The Rasa Lila Mystics, Moner Manush, The Mirror of the Sky!
A Small History Lesson on the Bauls of Bengal.
New Baul performers do not know the History of The Bauls of Bengal. Most if not all of the new Bauls representing Baul today are not versed in Sanskrit, Vedas, Bhagavad Gita, Upanishads, Yoga, Indian Philosophy or Vedanta, yet this is the basis of being Baul. The new Baul singers have not been taught the incredible historical legacy that is The Bauls of Bengal, indeed, many are more interested in how they look or how they can make themselves a celebrity. There is no Bengal without Baul, and there is no Baul without Bengal. There is a soul connection between the Bauls and the soil of Bengal. I am sorry to say it, but scholars and writers on Baul have it wrong. They have either talked to the wrong Bauls or have cut and pasted what has been falsely written in books and articles regarding who the Baul are. Some are trying to popularize Bauls by saying that we are a rootless religion. This is one of the biggest distortions I have ever come across, and utterly wrong. First of all, Baul is not a religion, Baul is a path of Sanatana (eternal) Dharma, a path of sadhana. Baul roots are not only deep, they are ancient. If you do not know your eternal dharma and proceed on a path without roots you will never understand or gain the depth that is acquired from a strong foundation. In order to understand what truly separates Baul from religion, one needs to understand the history, the roots of Baul and its eternal dharma.
The oral living lineage of the Baul of Bengal is like an ocean established thousands of years ago. The new rivers flow into the ocean, but the ocean does not flow into the river. The ocean can not become smaller. Every day the ocean becomes more vast, fed by the river which cannot but seek unity. A seed will grow roots then grow into a beautiful tree full of lush leaves, flowers and fruit. The fruit of this tree is called Baul. This fruit can only grow through sadhana. The juice or rasa of Baul is alive because this lineage has kept the light burning for thousands of years of pure devotion. In my observations, the new Bauls are trying to change the unchangeable ocean of the Bauls of Bengal, severing the roots, but without the roots the tree will not grow for future generations. Baul is a mystical tradition of sadhana, a disciple parampara oral living lineage. My lineage, being the oldest living lineage of Baul, pertains to the original ecstatic devotional singer. We are Tantric Bhakti Yogis from West Bengal India. It is now 2011 and we are at a crossroad. In which direction will Baul proceed?
Nobel prize winning poet Rabindranath Tagore was deeply inspired by Nabani Das Baul, Baul Music and Baul philosophy, as Shri Nabani Das Baul was Tagore's guru. Nabani Das Baul was the first and last Baul Teacher at Rabindranath Tagore's University 'Viswa Bharti'. He also was Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi's Baul Music, Dance and philosophy teacher at Viswa Bharti. This is how Nabani Das Baul had come to Know Jawaharlal Nehru. When India gained independence from the British in 1947, Nehru invited Nabani Das Baul to sing at the inauguration ceremonies all over India.
From Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu to America's poet Allen Ginsberg; The
Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, Mahalia Jackson, Gandhiji, Nehru,
Indira Gandhi, Osho, Amandamayi Ma, Ramakrishna Dev, Shri SitaRam
Omkarnath; they were all inspired by our lineage of Bauls from Bengal.
Even Mother Theresa can be counted on that list, and there are many more.
Anandamoyi Ma once said to me, “Bauls are complete, they are far advanced to a university degree, they are beyond a PHD.” She said that she wanted to be in touch with my grandfather Nabani Das Baul but for some reason could not. Her strongest spiritual guru Sitaram Das Omkarnath who brought her into the spiritual limelight, was a very close associate of Nabani Das Baul and it was Sitaram Das Omkarnath who told Ananadmoyi Ma the many stories about my grandfather Sri Nabani Das Baul. At that time in history it was very difficult to do what Anandamoyi Ma did, for it was a man’s world in regards to being a spiritual guru. I truly am blessed to have close association with both Anandamoyi Ma and Sitaram Das Omkarnath. They were both Bengalis.
