We all know that God answers our prayers. Prayers are the only medium through which we can speak to the Almighty. But we rarely pay heed to the power of prayers in the hustle and bustle of our daily life. There are few people who dedicate their life praising the God and remembering Him the whole life through devotional songs. In a country like India where thousands of people are often seen lost in the filmi songs these days, people like Arabinda Muduli are setting an example by turning down the offer to sing any commercial movie song and continuing singing bhakti songs in praise of Lord Jagannath.
It won’t be wrong to say that Arabinda Muduli is one of the most renowned personalities of Odisha. Following in the steps of his guru, he has sung more than 5000 devotional songs till now. He is a true disciple of the most respected name in the world of Lord Jagannath, the late Bhikari Bala. Wikipedia describes him as the ‘Bhajan Samrat of Odisha’. However, getting an opportunity to learn under his guidance was never so easy for Mr. Muduli. “Once during my high school days, when I was returning from my school I heard a bhajan on All India Radio The voice of Shri Bhikari Bala had such an impact on me that my feet stopped at that moment and I decided to learn from him. After my high school, I went to Utkal Sangeet Mahavidyalaya. He visited there once but I was not able to converse with him. My uncle used to live in Cuttack nearby Shri Bhikariji’s house. Then I went to his house. When he opened the door, I laid down at his feet and didn’t move until he asked me to go inside and sing with him. From that day my journey began,” Arabinda Muduli recalls on being asked about his first meeting with his guru.
He clearly remembers the year 1995 which was the turning point of his life. Recalling those incidences he tells us,” I went to Shrikhetra Sangeet Samaroh for the fifth time. I could not get an opportunity to sing on the stage. I was sitting lonely and depressed. Suddenly a man with a dark complexion came to me and asked if I wanted to sing. Then he went to the organiser and pointed towards me. After few seconds my name was announced on the mike. I sang my first bhajan which was written by me, baali khelu thile nanda. People cheered and asked me to sing more. I searched but couldn’t find that man who suggested my name to the organisers. After two months, the owners of the JE Company offered me to sing. I didn’t charge a single penny for it. My only condition was that the quality of the cassette should be good.”
From that day, he never looked back. He has carved a niche for himself in the sphere of devotional music. We can feel the mesmerising effect of his voice on the streets of Puri where his bhajans are played day and night. He is now moving forward to spread the praises of Lord Jagannath overseas.
The gratification can be seen clearly on his face and he has no regrets for choosing the path of devotional music as a career.
He follows the principle of his guru that we should love the Lord and dedicate our life to Him so that we can sing solely. When Arabinda Muduli starts singing, he creates a spiritual environment and the audience forget themselves for a while, for his mesmerising voice and deep devotion to Lord Jagannath. A very simple living Muduli has now inspired many youngsters in Odisha to follow the tradition of devotional songs. His son Jagabandhu is also a master of tabla instrument and he always gives a supporting hand to his father. Despite having such an evocative voice, he has never tried singing any commercial song apart from bhajans. He proves his name right by his obstinate determination, belief and divine voice.
By Monalisa Biswal