a wholesome experience which is perceived through body, mind and spirit together. It is meditative for the spirit, nectar for the mind and rejuvenating for the body reverberating with the rhythmic patterns of life around. Indian musicians have always felt that the ecstasy they try to create out of their music is a divine gift. Music is, therefore, regarded to be devotion to God. It is like a Spiritual Trans to plunge inwards intensively by contemplation rather than strive to create designs and variety through the outward exposition of the music.
The Raga in Indian Classical Music is a melodic structure. Literally it means “Mood’. The Khayal of Hindustani classical style offers maximum scope for an exhaustive probe into the depth of a Raga, so as to enable the listener to feel it intrinsically. The connoisseurs of music, who have been listening to Pandit Bhimsen Joshi’s vocal recitals shall bear testimony to the spiritual experience of his music as mentioned above.
Pandit Bhimsen Joshi is the living legend among vocalist of his era, when the classical Hindustani music was undergoing its transformation from a traditional elite art form to cater to the tastes of the common audience, who now listens to many musical forms through various technological media. Panditji is one of the foremost exponents of Kirana School of Khayal. Through his innovative renderings he has enthralled music lovers all over India and also abroad for over a long span of 50 years or so.
Bhimsen Joshi was born in 1922 in a family of Sanskrit Scholars in a small town called Gadag (Karnataka), which was then part of Bombay presidency. His father Pandit Guru Raj Joshi, a teacher wanted his son to be a Sanskrit Pandit. But the destiny had different plans for him. Child Bhimsen got attracted to music as his mother used to sing in melodious voice, Kannada Bhajans every evening at home. According to his father, the temple bells were ringing when Bhimsen was born and Swami Satyadhyan Tirth had told him that his son would be a musician. At the tender age Bhimsen heard a gramophone record of Ustad Abdul Karim Khan, which was being played by the gramophone shop in his town. He was so touched by it that he instantly decided to leave formal school education and go in search for learning that music. Bhimsen fled from home and came to Pune, and then to Calcutta via Bombay. In Calcutta he served as a domestic help at the house of Pahadi Sanyal for sometime. He further proceeded to Jalandhar and started taking Dhrupad lessons from Bhagat Mangatram. At Jalandhar, he had the occasion to listen to many top musicians of the country in Harballabh Music festival. Many musicians came there also from south-western India. There he met Pandit Vinayak Rao Patwardhan, famous vocalist and disciple of Pandit Vishnu Digamber Paluskar. He advised Bhimsen to be a disciple of Sawai Gandharva (Ram Bhao Kundgo War), who resided at a place near Gadag. Bhimsenji returned to Gadag and his father took him to his ultimate Guru. Bhimsen got his regular musical training from Sawai Gandharva, who was a senior disciple of sangeet Ratna Ustad Abdul Karim Khan of Miraj. Bhimsen lived in Guruj is house for couple of years serving the master like that in a Gurukul.
Pandit Bhimsen first public concert of significance was his performance at the feet of his Guruji when in Pune music lovers were celebrating his 60’ Birthday. Bhimsen was applauded by all and blessed profusely by his Guru. Since then Bhimsen Joshi’s fame spread over the entire country progressively. He married Smt. Vatsalatai, herself a musician and the couple settled down in Pune. Sawai Gandharva passed away in 1952. Next year Bhimsenji started a Music Festival in the memory of his Guru. The festival is now an yearly feature and is regarded as one of the foremost music festivals in the country.
Pandit Bhimsen Joshi is gifted with a sonorous voice, which has been tempered by his long and dedicated Sadhana. His style is robust but it also has tremendous capacity for modulation so as to depict the softer and sublime moods. His Gayaki has a mystic charm, which manifests in different moods while he explores a raga in its depth. At one moment his rendering sounds serene flowing like a smooth stream then in the next moment it instantly shoots into a flight with intricate taan patterns over the higher octaves and finally it embraces the climax with humility when he comes to the point of “Sam”. His command over his voice is exemplary. It enables him to produce dazzling taan patterns through perfect technique. His presentation is superbly animated through his mystic facial expressions and hand gestures.
Panditji has never compromised with high standards of the classical tradition, although he has been quite innovative in presentation of that music to the modern audiences. He has performed all over the country and also abroad, for which he has received accolades and rave reviews from musicians and connoisseurs all over. Panditji has been honoured with many prestigious awards by various music societies in the country, Sangeet Natak Academy and the Government of India honouring him with Padma Awards. Very recently the government of Karnataka awarded him its highest civic honour Karnataka Ratna’.
Although Pandit Bhimsen Joshi is a true representative of Kirana Gharana as the foremost exponent of its third generation, he has enriched the style by inculcating exquisite finer points taken from other schools like Jaipur, Gwalior and Agra. He is basically a “Khayaliya” and yet his rendering of light classical and devotional music has a special flavour of its own. Panditji bears strong influences of Rasoolanbai, Sidheshwari Devi and Begum Akhtar when he presents thumri. His rendering of ‘Abhang’ in Marathi and Hindi Bhajans have a deep devotional effect, which he says he got it from Balgandharva, the doyen among the Marathi stage singers.
Like all great souls, Panditji is a very simple and unobtrusive person. One gets a glimpse of that when he organizes the yearly music festival in Pune in the memory of his Guru Sawai Gandharva.Panditji looks after all the visiting musicians as a kind and perfect host, who helps them on the stage by tuning their tanpura or even playing it graciously sitting behind other artists.
Bhimsen Joshi has typical hobbies, one of them is to go on tong car drives. Years back he bought a car big enough to accommodate his tanpuras and accompanists. He is very particular that the engine of his car must be perfectly tuned as are his tanpuras. With this car he undertook long drives to various places in the country and performed with equal ease despite the strain of driving.
Although Bhimsen Joshi did try his hand at innovations like fusion among different ragas like ‘Kalaashri” (Kalavati & Shri) and “Lalit Bhatiyar” by mixing the two rages, in his concerts he preferred to sing the traditional rages only. He says that ragas like Darbari, Puria, Marwah, Yalnan, Todi, Lalit etc. are such comprehensive ragas that you can explore them through out your life and every time you find something new in them. He asserts with conviction th4t Indian classical music would reign forever. Generations of listeners may change but the rages would remain evergreen.
Panditji has guided many students in music, the latest of them being his son Srinivas Joshi and Anand Gandharva.
Abhang means uninterrupted. All emotions in a human being are transient, it is only Bhakti-loving devotion, which once aroused stays uninterrupted.
Abhang is a style of devotional music practiced and cherished in Marathi language. The devotional outpouring of the saints of Maharashtra are sung by the ordinary man and a highly accomplished musician with the same fervour. This is not confined to one class or community but is a common feature in every marathi speaking house hold. This way also, singing of the compositions of the saints is uninterrupted, hence they are called Abhang.
There are hundreds of Abhangs, sung by the saints through many centuries but the central theme has never changed. The words may be different, expressions may be different but the devotion, dedication, love and surrender is the continuing thread which binds all the compositions under one genre--Abhang. Abhang is classified under Sankeertan. which is the major form of devotional music prevetent throughout the country in various shades and hues. It draws its musicality from Rage Sangeet, it is highly rhythmic and rich in literary content. it is rendered both as community singing and as a solo performance, but the effect is the same. It transports both the listener and the performer to the world of deep meditative devotion. It is an outpouring of the purest feelings towards the personal God-Narayana or vitthoba, who is not residing in a distant abode but is enshrined in the heart temple of every devotee. He is a friend, par excellence who takes the complete responsibility of His devote.
Pandharpur in Maharashtra is believed to be Vaikuntha on earth. The jewel of devotion Pundaleek lived here. Vitthoba Himself came to meet His devotee-friend filled with great Love. But Pundaleek threw a brick at a distance and asked the Lord to wait till he fulfills his duty toward his parents. The Lord who abides by the wish of His true devotee is still waiting sinc,e 24 yugas-many millenia for his friend Pundaleek.
Every year on the 11th day after the New Moon of Ashadha month (June-July) devotees of Vitthoba make a bee line to visit this sacred shrine at Pandharpur. They walk barefooted singing the devotional compositions of the Saints in ecstacy.
Abhang is a unique musical tradition which fills the singer and the listener with the highest form of devotion.
In this album we have compiled 7 Abhangs sung by the greatest voice of 20th century Pt. Bhimsen Joshi.
By Pt. Bhimsen Joshi
Table : Deepak Nerurkar
Harmonium Tutsidas Borkar
Violin : Ramakant Paranjpey
Tanpura Yadavraj Fud & Shubhada Bhimsen Joshi
Majeera Gyaneshwar Takalkar
1 Roop Tujhe Deva, Dakhavi Keshava...
Mukunda, Madhava Narayana
The poet Swami Swaroopananda, earnestly appeals to Lord Keshava to bless him with His Darshan. For this swami calls to Keshava, bequething Him to appear in any form like Mukunda, Madhava, Narayana. Govinda, Shridhara, Hrushikesha, Ananta, Acchyuta, Janardana, Rukminiramana, Devakinandandana, Vasudeva.
This deep desire to see Keshava in His true form, spontaneously, springs out in the form of Abhang — Roop Tujhe Deva. Dakhavi Keshava.
2 Ram, Krishna, Hari, Govind;
Mana Lago Hachi Chhand...
Here the author requests the Lord to bless him with unconditional dedication at Lotus feet of Shrihari. He further says that let his thinking, singing, speaking, hearing, seeing everything in his life be dedicated to Shrihari, till he becomes totally surrendered at the Lotus feet of Shrihari. Out of this strong desire of devotion and longing Swami Swaroopananda makes cinvindng appeal— Ram Krishna Hari Govind.
3 Anathancha Nath, Patit Pavan
Abhang composer assures everyone that Vasudeva is the ultimate abode of all saints. He reveals that surrender alone is the secret of reaching the Lotus feet. He further convinces one and all that the Lord responds to sincere call of His devotee and as Protector, Saviour and Compassionate, He blesses the helpless Jiva.
4 Vaikunthichya Raya, Vitthal Sakhaya...
In this traditional Abhang the author Kanhopatra declares that the Lord of Vaikuntha is her true friend. She in her height of devotion is swayed and calls out to Lord Vitthoba to bless her with His Darshan. She is yearning restlessly to have one glimpse of the Lord of Vaikuntha.
5 Sakha Majha Narayana
Kari Chinta Nivaran...
The author of this Abhang is totally convinced and contended as he has nothing to fear, his Soul Mate is Lord Narayana. When Sri Narayana has taken the complete responsibility of the author’s wellbeing, there is nothing to worry about. Sri Narayana is always there to protect him. The author says that only Lord Narayana is the true friend of the surrendered devotee. This unique message is revealed in this Abhang-Sakha Majha Narayana.
6 Magane He, Ek Dei, Bhakti Bhik
If there is anything to be beggedfrom the lord of the universe, it is only Bhakti, or devotion. In return of this great alm, the author promises Lord that he will always offer loving prayers and will set his mind on the Lotus feet. He seeks only equanimity as Prasad.
7 Ram Rangi Rangale
Mana Ram Rangi Rangale...
Central idea of this traditional semi classical music popularly known as “Abhang” is expressed by the poet Swami Swaroopananda. Here ‘Swami’ quotes his experience that his mind & soul are filled with Ram-rang. His eyes are much engrossed with all his energies concentrated at the lotus feet of Lord Shriram as ‘Bhrung’ (Honey Bee) engrossed in enjoying nector of Lotus flower. His body, mind, soul and surrounding world is totally filled in with colour of Ram. Ultimately everything is ‘Ramamaya’. Feeling of one-ness with Lord Shriram inspires Swami to share his bliss with others who spontaneously says Ram Rangi Rangale. Mana Ram Rangi Rangale.
Photographs: Avinash Pasricha
Programme Notes by: Tara Deshpande
A Mumbai Doordarshan Presents
Project Director: Navin Kumar
Devised & Designed by: Kamalini Dutt
Associate: Ved M Rao & Kali Prasad
Send as free online greeting card
Email a Friend