ROOTS – Baul
Baul is a particular social practice or spiritual thinking. According to historians, the practice of ‘baul’ started in Bengal during the 17th century. The concept of baul gained recognition mainly because of the songs of Fakir Lalon Shah who was born in Bengal (now in Bangladesh) of that time in the year 1774 AD and died at the age of 116 years in 1890 AD. He is still considered as the first proponent of Baul songs. These songs are full of life’s philosophy and equally rich in their melody. Bauls, as a class of people, live in strict customary discipline and move around everywhere singing Bengali Baul songs, playing the one-string musical instrument called Ektara.
The Bauls are open-hearted and non-communal, and spread the language and message of humanity. Spread over a vast region extending from Kushthia in Bangladesh to Birbhum-Bolpur regions of West Bengal, they disseminate their soulful messages through the medium of Baul songs. They believe that the creator can be reached only through soul-searching in one’s own self. They do not normally have any formal education but are said to have a deep insight about the philosophy of life..
Baul philosophy, especially the thought, practice and music of Lalon Shah is an important part of the tradition of Bangladesh.
The central theme of Lalon's philosophy is to understand people and know oneself through that understanding. Begging is the most important part of a devotee's life since they use this as a symbol of destroying the ego.