Even in the last 50 years during Babukishan time he was telling how difficult to educate people about Baul back in the 1960's to now they traveled and made arrangements all over the globe by mail. If not for Purna Das Baul, Manju Dasi and Babu Kishan nobody would know what or who a Baul is because it was them who traveled and sang for the past almost 80 years. It is easy to sit on the side line and criticize who is Baul and what has happened to the Baul of Bengal but remember if you can do something instead of talking and criticizing it would be most appreciated.
There are very few people today who understand what and who the Bauls are. I often get oh the Bauls do not speak Sanskrit, are you joking with me they are oral Sanskritist the original Bauls meaning the lineage Bauls. Not to be confused with the newly made up lineages that do not exist.
They were Sanskrit Scholars in the Oral Tradition the young generation and when I say young I mean the people who have only observed the Bauls for the past 30 or 40 years do not know who the Bauls are because the ones that have come after this time period do not speak Sanskrit, most do not even know who wrote what song or the discourses behind the songs, Baul is really being sold as something it was never meant to be.
Nabani Das Khyeppa Baul was legendary in India, he never left India, it was Purna Das Baul and Laxshman Das Baul his 2 son's who were the first Bauls to leave India on their fathers advice to Sally Grossman and her husband Albert B Grossman and Allen Ginsberg. You have to know that no Baul had ever been out of India expect Purna Das Baul in the 1950's he went to Russia..
Manju Dasi and Babukishan, also worked endlessly trying to preserve the Bauls, doing concerts around the world, teaching at Universities and giving Baul some respectability. It may seem like it was easy but it was not as their English was weak and there were no computers or telephones from India to the world.. it was very expensive..they gave up their life to preserve the Baul of Bengal.
Others Bauls have followed or tried to follow in their foot steps. Babu and his family opened the doors for all Bauls whether they have tried to do the same and have been successful who knows, it seem today people are more confused today. This lineage family of Bauls has been traveling for more that 70 years.
Babukishan for more than 40 years.
Purna Das Baul was given the title Baul Samarat by the first President of India Rajendra Prasad (1884-1963) he was given the award because he was India's first Vocal singer outside of India to win a Gold Metal for his vocal performance at the Russian Youth Festival which included participants such as Indian Cinema super star Raj Kapoor, Nagis.
He was the first Gold Metal for Bengal from a Baul, nobody knew what a Baul was, he did not give himself this title, it was an honour bestowed upon him and yes he has it on the outside of his house and he should be proud as he was given many, many titles, awards and honours over his almost 80 years, he is a great singer.
After this so many politicians he sang to including Russian President, American President and in India at every political function in India Purna Das Baul brought Baul to an international platform before this Baul was no where just in the Village.
He was very close to Indira Gandhi and he received his second Presidents Award for 'Lifetime Achievement and International Cultural Ambassador for India" from Neelam Sanjeeva Reddy, Babukishan knows he was there and was totally dedicated to his father along with his mother Manju Das. No Baul or singers has achieved or come close to what he has achieved.
Nabani Das his father was the great illusive Avadhuta Baul who was written about and respected by great Poets and Authors of his time, just because the young people do not know or remember, does not mean it was so. Nabani Das was not only a Sadhaka he also was a freedom fighter and gave up so much to his country.
If any other Baul can accomplish what these Bauls have done on their own merit please let it be so but that does not change history. Babu is preserving this lineage because this is the only Bauls that have made a platform for Bauls and Bengal Culture making an international platform from the village to the World..
They started off so poverty stricken, it was Sitaram Das Omkarnath who suggested to Purna Das Baul to sing on the trains... there is a whole story about this, before Purna Das Baul ..NO Baul sang on the trains of India. Nabani was a wandering Sadhu and Avadhuta Tantric and gone all the time. The times were different, he did not stay home until Babu was born and left in his care and he named Babu Krishnendu Das Baul... these were the 8 years Babu was attached at Nabani's hip, in some ways it was one of the biggest Grace's of his life.
And may I add that Babukishan is the first Baul to ever be educated with a BA and MA from Calcutta University.. he is the first Baul to be a Music Composer, Film Maker and Producer he is the first Baul to Live in North America, he made it easier for the new Bauls all the traveling and interviews on TV books and education.. he is the first Multi talented Baul and he is a Baul and has done it all on his own merit.. no help from his family and no complaining. He is first Baul to record Baul and produce. His contribution is astronomical time wise and devotion wise.
He still has all the songs of his lineage inside of him as his memory is like a lazer... he remembers every story, every detail.... Why I suspect because he learned Sanskrit in the Oral Tradition.. The Bauls today do not know this so they say ..oh it is against Baul to know Sanskrit we just love and talk about Tantric Sex... that is the biggest load ever heard.. The Bauls spoke Sanskrit just because they do not today because they are extinct does not mean they didn't.. There is so much garbage on the internet being spread.. I mean Bengal needs to face it that the Bauls are extinct, for whatever reason?? Don't blame ... do something about it, if you want to complain about it, simple do something..
And Please donate generously to the Bauls in Bengal, the ones in the village who are struggling if you are making documentaries, they really need understanding and help. It will take a village no one person can do it all. Babukishan has been trying to help for 50 years only to have everything he has done destroyed. It would be great to support his vision rather than criticizing.
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Babu Kishan aka Krishnendu Das Baul