Friday, November 14, 2008

Bharat Ratna for Bhimsen Joshi

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Bharat Ratna for Bhimsen Joshi

Bharat Ratna for Bhimsen Joshi

"I accept this honour on behalf of all Hindustani vocalists who have dedicated their life to music," remarked Pandit Bhimsen Gururaj Joshi when he was told that the Indian government had decided to confer the 'Bharat Ratna' on him.

On behalf of Bhimsen Joshi, who is indisposed, his son Srinivas Joshi, a vocalist and a composer, issued a statement saying: "I just talked to my father and he said he was glad and he accepts this honour on behalf of all Hindustani vocalists down the centuries who have dedicated their life to their music."

The living legend of Hindustani classical music, Pandit Bhimsen Joshi (86), receives this highest civilian award of India for his distinguished contribution to the world of music. This honour is being conferred on a performing artist after a gap of seven years. Before this, Shehnai maestro Ustad Bismillah Khan received the Bharat Ratna seven years ago.

Making a debut as a vocalist of Kirana Gharana (stream) in 1941 at the age of 19, Bhimsen has made an indelible mark on the Hindustani classical music in the last seven decades. He is renowned for his khayal form of singing and his bhajans.

Bhimsen was born to a school master in the Gadag district of Karnataka on February 4, 1922.

In 1933, Bhimsen left home to learn khayal in the guru-shishya parampara (master-disciple tradition). He spent three years at Gwalior, Lucknow and Rampur in search of a guru after which his father brought him back to his home.

Sawai Gandharva of Dharwad district in Karnataka, whose real name was Rambhau Kundgolkar, agreed to be Bhimsen's guru in 1936. Sawai Gandharva was the chief disciple of Abdul Karim Khan who was the co-founder of Kirana Gharana school of Hindustani music along with his cousin along with his cousin Abdul Wahid Khan. Bhimsen learnt Khayal from Sawai Gandharva from 1936 to 1940. In 1941, he ventured out on his own.

In a career spanning over seven decades, Bhimsen has bagged many coveted honours including Padma Shree in 1972; Sangeet Natak Akademi Award in 1976; Padma Bhushan in 1985; Padma Vibhushan in 1999; Maharashtra Bhushan in 2002; Karnataka Ratna in 2005 and finally Bharat Ratna in 2008.

This is a momentous occasion for the Bhimsen family and there is celebration in the air.

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