Friday, May 8, 2009

Baul Songs

The Bauls of Bengal
The Baul songs are a very specialised branch of Bengali folk songs. Baul song has a kind of hippie-like attraction to it. It is unique in itself, yet it seems to hold in it a lot of elements of the other branches of Bengali folk musical tradtions as noted above. Because of its unique appeal or affliction, we have presented it as a distinct folk practice.

The word Baul means "afflicted with the wind desease", minstrels, uncaring travellers, selfless wanderers, lost in search of their souls, street walkers, ones with no fixed address, ones who find happiness in richness of their minds, etc. Much of the Bengali society looked upon the bauls as strange people who forsake all comforts and binds of the family life and chose streets as their home and austerity as the way of life. Customs and traditions they leave behind on the wayside.

The Bouls are the folk heroes of Bengal. "The popular romantic imagination everywhere seeks expression through its chosen bards: we have our Bob Dylans and Leonard Cohens, the Bengalis have thier Bauls. These wandering minstrels carry with them from village to city the soul of Bengal, perhaps of India, and every Bengali knows it even if today he is becoming uncertain what that soul really is" [Charles H. Capwell and others]. The Baul tradition cannot be characterised by any known or distinct doctrine. According to Edward C. Dimock, Jr. the term baul encompasses "a wide rage of religious opinion, traceable to several Hindu schools of thought, to Sufi Islam, and much that is traceable only to a man's own view of how he relates to God. All Bauls hold only this in common: that God is hidden in the heart of man, and neither priest nor prophet, nor the ritual of any organised religion, will help man to find him there. The Bauls feel that both [hindu] temple and [muslim] mosque stand across the path to truth, blocking the search. The search for God is one which everyone must carry out for himself." read more

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