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Baul History 101 Part 2: Mysticism of the Soil Goes Global

By Babukishan Krishnendu Das Baul

Editor's Note: This is part 2 of an exclusive history of Bauls and Baul music of Bengal by the author. Also read Part-1 here.
You might also like our exclusive audio interview broadcast with the author available on-demand here.

George Harrison of Beatles and Babukishan Krishnendu Das Baul     
Babukishan Das Baul and George Harrison of The Beatles

Bauls do not care for rules and regulations of the orthodox religions they are freedom (moksha) liberation seekers, the original bhakti yogi’s from West Bengal India. Bauls were the newspaper before the printed newspaper with a twist they are spiritual Guru’s, and spiritual messenger of the eternal truths of India. They believe in humanity, they do not negate the body, however this does not mean the body is the focus of everything. To them we are all divine gifts and our bodies are our temples, music is the path, actually you could call them Yogi sound healers of India.

The divine in the form of Radha and Krishna reside in the soul located on the altar of the heart within the human body. This is where the rasa lila dance takes place. The ekatara or Gopi Chand, one stringed musical instrument is the Bauls symbol of unity and peace. Bauls are lovers of Hari, of the divine, ecstatic mystical lovers, they are honey bees gathering the rasa (juice) grinding this juice into the pure love of God intoxication.

George Harrison of Beatles and Babukishan Krishnendu Das Baul
Manju Das, Purna Das Baul, and son Krishnendu Das Baul aka Babukishan (the author)

The first Baul to wander far from the streets of Bengal was Purna Das Baul . As a young lad he pioneered Baul singing on the trains in British India at the tender age of 7 or 8, which eventually led him to all of India, Russia, America to Woodstock and just about every country in the World many times over for the past 60 years. Over the years he noticed everybody making money off of the Bauls, he felt the Bauls should be paid for what they do, they have families and the old ways of survival no longer work. Purna was an advocate of lifting the Bauls up he felt the Bauls should be the only ones gaining from their songs. Everybody was fundraising for their temples always saying, "oh come and sing a song for Krishna," the Bauls became the greatest fundraisers for everybody. Now it is time to raise funds for their own survival and preservation.

Baul History 101 Part 1: The Rasa Lila Mystics, Moner Manush, The Mirror of the Sky!

By Babukishan Krishnendu Das Baul

The Rasa Lila Mystics, Moner Manush, The Mirror of the Sky!

A Small History Lesson on the Bauls of Bengal

Editor's Note: This is part 1 of an exclusive history of Bauls and Baul music of Bengal by the author. Also read Part-2 here.
You might also like our exclusive audio interview broadcast with the author available on-demand here.

Baul Singer - History of Bauls by Babukishan Krishnendu Das Baul

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.

Baul Singer - History of Bauls by Babukishan Krishnendu Das Baul

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?

WBRi Feature: Deepen Mallick (Steel Guitar) & Tutul Ganguly (Spanish Guitar) Celebrate Tagore 150 with Instrumental Album

[Deepen Mallick][Tutul Ganguly]
Deepen Mallick & Tutul Ganguly

[Deepen Mallick & Tutul Ganguly - Instrumental Guitar Tagore Songs]Washington DC, June 4, 2011 (Washington Bangla Radio) Indian guitarists Deepen Mallick and Tutul Ganguly have released an instrumental Rabindrasangeet album commemorating Rabindranath Tagore's 150th anniversary. We at WBRi loved the album with it's mature, sophisticated instrumentation that you can listen to online using the player above, thanks to Deepen and Tutul for sharing it with you - our audience. Deepen tells us the album should be available shortly on Deepen Mallick & Tutul Ganguly »

Read all about Deepen and Tutul and their great new album and listen to the audio track online via Washington Bangla Radio.

Talented Rabindrasangeet Singer Sunanda Ghosh from Kolkata on her Music, Albums, Career and Experience - WBRi Feature

[Sunanda Ghosh]Kolkata, June 1, 2011 (Washington Bangla Radio) In this video interview, Sudipta Dasgupta talks to Sunanda Ghosh, the talented singer from Kolkata specializing in Rabindrasangeet (songs written and composed by Rabindranath Tagore.) Sunanda holds a Masters degree in Rabindrasangeet from Rabindra Bharati University and is also a Geet Bharati (Rabindrasangeet) degree holder with distinction from Geeta Bitan, Kolkata. Sunanda has been trained by eminent exponents Anadi Dastidar, Subinoy Roy, Ramesh Bandopadhyay, Bade Gulam Ali, her father Saila Kr. Ghosh, Maya Sen and also Nihar Bindu Bandopadhyay in Classical Vishnupuri vocal.

Sunanda has four published albums, with more upcoming:

  • Pratibadi Rabindranath (2007)
  • Bishwabandanaye Rabindranath (2009, Saregama)
  • Cholochitre Rabindranath (2011, Raaga Music) - launched by Dwijen Mukherjee
  • Aalor Pathajatri - launched by Sunil Ganguly

[Sunanda Ghosh & Sunil Ganguly]
Writer-Poet Sunil Ganguly launching Sunanda's album "Aalor Pathajatri"

All four albums feature modern instrumentation that will appeal to the current generation and have been received well. Sunanda is currently involved in a Govt. of India sponsored project on a patriotic album with pan-Indian appeal.

