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.

Purna Das Baul brought Baul to the world and Babukishan his eldest son, did all of the leg work organizing the tours, making contacts for performances at theatre halls, univerisities, radio, television and festivals around the world. They preformed concerts at the Royal Albert Hall in London and Carnegie Hall in New York opening doors for all Bauls to follow, they created history all credit goes to them and their lineage as pioneering Bauls of Bengal,India.

Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1940) the great Nobel peace prize winner, writer, and poet started the Pous Mela in honour of Babukishan's grandfather Baul Saint 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 at the Pous Mela, Nabani Setu (Bridge on Ajoy River,Birbhum,West Bengal) after Sri Nabani Das Baul as he was the first Baul to be introduced through the Pous Mela (Poetry & Baul Festival).

Nabani Das Baul
Nabani Das Baul

Nabani Das Baul was the biggest attraction for the JaiDev Mela , (Baul festival in honour of the Poet JaiDev who authored the Gita Govinda.) Rabindranath said, "Nabani you always go to the JaiDev Mela why not start the Pous Mela in Shantiniketan to bring together all the poets and storytellers from around the world." Nabani Das Baul was not any regular Baul he was a Saint, millions of people all over India would come to see him.

Babu was blessed as he was born into Nabani's care for the first 8 years of his life, Nabani named Babu, Krishnendu healed his crooked limbs and carried him around India giving him darshan with the most important spiritual Guru's that were alive in the 60's. To Nabani Das, Babu was his Bala Krishna, he was addicted to his little Krishna Das.

Rabindranath Tagore photographed Nabani Das Baul you can view these photographs in the Royal British Museum in London,  Tagore installed a Statute dedicated to Nabani Das Khyappa Baul it was sculptured by world renowned Ramkinkar Baij. Tagore gave Nabani Das the"Khyappa" name before this  there were no Bauls named "Khyappa" many of Nabani’s students took the name Khyappa after Nabani passed away in 1970, Pare Khyappa,Manohar khyappa or Nitai khyappa among them. Now many Bauls call themselves Khyappa without knowing where the name came from. Our lineage is that of Das Goswami, gosai or Dasi and any Bauls using this title are in some way related to our lineage.

There were also many eminent painting and drawing done of Nabani Das Khyappa Baul by renowned Bengal painters who were also his well wishers and friends Nandalal Bose, Jamini Roy, M.F.Hussain to name a few.

It was 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. Allen wrote about Nabani Das Baul in the New York times. Nabani’s preference was to remain anonymous before Allen Ginsberg came to Bengal there were others who also wrote about him and recorded his music from Europe and Japan. Nabani did not want anybody making a big deal about him, he did not want anybody even to know who he was thus we have him almost forgotten about in the history of West Bengal.


Allen Ginsberg and Babukishan in the 1980's
Allen Ginsberg and Babukishan in the 1980's

In more recent times the Bauls of Bengal were at the legendary first Woodstock in 1969 in New York, thanks, to Allen Ginsberg and Bob Dylan's manager Albert B Grossman. You will hear of Ravi Shankar and Swami SatChidAnanda but for some reason Purna Das Baul and his younger brother Laxman Das Baul. Purna Das Baul and his younger brother can be seen on the cover of Bob Dylan's album, "John Westly Harding" the photo originates from 60's Woodstock.

Bob Dylan - John Wesley Harding

"Baul of Bengal, I sing for all, Blue Danube is Jamuna, Hudson  my Vrindavan, see me in Kolkata, Toronto, London, Hear my call Baul of Bengal, Same man many names, same player, many games, Love is magic to win at life...Hear my call O Baul of Bengal."  - by Allen Ginsberg

Allen Ginsberg’s Guru being Babu’s Grandfather Nabani Das Khyappa Baul wrote this poetry for Next generations Baul Leader Babukishan Das Baul and dedicating it to Nabani Das. Babukishan composed in collaboration with Garth Hudson, Robbie Robertson, Levon Helm, and his parents, this music for the their tour with Bob Dylan and The Band in 1985. They toured all over American in the East to West Tour with Bob Dylan.

Babu and his family played on stage in London for Rolling Stone’s concerts, fundraisers for Bangladesh Flood victims. They played in the Indian Music section in 1971, 1972, and 1978 in Hyde Park in front of thousands. The Rolling Stones produced an Album called 'Jai Bangla', Babu along with his family spent a week at Mick Jagger’s mansion in Nice France while Purna Das Baul was recorded  on this album. This was the beginning of a long relationship between the Rolling Stones and  Babu he last saw the Rolling Stones in 2004 Mumbai. Millions of people would come to see Purna Das the fame he achieved unfortunately created much jealousy among some of the New age Bauls, it almost proved fatal one year when he was poisoned at the famed JaiDev Baul festival.

Wikipedia is completely wrong on the subject of Baul. This is about preserving an ancient Lineage not creating one.

The pioneers who brought Baul outside of India are this lineage Baul family, Sri Nabani Das Baul, Purna Das Baul, his wife the late Manju Das, their eldest son Babukishan aka Krishnendu Das Baul, for more than 60 years.

The Mystic Bauls sings,

"My skin and bone are turned to gold...
When the inner man and woman meet...
When Krishna and Radha become one...
My skin and bone are turned to gold...
I am the reservoir of love...
Alive in the waves of the ocean of bliss.
"

Babukishan aka Krishnendu Das Baul -
Baul Guru
BA Indian Philosophy, MA Indian Music,
12 years Vedic Monk RamaKishna Order.
Master of Indian Classical, Folk, Baul and Bollywood music.
30 years- Bollywood Music Composer.
http://babukishandasbaul.com
http://myspace.com/babukishandasbaul
http://youtube.com/thebaulsofbengal
© copyright all rights reserved 2011 Babukishan. Reproduced on Washington Bangla Radio with blessings of the author.


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