Jewels before the train for Hubli chugged away

Bhimsen Joshi has been awarded the Bharat Ratna.

Eight years younger than Gangubai Hanagal, the duo were disciples of Sawai Gandharva in Kundagol, a association that blossomed into a lifelong friendship.

Deepa Ganesh of The Hindu recounts a lovely anecdote involving the two:

“In dry Kundagol, it was Bhimsen Joshi’s duty to fetch unending pitchers of water for his guru’s house from a distant water tank. ‘Poor fellow, in the scorching heat, he would carry water on his shoulders… but as he walked he would constantly sing. How many times I’ve heard him practising the taans of Multani, Shankara…!’ recalls Gangubai.

“After class as Gangubai would get ready to return to her home in Hubli, Bhimsen Joshi would accompany her to the railway station. ‘It would have got dark and I being a young lady, my guru would never say no to Bhima.

“We would have barely got to the street, and Bhima would ask: ‘Akka, what did you learn today?’ I had to give him all the details. And then he would say, ‘Haadi torsala (‘shall I sing it for you…’).’ And in this way they would exchange notes till they reached the station, till the train chugged away.”

Photograph: Karnataka Photo News

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46 Responses to “Jewels before the train for Hubli chugged away”

  1. jeevaratna Says:

    He has earlier received Padmashri, Padma Vibhushan. So what is that he did which qualifies him for this latest honour. Probably his accomplishments as an outstanding Classical Vocalists have not changed over the years not has it reached greater heights. Then does it mean getting older makes one eligible for a Padma Award all over again ? May be as MSS got one why not PBSJ logic must have prompted the present award. By that logic he richly deserves the award.

    My comments are nothing to do with the individual but to do with the criteria used to select the award. If the likes of MGR can become Bharat Ratna’s then people like Sir MV must be squirming in his grave and would have certainly returned the award if alive.

    When one looks at the 41 Recipients , some are unknown and mostly Politicians. Almost all Presidents and PMs seems to have received coveted award. Honoring Vocalists seems to be a recent trend.

  2. Pulikeshi the last Says:

    To think that we would give a Bharatharathna to a playback singer before awarding it to someone of Joshi’s stature.

  3. chriskb Says:

    Is it the dilution of Bharat Ratna? This is supposed to be the HIGHEST civilian award. I thought it was a very rigorous process, similar to that of Nobel prize, but it seems it is not. Could some one explain how a ‘Bharat Ratna’ is selected? Thank you.

  4. B.N.Gururaj Says:

    Choice of Pandit Bhimsen Joshi for “Bharata Ratna” is one of the best news one has heard in recent times. Amidst all kind of srife and discord comes a news which warms the cackles of the heart. Though late in coming, it is one of the most well deserved awards. It shows that this country has not yet lost its taste for the divine and the sublime.

  5. shyodha Says:

    ಪಂಡಿತ ಭೀಮಸೇನ ಜೋಶಿಯಂತ ಕಲಾಕಾರರಿಗೆ ಪ್ರಶಸ್ತಿ ಕೊಟ್ಟಾಗ ಪ್ರಶಸ್ತಿಗೇ ಗೌರವ ಲಭ್ಯವಾಗುತ್ತದೆ.
    “ಭಾಗ್ಯದ ಲಕ್ಷ್ಮಿ ಬಾರಮ್ಮ” ಹಾಡೇ ಸಾಕು ಜೋಶಿಯವರಿಗೆ ಈ ಪ್ರಶಸ್ತಿ ಕೊಡಲು. ಭಾರತ ರತ್ನ ಪ್ರಶಸ್ತಿ ಸಾರ್ಥಕವಾಯಿತು.

  6. KGKP Says:

    Thanks for sharing that beautiful anecdote churumuri !
    Bhimsen Joshis ‘Karuniso Ranga..” gives me goosepimples….
    He deserves every bit of it!

  7. ERR Says:

    Little known anecdotes of Bhimsen Joshi? In his earlier days he liked to drive like a racing car driver a la Schumaker or Hamilton. This after giving a great perfromance! He had a Ford in which he would drive along with his troupe and the instruments at breakneck speed! That’s how he used to relax.After paying some fines and on the advise of elders and Police he stopped his F1 style driving.

