Bhagavathar Kota Sachidananda Sastry from Andhra Pradesh is the first Harikatha artist in India to be honoured with the Padma Shri
For the first time a Harikatha artist has been honoured with the country’s fourth highest civilian award, the Padma Shri. This singular distinction has been conferred on Andhra Pradesh’s well-known performer Bhagavathar Kota Sachidananda Sastry.
Sastry who is one of All-India Radio’s top-ranking artists has given more than 20,000 Harikatha performances, narrating scenes and stories from Hindu epics like Mahabharata and Bhagavatam. Known for his command of the language and imaginative treatment of both prose and poetry, he has been regularly participating in music festivals across the country and world.
Expressing his happiness on receiving Padma Shri he told the media that the art form which has a great history is finally being recognised. “This award is not just for me, but for all those who have contributed to this art form without being recognised,” he said.
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Sastry who was born in August 12, 1934 in Bapatla district’s Addanki village in a family of artists, started training in the narrative art of Harikatha at a very young age. Despite having dropped out of school very early, he became fluent in the language for which he credits cinema.
He became the sole breadwinner of his family when his father died and trained himself in Harikatha under the supervision of veterans like AR Krishnaiah, Musunuri Suryanarayana Murthy and Bhagavatula Annapurnaiah and soon started performing on his own, drawing large audience.
In 2018 he was bestowed with the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award and in 2019 he received the Adibhatla Narayana Dasa Puraskaram. From 2015 he stopped performing due to poor health conditions.