Baul is Extinct.
Let us examine Why?
What cultural appropriation is:
telling someone elseʼs stories without consent or by cheating and making up stories and lineages that never existed.
What cultural appropriation isnʼt:
creating characters that are different than your cultural, ethnic background.
What cultural appropriation is:
extracting a narrative, story, history outside of its full context, often for capitalistic or political gain.
What cultural appropriation isnʼt:
censorship and/or the antithesis of free speech. Sing the songs but be accurate and give credit where the song or information came from.
What cultural appropriation is:
dismantling any sense of authenticity a cultural narrative possesses, changing the narrative and making it us as you by what you read next. Authority is in the lineage not outside in a fake lineage that cuts the names of the true lineage holders off and replaces them with your story for only your benefit.
The use of lineage when there in fact never was a lineage to mislead and attract people.
When you appreciate a culture you keep it in context, you do not use it for your benefit. You preserve what you can, one does not make up stories chopping the historical roots of the tradition off and adding new names. Taking the songs of the tradition adding new made up names to Nabani Das Baul songs and making up lineages that never ever existed. Lineage is not a one of two generation it goes way back.
In the context of The Vaishnava Bauls of Birbhum Bengal, Cultural MisAppropriation is a real thing, it is not just appropriated by westerners but new singers who use Baul and have pretended to be Baul as a way to become famous using Baul as a way to survive. These fakes are not Baul Masters or from a lineage. Foreigners are easily fooled they are attracted by the exotic posers, therefore, they get sucked into an exotic look thinking that is Baul, it is not. They dress like Baul and all they do is sing, some are good singer some are not, they are tourist attractions and panhandlers.
"Cultural MISappropriation occurs when elements of a marginalized culture in this case 'The Bauls' are taken and used by another culture with a huge sense of entitlement attached. That unhealthy sense of entitlement is obvious when an individual cannot even accept criticism
from members of the culture they're appropriating." It all starts off innocently enough, but over time there is a deconstruction of the narrative. It is like gossip by the time it gets to the end of the line it is completely different and has no resemblance to the original. This does not mean Baul will never change but it must adapt within its context in its own narrative not the narrative of new Baul singers or Scholars of a different language and culture.
Scholars may appear as well intentioned but over the years Babu Kishan has met many and when he has tried to correct many of the University level PHD Scholars who did their thesis on Baul and wrote books, these same scholars do not want to hear about this, they have already written their books and they are the ones that know. These scholars have been outright dismissive, an attitude of (we know better than you, our white privilege makes us smarter than you because you are just an illiterate Baul.")
No one ever thought that the real Baul's were literate, now that the world knows more about Sanskrit, if you can speak 'oral Sanskrit' then perhaps a real 'Lineage Baul' can allow you into the conversation, Bauls were not illiterate they were Sanskrit speakers in an oral tradition. Bauls are the greatest of philosophers and Guru's. They are Oral Sanskritist's and born on the soil in the soul of Birbhum India. Sanskrit from birth gives one a genius memory, more literate and advanced than any English literature speaking person, this was not understood until recent times by outsiders.
Baul does NOT originate from Buddhism! This is the latest pass around the internet by an outsider who wants to be famous by looking exotic, what right do they have to pass around this and yet the exotic looks and spinning create a great watering down of this tradition.
Baul is Genius not a beggar or cigarette seller, snack seller, refugee or dread locked exotic whirling Baul who steals Baul songs and makes up a lineage. An authentic Baul is a genuis Baul Guru and should produce something great, poetry, music, a Baul is an intellectual genius not a regular speaker."
Baul does not originate from Islam!
Baul is a highest level spiritual messenger (Guru) they used to go village to village to give past, present and future, entering the village with their wake up call the Hare Krishna Mahamantra. They were given Dakshina, they never begged, wandering minstrel (Guru's) but they had their own land and cows. They speak the whole the Bhagavad Gita through a song, they did this so that the oral tradition was down to earth singing in Bengali to the villagers in the language they could understand, taught so that people could remember these ancient teachings, they did not or should not sing to impress anyone."
The real crime of 'identity theft' starts much earlier for the Vaishnava Bauls, it comes from the New Age Vaishnava who appropriated the Vaishnava Baul tradition back in the late 1800's. They had a good intention perhaps but the languaging they used to describe the Bauls and other sects was not at all the language a born or inborn Vaishnava Baul would use. These were Bengali's who were British educated and learned Sanskrit later in their life and learned about Vaishnava later in life. It started as trying to preserve and probably because the Christian English were there they tried to compete or do the same with Vaishnavism turning it into an intolerant circle. Then when it came to with West well that is another story for perpetuated Cultural appropriation. The intention perhaps was not for this to happen but this is what happens when another Culture reinterprets an ancient tradition. It changes the original.
