Bhikari Bal was born in Sobala, Pattamundai, Kendrapara on May 25, 1929 to Ramachandra Bal and Gellharani Devi. There’s a story behind his naming his mother gave birth to several children but none of them survived except Bhikari Bal, So they named him “Bhikari“.
He had his primary education in his village then he admitted in Gogua High School and studied up to ninth grade. After that he joined a drama company of his village there he learned to sing and act and play harmonium. He worked as a “GotiPua” in the drama company.
Bhajan Samrat Bhikari Bal became a music teacher in Gokulachandra Sangeeta Sadan, Kendrapara. He was also guided by Sangeet Sudhakar Balakrushna Das & Kshitij Maitra and soon became a teacher of Odissi vocal at Kala Vikash Kendra. In 1963, He became an A-grade singer in All India Radio.
His first broadcast song was ‘Prana mitani bareh chahan re’. But he became popular with ‘Kotha bhoga khia’ and other such devotional songs in the early ’70s . He rendered his voice for bhajans written by old generation poets such as Gopalkrushna, Dinakrushna, Baldev, Banamali and Salabega. He had also rendered songs by Dr Prasanna Samal, Raghunath Rout, Kshirod Chandra Pothal, Sirsananda Kanungo, Alekh Biswal, Gourhari Dalei and Srikant Gautam.
His bhajans on Jagannath and recitals on Gita Govinda made him a household name in Odisha. He had also sung Champu, Chhanda, Folk songs and Odia film songs.
Some Heart touching devotional song of Bhajan Samrat
The following songs have been sung by Bhiakri Bal, but the year of their release is unknown, since these mainly played over radio between 1970 and 2000. Although the list is comprehensive yet it’s not exhaustive.
- Athara Dinara Mahabharata
- Ana Ana Re Mita
- Aakhi Kholi Dekhuthile Disu Asundara
- Aadei Jaao
- Aahe Chakaakhi
- Aahe Nilogiri
- Aahe Nilasaila
- Aahe Prabhu Kala Srimukha
- Bada Thakura He
- Badadeulare Neta Ude Phara Phara
- Baliaa Tu Saakhi Rahitha
- Babu Re Prabhu Nama Kebe Tu Dharibu
- Bhakata Bidura
- Bhakti Achi Mora Puja Nahin
- Bhabaku Nikata Abhaabaku Dura
- Bhuja Tale Mote Rakha
- Chanhi Chanhi Dina Gala
- Daasiaa Nadiaa
- Daasia Baauri Karide Kaaliaa
- Dinabandhu Ehi Ali Srichhamure
- Dinabandhu Daitaari
- Dukha Nasono He
- De Re Kaaliaa De To Paade Sarana De
- Dekha Re Dekha
- Dayakara Dinabandhu
- Emiti E Badadaande
- Garuda Pakhi
- Hatiaa Thakura
- Haatare Mo Mutha Mutha
- Himalaya Ru Kanyakumari
- Jagabandhu He Gosaayin
- Jagabandhu Pari Jane Saamanta
- Jagannatha He Etiki Karuchi Ali
- Jagannatha Kale Ja Anaatha
- Jagannatha Kichi Maagu Nahin Tote
- Jagannatha Tume Jadi Lakshmi Huanta
- Jagaakaaliaa Re
- Jagaakaaliaa Daakuchi Bhuja Melei
- Jagaakaaliaa Paade Sarana
- Jaluthiba Mahaadipa Baajuthiba Sankha
- Jibanare Jibi Brundabana
- Jaya Jaya Jagannatha
- Kaaliaa Ra Dori Bhaari Sakata
- Kaaliaa Saante Ho
- Kete Janamara Dukha Pare Prabhu
- Kehi Rahi Nahi Rahibe Nahi
- Kotho Bhoga Khia
- Mahaabaahu Jaha Tuma Icchhaa Taha Heu
- Mana Para Re
- Mana Harinaama Ganthidhana
- Manabodha Chautisha
- Micchha Duniaare Gotie Sata
- Micchhe Sina Mali Daaki Daaki
- Mu Ta Badadeulara Para
- Mora Jedina Jaliba Juui
- Na Galu Mana Khetrasthala Ku
- Nandanandana Sundara Chhitachora
- Nilachakre Ho
- Patitapaabana Baanaa Aau Kete Belaku
- Paani Jaauthila Hali Hali
- Sabhien Kahanti Badadaanda Bada
- Sakhi Lo Thare Pachaari Bujha
- Sate Ki E Jiiba Jiba
- Saante Pheribe Deulaku Aaji
- Shyama He Shyama He
- Saathiye Pauti
- Tume Para Badathakura
- Tote Kemiti Daakibi Kaalia
- Thaka Mana Chala Jiba
He also gave his voice as playback singer in a number of Odia films including “Bhakta Salabega”, “Agni Pariksha”, “Mathura Bijaya”, “Abhilasha”, “Amar Prem”, “Kie Kahara” and “Srikrushna Rasa Leela”, etc.
Bhikari Bal had last recorded for the devotional album ‘Chagala mana’ in 2005 and had last performed live in May 2006.
Award of Bhajan Samrat
He was awarded the title of Bhajan Samrat by the Puri Gajapati. Additionally, he was also awarded as Srichamu Surasevaka, Bhajan Maudamani, Bhakta Kantha upadhi, Odisha Sangita Natak Academy Award, Kabichandra Puraskar and was given special privileges inside the temple for his devotional tribute to Lord Jagannath.
Bhikari Bal has enriched the Odia culture to great extent with his contributions. Known for his melodious voice Bhikari Bal became a household name, not only in Odisha but also across the country.