That is why, brother, I became a madcap Baul. No master I obey, nor injunctions, canons or custom. Now no men-made distinctions have any hold on me, And I revel only in the gladness of my own welling love. In love there's no separation, but commingling always. So I rejoice in song and dance with each and all."
Rabindra Nath Tagore
The Hibbert Lecture, Oxford, 1930 comes only from the Vaishnava Baul lineage...
The famous Bengali poet Rabindranath Tagore, was the one person in the world who talked about the Bauls, he had met Lalon Fakir, but it was Sri Nabani Das Baul who became his Baul inspiration, and his best friend for many, many years. Nabani Das was the Baul who inspired Rabindranath Tagore this is known form stories within the Lineage Baul. You see Bauls are from a oral tradition of storyteller, this particular lineage are sanskrit scholar, meaning everything is remember by hearing an repeating in sanskrit and spoken in Bengali to the people of the village. There was a long history between the Rabindranath Tagore and Nabani Das Khyappa Baul, and many stories to be told that have never been told.
Rabindranath Tagore the great poet, novelist, musician, playwright, and artist from West Bengal, India knew Sri Nabani Das personally. Tagore built Nabani a place to do his sadhana on his land, had Rabindranath also photographed pictures of Nabani that you can see at the Royal British Museum in London. You can these photo's all over the internet it has become a symbol of what Baul is. Nabani Das Baul had come to know Jawaharlal Nehru through Rabindranath Tagore.. Some of the eminent painting and drawing that were done of Nabani Das Khyappa Baul were done by many renowned Bengal painters, who were also very close to Nabani Das 'Bhirbums Baul Guru 'and considered as very good friends, they spent alot of time together because of the love for poetry, and intellectual discussions and Nabani Das Bauls infectious Love Bhava.
When India gained independence form the British in 1947 Nehru invited Nabani Das Baul to sing at the inaugaration ceremonies all over India, this was through Rabindranath Tagore. Most of the famous songs that the Bauls are singing have been written by Nabani Das Baul or come from this lineage. It was the American beat Poet Allen Ginsberg who met Baul Saint Nabani Das Baul in the early 60’s, Ginsberg called Nabani Das his Guru and the "8th wonder of the world."
Tagore knew a little bit about Bauls, and as he learned more developed an interest learning more and more and was finally inititated into the Vaishnava Baul by Nabani Das Baul which is a fact whether it is written down or not. The stories are held in the oral tradition and there are many picture which are not shared in this article. They will be shared when we publish because one can see how the world has changed and it is through pictures and people outside that tradtion namely scholars who think they hold all knowledge. For example take a look at the whole Baul tradition it is being watered down and distorted to such a degree, what you see today is not what it was even 30 years ago.
One may ask why is Nabani Das Baul's name not written about in Rabindranaths writings, it is because Nabani being a real Baul Sadhu and he never wanted to be known. He was a deep Baul sadhaka this was the way of avadhuta's who preformed a lot of sadhana, it is only now these stories and photos will come to fruition because who would have thought all would be so distorted, who would have thought the world would be so changed after thousands of years, who would of thought that the Bauls would become so cut off from their roots, and the oral traditions would die. The information presented here between the relationship between Nabani Das Baul and Rabindranath Tagore is just a small sampling, we will write more as things are published into books, which in the Baul tradition it was never meant to be but times have changed and this is a must to preserve this tradition called Baul of Bengal. Of course we are not going to provide all for facebook. If we did this would be irresponsible, we are only providing enough to just say there is more to the story, the person in the photo that is being passed around is one of the most influential legendary Bauls from an ancient lineage. The picture was take by Rabindranath Tagore himself, for anyone doing research on the Bauls of Bengal and Tagore, the first thing that one should know is Baul is an oral tradition, and one can only properly talk about Baul if one is inside the tradtion, all stories written abou the Baul are mostly copy and paste, so if one wants to learn about Baul and write about their relationship between Tagore one should at least know Baul 101 or all research is defunct, you must get both sides of the story. The second thing one should know is that there is more to the story, be humble, not all is presented here and not all is found in a book of copy and paste. At least first know who the Baul is in the picture, it is not just some Baul, it is a Baul saint and probably one of the last authentic original lineage Bauls.
