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भिखारी ठाकुर (Bhikari Thakur)

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Bhikari Thakur, popularly known as "Shakespear of Bhojpuri" was born in a barber-family on 18th December,1887 at Kutubpur ( Diyara) Village in Saran District. Name of his father and mother was Dal Singar Thakur and Shivkali Devi respectively. He had a younger brother named Bahor Thakur.

He went Kharagpur to earn livelihood. He had earned much and but not satisfied with the job. Ramlila had impressed him. He went Jagannath Puri. till the time, he has been converted to another person.

He established Dance Party in the native village and began to play Ram Lila, sing songs and took interest in Social-works. Now he writes dramas, songs and books etc. Language of the books was simple and attracted many. Books were published from Varanasi , Chhapra nad Howrah.

His literary creations including Dramas ( Bidesiya, Beti-Bechawa,Bidhawa Bilaap etc.) and songs are praised and used to sing even today. He died in the age of 84 years on 10th July,1971.

Bhikari Thakur - The Shakespeare of Bihar

Bhikari Thakur is best known for the creation of the twentieth century theatre form Bidesia. Bhikari Thakur was a barber (a backward Caste) who abandoned home and hearth to form a group of actors who dealt with issues of confrontation: between the traditional and the modern, between urban and rural, between the haves and the have-nots. Appreciative native Bhojpuri audiences consider Bhikari Thakur as the incomparable founder father, propagator and exponent par excellence of this form. He was a folk poet, a folk singer, a folk dancer and actor.

The narrative of Bidesia has been made so effective through the medium of vibrant dances and pleasing music and based on such life-like stories that it presents a realistic picture of the poor joint families of the region.

The Bhojpuri taste is so theatrically inclined that it will not hesitate even to undertake long journeys to witness a performance. Like in many other folk forms, the female roles in Bidesia are played by the male actor-dancers. Normally they wear dhoti or shirt trousers but they sport long hair and make it and ornament it like women's hair. Dance forms an integral part of this form, in fact it’s the essence of the performance, which starts with dance in order to attract a large audience. Once this is done the Bidesia starts. The actors, besides dancing take on female roles in different dramatic contexts. Inspite of the advent of various other modes of entertainment, Bidesia remains the most popular and refreshing relaxation for the Bhojpuris. Through his plays, he gave voice to the cause of poor laborers and tried to create awareness about the poor situation of women in bhojpuri society. He always stood and spoke against casteism and communalism in the same cultural tunes. People from this region are very fond of and feel proud of his contribution to the local cultural traditions. His plays and his style of theatre are very popular for their rhythmic language, sweet songs and appealing music. His plays are a true reflection of bhojpuri culture. Almost all of his works focused on the day-to-day problems of lower castes/classes. He used satire and light-hearted comments to maximum effect to put forward his views on social ills and other problems plaguing Bhojpuri society.

He was born on December 18, 1887 at the village of Kutubpur in the district of Saran, Bihar. His mother’s name was Shivakali Devi and father was Dalsingar Thakur. He belonged to a naai (barber) caste, one of the most backward castes in Indian society. The traditional work of his caste was cutting hairs and assisting brahmins in marriage as well as in death ceremonies. They were also used by dikus to send and distribute ceremonial (in cases of marriages and deaths) and other messages in the village and nearby areas. They acted like postal workers in the traditional-feudal village setup.

In one of his works he says: “Jati Hazzam more Kutubpur mokam… Jati-pesha bate, bidya naheen bate babujee”. In this he speaks about his own caste and regrets that his caste people are distributing letters to all without knowing the importance of the letter, or the alphabets. He clearly understood the power of education and continuously chided his people for being illiterate and bounded by jajmani (patron-client) relations with the dikus.

Among the masses of Bihar and other Bhojpuri-speaking areas, he needs no introduction. But the so-called mainstream ‘culture’, like always, has conspired to keep mum about his contribution, actively avoiding even mentioning his name. Hence, there are no serious documented accounts of his works till now. He is greatest flag bearer of Bhojpuri language and culture. Bhojpuri is widely spoken in major parts of Bihar including Jharkhand, some parts of eastern UP and Bengal. He is not only popular in this linguistic belt but also in the cities where Bihari workers migrated for their livelihood. Many criticized him for upholding feudal and Brahminical values, which to some extent may be true. Despite the support and legitimation of few brahminical and feudal values in his works, he always pioneered the vision of a just and egalitarian society and this is the difference we have to understand. No vision of egalitarian and subaltern society can be even imagined under these idiotic and nonsensical shadows of Brahminical values.

