Monday, January 24, 2011

Pandit Bhimsen Joshi and my memories of Sunday pooja

May his soul rest in peace. Pandit Bhimsen Joshi died this morning. And I couldn't get over the fact that the day of his death coincided with the Tyagaraja Aradhana. What musical bliss he will find in the other world...

Much is being said on TV channels today since morning (and much of it is sheer nonsense. I hate it when news anchors ask other senior musicians "What is your reaction to Panditji's death?" I mean can't they ask anything else for Christ's sake?!)

Anyway, I'm digressing.

My association with Panditji is a personal one with his music. Hi rendition of "Bhagyada Lakshmi Baaramma" is one of my favourite versions of the song ( i know about three). There was something about the way he almost flung the invitation at Goddess Lakshmi -- it was aggressive, it was plaintive in parts and beseeching. I loved the way he would dwell on the refrain "Vithalana Raani..."

After we got married, my husband, for almost four years has done his Sunday afternoon elaborate pooja to the tune of his Marathi abhangs. We both loved them. We had the privilege of living then in an independent outhouse with empty sites for neighbours. It was bliss. We would play Panditji's abhang CDs real loud. Husband would do pooja; I would sing along and clean house. "Ramache bhajan techi majhe dhyaan" was a favourite.

But this sudden fondness for Bhimsen Joshi came after we attended his concert at Bangalore at the Koramangala Indoor Stadium. It was probably in 2004 or 2005. It was one of those rare occasions that Panditji was singing in Bangalore. He was wheeled onto the stage and that kind of suddenly knocked into my senses that he's ageing. But once he started singing, that age was nowhere in sight...rather sound. He was in concert with the other maverick maestro we all grow up listening to in the South -- M. Balamuralikrishna. It's one of those once-in-a-lifetime experiences tucked away in my mind.

Then when I got pregnant with Sonny Boy, I would listen to Panditji's rendition of "Dasavani". I think that's what my cassette title was. Sonny used to kick furiously late evenings when I would walk in my parents' garden up and down, up and down, till I'd heard the entire tape, with one headphone sitting on my belly and one in my ear! I wanted Sonny to listen to Bhimsen Joshi in my womb -- I still can't figure out exactly why -- probably simply because I loved the music. "Karuniso Ranga", "Yaake mukanaadyo", "Sadaa yenna hrudayadalli", "Yaadava nee baa yadukula nandana" and so many more. Sung with the accompaniment of the harmonium (an instrument I like to hear with only certain kinds of songs) it always takes me to a different plane of consciousness.

Here's thanking a musician who helped me connect with our Indian music and a rich poetic heritage, with its multi-lingual traditions, with its love for an expression of "bhakti".

No comments: