Baul : Wandering Minstrels of Bengal

“Ore Chhere Dile Sonar Gour
Khyapa Chhere Dile Sonar Gour
Aamra Aar Pabo Na
Aar to Pabo Na
Tomay Hrid Majhare Rakhibo
Chhere Debo Na
Tomay Hrid Majhare Rakhibo
Chhere Debo Na”

Once we part with golden “Gour”
Dummy – if we part with golden “Gaur”
We can never be back again
Can never be back
But will keep you in heart
Won’t let you go
Will keep you in heart
Won’t let you go

A patchy saffron gown and old white lungi, curly hairs flowing up to shoulders, “Jhola” – a side bag on a shoulder, “Khamak” – “Ektara” or a “Dotara” – their musical implements in hand, “Ghungur” – anklets in their feet and music in their lips and heart – that’s the “Baul” – the “Wandering Minstrels of Bengal”. No one can pin point their origin, and they themselves care the least. Yet the world knows about them and their song.

Travelling from Kolkata to Bankura, Birbhum or Bolpur, you can hardly miss them; on railway coaches, on busses and around the villages. And these are not those who you see on TV or those performing the world over. They are the original keeper of “Baul” heritage. They are supposed to live on your alms, that too allowed to spend only “char anna” (25%) of what they collect on themselves and rest for others. Yet, when they sing – they are lost in it, even a note of hundred bucks, won’t make them budge or stop singing. If you enjoy their songs, they will keep singing and engulf you with their song. You can either get lost in the soulful tune and earthy sweetness of their musical instruments or choose to listen to the lyrics too. If you choose to listen to their lyrics and the passion with which they utter them, you can never escape from wondering about the life they lead.

Listening to two of the Bauls on a recent trip to Bolpur, I got amazed by the zest for those lyrics. The happiness they derived from going over those lyrics took me to path or wonder. What do we strive for in life? Peace and happiness? And what do we do to get that? We plan to buy them with money. So we work all our life to earn and then run after Peace and Happiness to buy them out with the money earned. Simple isn’t it? Can it be simpler than this? And if it is really so simple why cant we get that Peace and happiness? And why do I see those Peace and happiness oozing out out from the faces of these Bauls lost in their song?

I guess I know! They have found the short cut. They have realized it’s not with money but with Love you get what you seek. They know the futility of running after money. They know the futility of life itself that only distracts us from reality. Reality that this life is a dream – maya to keep us busy. Life only leads us to “Aham” our ego and far away from the “Atma” our soul. To realize what your soul wants is to immerse yourself in love. Singing again and again the futility of the rules of society they have found Peace and happiness in their God. That’s why they say in Lalan Fakir’s word :-

“Khachar Bhitor Ochin Pakhi, Kemne Ashe Jae?
Tare dhorte parle mono beri, ditam pakhir pae.

Mon Tui roili khachar ashe
Khaccha je tor khacha bashe
Kondin khacha porbe khoshe
Lalon kede koe

Kemne Ashe Jae!”

Look how does the Mysterious Bird inside the Cage
comes in and goes out.
If I could only hold it back,
I would put chain around Bird’s leg

Lalon Laments,
‘O mind you are deluding in your dependency on the Cage,
Your cage is made of weak wood
your cage is destined to doom someday.’

See how it comes and goes.

While they sang, many were moved – most may be because of their soulful music. But it was their state of bliss that touched my soul. And their touch warmed my emotions, and I helplessly cried in joy !


9 responses to “Baul : Wandering Minstrels of Bengal

  1. love the pure symphony of the bauls singing! nothing can be more purer than the melody they sing


  2. I am a big, big fan of boul songs! even though I don’t understand their philosophy fully but I love their rustic style and way of performing.

    I so wish I could hear them while understanding fully what they are singing about!


  3. do you want the lyrics? I will post it tomorrow.


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