Bhimsen Joshi was born into a Madhwa Brahmin family on February 4, 1922, and was the eldest of his sixteen brothers. When he was a boy, he lost his mother and since then he has been raised by his father and his mother-in-law.
Very early Bhimsen was in love with musical instruments such as Tanpura (a stringed instrument) and the organ of the bomb. Early in his life, Bhimsen was fascinated by music. So much so that he often followed a musical procession by accident and eventually lost sight of his house and sometimes his city. It is said that he would fall asleep in the same place the procession would end, which would make it difficult for his father to find him.
In 1944, Bhimsen married Joshi Sunanda Katti. The couple had four children, namely Raghavendra, Usha, Sumangala, and Anand. In 1951, he married another woman, Vatsala Mudholkar, whom he knew while working on a Kannada work entitled Bhagya Shree.
Since the Bombay presidency at that time did not allow bigamy, he went to Nagpur and continued to live there with his wives. With Vatsala Mudholkar she had three children, namely Jayant, Shubhada and Shrinivas Joshi. After a few years, his first wife moved to Pune. From then on, Bhimsen has a special relationship with this city of Pune.
At the age of eleven, Bhimsen Joshi decided to grow up and become a musician after listening to performances by people like Abdul Karim Khan and Sawai Gandharva. Then he left the house just to become a singer. It is said that his first destination was Pune and that he arrived there with the help of a few passengers by train.
From Pune, traces of his fate took him to Gwalior, where he met famous sarod player Hafiz Ali Khan. With the support of the instrumentalist, Bhimsen enrolled at the Madhava Music School. Eventually, his adventure trip to northern India ended when his father focused on him at Jalandhar. Then he was taken to his hometown. Although the adventure of an aspiring musician ended, it was the beginning of something extraordinary.
Bhimsen learned the basics of Agasara Channappa from Kurtakoti. Then he continued to learn the nuances of classical music from Pandit Shyamacharya Joshi, a priest, and a classical singer. Under Shyamacharya Joshi Bhimsen also learned the harmonium (organ bomb). In 1936, his dream of learning Sawai Gandharva’s music became a reality when the teacher agreed to be his teacher.
Bhimsen Joshi then spent many of his years at his Guru’s house and continued to learn from him. Under the guidance of Sawai Gandharva, he learned a lot of ragas and perfected his tone, tone and the best of Kirana Ghana.
Bhimsen might not know about it at the time, but his career had already begun before he even realized it had begun. When he was learning with Shyamacharya Joshi, Bhimsen had once accompanied his guru to Mumbai, where Shyamacharya had to record some songs. But halfway, Shyamacharya had to go home by calling his illness to ask Bhimsen what he had started.
Bhimsen was more than happy to please and so began his career. After his first concert in 1941, Bhimsen published his first album, which he published in 1942 at HMV. In 1943 he began to work in Mumbai on a radio station. His first big break came in 1946 when his concert, which celebrated the 60th anniversary of his guru Sawai Gandharva, was appreciated by critics and music lovers alike.
Bhimsen Joshi has been a singer in many films, including “Basant Bahar” and “Birbal My Brother.” In 1964 he recorded with Manna Dey the song “Ramya Hi Swargahun Lanka” for the film Marathi “Swayamvarzale Siteche”. He even worked with singers such as Mr. Balamuralikrishna and Pandit Jasraj while recording Kannada films. ‘Bhagyadalakshmi Baaramma’, a song originally composed by Purandara DASA and sung by Bhimsen Joshi, was used in the film by Kannada, Nodi Swami NaavuIrodhu Heege.
Bhimsen Joshi was honored with several awards during his illustrious career. Some of them are listed below:
• Padma Shree – Bhimsen Joshi became a proud recipient of Padma Shree in 1972.
• Padma Bhushan: In 1985, he was honored with this prestigious award.
• Padma Vibhushan: In 1999, India’s second-largest civilian prize was awarded.
• Bharat Ratna: In 2008 he received the most important civil prize in India.
• Sangeet Natak Akademi Prize: In 1976, the National Academy of Music, Dance, and Theater of India awarded him the coveted award.
• Sangeet Natak Akademi Fellowship: the same academy awarded him his highest honor in 1998.