Bauls

Bauls ENGLISH CONTENT

Bauls are a group of mystic minstrels from Bengal constituting a religious sect very much interconnected with a particular musical tradition. The members can be of different origins, however, most of them come from Hindu or Muslim groups of Bengal. Along with their unique philosophy and approach to life, their colourful clothes, spiritual music and musical instruments distinguish them from other communities. It is well known that Baul Music had a great influence on Tagore's art.

The word Baul comes from the ancient Sanskrit word "Batul" which means mad, referring to the Baul's crave for divine intoxication. The Bauls come from both the Hindu and the Muslim communities of Bengal. To the Baul, although they are influenced by certain traits in all three, the conventions of Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism are equally meaningless. However, to break away from the established institutions in order to set up new ones would demand too much of them. They, therefore, choose to remain in the no-mans-land between the all established religions. Hence, while denying all rituals and dogmas in them, they strive to explore the mystical experience developed in all three religious traditions. In this regard, they are connected both to the Hindu ascetics and Sufi mystics of the Indian subcontinent. Although they do not believe in any conventional mode of worship, still spiritualism forms the main root of their philosophy. What needs, they say, have we of temples and churches when in this body of ours, the supreme spirit has his abode. The human body despised by most orthodox religions is thus for them the holy of holies wherein the divine is intimately enshrined as the "Man of Heart".

Baul music is identified as an expression of universal love, mysticism and spiritualism. One of the main tenets of Baul cult is love for humanity, irrespective of their caste and creed, faith and religion, colour and custom. They believe, their love for man is the path leading to the love for the Divine. True love, according to the Bauls, is incompatible with any kind of compulsion and love is the supreme power. In this regard, for the Baul, music and dance are instrumental in establishing a direct link with the divine residing inside the body. The Baul is the wandering minstrel, journeying from place to place, dancing in ecstasy and with his ektara in his hand, singing songs of joy, love and longing for mystical union with the Divine. Their language is simple and their deep thoughts and mystical experiences are clothed in homespun words and metaphors of lay folk.

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