Though his plays revolved and evolved around villages and rural society, they still became very famous in the big cities like Kolkatta, Patna, Benares and other small cities, where migrant labourers and poor workers went in search for their livelihood. Breaking all boundaries of nation he, along with his mandali, also visited Mauritius, Kenya, Singapore, Nepal, British Guyana, Surinam, Uganda, Myanmar, Madagascar, South Africa, Fiji, Trinidad and other places where bhojpuri culture is more or less flourishing.

Bidesia, as a vibrant mode of a regional cultural expression, rugged and unsophisticated in form and rich in variety, is a powerful expression of cultural heritage of weaker section of society. Bhikari Thakur, through his artistic talents and bitter experiences, developed it by picking up elements from Ramlila, raslila, birha yatra and other performative elements and molded it into a totally new and wonderful style known now as bidesia. Bidesia means migrated people, who left their home in search of livelihood, but in the larger context Bhikari’s bidesia not only migrated from the lands but also from their culture also. Many people get confused between the bidesia style and his play Bidesia. Actually, he did all his plays in bidesia style which is very similar to nautanki, but later his theatrical style was known from his famous production Bidesia.

He has written as well as directed and performed ten major works; beginning with a non-serious vasant-bahar based on the dhobi-dhobin dance he saw somewhere.

After Thakur’s death in 1971, his theatre style and use of bhojpuri language are continually being abused by the music industry in producing bhojpuri songs and plays replete with sexual innuendo. This is like a counter-revolution of the brahmin-bania combine against all the ideals that Bhikari Thakur propagated through his art. The dikus have no relations based on social reality and always aim to get maximum monetary profits on the basis of cultural vulgarity. This market forced a shift from Bhikari Thakur’s socio-economic oriented plays to mere sexual fantasy and cheap entertainment. This reflects the creative bankruptcy of dikus against which we dalit-bahujans should come forward and play a vital role to safe guard our anti-diku legacy in which Bhikari Thakur is one of the big stars in the galaxy of Dalit-bahujan revolutionary artistes.

His major productions include: - Bidesia, Bhai- Birodh, Beti-Viyog or Beti Bechba (seller of daughter), Kalyuga Prema (Love in Kalyuga), Radheshyam Behar (based on krisna- radha love), Ganga-asnan (ceremonial bath in ganga), Bidhwa- vilap, Putrabadh (killing of son), Gabar- Bichar (based on an illegitimate child), and Nanad Bhojai.

1. Bhai-Virodh (opposition from brother)

This play deals with the theme of joint family, which is a very prominent feature of Bihar’s rural society. Three brothers are separated due to lack of confidence and respect for each other on the instigation of a person outside their family. However, at the end they realize the importance of living together but not before a lot of harm had actually taken place.

2. Beti-Viyog or Beti- Bechwa (seller of daughter)

This play is considered a very progressive play. Bhikari Thakur through this play criticizes the wide-spread custom of selling young girls in marriage to much older men. This custom prevailed in Bhojpuri-speaking areas until recently. The protagonist is a young girl whose father sells her to an older person.

3. Kalyuga- Prem

Through this play Bhikari Thakur talks about the bad effects of drinking. The lone wage earner of the family is a drunkard and often visits prostitutes. This extravagance soon leads to the pauperization of his family. His whole family including his wife and son suffers tremendously because of the bad habits of the head of the family. Later in the play the wife and son decide to confront him but to no avail. Later being fed up with his father’s immoral ways, the son runs away from the family and goes to Calcutta to earn money to eventually return and rescue his mother.

4. Ganga-Asnan

Malechu is from a village. His wife wants to go to bathe in the Ganga but his mother is too old to do so. The wife finally prevails and they set out but not after loading much luggage for his old mother to carry on the way. Before they reach the Ganga a quarrel ensues and Malechu beats up his mother. At the banks of the Ganga, his mother gets lost in a fair. In the same fair, his wife is seduced by a sadhu with the promise of giving her a son. Malechu finds her in the nick of time and epiphany dawns on the both of them who then find the mother and beg her forgiveness. The story is a critique both of the distance between parents and their children in a situation where old parents are completely dependent on their children and also of the tantric culture of sadhus who most often are conmen.

