Link to folksongs (lokgiti)
The term Baul means mad, from the Sanskrit vatula: one beaten by the winds, and is a name which arose out of the Baul's deliberate pursuit of complete spiritual freedom, free of any social or religious convention. Bauls have wandered Bengal since the XVth century, travelling from village to village, playing music and dancing to accompany their ecstatic songs of longing and praise for God. They wear long patched robes made of scraps gathered from Hindu, Muslim and Buddhist practitioners as they travel the roads of Bengal performing and begging for their livelihood.
One could say that blues was also born of the wind, a wind which swept millions of Africans across the Pacific to lives of suffering and slavery in the Americas. Rhythms arising spontaneously from their rich tribal heritage, and fertilized with Arabic and Celtic melodies, provided a lifeline to an identity that their masters were trying desperately to strip away. The blues is about human truth: injustice and hope, love between men and women, separation and longing for our origins. Blues arose in the midst of a repressed western culture as a reminder that we are made of blood and flesh. It celebrates the unity of body and mind, of soul and sex.
From an introduction to a film "WAVES OF JOY: ANANDALAHARI" by DEBEN BHATTACHARYA
|For a scholarly article, see "The Bauls of Bengal" by Robert Menger, November 28, 2000|
|Common TALs (beats) are dadra, kaharba, jhumur, ektal, jhanptal.|
Baul songs are usually of two kinds: dainya and prabarta. These are also known as raga dainya and raga prabarta. These ragas are not the ragas of classical music but of BHAJANS (devotional songs). Baul songs are inspired by VAISHNAVISM, with the songs expressing love or longing for the divine. This sentiment is especially noticeable in raga dainya.
Baul songs may be sung at Baul AKHDAs or in the open air. At the akhda, the songs are sung in the style of hamd (song in praise of God), GHAZAL or nat (song in praise of the Prophet MUHAMMAD (S)), in a mellow voice and to a soft beat. Baul songs at open-air functions are sung at a high pitch, to the accompaniment of instruments such as the EKTARA, DUGDUGI, KHAMAK, dholak, SARINDA , and DOTARA. The common TALs are dadra, kaharba, jhumur, ektal or jhanptal. The singers dance as they sing. Baul songs sung in the akhda are not accompanied by dancing. Bauls may present songs singly or in groups. There is usually one main presenter; others join him for a chorus or dhuya.
Some people have suggested that Baul songs have been influenced by CLASSICAL MUSIC. However, Baul songs belong essentially to the devotional folk genre which long preceded classical music.
Baul songs generally have two tunes, one for the first part of the song and another for the second. Towards the end, part of the second stave is rendered again at a quick tempo. The first and middle staves are very important. The first stave is often called dhuya, mukh or mahada. In songs with a fast tempo, the first stave is repeated after every second stave. Some songs have ascending and descending rhythms, while others are accompanied by dancing, believed to have originated from the rural PANCHALI.
Some Baul songs have been influenced by the KIRTAN, reflecting the Vaishnava influence. Baul songs, however, have also been heavily influenced by SUFISM. Baul songs are common to BANGLADESH and West Bengal, but differ somewhat in tune and theme. In Baul songs from West Bengal there is a strong influence of SAHAJIYA Vaishnavism, whereas in Bangladesh the influence of Sufi ghazals is stronger.
Baul songs are elegiac in tone, reflecting the pain of deprivation or longing. They are inspired by the idea that the human body is the seat of all truths and by the search for a guru and a maner manus, or ideal being. Every song may be interpreted in two ways: in terms of human love and in terms of divine love. Bauls refer to these two ways as the lower stream and the upper stream.
In the past there were no fixed tunes for Baul songs. Subsequently, Lalon's disciple, Maniruddin Fakir, and his disciple, Khoda Baksh, attempted to put these songs into a particular musical frame. ....
At times Baul songs reflect the influence of BHATIYALI tunes. MAJHIs (boatmen) also sing these songs while plying their boats. Baul songs are not confined to Bauls, as non-Bauls too have adopted them because of their profound themes.
Banglapedia, Asiatic Society