Rabindranath called Nabani names like khyeppa, actually he gave Nabani the name Khyeppa before this no one was called khyeppa Baul, today many have taken this name. He also called Nabani "Mirror of the Sky"...
There were also some other famous Bengal writers who were so connected and very close friends of Nabani Das Baul, this we know because of the relationship that this lineage Baul and their long relationships with the families of the poets and the Tagore family. Through this association, and over time Rabindranath became Baul.
Most people do not know this or the history because has not been written about.. and everything that is written is just repeated over and over.. the same story half of it not true.Many top poets from around the world would travel to see them, they were all intringued, thusRabindranath named the bridge at the Pous Mela Nabani Das Setu
Rabindranath Tagore would say to Nabani Das, "You are you a mad maker machine, you have completely changed me with your song, dance, and your smile."
" Rabindranath wrote about Nabani Das and used the tune from a Nabani Das Baul song for Rabindranath's song about Nabani Das Baul called..named the bridge at the Pous Mela, the "Nabani Setu" after my Grandfather Sri Nabani Das Baul as he was the first Baul to be introduced through the Pous Mela, he opened the door for other Bauls at the Pous Mela which now has become a Baul Mela. This is Baul history, Nabani Das Baul is a legenadary Baul Saint, not just a poet or playwrite he is a lineage Baul from the roots of Baul going back thousands of years. He is from the lineage of Baul going back 9 generations to Sri Nityananada of Ekkchaka, the best friend of Sri Chaitanya, and going back thousands of years before thisRabindranath Tagore started the Pous Mela in honor of Babukishan (krishnendu das Baul's grandfather) Baul saint Sri Nabani Das Khyappa Baul
Nabani Das Baul was the biggest attraction for the Joy Dev Mela, Rabindranath said to Nabani Das you go to the Joy Dev Mela why not start a Mela here in Shantinekatan to bring together all the poets and storytellers from around the world. He thought Nabani Das would be the biggest attraction for everybody.
Rabindranath photographed Nabani Das Baul and you can even view these photographs in the Royal British Museum in London and also on my icon above in yellow. He created a meditation spot for Nabani Das just opposite the glass room in Shantiniketan.
Allen Ginsberg suggested that Nabani Das Baul come to Woodstock New York, Nabani Das Baul could not go or perhaps he would not go, as he was not well, he sent his son’s, Purna Das Baul and Luxman Das Baul to Woodstock and America in 1967, this was the beginning of this families legendary association with Bob Dylan.
You can see Purna Das Baul and Luxman Das Baul on the cover of Bob Dylans, ‘John Westly Harding’ album. This was the first time any Baul had come to North America, Purna Das had already traveled to Russia and all over India. Purna Das Baul has now been traveling for over 70 years.
Krishnendu Das Baul has been traveling for over 40 years around the world, with his father and mother at first, and then by myself, continuous traveling, promoting Baul, lecturing about Baul. It is not easy to do because most people have short attention spans. It is easy for the new Baul singers to change the story, to make up their own story and undue any of the work that has been done? As i said they sing the songs composed by my grandfather, my family and never mention who composed the songs mostly because they do not know? Baul is and always has been for thousands of years been based on Indian Philosophy, The Bhagavad Gita, Upanishads...
Nabani Das Khyappa Baul was already famous through his ecstatic Baul sadhana and divine ecstatic singing that would propel even a casual passerby into the bhava divine blissful God intoxication. This is what a lineage is, this is what Baul singing is about, it is not about singing a folk song. When doing research into Tagore and Baul it is really important to know what is Baul first of all, then secondly to have a lot of respect. This is a drop in the ocean of what went on between Nabani and Tagore, the rest will come in the form of a book fully copyrighted material because of the nature of the world today, sad but true.
copyright, all rights reserved 2007
by Trishula Das