5. Vidhwa-Vilap (The weeping widow)

The story is about how widows are treated within their homes. It is seen as an extension of Beti-bechwa for more often than not young girls married to old men; spend most of their lives as widows. The story reflects the hatred and seclusion a widow has to suffer in brahminical society for no fault of her own.

6. Gabar-Dichor

It the story of an illegitimate son of Garbari and Galij’s wife. Galij returns from the town to find the village gossiping about his son’s parentage. He wants to take Dichor back to Calcutta with him. But both Galij’s wife and Garbari intervene. A quarrel ensues as each of them claims Dichor as their own. The panchayat is called and they decide that Dichor be divided into three pieces. A man comes and maps Dichors body and agrees to do the job for four annas a piece. The mother relents refusing to pay and giving up all claim on the son. The panchayat sees the light and Dichor is allowed to stay with his mother. Almost all his plays took their themes from society but were molded in Bhikari’s new progressive and revolutionary style. When asked why he took to theatre, Bhikari answered, “I used to watch Ramlila and Raslila. When in Ramlila, Vyasji gave sermons to people; I also thought I could also give sermons to my people”. This dream came true and till his last day he served his people through his sermons, which unlike diku sermons were based on real life. But our legendary cultural figure is no more among us. He breathed his last on July 10, 1971 after giving us a new lease of life.
Comments (32)
1 Sunday, 16 August 2009 08:13
Dr. Ravi Kant Dubey, HOD- Political Sc. M.V.College Buxar
Sudhir jee ,
Bhikhari thakur jee par etna shodhparak jankari dihla khati raura ke tahe dil se dher sara aabhar prakat kar tani ... aaj ke filmi chakachondh me Bhojpuri ke shakespear ke log bhula gail badan .
Thanks to Bhojpuriya.com team....
Saran (chhapra) ke maati ke laal
2 Tuesday, 18 August 2009 00:46
Sangit aur kala ke e mahan hasti ke koti koti naman ba. Apna ekanki aur natak ke madhyam se apan samaj ke ego naya rah dekhave wala, samaj ke kuriti ke ujagar kare wala ke humni ka dhire dhire bisarle jaat bani ja. Sabhe se request e bhojpuri ke aaina ke tute mat di log. Bhikhari thakur kauno chhot mot naam na balki ego asadharan maha purush ke naam ba......

Software professional
bheldi bazar, Chhapra
3 Thursday, 29 October 2009 15:13
Dharm Nath Thakur
Thanks for givinng lot of information about Bhikhari Thakur
bhojpuri kesari babu bhikhari thakur ke upar vichar sanchhipta
4 Sunday, 08 November 2009 18:15
Ashok Kumar Paswan


Ashok Kumar Paswan
bhikhari thakur bhojpuri ke paryay
5 Thursday, 24 December 2009 16:00
pawan kumar maurya
bhikhari thakur bhojpuri bhasha ke duniya ke manch pe liawe wala aur bhojpuri ke nayi disha tatha okrake nayi pehchan diyavewala mahan hasti rahlen.unkarek ek geet hamra ke bahut he neek lagela .........hasi hasi panwa khiawale beemanwa.........
6 Friday, 29 January 2010 20:19
Shreeram Upadhyay
Bihari Thakur is the Lord of Bhojpuri Culture.
Shreeram Upadhyay
7 Monday, 15 February 2010 18:41
chandan kumar
Bihari Thakur is the Lord of Bhojpuri Culture.
Shreeram Upadhyay
bhikari thakure
8 Wednesday, 17 March 2010 14:26
manoj singh
His home is just near to my village i go on his village admire that place where he use to stay , things are chenged lot.Due to not interest taken by govt ant commercial sectore .
I think it will be very hard after few year new generation will think about him.
sath sath naman baa bhojpuria guru ke
bhikhari thakur
9 Saturday, 01 May 2010 15:04
rajesh roy
thank you very much for giving such a good information about bhikhari thakur.

