When I first watched Ritwik Ghatak's Meghe Dhaka Tara (The Cloud-Capped Star), it took me many nights to come out of the melancholy. And the only thing that kept caressing me all through is this beautiful song Majhi tor Naam Jaani naa. It is a bhatiyali folk song of Bengal sung by boatmen while going downstream along the Brahmaputra river. In this epic masterpiece, Ritwik Ghatak transcreates it into a quintessential Baul song with a wandering bard singing this enchanting song with an Ektara in hand. When i close my eyes and listen to it in the darkness of the night, i feel the solitude of the universe descending from the skies and embracing me in its eternal hold. And the longing for a divine consolation would pervade the entire being..
~ A Baul Song
The sound became the word. And music was born. Or is it the other way round? I do not know.
The etymology of the word Baul is traced to mean - being afflicted with the wind, being restless, being impatiently eager, or, being crazily ecstatic. The Bauls are a product of the creative effervescence between the Bhakti and the Sufi traditions in medieval Bengal. This wandering music cult comprises of heterogenous group of mendicants and fakirs with music as their only source of sustenance. They travel from village to village, with their single-stringed drone called Ektara being a constant companion. It is basically an oral tradition with very little record of their rich folk repertoire. They express their feelings and emotions on life, love and longing in the form of their songs. Lalon Fakir of the 19th century is considered to be the greatest of the Bauls. Rabindra Sangeet of Tagore is deeply influenced by the songs of the Bauls. Of late, Parvathy Baul performs in the Ruhaniyat festivals conducted across the country and has been instrumental in spreading the voice of the Bauls with renewed vigour and vitality. The songs of the Bauls express the spiritual yearning of the human heart to be in communion with the divine. It is essentially a religion of music and love..