Some times, good news comes in pairs; here is the Hindu report on the Bharat Ratna awarded to Pandit Bhimsen Joshi:
Celebrated Hindustani classical vocalist Pandit Bhimsen Joshi, who was awarded the Bharat Ratna on Tuesday, led the renaissance of Indian classical music with the passion and power of a one-man chorus in an epic saga of struggle and single pointed thirst for music.
Acknowledged as the leading light of the Kirana gharana, Bhimsen Joshi(86) through his amazing absorption of the soul of various gayaki styles has created a unique blend adding his own introspective aesthetic sense.
It was several years ago that I heard Panditji live in Bangalore — and he sang only dasara padagalu; but, the power of his voice even when he was in his early eighties left me awestruck; that is why, I found the following story from Kumar Mukherji’s book moving:
On this occasion, after Bhimsen Joshi finished his recital, Pahadi Sanyal asked for the name of the last raga sung by him. Bhimsen came over and touched Pahadi Sanyal’s feet and said, ‘Isko Chayya kahke seekha hamney (I learnt it as Chayya).’ The confusion in our minds was due to Bhimsen dwelling on the nishad in the ascending scale, which neither Pahadikaka nor myself had ever heard in Chhaya or Chhayanat. Fifty years ago, Bhimsen was a young musician who had already made a mark in Calcutta while Pahadi Sanyal was a well known aging film star. That Bhimsen touched Pahadi Sanyal’s feet was not particularly unexpected but noticing the embarrassment on Pahadi Sanyal’s face he said, ” I don’t think you have spotted me, Sahab, I am the same Bhimsen who came to you for training when you lived in Raja Basant Roy Road.’
‘Good lord!’ said Pahadikaka after the usual pleasantries were over and Bhimsen left us. ‘I can’t believe it is the same boy. He came to me all the way from Poona to learn music. He had a voice like a buffalo calf with cold. I told him he had no future as a singer but I might be able to find him a petty job in the New Theatres Studio. He lived in my house for a while. I would pay him a tenner or two for running errands and then he suddenly disappeared one day. Good heavens! Astafullah! How can this man be the same Bhimsen?’
A richly deserved award!
His triumph was decisive and sweeping, because he saw what is wrong with this country: the utter failure of government to protect its citizens. He offered a government that does not try to solve every problem but will do those things beyond the power of individual citizens: to regulate the economy fairly, keep the air clean and the food safe, ensure that the sick have access to health care, and educate children to compete in a globalized world.
Mr. Obama spoke candidly of the failure of Republican economic policies that promised to lift all Americans but left so many millions far behind. He committed himself to ending a bloody and pointless war. He promised to restore Americans’ civil liberties and their tattered reputation around the world.
With a message of hope and competence, he drew in legions of voters who had been disengaged and voiceless. The scenes Tuesday night of young men and women, black and white, weeping and cheering in Chicago and New York and in Atlanta’s storied Ebenezer Baptist Church were powerful and deeply moving.
As I said at the beginning of this post, sometimes, it feels good to pick the newspaper up and glance at the day’s news.