can you do something in regards of our folk songs which we probably dont have in any written form
Bhikhari Thakur aur Rasul
10 Wednesday, 26 May 2010 16:28
subhash chandra kushwaha
Bhikhari Thakur is well known personalty of Nautanki culture. Rasul was also a very important personalty of Bihar on same field. For know about Rasul, pl . log on www.lokrang.in
we have proud of vikhari thakur jee
11 Thursday, 27 May 2010 20:58
raua log ke bahut payar je vikhari thakur jee ke bare batawini
12 Thursday, 12 August 2010 12:11
Namskar,aapney jo jankari di uskey liye dhanyabad.mainey aapana m phill bhikhari thakur par hi kiya hai.uumid hai aagey bhi aap aisi hi jankari dete rahengey.
13 Tuesday, 17 August 2010 09:46
Anil Kumar Rai
Namskar,aapney jo jankari di uskey liye dhanyabad.mainey aapana m phill bhikhari thakur par hi kiya hai.uumid hai aagey bhi aap aisi hi jankari dete rahengey.
14 Sunday, 05 September 2010 13:17
Kamal kishor sharma
Bhikari thakur jee ke bare me jankari khatir bahut-bahut dhanybad.
contribute to Bhikhari Thakur
15 Sunday, 26 September 2010 15:20
manoj kumar thakur
Lok kalakar Bhikhari Thakur ji ke bare me jitni jankari mili usse unke bare me janne ki jigyasa aur badh gayi hai. yeh sach hai ki bhikhari thakur ko log bhulte ja rahe hai. agar hame unhe yad rakhna hai to ham apne rajya ke film nirmataon se agrah karte hai ki bhikahari ji ke rachnao par adharit filme banayen. unki yaad bhi jinda rahegi aur unke prati shradhanjli bhi.
Thanks for this article
16 Thursday, 07 October 2010 17:04
vijay bhasakr
I never read about the Shalespear of Bhojpuri and only heard it through my parents and other old age people. Thanks for making this article global. "Aapka bahut bahut dhanyawad"
shakspear of Bhojpuri
17 Friday, 08 October 2010 10:54
Manoj Kumar Singh
Bhikhari Thakurji ke baare mein hum sunale jaroor rahli baki unke baare mein hum itna jaanat na rahli. Kitna dukh ke baat ba ki aisan hasti ke yogdan log bhula gaeel ba aur aajkal ke bhojpuri gayak (Bharath sharma byas ji ke chhorkar) kewal paise ke liye ashleelta aur bhondapan paros rahal baaran. aajkal aisan log ke kami naikhe jo bhojpuri sangeet aur ashleelta ke ek dusara ke paryayvachi manelan. is baare mein hum sabhi bhojpuria log ke soche ke jaroorat ba.
Bhikharu Thakur
18 Thursday, 14 October 2010 14:00
It is really heartening to read your article about the bard. We have forgotten our heroes as we have forgotten our roots. I suppose our brethren need to pull up their socks and rise above the rest. We need to popularize the songs of the bard and doing so bring him to the lime light and render him the respect than has long been due.
Bhojpuri songs written and sung by Bhikhari Thakur are ideological and deals with moral values. The songs must be sung with the same projection.
I want to make a film on the great master and present it to the world
Need your help in research and content of the film.

Very Nice
19 Tuesday, 02 November 2010 15:28
Thankyou so much for giving so much of detailed information about Bhikari Thakur.
shakespear of bhojpupi.
20 Tuesday, 09 November 2010 17:22
Bimal kumar
Jivan me sabhi bhasha ka apana apana kshetre hota hai.koi kisi ka janak hota to koi kisi ka aage le jane wala hota hai. esi mese the bhikhari baba jo bhojpuri ki nai pahachal dilaye.hum unhe sadar pranam karate hai ki jo hamari bhasha hai use ajj 33 crore janata pure vishwa bhar me bola ja raha hai, sath hi sath anya panch desho me v bola ja raha hai. Hum unhe v abhari hai ki jo bhojpuri bhasha k khatir itana mehanat se hum logan ke pas e sab jankari pahuchawat hau sabe.
Bimal kumar(BHU)
bhikari thakur ji ko parnam
21 Thursday, 16 December 2010 15:04
akhilesh kumar
sabko hamari taraf se parnam. ham chate hai ki aaj dunia itna aage bad gayi hai ki wo apne ithas ko bahut piche chood chuki hai. bhojpuri ke samrat shri bhikari thakur ji ne apne samay me bhojpuri ke liye bahut kaam kiya jiska prinam ham aaj tak dekh rahe hai.to ham chate hai ki bhojpuri ko hame national language banani chaiye.jiske liye hame sabhe bhojpuri logo ka sath chaiye.ki ek jut hokar bhojpuri ke bare mai sabko bataya jaye...bas itna hi anurodh hai.......kisi bhi galti ke liye shama......
सादर नमन , शत शत नमन
22 Saturday, 18 December 2010 12:59
नवीन भोजपुरिया
जन्मदिन के बहुत बहुत बधाई देब एह महापुरुष के आ हम इहे कहब की आज के समय मे भोजपुरिया समाज आ पुरा देश रउवा के मिस कई रहल बा , राउर कमी के भरपाई आजु ले ना भईल, ना केहु जरियो ले पहुंचल ।

