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The World almost lost him to Wrestling

The word became poorer with the passing away of the legendary Pandit Bhimsen Joshi on January 25.

The Music Master died at the Sahyandri Hospital in Pune. He was 89.

Born in Gadag, Karnataka on February 4, 1922, he rose to become one of the greatest singers of the Hindustani style of music. The Indian Government honoured him with the ‘Bharat Ratna,’ the highest civilian award in 2008.

He was undoubtedly one of the greatest classical singers that India produced.

Pandit Joshi is a name that students of music and even great singers pronounced with reverence. He was a source of inspiration and his passion for perfection was legendary.

He was not only a great singer but also a genius in interpreting Raagas and executing the Hindustani style of music with such power and vigour that left most listeners in tears of joy and esctacy.

With his passing, we have come to the end of an era of great musicians. He has left such great music behind for this world that his presence will always be felt.

I was very fortunate to have learnt music under the guidance of late Pandit Phiroze Dastoor who was a student of the great teacher Pandit Savai Gandharva who also trained the late Pandit Joshi.

Dastoorji would always narrate an incident that occurred in the early years of Bhimsen. We heard that Pandit Gandharva first rejected Bhimsen saying that his voice was not good enough and that he should continue wrestling which was his hobby!

Bhimsen would not give up and seeing his sincerity, passion and perseverance, coupled by the recommendations of the late Gangubai Hangal, Pandit Gandhrava agreed to teach him.

Bhimsen put in long hours of riyaaz while abiding the Guru-Shisya tradition.

He surrendered at the feet of his Guru and served him with love and respect.

It was the latter’s blessings that he became one of the stalwarts of Indian Classical music.

This is a great lesson for us to learn: ‘That nothing is impossible if you are focused and willing to work hard.”

Pandit Joshi later started the ‘Savai Gandharva Music Festival’ in Pune, in memory of his Guru and handed over the coveted concluding part of the Festival to Pandit Dastoor.

I believe that all students and lovers of music have been blessed to have been here to witness and listen to such great musicians.

I would like to request every student of music to listen to the recordings of these great singers and widen their horizon of music.

Sandhya Badakere is Director & Teacher at the Swar Sadhana Academy of Indian Music based in Auckland.


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