Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Baul of Joy 

The last post of Sama and Sangeet, was a thought that beautifully flows into this post. A thread of continuity that reminds me of the universal need to find the spiritual self in all forms of art. We had the rasa-soaked oppurtunity to invite home Baul singers from Bengal to play their devotional songs from our earthy, folk roots. It feels to me like folk culture of our country is really connected with the deeper rhythms of the universe, sacred yet personal. 

So this evening came up, and the Baul singers in their simplicity and unaffected manner, sang their way into the heart of every individual gathered there. Dressed in Saffron like yogis, they sang mysterious melodies from deep layers of time. Their philosophical songs took us deep into a musical forest and showed us the glowing fireflies on every tree. Each light lit up the flame in our hearts brighter and deeper, till everything dissolved into nothing. 

The evening was a live understanding of Bauls as spiritual fakirs quite like the Sufi saints. The Bauls believe in a state of 'free mind', not 'no mind', as one has to live in the world with all its worldly duties. And this word Baul derives from the bengali words 'Vatul'(mad) or 'Vyakul'(restless). The Bauls sang with their quest and made it joyous, blissful and a very altered state of being. 

To the Bauls we are all gifts of divine power and the body is a temple. Music and dance are the path to connect to that power. Their philosophy is 'Deha Tattva' , i.e. spirituality of the body. It is indeed beautiful to have spiritual practices in our Indian tradition that completely bring together the physical and spiritual planes in a state of deep union. 

Their instruments are nature-rich : the percussion instrument being the khol, made entirely of mud. It had to be made wet with water for the earth in it to sing. The string instrument Dotara was a beautiful fret-less instrument that sang each note with the human voice. And the unique string instrument Ananda- lahiri, had strings that were pulled out of a small, open dhol and strummed with a large stone pick. Ananda lahiri means waves of bliss, that is a befitting name for Baul Sangeet as it really spreads bliss with its light of awareness. a glimpse of their waves of bliss: