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Rama Joshi – Marathi Folk Song Composer And Devotional Singer

Rama Joshi (1762 – 1813) is a composer of Marathi folk songs and a devotional singer (kirtanakara). As young man, he showed great interest in tamasa, a folk song-and-dance show. This was frowned upon by this elder brother, who was his guardian. Rama left home and went to Pandharpur to study poetics and grammar and gained mastery over them. He returned to Solapur as a learned person, but his love of tamasa (s) persisted.

He began composing lavani(s) (folk songs) in the name of Dhandi, a minstrel of Solapur, who encouraged him. After some time, he wrote under the pseudonyms ‘Rama’ and ‘Kaviraja.’ By and by, his lavani (s) became so popular that he won the recognition of the Peshwa king. His compositions were rich in sentiment and wit.

Though given to pleasure as a young man, Rama Joshi turned a kirtankara in his later life. Pandit moropant, a reputed scholar-poet, hailed him as kavi pravir (foremost among poets). On the advice of Pandit Moropant, it is said, Rama Joshi began to perform kathakirtanas (episodes in praise of God with supporting music), and soon he was acclaimed everywhere as the foremost of kirtana (s) (musical discourses).

Compositions of Rama Joshi are varied. Besides lavani’s he wrote ballads (pavada (s) in Marathi, Madalasa campu in Sanskrit, and eight hymns in praise of Bhagavan Sri Rama (Rama Sataka Shloka).