Edward Dimock Jr. in his The Place of the Hidden Moon (1966) writes: "Rabindranath Tagore put the Bauls on a higher-than-respectable level by his praise of the beauty of their songs and spirit, and by his frank and proud acknowledgement of his own poetic debt to them." The Lineage Bauls of Bengal also inspired many other successful poets, playwrights and songwriters of the 19th and 20th centuries.
The names Goswami (Gosai) Das, or Dasi have been our lineages names since the beginning of the story going back thousands of years. We are a lineage of mystical song and dance and of kirtan from West Bengal India. Kirtan is not just call and response chanting, it is about telling the stories of Radha and Krishna, the stories of all the scriptures. Who is Ram and Sita? What did they do? What are their stories? The Baul must learn these stories, for they are seeds of Indian
Baul philosophy. Songs as seeds of wisdom and philosophy is a profound exemplification of what it is to be Baul. The seeds grow into the tree called Baul Sadhana, and without the seeds or the roots in song a tree will never grow. It is these roots I am determined to preserve for future generations.
The truth is well known in Bengal that Shri Nityananda, or Nitai born in Ekchhaka, Birbhum, West Bengal in the 1400-1500's, was a Baul. Shri Nityananda inspired his best friend, a scholar by the name of Shri Chaitanya Dev, or Gauranga. As best friends Sri Nityananda shared the Hare Krishna Mahamantra with Shri Chaitanya Dev, along with our Hare Krishna song, dance and Baul sadhana. Baul is an oral tradition passed on through sanskrit, word of mouth, hearing and remembering, as in storytelling. An oral tradition is not like a book tradition. The books reside instead within our memory, alive in as much as we are. Much has been distorted by scholarly writers and by Vaishnava reformers. These writers and reformers never had a connection to the oral tradition or the roots of Baul. The way of the Baul is the way of the Rasa Lila Mystics, the original Hare Krishna singers and dancers in Bengal. Bauls accept all, feed all, even adopting those who are rejected by mainstream society. A Baul is never pedantic. We never say we are better or that Krishna is better than Shiva. Rather, we encourage people. We are not preachers who gather people for the sake of collecting devotees or collecting money to build temples. Bauls want everybody to be a free bird, to reconnect to the divine within. Bauls speak of love and connectivity, but more importantly, they demonstrate these truths in their every interaction.
Shri Nityananda, being a Brahmin Lineage Baul when he met Chaitanya, was already dancing and singing the Mahamantra as his ancestors had been for almost 5,000 years. This song and dance organically and spontaneously flowed to Shri Chaitanya. Now I see the Bauls have been removed from all stories regarding Sri Nityananda and Sri Chaitanya. They have been completely written out of Vaishnava history. I am also seeing Sri Nityananada being left out of the story by some modern writers stating Shri Chaitanya is the only father of modern day kirtan, but the Bauls carry on without these words, in song and action, as is our way.
Babu Kishan aka Krishnendu Das Baul is a Baul Guru, Master of, Indian Folk, Classical, and Bollywood music. He has produced, promoted, composed for all the top Bollywood Indian Cinema's musician's and singers. He is the first Baul to compose Fusion Music, receive a modern education with a BA in Indian Philosophy, MA in Indian Music, the first Baul to live in North America. As a Music Director, Composer, for Indian Cinema for 30 years, he has composed over 150 scores, produced 44 albums. A prolific writer, poet, and author of 3 books on Baul. He has been traveling the world promoting, teaching Lineage Baul for more than 40 years.He spent 12 years as a Vedic Monk with the Ramakrishna Order
© copyright all rights reserved 2011
by Babu Kishan aka Krishnendu Das Baul and Trishula Sandra Das
Babu Kishan, is a lineage Baul, Baul and Sanskrit Scholar preserving
his Ancient Oral Living Lineage.