Baiju Bawra

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Baiju Bawra / बैजू बावरा

  • Baiju Bawra or Baijnath Prasad or Baijnath Mishra (1542-1613) was a legendary Indian Dhrupad singer.
  • He was the court musician Raja Mansingh of Gwalher, now Gwalior, along with Nayak Charju, Bakshu, and others.
  • Baiju Bawra was born in Chanderi in Gwalior on Sharad Purnima in the month of Ashwini in 1599 according to Vikram Samvat calendar (1542 CE). According to another account, he was from the Champaneer area of Gujarat.
  • He got the name "Bawra" (crazy) because he was crazily in love with a dancer in Chanderi. Baiju learnt Dhrupad music in Dagurvaani in Vrindavan, and was an eminent Dhrupad singer.
  • Baiju was a musician at the court of the Raja of Chanderi (now in Guna District of Madhya Pradesh). Later, he became a musician at the court of Raja Mansingh of Gwalher (modern Gwalior in Madhya Pradesh).
  • Sultan Bahadur Shah of Gujarat had also patronized Baiju. Just like Tansen, the renowned musician at the court of Mughal Emperor Akbar, Baiju was a disciple of Swami Haridas (1512-1607). According to another legend, he was a contemporary of Amir Khusro.
  • According to historical books preserved in Jai Vilas Mahal in Gwalior, he would light oil lamps by singing Raag Deepak, make it rain by singing Raag Megh, Raag Megh Malhar, or Raag Gaud Malhar, and bloom flowers by singing Raag Bahar. Besides Tansen, renowned singers, Baba Ram Das, who composed Raag Ramdasi Malhar, and Nayak Charju, who composed Raag Charju ki Malhar, were Baiju's contemporaries.
  • Historian Abul Fazal at Emperor Akbar court and historian Faqirullah at Emperor Aurangzeb's court have written that Baiju defeated Tansen in a singing competition at the court of Akbar. Tansen then touched Baiju's feet and asked for his own life. In response, kind-hearted Baiju went back to Gwalior .
  • Gopal Nayak, a court musician in the State of Kashmir, India, was a student of Baiju. The then king of Kashmir challenged Baiju against Gopal Nayak. Baiju sang Raag Bhimpalasi. Instead of singing in response, feeling overwhelmed, Gopal Nayak cried in the court.
  • After this defeat, Gopal died and his body was cremated on the bank of river Satluj. When the bones in Gopal's body were thrown in the river following the cremation, they sank.
  • According to a legend, Gopal's widow then asked Baiju to retrieve her husband's bones. Responding, Baiju taught a new version of Raag Malhar to her daughter, Meera; and after a week's training, Meera sang that Raag on the bank of Satluj in front of a crowd.
  • As soon as she finished the Dhrupad, her father's bones emerged on the bank out of the river. From that time on, that raag is known as Meera ki Malhar.
  • Baiju died of typhoid at the age of 71 on the eve of the Indian festival, Basant Panchami in Vikram Samvat 1670 (1613 CE).