  8. SKK Says:

    He definitely deserved it. It shows that we still value our music, art, culture and heritage. Kind of inspiration for any youngster who is into Indian music/art.
    On a lighter note, its definitely better to award Pt. Bhimsen. Joshi compared to Sonia Gandhi (people had asked to confer Bharat Ratna on her, last year) :-)

  9. Rajeev Joesph Says:

    Bhimsen Joshi may be a great musician. But why should that entitle him for the highest civilian award. The Hindustani classical music of BSJ is a past time for the minority Brahminical leisure class of India. The majority dalit and bahujans of India never enjoy this structured and boring classical music. They are neither trained to appreciate this nor are they inclined to such sophistry. They prefer the unstructured, earthly and vibrant folk music. This award shows how the Indian government is a slave to the Brahminical social order. BSJ does not deserve this award. An untrained non brahmin bharatiya like me can only see the monkey like gestures this man does while singing.
    The Bharat ratna being the highest civilian award should be given to people who have contributed greatly to the civilians of the nation, people who have brought in revolutionary changes and fought exploitation. Shame on this government.

  10. Janasamanya Says:

    Rajeev seems to suffer from some kind of inferiority complex! Poor fellow.

  11. Coffee addict Says:

    The Centre has conferred it on a real jewel after many years.

  12. Taleharate Says:

    Rajeev Joseph, that’s like saying since Himesh Reshamya deserves Bharat Ratna more than Bhimsen Joshi. BTW, Hindustani is not a brahminical past time.If you do your research properly you’ll find that there are plenty of non-brahmin and even non hindu exponents of Hindustani classical music. If all you can make out of Joshi are his gestures you must be stone deaf.

  13. Mysore Peshva Says:

    Check this out. Two masters from different traditions perform together.

    To Rajeev I say, “Bandar kya jaane adrak ka swaad!”

  14. shyodha Says:

    ರಾಜೆವ ಜೋಸೆಪ್ಪ: ತುಂಬ ಚೆನ್ನಾಗಿ ಹೇಳಿದ್ರಿ. ನಿಮ್ಮ ಗೆಳೆಯರಿಗೂ ಬಂದು ಇಲ್ಲೆಲ್ಲ ಸ್ವಲ್ಪ ಕೊಮ್ಮೆಂಟು ಮಾಡಿ ಅಂತ ಹೇಳಿ. ನಮಗೆಲ್ಲ ನಿಮ್ಮಂತ ಬುದ್ಧಿವಂತ ಕೋತಿಗಳು ಹೇಗೆ ಮುಂದುವರಿದ ವಿಚಾರ ಮಾಡುತ್ತಾರೆ ಎಂದು ತಿಳಿಯುವ ಅವಕಾಶ ಕೊಡಿ.

  15. babuds Says:

    Dear Mr. Joseph,

    All things classical in India are not brahminical, though most could be this side of Vindhyas. How about Mughal miniature paintings?

    Secondly Hindusthani is a classical musical style, which was encouraged by nawabs, who incidentally were our rulers before the British. There is nothing brahminical about it as well as our muslim rulers, if I am right.

    As for as music is considered any person can enjoy even if not trained, especially Bhimsen Joshi’s. You should be really missing something!

  16. sathya Says:

    “haadi thorsala” “haaDi thorsala’ wonderful…both hold good …

  17. anand Says:

    Rajeev would have been happy if a Sonia Gandhi or Sangliana or the Archbishop of Delhi or Y S Reddy or Margaret Alva or even a seperatist in the north east was given the Bharat Ratna.Reason is obvious.