Bangla Natok: Lokkrishti's "Teen Nombor Chokh" - A Review

[A Scene from Bengali Theater
[A Scene from Bengali Theater
[A Scene from Bangla Natok
[A Scene from Bangla Natok
Scenes from "Teen Nombor Chokh"

Calcutta, May 31, 2011 (Washington Bangla Radio / OOBE): Since 1989 LOKKRISHTI has continuously made a good number of rich & original “BANGLA NATOK”, which has drawn respectful attention from elite class and enormous mass of Bengali viewers. During this 21 years of their journey, “LOKKRISHTI” has constantly engaged themselves in serving and promoting theatre. Laboratory, Hing Ting, Krishna Gahawar, Page 4, etc. are few of their productions.

Interview: Julie Banerjee Mehta - Expert Author Journalist & Translator of Pleiades Theater Toronto's "The Post Office"

[The Post Office]DEATH IS NOT THE END BUT THE BEGINNING : This aspect of Eastern Philosophy attracted John Van Burek - director of the theater group at Pleiades Theater in Toronto, and he wanted someone to translate "Dak Ghar" ( ডাকঘর ) written by Kabiguru Rabindranath Tagore in the year 1911, not only as a part of the celebration of Rabindranath's 150th anniversary, but also to commemorate the centenary of the creation of this play, which Rabindranath Tagore wrote at a time when he faced so many tragedies in his personal life.

Meet Dr. Julie Banerjee Mehta who currently teaches at the Centre for South Asian Studies at the University of Toronto. Her Ph.D. dissertation is entitled "Retrieving Precolonial Identity through the Images of the Divine Feminine in Waterscapes of Postcolonial Fiction" and she is a gold medalist alumna of Jadavpur University, Kolkata where she earned her Master's degree in English Literature.

While having a candid discussion with Arijit Chakraborty in the studio of Washington Bangla Radio from Toronto, Ontario, Canada, she talks about her feelings when she was requested to translate "Dak-Ghar" into English, so that the concept of Tagore can be introduced to a broader section of the Canadian population. 

Pleiades Theatre of Toronto Presents English Drama "The Post Office" Translated from Tagore's DAKGHAR by Julie Mehta

[The Post Office]
[The Post Office - the theater group in Toronto]

Toronto, Canada, May 31, 2011 (Washington Bangla Radio) Rabindranath Tagore's DAKGHAR ( ডাকঘর ) is one of the worlds most enduring and enchanting theatrical works. Pleiades Theater's production "The Post Office" is an English adaptation of the famous Bengali play by Tagore performed by the theater troupe from May 7 through June 4, 2011.

The Post Office incorporates dance and music along with the spoken word as is common in Indian theater. The production will be part of the Indian Government’s 2011 Canada-wide celebration of Indian arts and culture, highlighting the growing bonds between India and Canada.

"We Are The Club House" (WATCH) Bengali Band from Mumbai release "Quo Vadis"

Mumbai, May 31, 2011 (Washington Bangla Radio) W.A.T.C.H (We Are The Club House) is a group based in Mumbai, India, who have recently released an album named "Quo Vadis" with Ahiri Music of Kolkata. Listen to some demo clips posted by the producers and performers.

Suddhashil Chatterjee - Promising North-Indian Classical Instrumental Santoor Player : WBRi Feature

Suddhashil is one of the most promising Santoor exponents of the younger generation. He started his initial training of vocal music from his mother. Later, he started taking his intensive talim of Indian Classical Vocal from Pt. Samaresh Chaudhury. Read all about Suddhasil and listen to his Santoor playing.

NOTUN PRAAN launched: Soumitra Chatterjee enriches new Tagore album by Sounak Chattopadhyay

Notun Pran album launch - Soumitra Chatterjee,Sounak Chattopadhyay,Chaiti GhoshalNotun Pran album launch - Soumitra Chatterjee,Sounak Chattopadhyay,Chaiti GhoshalNotun Pran album launch - Soumitra Chatterjee,Sounak Chattopadhyay,Chaiti Ghoshal
Sounak Chattopadhyay, Soumitra Chatterjee & Chaiti Ghoshal launch their new songs & recitation album "Notun Pran" in Kolkata
(not available in MP3 download from our store)

Kolkata, May 31 (Washington Bangla Radio / IBNS): Marking the 150th birth anniversary of Rabindranath Tagore, singer Sounak Chattopadhyay (interview) here on Monday released his album on Rabinsangeet (Rabindranath Tagore's songs) with the recitations of veteran actor and elocutionist Soumitra Chattopadhayay enriching the work.

Titled  'Notun Praan' (New Life), Sounak claims he has presented Rabindrasangeet in his own way without distorting the real essence of the original creations.

The album's another attraction is recitations performed by Soumitra Chattopadhyay and actress Chaiti Ghoshal.

"It was an exceptionally great experience to work with Soumitra Chattopadyay, his presence was important and significant," Sounak said. "It was a challenge to create something new and at the same time not to deform Rabindra sangeet. The theme of this album was newness."

Actress Chaiti Ghoshal said: "I liked the ideas as Sounak has showcased in this album and above all it was a dream to be associated with Soumita Chattopadhyay in this album."

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