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The role of music, dance and songs in the cultural life of India is as old as Civilisation. In olden times, kings and badshahs used to have court singers, court dancers and musicians and they supported many fine arts too.Thus Music not only had the Public support but also Royal Patronage.
No wonder then,that in every nook and corner of India, music, songs and dance had its variations thriving in each state, specific to its local culture. Carnatic music, Hindustani classical music, film music and non-film music had its own supporters.
Much before films started talking and singing, the non-film songs were popular in many forms. They could be classified in 3 categories,broadly-
1. Ghazals and related types
2.Bhajans and other devotional songs
Out of the above, ghazals and the related songs had a base of pure urdu. Hence, it was limited to a certain class of people who knew, appreciated or understood that language. Though, there have been ghazals in other languges like Gujrati, Punjabi and Sindhi, they have not been so common.
Bhajans and Geets had simpler grammars and were available in many local languages, so these type of songs being more common man friendly had a widespread acceptability.
As such, bhajans and religious songs were a part of our social life and Indian culture all over the country. As a result, many bhajan singers became quite famous. A large chunk of non-film songs consisted of Bhajans.Added to it were songs written by our various saints like Tulsidas, Meerabai, Soordas, Kabir, Tukaram, Namdeo, Ramdas and Thyagraja to name a few.
75 % of Indian public enjoyed Hindi bhajans and so the recording companies were always on the lookout for good bhajan singers. In the early 40s,50s and 60s many Gujarati, Rajasthani and Marathi bhajan singers became well known.
Today, we will learn about one such Gujrati Bhajan singer,who was famous not only in India, but also in USA, UK, Canada, African and European countries from 40s to 70s.
His name is ABHRAM BHAGAT.
Many senior readers,especially the Gujrati readers will certainly remember his name. Though Abhram Bhagat was internationally famous as bhajan singer, very few know that he was actually a Muslim ! And, he was a handicapped person, having lost one leg completely !!
I first heard his name in the early 50s. My father was a great Shiv Bhakt. We had a Big Shiv Mandir built in the open area surrounding our House. All of us were fond of Shiv bhajans. One day my father brought a new 78 RPM record,which was a Bhajan by Abhram Bhagat. We were all memsmerised with his clear pronunciation and his style of singing. From time to time the record shop used to send us any Abhram bhagat record they received. We did not know much about him, except that he was from Gujrat. Though in later years I left Hyderabad and was busy in career building, family raising etc, I used to recollect one particular Bhajan by Abhram Bhagat-" Haath chakra Trishool Sadashiv" always. I had all its Lyrics jotted down that time.