शत शत नमन बा एह दिव्य महापुरुष के ।

जय भिखारी ठाकुर

जय भोजपुरी
Shakespear of Bhojpuri
23 Thursday, 10 March 2011 11:09
Anoop Srivastava
जेकरी के बारे में ,खाली कुछ लोगन से सुनले रहनी आजु एतना विस्तृत जानकारी पा के धन्य हो गइनी, ईहाँ तक कि, हम त फोटउओ ना देखले रहनी, हमार प्रणाम बा, नमन बा अइसन महान शख्सियत के । आ धन्यवाद भोजपुरिया डाट काम परिवार के एह जानकारी दिहला खातिर ।
लोक गीत
24 Friday, 20 May 2011 17:46
आदरणीय सुधीर जी
इस शोध के लिए धन्यवाद| श्री भिखारी ठाकुर जी ने काफी लोक गीत भी लिखा था | ये गीत आज भी गाँवों में प्रचलित हैं| इन गीतों के संकलन का भी प्रयास किया जाना चाहिए|
Bhojpuri Word Ke Singing Samrat Bhikari Thakur Ji koti koti Naman, Sadar Pranam...
25 Saturday, 09 July 2011 16:49
Raghavendra Yadav (IT Specialist & Professional, Microsoft India), Home Town- Ballia District, U.P.
I always love to hear the songs of swargiya bhikhari thakur Ji.His bideshiya is the most powerfull song always make me a cry, whenever I hear that songs. Bhojpuri ki ek bahut bejod misal hain Bhikhari Thankur.Unko baar baar naman..
26 Tuesday, 12 July 2011 17:16
faijullah khan
i heard his name from my friends during my school days,they used to call him shakespear of bhojpuri but did not know much about him .one should take inspiration from such personality despite being from humble family and from backward class he reached the pinnacle of bhojpuri lit.
A valuable Information
27 Tuesday, 20 September 2011 21:35
Santosh Kumar
A great thanks to you from all True persons, and you are also eligible for that. Actually your research is great boss.. and the moment ot truth is that 90% people don't now about him, and his great giving things to our society. & realy your valuable information is very helpful to develope a tru society who have own culture & having respect to each other. again Thanks to you.

One more request to you if possilbe please add songs & drama.
28 Wednesday, 05 October 2011 06:46
please any body help me i wants bhikari thakur songs ..........
भिखारी ठाकुर लोक गीत
29 Sunday, 09 October 2011 01:00
Ambresh Singh
श्री भिखारी ठाकुर जी ने काफी लोक गीत भी लिखा था | ये गीत आज भी गाँवों में प्रचलित हैं| इन गीतों के संकलन का भी प्रयास किया जाना चाहिए|
birthday wises
30 Sunday, 18 December 2011 09:10
surendra kumar paswan
bhikhari Thakur is a great dramatist/singer, and revolutionary person.bhikhari Thakur ko kala ke khetra me bharat ratan milana chahiye. inka sangeet samaj ki kuritiyo ko ujagar karta hai.

31 Saturday, 02 June 2012 07:05
basant thakur
32 Sunday, 06 July 2014 02:44
Raj narayan yadav
Dear thank you Bhojpuri ke Mahan kalakar ke bare me jankari Debe khatir
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