  18. Sandesh Says:

    @Mysore Peshva
    “Kattegenu gottu kasturi parimala” anta taane nimma abhipraaya :)

    ayya rajeeva josepha
    “The majority dalit and bahujans of India never enjoy this structured and boring classical music”

    neevenu authorityna dalit and bahujans of India vishayada mele ? How do you have such brilliant inside info on them ? Ella gottiro reeti pose kodbeda… boring adre bere music keLu

  19. jeevaratna Says:

    I think MP has understood the word Brahminical in a limited Indian sense. The word also means – A member of a cultural and social elite, especially of that formed by descendants of old New England. If you extend this meaning to also to the limited class of connoisseurs of Classical music then the perspective becomes complete.

    I do not think any one will is undermining the genius of BSJ here, we are only see if we can distinguish the title Bharata Ratna from the many recipients so far !

    Take the case of BMK and BSJ. Both are recipients of Padma Vibhushan. Only in the case of BSJ has got the unique distinction of getting all the Padma Awards ! Where as BMP has so far got Padamshri and Padma Vibhushan ( he skipped Padma Bhushan) . But BMP is a class apart. He is not just a Vocalist . He is prolific composer who has composed in all the Melakaratha ragas and has invented new ragas of his own . He is also honored with “Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres” by the French government, seven doctorates as of 2006, the pro-chancellorship of Telugu University. In that sense he is an evolving artist, who is reinventing himself with time. Technically he should have received BR award more than any one else among his peers. But it looks he needs to become a little older to get one, if precedents are to be believed.

  20. Doddi Buddi Says:

    Great news about the award. But the photo is not so great! Thanks.

  21. prajwal Says:

    hmmm…mebe rajeev joseph has never heard of ustad zakir hussain, ustad bismillah khan, ustad allah rakha,ustad thirakwa, ustad amjad ali…all of whom are among the most popular stalwarts of hindustani music, who have performed all over the globe, have students from all over the world!

    Search Utube for videos with Zakir Hussain, there is one with him performing with a Japanese drumming artist. Japanese drums are not your normal western drumming!

    Dude, don’t just shoot out dialogues of ignorance, at least about ppl like Pt. Bhimsen Joshi et al.

  22. Nitin Says:

    Brahminical or classical or whatever you call it is not popular music. Its surviving mostly because of patronage of a fixed audience and government awards which needless to say goes by turn ,infuence.There is lack of any interest to try to reach the music to everyone but often you hear snide remarks made on artists of newer forms of music. While I agree hindustani music spans across religions and communities Carnatic music is still exclusive to few communities.

  23. Tathagata Mukherji Says:

    Bharat Ratna has long lost its purpose (just look at the list )- its proven once again. Joshiji has outgrown any award.

  24. Ramesh Halebeedu Says:

    Rajeev Joseph,
    There is a limit to express caste/religion related hatredness. You exceeded all the limits by your crude words on Hindustani classical music.
    Serving people can be in any form – including music. To understand music, especially Indian classic, you need to have a samskara, a mind set which most Indians have irrespective of their caste. You are an exception because your church made you to not to develop any attachment to the culture or people around you. Your church is isolating you to not to understand India. I am sorry to see your hollow state. Unfortunately, most who got converted from Hinduism and living in India are ending up like this.

  25. Prashanth Bhat Says:

    @ Rajeev Joseph.

    My condolences to you on your loss of reason, integrity, honour and sanity.

  26. Avva Madesa Says:

    Very well deserved..I dont think any one , including the greats Amir Khan and Bade ghulam Ali can parallel bhimsen in singing Malkauns, Purya and Asavari..

    Rajeev Joseph,
    I know where you are coming from. Only Paul Dinakaran and Valson Thampu deserve Bharataratna bcoz they have betrayed “revolutionary changes and fought exploitation” of the Brahminical religion by converting thousands of opressed of ur ilk..On second thought, I think the christs who killed the swamiji in Orissa deserved it ahead of the two…

  27. SD Marulasiddappa [Guru] Says:

    Great news about the award. Thanks.

  28. Vinutha Mallya Says:

    Rajeev, take off those red glasses please. Even if we accept for a moment that classical music is only a preoccupation of a ‘minority’, Pt Bhimsen Joshi is also an exponent of dasavani, abhang and bhajan, neither of which was/is a preoccupation of brahmins, and in fact came to rise as the music of the common man.

