A small History Lesson on who the Bauls of Bengal are?
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 orVedanta. 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, some 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 one problem is that scholars or writers on Baul have it wrong, they have either talked to the wrong Bauls or have cut and paste what already has been falsely written in books and articles regarding who the Baul are. Some are trying to popularize Bauls by saying that the Bauls are a rootless religion, this is one of the biggest distortions I have ever heard, and completely wrong. First of all Baul is not a religion... Baul is a Dharma and 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 aquired from a strong foundation, one needs to understand the history, the roots of Baul, the eternal dharma called Baul.
The oral living lineage of the Baul of Bengal is like an ocean that was established thousands of years ago. The new rivers flow into the ocean, the ocean does not flow into the river. Rivers come to meet the ocean not the other way around, the ocean can not be smaller, everyday the ocean gets bigger and bigger, a river can only flow into the ocean. 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 only 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, cutting the roots off, without the roots the tree will not grow for future generations. Baul is mystical tradition of sadhana, a Guru and disciple parampara Oral Living Lineage. My lineage of Bauls being the oldest living lineage of Baul, we are the original ecstatic devotional singer, we are Tantric Bhakti Yogi's from West Bengal India. In 2011 I am finding the Bauls are at a crossroad, which way will they go?
Nobel prized great poet Rabindranath Tagore was deeply inspired by Nabani Das Baul, Baul Music and Baul philosophy, as Shri Nabani Das Baul was Tagore's Baul 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 form the British in 1947 Nehru invited Nabani Das Baul to sing at the inaugaration ceremonies all over India.
From Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu to America's poet Allen Ginsberg, Beatles, Rollingstones, 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 loved the Bauls, and there are many others whom this lineage of Bauls, my family inspired.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 so hard to do what Anandamoyi Ma did, it was a mans 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 Bengali's.
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, they are seeds of Indian Baul philosophy, these seed songs are exactly what Baul songs are about. The seeds grow into the tree called Baul Sadhana, without the seeds or the roots a tree will never grow.. it is these roots I am trying to preserve for future generations.
The truth is and 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, an oral tradition is passed on through sanskrit, word of mouth, hearing and remembering, as in storytelling. An oral tradition is not a book tradition, the books are stored in our memory. 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, they even adopt 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, that kind of talk is for the spiritually immature. Bauls encourage people, they are not preachers who gather people for the sake of collecting devotee's or collecting money to build temples. Bauls want everybody to be a free bird, to find the divine within. Bauls talk for the people, they show love they do not just talk about it, they already know all the finer points of Bhakti yoga.
Shri Nityananda being a Brahmin Lineage Baul when he met Chaitanya was already dancing and singing the Mahamantra as his ancestors had been doing for almost 5,000 years. This song and dance naturally, and spontaneously flowed to Shri Chaitanya. Now I see the Bauls have been removed from all stories regarding Sri Nityananda and Sri Chaitanya 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 ?? I will write more on this at a later date.
There is a huge misunderstanding that Bauls are beggars, they are only beggars for God/dess, some how we are all beggars in this world we are all begging for our survival, we are all begging for money, we all have to support our families. Bauls are beggars for God most of the time they forget about their material reality, in this changing world there is a need for artha, Bauls deserve to earn a living also, they deserve to come out of poverty. Bauls were offered dakshina or offering gratitude to the Guru, because in the past Bauls were Guru's who dedicated their lives to pass on the most important spiritual knowledge, they provided deep inspiration to the people living in the rural villages of Bengal.
Purna Das Baul was the first Baul to make sure Bauls recieved money for their songs and their performances. Although his father Nabani Das would be furious if you gave him money for his singing, Purna saw it differently, being the eldest he saw how his mother struggled to feed her children. Purna Das Baul noticed everybody making money off of the Bauls, he said why should the Bauls not be paid for what they do, they have families and the old ways of survival no longer work. Purna Das Baul and my mother Manju Dasi always advocated to lifting the Bauls up to a respectable place in Bengali history. Bauls should be the only ones gaining from Baul, other people are making money by using the Bauls, and Purna Das thought Bauls should be profitting off of Baul. Bauls are wandering spiritual messengers. Today we pay for books, newspapers, magazines, TV and the Internet, we pay to keep the temples and pujari's. Bauls provided these services through song and dance, they taught lessons in Indian spirituality, in how to human, brotherly love, in the art and science of life, how to cooperate with nature, how to reach the highest, how to remove the shackles that bind us, for this they were givendakshina. Bauls have always been a major part of life in rural Bengal, they an integral part of Bengali culture. Bauls are the spiritual Guru bards, spiritual musical mystical Guru minstrels from West Bengal India. Bauls are the magical removers of darkness, they awaken the soul.
