The presence of Pandit Bhimsen Joshi is felt more since his departure.
He seems to have occupied a greater space amongst us than we realized.
Pandit Jasraj, Joshi’s younger contemporary, has said that the ship of music in which musicians were sailing had sunk. Jasraj also felt that Panditji was the sun of music that had disappeared.
A disciple felt the vacuum to a greater degree. The Himalaya of music had disappeared.
The dance wizard Birju Maharaj has recalled that Panditji would make the note stand before us…make the raga quiver with life. Birju is himself an artiste besotted with the enlivening liquor of art. He affirmed that Panditji also was a ‘deewanaa’. Panditji is known to have had a spell of extreme infatuation for the bottle, but we were lucky that it did not drown him. He was too big for that perhaps.
In my view there could not have been a man better named…he was a veritable Bhimsena of music…I titanic figure of music whose musical heart soared with every note.
His most popular appearance is in the patriotic song Mile Sur Mera Thumhaara…He almost seems to be tuning his voice to the movement of magnificent clouds in the song. But such was his musical heart and vivacity that he sang anything from bhajan to khyal with the same involvement. His essay of Shudh Kalyan (akin to the Carnatic Mohanakalyani) keeps resonating in my ears.
I salute this lion among musicians…a veritable Cyclops of music whose life was an odyssey of art. Just as the Himalayas sanctifies us with lifegiving waters, may this giant bless us with a yen for the highest art.