This photo was taken by Rabindranath Tagore, Nabani Das Khyeppa Baul was probably one of the last real Bauls to walk on earth. Baul is now extinct, who is saying they are from a lineage, only copied this web site, there is no other lineage of Baul.
Being a Baul back then was a very difficult life in Bengal. If anybody is whining saying how difficult it is to be a Baul today they are not Baul, you are only following a road that was preserved, held and brought forward from thousands of years.
Even back in Nabani's time it was super difficult, they survived through the Islamization of India, through pandemics and starvation. Babu Kishan preserved Baul decades ago. The only reason the world knows about Baul is because he has been doing this long before you were even born.
In the past 50 years during Babu kishan time he said, how difficult it is to educate people about Baul back in the 1960’s. They traveled and made arrangements all over the globe by mail. If not for Nabani Das Baul and his son Purna Das Baul and his son Babu Kishan nobody would know anything about Baul, they traveled and sang for the past almost 100 years.
There are very few people today who understand what and who the Bauls are. I often get oh the Bauls do not speak sanskrit, that is completely wrong they did speak Sanskrit and were the biggest Sanskrit Scholars in the Oral Tradition.
The young generation and when I say young I mean the people who have only observed the Bauls for the past 30 or 40 years do not know who the Bauls are because the ones that have come after this time period do not speak Sanskrit, most do not even know who wrote what song or the discourses behind the songs. Instead of saying they do not know, they say Baul does not care, what a lie. If you were indigenous Baul yes you would care.
Baul is really being sold as something it was never meant to be. Sad but True and Cultural appropriation of Baul is real.
Nabani Das Khyeppa Baul was legendary in India, he never left India, it was Purna Das Baul and Laxshman Das Baul his 2 son's who were the first Bauls to leave India on their fathers advice to Sally Grossman and her husband Albert B Grossman and Allen Ginsberg. You have to know that no Baul had ever been out of India expect Purna Das Baul in the 1950's he went to Russia. Then it was Babu Kishan who encouraged others who follow Baul to travel, he brought many along on their trips, but you will not hear this, you will only hear new made up lineages?
Manju Dasi and Babukishan, also worked endlessly trying to preserving this one and only lineag of Baul. They did concerts around the world, teaching at Universities and giving Baul some respectability because of the fake Bauls who denigrated Baul, many were Bangladeshi refugee’s who saw Purna Das Bauls success as a Baul singer, they are the riders on the coat tails of, the ones who presented as tantrics attracting unsuspecting tourists from India and worldwide hippy era.
It may seem like it was easy but it was not as their English was weak and there were no computers or telephones from India to the world. Traveling was very expensive..they gave up their life to preserve the Baul of Bengal, their birth right and lineage. Then came all the others who just used Baul to do something. There is cultural appropriation or cultural appreciation, when you make up a fake lineage that is cultural appropriation.
Others followers of Bauls have followed or tried to follow in their foot steps. Babu and his family opened the doors for all people who follow Baul whether they have tried to do the same and have been successful who knows, today people are more confused about who is real and who is not. This lineage family of Bauls has been traveling for more that 70 years. Babukishan for more than 50 now.
Purna Das Baul was given the title Baul Samarat by the first President of India, Rajendra Prasad (1884-1963) he was given the award because he was India's first Vocal singer outside of India to win a Gold Metal for his vocal performance at the Russian Youth Festival which included participants such as Indian Cinema super star Raj Kapoor, Nagis ect.
He was the first Gold Metal for Bengal from a Baul, nobody knew what a Baul was he did not give himself this title, it was an honour bestowed upon him and yes he has it on the outside of his house and he should be proud as he was given many, many titles, awards and honours over his 88 years, he is a great singer.
After this so many politicians he sang to including Russian President, American President and in India at every political function in India.
Purna Das Baul brought Baul to an international platform before this Baul was no where just in the Village. He was very close to Indira Gandhi and he received his second Presidents Award for 'Lifetime Achievement and International Cultural Ambassador for India" from Neelam Sanjeeva Reddy, Babukishan knows he was there and was totally dedicated to his father along with his late (2010) mother Manju Das.
No Baul or singers has achieved or come close to what he has achieved. Nabani Das his father was the great illusive Avadhuta Baul who was written about and respected by great Poets and Authors of his time, just because the young people do not know or remember, does not mean it was so.. Nabani Das was not only a Sadhaka he also was a freedom fighter and gave up so much to his country.
Nabani Das Khyapa Baul sitting, Purna Das and a cousin singing.
If any other Baul can accomplish what these Bauls have done on their own merit please let it be so but that does not change history. Babu is preserving this lineage because this is the only Bauls that have made a platform for Bauls and Bengal Culture making an international platform from the village to the World..
They started off so poverty stricken, it was Sitaram Das Omkarnath who suggested to Purna Das Baul to sing on the trains there is a whole story about this, before Purna Das Baul NO Baul sang on the trains of India.
Nabani was a wandering Sadhu and Avadhuta Tantric and gone all the time. The times were different, he did not stay home until Babu was born and left in his care and he named Babu Krishnendu Das Baul, these were the 8 years Babu was attached at Nabani's hip, in some ways it was one of the biggest Grace's of his life.
And may I add that Babukishan is the first Baul to ever be educated with a BA and MA from Calcutta University, the first Baul to be a Music Composer, Film Maker and Producer he is the first Baul to Live in North America.
Babu Kishan made it easier for the new Bauls all the traveling and interviews on TV books and education, he is the first Multi talented Baul and he is a Baul and has done it all on his own merit with no help from his family. His contribution is astronomical time wise and devotion wise, yet his songs, his stories, his legacy is being copied right now.
He still has all the songs of his lineage inside of him as his memory is like a lazer, Babu remembers every story, every detail. Why, I suspect because he learned Sanskrit in the Oral Tradition which is known to give a photographic memory.
The Bauls today do not know this so they say, “oh it is against Baul to know Sanskrit” we just love and talk about Tantric Sex and people flocked to Birbhum to learn tantric sex from these fake Bauls. Baul is very private!
The Bauls spoke Sanskrit, Babu learned oral Sanskrit from his Grandfather Nabani and Brajabala Dasi his Grandmother, then at Ramakrishna Mission and with many other Sanskritist because of interest, today no Bauls who follow Baul speak of know Sanskrit.
There is so much garbage on the internet being spread by internet Bauls. I mean Bengal needs to face it that the Bauls are extinct and appropriating Baul is not helpful.