    I would urge you to listen to “Yaadava Nee Ba” or Thunga Teeradi…” if you understand Kannada, “Majhe Maher Pandhari” or “Aranbhi Vandeena Ayodhyecha Raja” if you understand Marathi, “Baaje re muraliya…” in Hindi.

    Bhakti (devotion) is not the domain of the Brahmin alone, and surely not all non-Brahmins are atheists, agnostic or non-spiritual, nor do they have to be in order to be ‘revolutionary’.

    There are certainly many many others who deserve the highest civilian honour of our country, but that does not take away Bhimsen Joshi deserving it for his contribution to Indian music , which thankfully is a medium that everyone understands instinctively.

  29. induramesh Says:

    Is it some kind of a done thing to criticise everything you dont like as brahminical? classical music anywhere is appreciated and practised by a minority. it has been the efforts of stalverts like Bhimsen Joshi and Bismillah Khan to bring the essence of classical music to the ordinary folks. Let us also remember that it was Kanakadasa, who would be called a Dalit today who wrote the fantastic songs of devotion. Wonder what kind of music is sung in Rajeev’ church? If my information is correct, most of the church music is now being sung in semi classical Indian style.

  30. Proud Indian-Indian first and last Says:

    Dear Dr. Reddy and Kashyap et al:

    I’ve noticed your anti-outsider sentiments previously. You seem to hate them. Let’s be very clear on one thing (since you have spoken out against influx): every Indian has every right to go and settle anywhere. Every inch and acre of Bangalore and Karnataka belongs to everyone in India and they have every right to settle there. There can be no distinction between a person from Patna in Banglore and a native Kannadiga in Bangalore-in any case, “native” Kannadigas don’t exist-all of them are migrants to Bangalore too. Biharis and North Indians do not need visas to visit Bangalore, they will come in as large numbers as they feel like coming. Please remember: every person in Bangalore is an Indian first and foremost. A North Indian and a Kannada speaker are Indians first. Don’t distingush between them.

    Secondly, you’re talking about outsiders in Bangalore? What would Bangalore be if it weren’t for outsiders? Let’s be honest here: Kannadigas are the nicest of people but take outsiders out of Bangalore and it will go back to being a sleepy cityy in south India. It’s the outsiders who added fizz and spark to the city. The perked it up and made it boom-in collabaration with the locals no doubt. From breaking stones to build the roads you drive on to making the code which made Bangalore world famous-outsiders had a hand everywhere. Face it, Bangalore went from being a small, sleepy, babu city full of government servants with no nightlife. The outsiders poured in (who are Indians BTW and don’t need your permission or a Karnataka visa to settle in Bangalore) came and the results are there in front of you. The city boomed and boomed.

    You’re buying a house? Check the construction site-they’re outsiders.
    You’re driving on the road? Check the people breaking stones-outsiders.
    You’re getting a job in an IT company? Check who started it-its outsiders.
    You’re using the International airport? Check who’s welcoming you-it’s outsiders.

    There can’t be any outsiders in India. Or North Indians or South Indians or Maharashtrians. There are only Indians. Every inch of land in India belongs to every India, from Gujarat to Assam and from Punjab to Kerala. There can be no ideal demography of Karnataka (i.e. some ideal Kannada-non/Kannada ratio %) or any state for that matter. Because where ever you go, it’s one country.

    Kannadigas have every right to go and change the demography of Bihar. Just the same, Biharis have every right to do the same in Karnataka. Because just as the whole of Karnataka belongs to all Indians (therefore Biharis) the whole of Bihar belongs to all Indians (therefore Kannadigas).

  31. Tathagata Mukherji Says:

    Joseph is the ugly face of growing Xtian Radicalism which is pushing liberation theogy to destroy Indian society and state- disciple of John Dayals.

    What a shame. Its communalizing, perverted approach Indian social science to further political goal of a church under grab of minority rights.

