Bhikari Bal popularly known as the “Bhajan Samrat” to the people of Odisha. He was extremely famous for Jagannath Bhajans. Bhikari is the son of Ramachandra’s second wife Gelharani as the first wife died due to illness . Ramachandra’s first wife had given birth to a son, Dhaneswara, who was much older than Bhikari. Gellharani gave birth to several children but none of them survived. So they named their surviving only son “Bhikari” – the beggar. Out of superstition, the parents pretended to have sold the baby to an untouchable family from whom they bought their child back.
Bhikari bal had his schooling from his home district at kendrapada in Kadalibana High School. He discovered his passion at Jatra party which were conducted in his village Sobala. He learned to sing and act. Later on he became a Music teacher in a local school,Gokulachandra Sangeet Sadan.he married at a very early age of 20. He went to cuttack for better opportunity.
His voice was refined under the tutelage of Odissi maestro Balakrushna Das Initial days of Bhikari Bal was lots of struggling. He became an A-grade singer there in 1963 after he received rave reviews for his first broadcast song Prana mitani bareh chahan re. But his popularity grew with Kotha bhoga khia and other such devotional songs in the early ’70s. His lucid and moving rendition of bhajans written by old generation poets such as Gopalkrushna, Dinakrushna, Baldev, Banamali and Salabega are still popular today. He was awarded the title of Bhajan Samrat by the Puri Gajapatu and was given special privileges inside the temple for his devotional tribute to Lord Jagannath.
He was bed-ridden for about a year due to age related ailments and had been admitted to SCB Medical College and Hospital in Cuttack. After the public outrage, the Government of Odisha offered financial assistance to the legend and urged the state health department to take care of his health. On November 2, 2010, he died at the SCB Medical College and Hospital at Cuttack. He is no more but he will always be in the hearts odias.
Enjoy his hit songs : http://music.fullodisha.com/odia-singers-songs/bhikari-bala-hits/