I don’t waste time on holidays. Instead, I prefer enjoying various music-related broadcastings on ‘Vividh Bhartee’. It has been my habit for the years now, to listen to those top programs. The last day also, I was on leave and so tuned ‘Vividh Bhartee’. Luckily, a phone-in programme ‘Ek Kalakaar’, was on the air. It was arranged on the birth anniversary of Pandit Bhimsen Joshi. Fans narrated their experiences about the Indian Classical Maestro. Thereafter Panditji’s a song by the fan’s choice was played.
From the opening call to the final ring of the phone-in program, every fan was so enthusiastic to share their experiments that their narrations were like a fusillade. For them, Panditji was the Himalayas of Indian Classical singing and a much appreciated wealth of our country. Most of them told ‘how Panditji had achieved a matchless skill as a Indian Classical Singer through a very hard training!’
Apart from his paramount career in music, Pandit Bhimsen Joshi always loved driving various cars and having long discussions about them. I suggest you to also read about Panditji’s Penchant for Cars
There were instances that many of his fans had seen him in their childhood and so were unable to recognize his musical prominence. However, with the time, they have realized that they had been bestowed in childhood with his brief sight. The programme commenced with a phone call by a senior citizen lady, who narrated her experience. In her childhood (in 1963), while playing with her friends, she had repeatedly seen Panditji arriving in a plush Chevrolet car. She was told about his unsurpassed musical skill by her parents, which was beyond her understanding at that age. However, in the later years, when she became aware about Panditji’s musical greatness, she felt herself very fortunate to have his frequent sights. She requested the announcer to play ‘Ketakee Gulab Juhee’ from the film Basant Bahaar in his dedication.
After enjoying the song, it was my turn to be spellbound by Panditji’s heavenly tone of voice and the music. It literally mesmerized my senses and found the programme very much attention-grabbing.
Subsequently, again a senior citizen called. He put Panditji in the picture for the later’s outstanding respect for guru ‘Sawai Gandharva’. It was also informed by the caller that for that reason he would frequently sing guru’s favorite Marathi bhajan “Kanhoba Tuzi Ghongdi Changli.” What we enjoy today through the ‘Sawai Gandharva Sangeet Mahotsav’ in Pune is the outcome of Panditji’s painstaking efforts, as an expression for his reverence to his guru. Though Panditji is not with us today, yet surely visits us through this concert every year. Before putting his received down, the senior citizen suggested applying Panditji’s life, which was full of patience and incredible hard work, as a role model for all of us. Especially the new generation, who craves to live through fame overnight, should contemplate the extreme hardships that he had in his musical grooming days. In the flow of conversation, he told that once on a busy road somewhere in Pune, he had Panditji’s glimpse in a car seat. This unexpected and unbelievable sight made him like in the seventh heaven.
Music knows no manmade boundaries of caste, creed, religion, nation, ethnicity etc. It travels with the same frequency into the hearts of Hindus, Muslims, Christians and the others. A Muslim lady on the phone told her childhood reminiscence. “Mile Soor Mera Tumhara” was a very famous song on Doordarshan a few decades ago dedicated to the national integrity. It was as if composed for Panditji. There were nostalgic times, when all her family members would gather around the TV sets, listening to this melodious song sung by one and only Pandit Bhimsen Joshi. She asked for Panditji’s bhajan ‘Thumak Thumak Pad’ to be played.
Whenever some of the fans could have a great opportunity to visit his home, found Panditji as a simple and attentive person, who would treat them like his own family member. A lady, in this connection recounted her firsthand experience. Once she had been to Panditji’s home with her friend to invite him for an event. Panditji and his wife were very much attentive to the visitors. She appealed to play Panditji’s ‘Ramya Hee Swargaahoon Lanka’.
Phone calls were coming and Panditji fans were relating their personal experiences. Some of them had seen him in a musical concert and some in an event. Some even had visited his home. Though narrators were different, yet their feelings were identical, “Panditji was a very plain and compassionate celebrity.” This was his simplicity (and kindliness of course), through which though was a genius Indian Classical singer, affectionately called as ‘Anna’ (Kannada word for an elder brother) by his friends and even by his fans.
Many of us might have not seen him in the flesh, yet have seen him through his singing. As said earlier, though he has achieved a supreme place in Indian Classical Music, yet he was also very famous for his matchless style of devotional songs. There is no home in Maharashtra, wherein his devotional songs aren’t played. Many of the Saint Tukaram Maharaj’s abhangs have literally been made immortal by his singing. The programme concluded with a very touching phone call. The caller said that it was the heartfelt feeling of every warkari of Maharashtra that Panditji could manifest Lord Vitthala through his abhang singing. It’s not possible for everyone to be in the most loved Maharashtrian pilgrimage centre of Pandharpur. But, Panditji’s abhang has such a magical power that wherever abhangs sung by him are played, Pandharpur instantaneously becomes obvious there. For all these qualities of his singing, he is revered as ‘Swara Bhaskara’ also, which means ‘the Sun of Music’.
- Also see : Gangubai Hangal: A True Devotee of Khyal
Whenever his followers try to convey their admiration for Panditji, they become confused ‘what to say? how to say? and from where to start?’ They feel ‘how to take hold of the ocean by the two hands!’ This is the inimitable scale of respect Panditji has attained. His fans find it to be their esteem, if someone asks them to tell something about him.
The programme that was aired for about an hour took me to a dreamland. Those, who have seen Panditji, listened to his singings in person, are really privileged. His impression on his enthusiasts’ hearts can never be wiped away by the tides of time. After enjoying it, I felt not to pay attention to anything else…and I switched off my radio.