"Baul was never and is not a beggar."
If Baul (was) a beggar why would all the top Scholars and Intellectuals including Rabindranath Tagore, Allen Ginsberg, Gopinath Kaviraj, Satyajit Ray, Kavi Nazrul, Nehru, Indira Gandhi all the top Musicians, Spiritual Gurus, Politicians of India and the world, why would they be associated with and hold them up high for their genius brain and creativity. The so called New Bauls singers are not Baul.
Nabani Das Khyapa Baul is the only Baul that had anything to do with Tagore. It was Nabani who intimated Tagore into Baul giving him the name Ravi (Robi) Baul. Tagore appointed Nabani as the only Baul Professor at his University in Shantiniketan and took famed photo's of Nabani, they were best friends. Tagore even had Ram Kinkar Baj sculpt a statue of Nabani that still stand there today. The famed photo of Nabani is on the front page of this web site take by Tagore. This family performed at all Tagore Societies around the world.
People used the Bauls genuis and creativity and then degraded them and now people are posing as Baul and begging. People took from Baul and then because they took what did not belong to them and called them degraded. This is cultural Appropriation taking the names Das and Dasi and giving you names and you their Kirtan, taking the names off and elevating yourself but putting down the roots of Baul. The only roots of Baul are in Birbhum, they are the indigenous peoples of the land of Rarh even before Sri Chaitanya and this families ancestor Sri (Nitai) Nityananda they were Baul for thousands of years based on Sanatan Dharma Radha and Krishna, Kali and Shiva.
"Baul should be a genius, Baul is not illiterate." they were Sanskrit Scholars and Guru's, the final stop on the path.
Even Ramakrishna Paramahamsa said, he wanted to be born a Baul in his next life.
The real authentic Baul is gone they were mystical and never do what is happening today,
you will see many tourist attraction Bauls in Birbhums villages but they are not real Bauls, they are tourist attractions. Nobody even knows where they came from?
Please know that what truths I say about Baul has come from Babu Kishan. I am his speaker, he speaks a multitude of languages including Oral Sanskrit, Bengali, Hindi and English, I write what he speaks to me. Babu Kishan is the pioneer of Baul what people know about Baul they know about Baul from him and his family. Babu Kishan never did for him he did for Bauls to try to make them on track, to give them a track.
These are Babu Kishan's stories, his Knowledge and Wisdom. If it were not for Babu Kishan nobody of todays would know about Baul (period). Before many of you were born, before we had internet and telephone he was busy writing letters and it wasn't easy in those days to take Baul to the world. He and his family opened the door for new Baul singers to even enter the door of Baul. There is no other lineage of Baul, this is a complete lie made up by some new Baul singer, this is a complete cultural appropriation which Babu Kishan will speak about in upcoming months.
All the Baul songs that the new Bauls are singing today are because Babu Kishan recorded them, because his father and family recorded them on India's first record company Hindustan Records.
You can ask Babu Kishan any question and he can qualify anything you ask about Indian Music or Baul. It is his tradition, it is his Sampradya, please email any question or sign up for our newsletter at the bottom of the pages.
Hrid Majahare Rakhbo is the poetry of his Grandfather and Guru, "Baul Saint Avadhuta Sri Nabani Das Khyapa Baul', it is his poetry, many are making up stories and lies now but remember nobody would be singing this song or even know about it, if this family didn't record it first, this can be proven!
I do not consider myself a Baul, I am a perpetual student of all things India.
I am only allowed to know the inner secrets because of marriage to Babu Kishan and my unrelenting keen interest as a seeker.
Appropriation is not about artistic licence or freedom of expression.
It is about skimming ideas from another culture or (tradition) to boost your own currency, without taking the time to research with compassion, is not creativity when you take this lineages songs, take their stories and make them your own. By taking their names out of the narrative and making it like you are the one. You did not win a Padma Shri that was Purna Das Baul, you did not meet Allen Ginsberg that was Babu Kishan. You did not play on the most prestigious stages of India and the world, do you even know what the most prestigious stages are? You do not have perfect pitch and tone.... LOL Babu Kishan is a music composer, he has an ear fro music and you do not have perfect pitch and tone.
Western do not know the language and very few know the music or the real tradition of Baul. They do not know what a real Baul is supposed to be or look like, that is why I caution all to be careful, even if they have siddhi and energy today anybody can have siddhi's and energy with practice. I practiced for ten years with a Kung Fu Grand Master, anybody can gain power and energy, it is the wisdom part that you must work for, it is the Rasa part that must be distilled.