  32. jack Says:

    Take a hike buddy. People like you do not know anything. Going by your ugly face making comment, do you mean to say all those western rock ‘artists’ make beautiful faces with their bare bodies and ugly gestures on stage?
    One more thing about brahminical forces driving Hindustani music, for your records there are equal if not more Ustads than Pandits in Hindustani music. So far for your knowledge you got from the church.

  33. Anonymous Guy Says:

    To the f****rs who want to make this a political/casteist/religious issue.

    If you are interested, go and learn to appreciate classical music. It is not difficult, there are classes easily accessible, you just need some good attitude and willingness to learn. And you dont have to learn to be a musicians, just enough to learn to appreciate the music.

    This is the same with any classical music, Indian, Iranian, Western, Japanese etc.

    When you have gained some sensitivity to music, buy and listen to the music – they are easily available, India Today had this great series on Indian classical music by the giants.

    Go to a concert. Imbibe the atmosphere. Also you will understand there is no narrow mindedness when it comes to music. Where ever you go in the world, fortunately music is one of the things which binds people not separates them.

    Then if you still have problems, express it.

    If you are lazy and have no interest in music besides some film music, good for you, but then how can you comment on some great musician no moving you?

    Support local musicians whether it is classical or folk or theater based!

  34. Prajwal Says:

    @ Proud Indian

    I agree we are all Indians, no offense bub, but if im not mistaken there are still states east of assam that are Indian. Nagaland, Arunachal pradesh, manipur, mizoram, tripura…they are all indian and hence u need to check ur border knowledge!

    Secondly Dr. Reddy and ilk have nothing against “outsiders” except for the fact that they do not respect local culture! This is true! considering we pride in the diverse culture and heritage of India and unoty in diversity and all that stuff, if we ourselves do not respect cultures of different parts of india, then we risk losing all our diff cultures one after the other! And hence ppl like Dr.Reddy protest, if u come from diff parts to india lets say from north to south, then respect the local language and culture! That is definately not too much to ask!

  35. KL Says:

    fake indian/fake preacher,

    do you have the honesty to declare your mother tongue.I am ready to debate with you.

  36. taklu Says:

    stop crusading in India.
    dont try to represent the dalits and bahujan of India.
    you can move off to the Vatican and try to get back the people there to the church’s fold.


  37. Proud Indian Says:

    I am ready for a debate:

    I am enclosing both my posts in the following two posts. Please read them to know my views:

  38. Proud Indian Says:

    Dear sir, whether we like it or not, everybody, EVERYBODY is a migrant. Period. All of us have come from somewhere else. Humans did not pop out of Karnataka/Maharashtra. We are all migrants from some other place-be it Africa in this case. Over centuries and millenia, our cultures and languages have evolved to this extent. There is nothing original about us. Claims of originality come from bankrupt and Nazi-like Aryan purity of race like theories.

    The division of the states was not at Independence but linguistic
    division came along when political mileage was to be gained. Please read about the SRC-alloting Mumbai to Maharashtra and Bangalore was the most controversial decisions they took.
    Bengaluru or Bangalore as I still call it was acquired even though the majority spoke a language other than Kannada (speak i.e. declared it as their mother tongue). As far back as 1971, only 33 % of people in Bangalore and 49.5 % of Mumbai declared Marathi as their mother tongue.

    The way they KRV’s claim it as their personal fiefdom, they fail to appreciate that they themselves migrated here from somewhere else. Even the Reddy brothers are first generation migrants from AP.

    The original people of Bangalore were the few villagers way back in 1300-1500. Those villagers are the only originals. How come the
    KRV does not fight for their rights? Most of those villagers who are working as god knows what outnumbered by the Tamils and maybe even the Malayalis and the first generation Northies. Don’t believe me- check what the population of Bangalore was 600 years ago.

    The point I am making is its not just the Kannadiga who has built
    this city. Its the Kannadiga who hopes to walk away with the cake
    now that it has been baked. Instead of competing in a free market economy on your merit, you want to get privelages purely because you’re born here or lived there for a certain period of time. The same applies to Mumbai BTW.

