Pandit Bhimsen Joshi - Abhangwani
EMI India - ECSD 2793 - P.1977
A1 Maajhe Maaher Pandhari - Sant Eknath
A2 Maajha Bhaav Tujhe Charni - Sant Namdev
A3 Sukhache He Naam Aavdeeney Gavey - Soyrabai
B1 Kaaya Hi Pandhari - Sant Eknath
B2 Gyaniaancha Raja Guru Maharao - Sant Tukaram
B3 Aata Kothe Dhave Man - Sant Tukaram
Music by: Ram Phatak
All these previous posts feel incomplete without a few of Bhimsen Joshis devotional records, especially if we are to understand his enormous popularity in India. Here is a record that was given to me by a woman friend who also studied bhajan singing. She bought this and some devotional songs by M.S. Subbulakhsmi when she visited Madras in 1984 and liked it very much. This is not typical, as the many friends I have here in the occidental countries, have often frowned when I played them some of his devotional music and they often find it too simplified and usually wave it away as superfluous and as being too light music. One of my friends, a well known composer, who really love Bhimsen Joshis classical vocal, even forced me to stop playing one of Joshis devotional records once, and said that he found it below Bhimsen Joshis dignity to sing such "kitchy" music and he was seriously disturbed by it. I hear similar sentiments often and for sure, I agree that there exists some rather dismal devotional music and much that is being produced especially contemporary should better remain unheard, but Bhimsen Joshi was definitely one to elevate it. Fortunately not all feel like my composer friend, and I for one, get very excited by his songs and find myself in a most exuberant mode upon listening to this record. Hope it will please you also.
My good friend Arvind in Madras, with whom I share much of my musical taste, who kindly helped me to transcribe the names of the tracks, wrote me the following most informative note upon discussing this record:
"Some thoughts on the record and the music. Pandit Bhimsen's incredible popularity can be attributed to a large degree to his devotional music, especially the abhangs in Marathi (featured on this record) and the Dasara Padagalu (songs by Purandara Dasa) in Kannada. Abhangs are devotional hymns by Marathi saint-poets of the bhakthi tradition, like Tukaram, Eknath etc, and they're all written in praise of Lord Vitthal, a form of Vishnu and the presiding deity of Pandharpur. Its my opinion that Bhimsen's popularity would have been restricted to the usual circle of classical aficionados, had he not made these highly successful records and cassettes with Abhangs and other devotional music. His popularity in the hindustani tradition can be suitably compared to that of M.S. Subbulakshmi's in Carnatic music, who also sang lots of devotional songs and bhajans, and is known for these by many thousands of people, most of whom don't follow classical music. So these were really stalwarts, and they deserved their Bharat Ratnas in every way!"
He also contributed this elucidating note on Abhangs,
"Abhangs are a sublime form of Indian Music whose origin can be traced to the spiritual ideologies of the bhakti saints of Maharashtra. Essentially these compositions are bhajans in Marathi sung in praise of Lord Vitthala (also known as Vitthoba) of Pandhrapur. They are characterised by simple appealing tunes and meaningful words. The meaning of the word Abhang can be derived from its root “A-bhang”(that which has no bhanga or hindrance). Abhang literally translates into “that which does not stop”. There is no stoppage between the verses or the main line and the verse; an abhang does not pause until it actually ends. Abhang also means “compositions that would never be wiped off the face of the earth.” It is eternal, ever new and always full of life."
One of the major saint-poets that wrote abhangs was
You can hear two abhangs by him in this record.
On the pictue below you can see
seated at the harmonium