Taking ones culture can be the same as an identity theft, it creates a superficial understanding of what Baul is and it distorts the original watering it down bit by bit this is called reductionism. Baul is from the soul it is not acting and drama, it has nothing to do with holding an Ektara and little drum and twirling relentlessly, this is not Baul it is acting.
Baul is indigenous to Birbhum it took thousands of years to hold, carry and preserve Baul in the oral Sanskrit and now in Bengali too. They have lived through the Islamist, the British and now there is a group of Refugee's, and others who now are only new Baul singers making up stories and singing the songs that belong to this tradition.
These new Baul singers have taken this Lineage Baul songs and are presenting as if they were their own with no respect or narrative of where the Baul song has come from they claim it as their own. The narrative and the actions are they have basically added their own name or just called it a folk song so that it is general and nobody will ever know where it came from. This is the most blatant case of Cultural MISAppropriation, this is how history is destroyed and traditions are watered down. However, coming soon we will show that these songs are the poetry of this lineage, they have already been recorded long long ago. Social media is great but it also, leaves the door open to dishonest and cultural theft.
The new Bauls have changed the narrative of some thousands of years of an oral tradition that has been preserved by this lineage. In those days there was no copyrighting of songs or poetry. The narrative is watered down, this is the biggest tragedy of our time.
The Baul tradition want all people to enjoy and be part of this Baul tradition this is the true way of Baul to include all and to bring people together. The Vaishnava Bauls were the spiritual messengers, Guru's and the newspaper before the newspapers and modern media. They were the original Hare Krishna singers and dancers, Das and Dasi (Gosai, Gosain,). They only begged for the Divine and were never illiterate they were oral Sanskrit Scholars. There are huge misconceptions and a ripping off of the songs of this tradition.
There needs to a basis point of what and who the Bauls are and that can only come from a Baul Guru within the tradition. Bauls are peacekeepers between all peoples. Baul is universal in many ways but there is a lineage to this secularism. Bauls are unique to their own ways, let us not throw the baby out with the bath water.
The Baul Ekktara also, called Gopi Chand or Gopi Yantra is their symbol of Unity.
The Gopi Yantra
The Vaishnava Bauls of Birbhum Bengal use a yantra called the Gopi Yantra or Gopi Chand also known as the Ektara, a one stringed instrument that is the Baul symbol of peace and unity for the Bauls of Birbhum Bengal. The gopi yantra originates from this living lineage of Vaishnava Baul the lineage of Sri Nitai (Nityananda) of Ekachakra Birbhum Bengal India.
The Gopis are the lovers of Krishna, when Krishna would play his flute they would go mad with divine love and come running to Krishna. The sound of the Baul Gopi Yantra can make one mad with divine desire of love, the Gopi Yantra is a trance
This one and only authentic real Baul Lineage's practices, songs, way of life and stories have been looted, their names taken off, and their stories used with names off, such as Baul knew Bob Dylan and Allen Ginsberg and other, no you Bauls did not only this lineage these names did, Nabani Das Baul, Purna Das Baul, Manju Dasi, Lakshman (the one and only) and Babu Kishan aka Krishnendu.
The Baul the initiated Rabindranath Tagore was Nabani Das Baul. Lalon Fakir is not a Baul, he is a great poet. I will qualify all this as to why he is really not a Baul but a Fakir or Shah and what that means, Baul is different even if he was born a Hindu. A Baul is not a Muslim and never was, Bauls and Fakirs, Shah, Dervish are different not to be confused.
Why do these wrong stories persist?
Just as one scholar in Bangladesh build his case on who the Bauls are and his biggest example is Baba Pagala, well let me tell you, he was not a Baul. How do I know he used to hang around this family at their home. He used to babysit Babu Kishan and his brothers. He was an admirer of Baul he never called himself a Baul. He had his own following, Babu Kishan used to compose music for him.
This is Cultural MISAppropriation.
In the context of Cultural Appropriation I am talking about respecting and preserving this ancient tradition in its proper context, because it on the brink of extinction it is not helpful when fake new Baul singer make up stories and lately new lineages, the stories grow daily. There is no other lineage of Baul, there is only one lineage and this is it. Lineage is not one or ten generations we are talking thousands of years as lineage in the context of Sanatana Dharma.
Being a Baul does not mean you have to dress the part or act in this day times have changed. Baul comes from within the authority of Baul comes from within the Sampradaya not from outsider. Some of the greatest Bauls today just wear normal western clothing, there is no need for dread locks or Jata, this is just fashion. Baul women never had jata but go ahead just be clear it is a fashion statement. A secular society can be a healthy society. It is when an outsider takes and makes outlandish claims, saying they are the real and misleading people, especially the younger generation who has not got a clue and foreigners. This is happening all over the world today not just in Baul.
