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.
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.
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?