    Bangalore’s most famous resteraunt (Koshys) was built by a Mallu, DRDO/ISRO etc are mostly staffed by Tamils/Northies, BEML/BHEL are full of Tamils, the software engineers ( because of whom Bangalore is famous)
    are mostly Telugus, even the capitation engineering colleges depend on non-Karnataka students mostly.

    @I am born a Telugu speaking Kannadiga. It may be too difficult for you understand. Union government did not draw lines orbitrarily. The states were created in order to protect and safeguard languages.

    Again irrespective of where you were born, you’re an Indian. That’s why its called “Indian Army”. I’m glad you are proud of your language. Safeguading and protecting your language is the responsibilty of those who love the language. Not those who migrate to the state-unless they love that language too. The Bihari migrant does not have an obligation to protect your language, anymore than the Kannadiga migrant to Mumbai has an obligation to learn Marathi.

    The kind of ‘ grab the jobs’ of locals is not the way. What is Indian laws?

    There is no “law” which prevents you from taking the jobs based on your skills, merit and willingness to work hard-either in Bangalore, Karnataka or India or anywhere else in the world. The jobs don’t belong to you.

    Your and KRV, MNS,SS’s attitude is best summed up in the following words:

    “regionalists and cultural chauvinists, who are unwilling to compete in the open economy, but instead want the benefit of other people’s hard work by securing the privileges of their birth in a particular state.”

    The link is as follows:

  39. KL Says:

    fake indian,

    your arguments are unexceptionable.I cant argue with any of them.But let me tell you that telugus are the worst offenders.The gults were one of the prime movers of the Justice party/DMK which spewed hatred against brahmanas in the Madras presidency/TN.Even now,the telugus are the worst opportunists in DMK.

    After independence the andhra telugus took the initiative to form AP to escape competition from tamils.They (the andhras)tramelled over their cousins in telengana.A casteist (kamma) and regional party was founded by NTR.Chandrababu Naidu started the trend of blackmailing the centre.The rights of lambadas and oriya speaking minorities have been crushed in northern AP.It is true that because of their hard work (and ameerpet underhand tactics)and the confidence of being the largest dravidian language speakers entrenched in three states(look at the mafia in bellary) and an opportunistic alliance between kammas,reddys,kapus,velamas,komattis and rajus,they think they can screw up the entire south.Why dont you speak out against the oppression in telengana?

    It is only a matter of time before justice is delivered in telengana.

  40. sisya Says:

    PI – IF&L,

    Your faith in the idea of “India” is touching.

    btw, precisely when did Koshy’s become Bengaluru’s most famous restaurant?

  41. kaangeya Says:

    Ustad Allauddin Khan’saheb was awarded only the Padma Vibhushan, while a wind-up toy parrot like Lata Mangeshkar won the Bharat Ratna! So Pandit Bhimsen Joshi now receives the Bharat Ratna, on behalf of himself and the other four gems to emerge from Dharvad – Gangubai Hangal, Basava Rajguru, Mallikharjuna Mansoor, and Kumar Gandharva.

  42. Proud Indian Says:


    May I know why you call me a Fake Indian?

    You had said you are ready for a debate. My mother tongue is Marathi BTW. I would request you to go ahead and attack what exactly you felt was absurd in my arguements? Or somehow unreal or whatever you felt was wrong? I have seen you express sympathies with KRV, MNS and people of its ilk.


    I am ready for a debate with you. Please state your views-whatsoever they are on why you disagree with me.

  43. SomeOne Says:

    @Pround Indian…. yaakappa ella kaDe nandelliDli nandagopala antha ellello yav yavdo post haaktha idira?

  44. jayarasibhatta Says:

    Joseph Indian classical music is a gift to mankind with Brahminical origins. That fact will not change.

    If you belong to a lower order you will never be able to understand it. So dont bother if Shri Joshiji gets Bharat Ratna or any other award.

  45. bairagi Says:

    @Avva Madesa
    Bhimsen’s Malkauns, while among the best ones, is still nowhere close to Amir Khan’s. Try listening to them again, one after the other.

  46. reddy Says:

    Bhimsen Joshi conferred Bharat Ratna in Pune today (10.2.2009)

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