It is important to preserve the Folk Traditions, Traditions such as Baul in context of this lineage and their song because everybody is singing their songs, everything has to come from somewhere. Where did you think these Baul songs came from, you heard them on the radio or on a record because someone took the time to record them because they belonged to them. Now everybody sings their songs, records their songs but lays claim to what is not theirs. There is only one lineage of Baul do not be misled by new singers who make up stories. I have seen this lineage completely Cultural Appropriated over a 12 year period and Babu Kishan has watched over a 50 years period. He has done more than anyone to preserve this tradition but at each corner there has been a road block. Now is the time for the Real stories and the Real Authentic History to come forward in a fair and honest way.
This is why Babu Kishan has created the 'EKTARA FOUNDATION' to preserve the Folk Traditions and his own Baul Lineage to maintain the truth and integrity of these traditions and his own Lineage. This has been his dream since the 1970's and thus to keep it intact he will be oversee the whole project without any interference from his family in Kolkata. No other family members will be involved and he will select a board of well respected scholars and highly respected trust worthy individuals to make this come to fruition.
He tried to do this in the 1980's but was derailed by family members. There has been outsiders who lied making up stories about Baul to accumulate huge sums of money from the United Nations, distorting Baul completely. If your family, preserved something for thousands of years and other came chipped away, watered down, culturally appropriated what has been in your family for thousands of years, how would you feel?
What is mean is that by taking the stories of this tradition, taking the songs, making up stories it dilutes and waters down, it reduces the authentic tradition. Making up lineages that do not even exist. Taking their songs and putting different poets names on them or just labeling the folk music. Someone composed those songs, if you are a real Baul, you would know who, you would be honest and say, oh yes this was recorded before by the name of the singer. You would tell the truth that you are singing a Nabani Das Baul, a Purna Das Paul song from the over 5 decades his songs have been recorded. Instead of posing and being a poser faking people out, tell the truth, know the truth.
There has been people riding on the back of the pioneers of the people who brought Baul out of the village to the world. They are destroying Baul using it as a way to cheat people. They say Baul is from Bangladesh, they say it originates in Buddhism. They call themselves Khapa Baul when there is and only was one Khyapa Baul. They are making up lineages that do not exist. The Western Bauls have never had a real Baul Guru and they say everything in Baul corresponds to another thing in the west?
This is a complete dismissing and huge misunderstand of what Baul is. If you take one Sanskrit word there is no correspondence to on English word. Indian Culture is different from Western Culture. The songs they sing are different. talk about watering down one English song and dance is the same as One Baul song and dance. There is no correspondence because Baul song and dance is related to Indian Devata, it comes from the sounds of Bengali and Sanskrit for Baul Kirtan. You have to have the proper initiation by a Baul Guru a real Paul Guru who is from inside of the tradition and this initiation is not a one or two or a year meeting. It is a lifetime of the flow of thousands of years.
It is time that we all understand what Cultural Appropriation is and how it has deep lasting effects on the indigenous and cultural narratives of people of the planet. There is a wave going on across the planet where certain traditions are being watered down, reduced to ashes, and distorted because of a new wave of outsiders who take and make up stories, they take songs, poetry without giving respect or understanding the deep roots these traditions have had to endure to carry on their songs and practices.
I will give some examples as to how to understand what Cultural Appropriation and how it works. Since the Vaishnava Bauls originating from Ekchakra Birbhum Bengal are my subject I will explain how this has happened to them and how the internet, scholars and wikipedia are wrong when it comes to Baul and it feeds into the misconceptions that new Baul singers presenting to the world.
A SHORT DESCRIPTION OF CULTURAL APPROPRIATION FOR NON-BELIEVERS
By: RAJEEV BALASUBRAMANYAM
1. Your new friends Bob and Rita come to lunch and you serve them idlis, like your grandmother used to make.
2. They love your south Indian cooking and ask for the recipe.
3. You never hear from Rita and Bob again.
4. You read in the Style section of the Guardian about Rita and Bob’s new Idli bar in Covent Garden… called ‘Idli.’
5. You visit Idli. The food tastes nothing like your grandmother’s.
6. Your grandmother dies.
7. Rita and Bob’s children inherit the Idli chain, and open several franchises in America.
8. Your children find work as short order chefs… at Idli.
9. Your children visit you in a nursing home and cook you idlis, which taste nothing like the ones you remember from your youth.
10. You compliment their cooking and ask for the recipe.
11. You die.