Subodh Mitra's 1955 Raikamal classic oldie Bengali movie , was a film about my grandfather Shri Nabani Das Baul. When a movie is made about you in India in 1955 you can guess that Sri Nabani Das Baul was a figure of importance, a legendary person. The Bengali movie Hansraj was based on the life of my father, Purna Das Baul in 1985 which featured stories about my aunt Radharani Dasi, an outstanding woman Baul. I provided the story, and was the film project designer, they also made this movie into a Hindi version called Sawan Koaane aane do made by Rajshri Productions. Raikamal. (Bengali, 1955) was adapted from a story by the Bengali author Tarashankar Banerjee who wrote about Sri Nabani Das Baul. The movie stared Uttam Kumar, Kaberi Bose, Nitish Mukherjee, Sabitri Chatterjee, Chandrabati Devi, Jiben Bose, Namita Sinha and others with music directed by Pankaj Mullick.
It is my thought that new Baul singers should at the very least be sadhaks andsadhika’s. A Baul should have experience in all areas of life, Bauls should be accomplished. Today we have Baul singers who are like tourist attractions, wandering world festivals calling themselves legendary?? In my opinion this is a blatant distortion of this most beautiful ancient oral living lineage. They are painting a picture, making up stories so fantastic, to be Baul is to be humble. The original Bauls of Bengal are almost extinct. Bauls are free birds, they are flexible but that does not mean anything goes. Today Baul is being misrepresented being made out to be about folk songs, smoking ganja, and tantric sex, is this the only topic the new Bauls can use to draw people in?? This is not Baul. If you read about Baul or hear about Baul and this is the first subject and only subject you can know you are hanging with the wrong Bauls.
Baul students really want to be Baul and that is very sweet, however, there is a procedure, a process of long sadhana of many years under a Guru until one is able to represent what being a Baul is. Teaching, talking about Baul is simple, learning Baul sadhana is arduous. There are at the very least 5,000 songs to memorize as seeds of higher philosophy. There should be some recognition of boundaries, even though a Baul always says they have no boundaries, a Baul must be able to understand the paradox in all things. A Baul must have a Guru whom they study under for many years if not their whole life, they basically live with this guru every day for years and years, and this Guru should at least be a Baul Guru, a legitimate Baul Guru who teaches the lineage, the history of the Bauls of Bengal not omitting anything, a Guru who is honest and not afraid to tell the truth, this guru should have mastered Indian Philosophy. Myself I had to stand back for years and do seva to my guru before I went out on my own, and I certainly never called myself legendary, this is the sign of a immature ego.
The goal of Baul is not fame, it is not about writing books, it is not about performing, it is about reaching God and teaching others, to teach you must have reached a certain level of development where you can answer all the questions?? I myself have traveled the world for 40 years representing Baul and my lineage, my dharma, or my duty, it is in my blood, I am a lineage Baul of Bengal from a legendary family of Bauls, but blood aside I am a Baul, I have put in years and years of Sadhana and seva. If you want to help by preserving Baul first learn the history of what you are preserving. A Baul always has an ocean of deep knowledge, real wisdom, as a Baul you are a Guru not just a performer, you must be able to teach, to argue philosophy, you must be able to provide the knowledge of all things regarding Indian philosophy, and you must be able to help people heal. Bauls are master of energetics, a Baul is never about just a preformer. Baul is not just about saying a few words, smiling and acting sweet, to be a Baul, the lineage must be active within you, meaning you have spent years learning yoga, tantra, vedanta, Indian philosophy, you should have real life experience, with a level of maturity and some connection to the a real Baul?? You can only make people stupid for a little while. Baul is the most beautiful heart filled divine way of reaching heaven and realizing God/dess within you. It is Indian Bhakti Yoga, originating back to the beginning of the story the Bhagavad Gita.
Sufi Fakir is Sufi Fakir, Sai, Aul, Shah, Dervish is Sufi, Sufi is Sufi although there are some similarities they are not the same. Baul is always based on Indian Philosophy, Indian scriptures transmitted orally through the ages and distilled into simple songs in Bengali for the rural Bengali's who lived in the village. Bauls do sadhana they are yogi's, mantra, japa, nada yoga, pranayama, yoga, and they are accomplished tantric musicians who know the technique to awaken their intended deity, they are magic bringers, they make magic happen, Bauls know the technique to awaken the forces of nature and the divine the heart of everyone. Bauls are not just regualr singer and dancers. Just as a master of the Sitar who is accomplished knows the technique which awakens the divine that will fill the room with the perfume of a divine bhava, it is the same with the Baul there is a technique, the tantra of Baul awakens the perfume of the Gods and Goddess's, you must have completed your sadhana for this to be alive. Baul is not about just singing a song, or sitting around chanting a mantra in a group, as a Baul you must have mastered the tantra of Baul or have the siddhi of Baul. Baul is not just about shouting out a song and swinging in a circle, there is a technique, a Tantra a Baul sings from the heart. A Baul is a soul singer not a shouter and I can tell because I am a master of Baul, classical, folk and bollywood I can hear who is singing what? Most new Bauls are singing folk songs, and to my surprise I have even heard a few sing a bollywood songs, calling it a Baul song??
Baul is always based on Hinduism, Vaishnavism, Indian Tantra, Shakti Sadhana, Indian philosophy, and Yoga. Parts of Sufi and Buddhism naturally and automatically flowed into the Baul philosophy and sadhana just as they automatically entered into Bengal. However it is important to remember Baul is not based in Sufi or Buddhism. Bauls never take anything, they are givers, Baul is about giving pearls of wisdom, giving information, they are Guru's and are the biggest healers and peacemakers. They are God intoxicated Mystics. Bauls wander from village to village they were the early moring wake up call, Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna krishna, Hare hare, Hare Ram Hare Ram Ram Ram Hare Hare, they would be singing early in the morning to a morning raga. Their Ektara is s and has always been their symbol of peace and unity, one string, unity between all people alls caste creeds and colour. The accept all who were rejected, a Bauls loves everybody, is respectful to everybody, they helped people grind themselves to be lovers of the divine. Baul originated way before Sufi or Buddhism. Bauls are ancient, they are a mystical path to reach God, they grind the rasa, the juice of the heart to wake up. Krishna and Radha live in the hearts of the lineage Bauls.
If you read Bauls who mention Bob Dylan, Woodstock, The Beatles, Allen Ginsberg, or Rabindranath Tagore, The Rolling Stones regarding Baul, they can only be talking about my family. However, I am finding Bauls throwing these names around like they were the people who met these people, they are using those names as a marketing tool, they do not even know or purposely leave out the names of Purna Das Baul or Nabani Das Baul, the lineage Bauls who brought Baul to the world. The Bauls who had a relationships with these people, are either myself personally or my family. I have seen the Bangladeshi's people claiming these stories belong to them, talking about Allen Ginsberg, Bod Dylan, when I know they have never had any association?? I really wonder what is going on??
For that matter any association from outside of Birbhum to the world came through Nabani Das Khyapa Baul, or Purna Das Baul or myself, and has only come through our family. The new Bauls are singing songs from this lineage and they do not acknowledge who wrote the songs, where did the songs come from, and please do not shorten the songs, these songs are seed songs of higher philosophy. These new Bauls are taking all the credit, selling themselves on our stories, our songs they do not mention anything about the lineage or the people who have walked before them. We have been running around the world, dedicating our lives to sadhana, making a platform for these Bauls and yet they are using our life stories, our lineage and they do not even mention the legendary Nabani Das Baul and his family, which by the way is quite large. This lineage is based on Guru, there should be respect, if there is no respect then one has not learned the first lesson of being a Baul. The Baul students today like to be Baul, they hang out with a some Bauls, they call their Guru’s respected, that is all fine, but that also does not constitute what a Baul is.. It is not easy to be a Baul and certainly taking pictures of oneself with Bauls and dressing like a Baul, copying Purna Das, does not constitute being a Baul. Promoting yourself in magazines, websites, changing the story day by day does not mean you are a Baul. Baul songs are not folk songs, sadhana is Baul. The maturity of this sadhana must show. Everybody is messing up what Baul is, changing the story, watering down the songs to make them easier to sing. Western Bauls are not Bauls, they have no association with the Bauls of Bengal, even their Guru’s, guru was not a Baul. One of the first tenents of Baul is having respect and by using Baul as a way to create something for yourself is not about respect or respect for the Baul.
Another thing I have noticed is UNESCO awarded a high level Bangladeshi official with the United Nations some millions of dollars to preserve Bauls in Bangladesh by convincing them Baul is about Sufi. Baul is not just about being a play write or poet as in Lalon Fakir who yes can be a Baul but he is not the whole history of Baul. Bauls were around thousands of years before Lalon Fakir they are poets, philosophers, musicians, they are everything to do with Yoga, Tantra, and Indian spirituality, they are about experiencing life in this human body, the body as the temple, divinity is within. This Bangladeshi official talks about how Baul is only about Lalon Fakir and the word Baul is muslim word, it is not. I myself have dedicated the better part of my life working tirelessly preserving Baul and have watched my family work tirelessly preserving Baul all around the world. Now I see the Bangladeshi's saying they are Baul by mostly singing folk songs. Baul songs are not folk songs. All of lives we have brought Baul out of the village it is surprising to me that even back in the 70's when I started to tour outside of India it was very rare to see an Indian let alone a Bangladeshi who knew about Bauls, even when we traveled to Bangladesh trying to help preserve Lalon Fakir songs, there were no Bauls in Bangladesh, there were a few and they were not singing Baul songs they were singing Bangladeshi folk songs and I brought them to Kolkata and had them recorded. Being Baul now all of a sudden I see Bangladeshi folk singers holding the ektara up high, but singing folk songs and becoming Baul and we are proud that they are embracing Baul, this is a very new thing.
Shri Nityananda of Ekchhaka is my ancestor, his son Birbandra Das Gosia is also part of my lineage, along with Advaita Gosia, Kheppa Chand Gosia, Okura Gosai, Triguna Dasi, Chakradhar Das, Anapurna Dasi, Narottama Das, Chandi Das, Rasaraj Gosai, Sri Nabani Das Baul, Radharani Dasi Baul, Gopal Das Baul, or Sri Purna Das Baul, Manju Das Baul to name only a few are legendary Bauls. Now I see young people who are calling themselves legendary. My mother Manju Das Baul traveled around the world over and over since 1962, she played on some of the biggest stages of the world including the Royal Albert Hall in London, Carnagie Hall in New York, Nitaji Indoor stadium in Kolkata, and she never once called herself legendary. My grandmother Brajabala Dasi and Aunt Radharani, and many more who are born and raised into the Baul way of life never once called themselves legendary. What is going on…? I know there are many Baul women who are not getting a chance, Baul women tend to be shy, they are not aggressive. I am going to make it my mission to promote these authentic Baul women, they need my help now. The stories are encoded in our songs, Gosai Das Baul. I have read the writings of modern day Vaishnava reformers it is all wrong, all I see is cut and paste, the stories are so far fetched and they believe this to be truth because their Guru said, there is no basis for over half of the stories, no where in Bengal have we ever heard these made up stories.
The first Dotara played by a Baul was introduced by Gopal Das Baul in the early 1940's he was the husband of my aunt Radharani Dasi Baul (Radharani Dasi was the biggest most famous Baul women ever.) Gopal Das Baul was a disciple of my grandfather Nabani Das Baul. Nabani asked what Gopal wanted because as he was such a wonderful student. Gopal said, "I want to marry your daughter, Radharani Dasi allow me to be part of your family and take care of Radharani all my life".. Gopal Das Baul was pure and true Vaishnava, a true sadhak. I am proud to say Radharani Dasi was the first official Baul to record for all India Radio... The movie Raikamal was about Radharani's life, wrote by one of Bengali's top writers, Tara Shankar. In 1985 a movie called 'Togori' was also made about Radharani's life. Radharani's husband Gopal Das was the son of the Ekchakra Nityananda Temple, I remember Gopal Das Baul as the greatest sweet maker, and I love him lots.
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 was his Baul Guru, and his best firend and the Baul who inspirated Rabindranath Tagore. He named Nabani Das Baul Khappa Baul, Nabani Das Baul named him (Robi) Ravi Baul.
Rabindranath Tagore started the Pous Mela in honour of my grandfather Shri Nabani Das Khyappa Baul. Rabindranath created this festival to bring all the poets of the world together and to preserve Bengali culture in Shantiniketan, he named the bridge, 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. 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 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. He created a meditation spot for Nabani Das just opposite the glass room in Shantiniketan.
It was the American Poet Allen Ginsberg who met Nabani Das Baul in the early 60’s, Ginsberg called Nabani Das his Guru and the 8th wonder of the world, although Nabani didn't want to be Allen’s guru, he wrote about Sri Nabani Das Baul in the New York times, Nabani preference was to remain anonymous(but way before Allen Ginsberg some people did record and wrote about nabani das baul in europe,Japan). Allen Ginsberg suggested that Nabani Das Baul come to Woodstock, 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, 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. Sri Purna Das Baul has now been traveling for over 70 years. I have been traveling for over 40 years around the world, with my 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 I have done??? I never see them even mention Nabani Das Baul or Baul Samarat Purna Das Baul?? As i said they sing the songs composed by my grandfather, my family and never mention who composed the song, you should at least know this, don't you think??
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 song, or a folk song it is about awakening a lifetimes worth of meditation, the result of Yoga and the Rasa Lila dance between Radha, Krishna, and the Gopi’s. The Lineage Bauls is Brahmin, however, they rejected the orthodox Vaishnava rules and regulations, the lineage is that of Gosia Das Baul, Gotra "chidananda." They wanted to become free birds, natural, spontaneous, they are naturally raganuga bhakti. Bauls have always been know as spontaneous mad men and women who erupt like a volcano of love into pure ecstasy because of the divine love between Radha and Krishna. For the lineage Bauls this is not something they have to learn it flows through their lineage, they laugh spontaneously, they cry sponaneously, they move spontaneously. Bauls include and accept all people, all castes, and creeds. There is one thing you must understand Baul does not mean anything goes, you must be human first and the best human you can be, refining our human nature first. One needs to use and develop and intellect, know how to cooperate with the universe, this is implied one must understand Indian philosophy, the rules of Yoga, Ayurveda ect...
One of the first steps in doing Baul Sadhana, is purification through breath control or pranayama, we call it Vayu Dharma. The term Baul is a Sanskrit word, Vaul, B and V are interchanged when interpreting Sanskrit into English.. ie) you may see Brindavan also spelled Vrindivan. Baul = Vaul=Ba tula= Vayu Tula= vital air to lift up. To lift up the vital airs. Baa ool is the easiest way to pronounce Baul for a westerner. Yes Bauls are ecstatic, mystical, mad, crazy, with love, in the bhava of love, they are moody, and only concerned about one thing, divine love.
Everybody talks about their own religion, their own spirituality, Sufi talks about Sufi, Budhism talks about Buddhism, Vaishnava talks about Vaishnavism, Christianity talks about themselves, all talking about their own saying, this is the way, we are the way. Baul talks about everybody, embraces everybody saying all are the way, accept all, what is important is inside of you, turn around and look within God lives inside of you. Thus Sadhana is the most essential element of being a Baul and by stating this it does not mean one should give up the intellect… Being a Baul is about developing your intellect, being a philosopher, not following blindly. Baul is most certainly about experence, that is one of the reasons they wander to gain experience in life. They have family, children, and because we are in 2011 it means education, to be in the world and not of the world.. For Bauls to survive in this rapidly changing world it is my belief that they need a modern education, everything is changing at such a rapid rate, the real Bauls are struggling.
Before the Pous Mela there were many Baul Festivals, places where Bauls gathered and they used to exchange, meeting talking about their sadhana, philosophy, music, dance and deep connections through their poetry in Birbhum's Jaydev Mela, Kankali Tala, Tarapith, Mama Bhaghne, PathorChapri, Bakreshwar, Nadia, Murshidabad, Purilia, Nabani Das was always present in all of these festivals. Shri Nabani Das Khyappa Baul was covered West Bengal's best news magazine 'Desh". Longtime on Pous Mela's Booklet, Jaydev Mela's Booklet, and in so many West Bengal's news papers and magazine then in some International news papers and magazines way before anyone ever knew anything about Bauls, he was the first. He was the first Baul who's pictures are at London Museum, there were books on him, Films on him. He was the first and last Baul Teacher at Rabindranath Tagore's University 'Viswa Bharti'. Nabani Das Baul was India's Prime Minister Indira Gandhi's Music, Dance and philosiphy teacher at Viswa Bharti, that is how he had come to Know Jawharlal Nehru.
Later Jawharlal invited Nabani Das Baul to perfom Baul song and dance in Delhi, Kolkata, Rajasthan, and that is how the first Baul came from village to city. Nabani Das Baul was a Sanskrit Scholar as well as a Tantric sadhak a followership of Kali & Krishna, he was a very accomplished Kali Sadhaka at Tarapith, yes you could say legendary. Most of all modern Bauls sing Nabani Das Baul songs, all writen by him, seeds of his sadhana and they do not acknowledge this.
Indian father of Film writer and director Satyajit Ray was also inspired by Nabani Das Baul, so was Ritwik Ghatok, Mrinal Sen, Tarun Mazumder and many more film personalities inspired were also inspired by my grandfather, my guru Nabani Das Baul. Rabindranath Tagore was inspired by him, in his compositions like 'Dekhechhi roop sagore' to'Amare paraye paraye khepiye berai' and 'Hari naam diye jagot' to 'jodi tor dak sune kei'.
What bauls are doing today the ones that are traveling the world is only due to Babu and his mother Manju they promoted Baul all over the world... Babu's focus was to serve his family, Manju's focus was to serve her husband. . Babukishan promoted Baul from village to famous music record labels, film, television, books, news papers, magazines, performing from every lane to International stages, festivals, universities. We have made Baul known outside of Bengal and that is deserves acknowledgment, it comes from our lineage. The years of scarifice and Seva that he did for my family and the Bauls is astronomical I do not think any child today would dedicate their entire life just doing for his family, my life was a one pointed focus for the cause of preserving the Bauls of Bengal. One would wonder why is Babu going on and on about this, because our lineage, our songs, our names are being left out of history and the stories are being distorted, this is important that Baul is preserved in its proper context, Baul originates in India, and yes it makes me wild when I see others using Baul for their own cause without even an idea of the real story of Baul.
I can honestly say because I am a Baul and a Classical, Folk and Bollywood music master, that my dadl was the best Baul singer, nobody can even come close to him as a Baul singer. My dad is almost 80 years old now and retired. As a Baul he is an ocean in his Baul knowledge, in his style of Classic Baul singing he has performed on the world biggest stages in front of millions of people he is like a ocean, every Baul wants to be my dad in sound and style. My dad brought along and introduced many Bauls to the stage he took many of them overseas with him including, his brother Laxshman Das Baul, Sudhananda, Subal Das Baul, Sanatan Das Baul, Gostogopal Das, Praladhbramcharya, Bhakti Das Baul, Viswanath das Baul, Devdas Baul, Dinobandhu Das Baul, Jiban Das Baul, Hari Krishna Das Baul. Purna Das Baul introduced these Bauls and he had a very hard time controlling many of them, as many of them did things he did not approve of out of the country or they started to say I am this I am that… Baul was never about women, ganja, it is about control, and sadhana. I myself introduced many people to Baul, and almost 90% of the new comer Baul singers I have introduced to the stage, through many of the Baul melas that I personally organized in West Bengal.
. We would meet with scholars tell them our knowledge only to have them write books on the Bauls and never give the Bauls recognition or help the Bauls. Over his 70 years of traveling and my 40 years my travels we observed all sort of people using the Bauls. People other than Bauls were making money off of the Bauls. We did fundraising for Iskcon, the Ramakrishna mission, temples, groups, people who were going to help us promote the Bauls only to find they were promoting themselves. Pruna das Baul wanted people to stop using the Baul, and he figured the Bauls were worth more than to just to be a fundraiser for everyone. We now need to do our own fundraising to preserve this tradition. I have created the BHAVA Project (Baul Historical Ashram and Vedic Academy) and Performing Arts, under a Foundation named the Ektara Foundation to preserve my ancient oral living lineage and to create a bridge to inspire young people. Sometimes people see me as having left Baul, and gone to Bollywood. I never ever left Baul or my sadhana, my sadhana is strong, it is a part of my life. I have gathered valuable life experience and am now able to do more for the Bauls. We live in different times, we need to keep the original but times have changed, how can we keep the original in this changing world. The world will not stop so perhaps we need to adapt, to look at our young generation and think how do I get these talented young people interesting in Baul way and also do somthing for them on the world stage? http://ektarabaul.blogspot.com/
Purna Das Baul and his family introduced Sally Grossman, Charles Capwell from Chicago University, Professor Edward Dimock, Deben Battacharya, Carol Solomon to Baul and gave unlimited information about what being a Baul is and we are happy that they helped promote the Bauls of Bengal. It is our family of Bauls who introduced Baul to all festivals and universities around the world.. We did all the leg work, talking, promoting, preserving, it is always so easy for others who come after to be critical but you know what no would even know who the Bauls are without our family. I know how much work was involved, I know I gave up many years of my life to serve my parents, I know how much work my mom Manju Das did. I worked day and night to make all of this happen.
My father won a first Gold medal as Baul in Rajasthan in the 50's, then another in the Russian Youth Festival in the early 60’s. He is the first official to Baul start to start his journey with All India Radio permanently as A Grade Artist. His his father Nabani Das Baul was first, but he was notpermanent, because he was a God intoxicated, wild, mad, sadhu Baul he never stayed in one place for very long, constantly moving, that is why after I was born he carried me everywhere with him. After Radio Purna Das Baul recorded with the Hindusthan Record Company, along with his father Nabani Das. Purna Das's sister. My aunt Radharani Dasi was the first woman Baul and believe me she nothing like the female Baul singers today shouting out songs, she was completely a deep spiritual soul singer, one must remember my ears are so trained, I am a composer, I can hear what is Baul and what is not Baul. Purna Das’s first record was so popular because his style was different from anyone. The record Company's owner contracted him every year, and one album after one album he was now a super star. This made him the King of Bauls. Films, at Festivals, Televisions, Traveling world wide Purna Das never looked back. I composed mosly all of my parents music .
The Biggest question for the Bauls is, What is next??? This is the big questions for the History of the Bauls of Bengal . Which way will the Bauls of Bengal go, the lineage of Bauls, it looks to me like they are becoming distorted, a watered down version, they are becoming whatever any new age Baul singer wants to say, I am this, I am that, who is to blame?The authentic Baul sadhana’s will be lost forever, I already hear all sorts of Bauls singing folk songs, and only sufi songs, calling Baul something it is not and never was meant to be.
The World is changing so fast, generations of young people do not even know Baul history how Nabani Das Khyapa Baul's name was in all the Intellectual circles and they all associated with his all the famous poets, politicians, painters, Film Makers, Sadhus, Yogis, Tantrics, and Great Film makers such as Satyajit Ray, Mrinal Sen, Ritwik Ghatok, Tarun MazumderJamini, Bimal Roy, Ajit Ganguly they were all inspired by their favourite Nabani Das Baul. Whoever met Rabindranath Tagore, used to say Khyapa Nabani Das Baul was the last original authentic Baul, now today what I see I almost want to weep, at the lack of Baul history, how everybody is saying they are legendary, I am not sure these new Baul really know what it is to be a Baul. However, I do have hope that they can be trained authentically and my dream is to create a Baul ashram to do just that to preserve my lineage, to tell the stories as they should be told, to help the Bauls remain on the world stage with their heads held high. I realize I have to come back to Bengal to make this happen, is it possible, will the Bengal people support Baul, a major part of Bengali Culture or are the Baul a thing of the past, now just to be a tourist attraction? I want to create a legacy for the Bauls of Bengal, a place for them to do sahana, for all the new Bauls to learn the history of Baul. To be a Baul is an honour now is the time the world needs to learn about these gentle peace keepers, the way of the Baul perhaps is the way of a new world full of peace, acceptance, and divine love, including all, helping all.
Sandhya Das was a upcoming and Classical trained singer and performer in Kolkata, West Bengal.Also a music teacher at Children Little Theater where her friend was dance teacher who became so Famous actress Sharmila Tagore. Sandhya received a contract from government of India to tour allover India to entertain Indian Army Troops performing with a group, however, there a problem was she didn't know any Bengali folk and Baul music, the troops were not interested in Classical Indian music. So Sandhya needed to be trained in folk music and preferably baul music she searched and found a folk teacher but she could not find anybody to teach her Baul songs. The Government found her a new teacher who was already a famous Baul who was from Birbhum but was living in Kolkata, that happened to be Purna Das Baul. She met the Baul at All India Radio and learnt a couple of Baul songs. After she came back from a tour, her life completely changed. She found something much interesting in Baul music than anything else. She fell in love not only Baul music but with that extraordinary Baul and married him, changed her life style from regular woman to Baulini and Sandhya became the famous Baulini Manju Das Baul,who was the first official woman Baul in World's history to travel the world at a very young age, she was by Purna Das Baul side in all of his many world travels, she was not only a Baul but an educated women with a BA in India classical music, a really devoted wife and sadhika. There are many interesting stories about my mother, famous people she met, a extraordinary life she lived. Manju Das Baul is the first Baul to ever use the Harmonium.
One story that my mother Manju Das Baul told me about her father Jogesh Das who was a, Triple MA with a Masters degrees in Bengali, English and Sanskrit, he was a professor at Dhaka University, in what today is called Bangladesh they left there during a muslim uprising persecuted beacause of language. They were Hindu and Jogesh a Professor of languages at Daka University, was a prime target of the Pakistani's who gave the order that Bangladesh would be East Pakistan and only speak URDU. They kicked Manju Das's family out of East Bengal now known as Bangladesh. This happened on<span><span> </span></span><span>February 21, 1952 when Pakistan initiated Urdu. Jogesh Das being a linguist and a professor of Bengali, English, and Sanskrit was persecuted along with his family, because being Hindu and being a professor of language</span><span><span>, they were forced out of East Bengal now know as Bangladesh, their house, land and belongings were stolen by these people, their relatives were tortured and beheaded all because they were not Muslim and did not speak urdu, they were ancestors to this land. They became refugees in Kolkata living in a refugee camp called Jadavpur. UNESCO decided to observe 21 February as "International Mother Language Day", starting from Bangladesh and now around the world...... After all this took place they became refugees in Kolkata living in a refugee camp called Jadavpur.
Jogesh Das, Babu's grandfather on his mothers side obtained a job as a temporary sanskrit lecturer at Kolkata University, he became good friends with a man he met at Tollygunge who later became a modern spiritual leader, his name was Abhay Charan Dey who later became known as Srila Prabhupada of Iskcon. How interesting Mr. Abhay knew both my grandfathers well. Abhay being a smart man knew Nabani Das Baul well and his ancient oral living lineage, he knew Sri Nabani Das Bauls family were the ancestors of Sri Nityananda of Ekkchaka West Bengal, he also knew that Das and Dasi were names in our lineage, and that we were recognized and a welcome part of the Gaudiya math lineage, very interesting how life unfolds, and how stories are changed??? It is intersesting how the written word is distorted and the stories changed. I have noticed a real lack of knowledge of the history of Kirtan, and Krishna in Bengal, most of the stories are fabricated, this is what happens when people do not have any connection to roots....
The stories I learned in Bengal and what was passed onto me by my lineage are totally different stories from the stories I am seeing written today? Srila Prabupada invited my dad Purna Das Baul to sing for him in India, London and America, come sing for krishna help raise money in Krishna's honour, over time we realized that they actually were putting the Bauls down behind their backs, taking their names, changing the story, and not mentioning the Bauls, taking things from their lineage and double talking behind their backs, even calling the Gaudiya Math back in India wrong?? .......to be cont'd in full context at a later date.....
Babu Kishan aka Krishnendu Das Baul, born in Suri, Birbhum, West Bengal into the lap of Sri Nabani Das Kyappa Baul and Brajobala Dasi, his grandparents, he lived a lucid life in the highest of spiritual energy, he was initiated by all of the Saints, Sadhu's, Siddha's, Guru's, Yogi's, Tantrics, Nath's, Avadhuta's, that lived during the 60's, & 70's,80's, 90's, onward. His grandfather was an accomplished tantric, Avadhuta, Baul Saint. Babu was Bala Krishna to Sri Nabani Das Baul, he took Babu everywhere with him. Babu is the first Baul to be educated in the oral tradition, and outside of the oral tradition with a "BA Indian Philosophy, MA Indian Music," he is a "Sanskrit Vedic Tantric Baul Scholar Mystic." He spent 12 years as a Vedic Monk at the Ramakrishna Mission in Narendrapur, Kolkata. 30 years in Bollywood as a music composer, and film maker.
Babu Kishan aka Krishnendu Das Baul is a Master of Baul songs and Baul Sadhana, Indian Folk music, Indian Classical, and Bollywood music. He has produced, promoted, composed for all the top Bollywood India musican's and singers. He is the first Baul to compose Fusion Music, get a modern education, 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.
© copyright all rights reserved 2011
by Babu Kishan aka Krishnendu Das Baul and Trishula Sandra Das
Babu Kishan, he is a lineage Baul, and a Baul Scholar preserving his Ancient Oral Living Lineage.
2011. All rights reserved.