This photo was taken by Rabindranath Tagore. Nabani Das Khyapa Baul was the Baul who initiated Tagore into Baul giving him the name Robi (Ravi) Baul. Nabani was a Vaishnava Tantric Baul Avadhuta, he is the last authentic Baul to walk on earth and all Bauls followed his style of Ektara, Baya and Nupur. He was a well known healer, alchemist, Baul Saint and Baul Avadhuta.
In the last 50 years during Babukishan time he was telling how difficult to educate people about Baul back in the 1960's until the modern computer and internet. They traveled and made arrangements all over the globe by mail, they set the ground for the new Baul singers to copy and follow.
There are very few people today if any who understand what and who the Bauls are. I often hear 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. Baul is being sold as something it was never meant to be. Sad but true and now we have the fundraisers who are using Baul to fundraise. Baul is already preserved.
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. Nabani was Allen Ginsberg's Guru, no other Bauls... especially from Bangladesh had any contact with Ginsberg or Bob Dylan.
You have to know that no Baul had ever been out of India expect Purna Das Baul until the 1950's he went to Russia. The first Bauls to travel to America 50 years ago in 1967 because they were the only Lineage Bauls.
Manju Dasi and Babukishan, also worked endlessly preserving this one and only Lineage of the Bauls. They preformed at concerts around the world, teaching at Universities and giving Baul respectability. It may seem like it was easy but it was not as their English was weak and there were no computers and telephone cost a fortune back in the day, from India to the world. it was very expensive they gave up their life to preserve the Baul of Bengal.
Others Bauls have followed or tried to follow in this lineages foot steps, going where they went and floating off the work and ground they laid. Babu and his family opened the doors for all Bauls, many have tried to do the same, it seem today people are more confused than ever about who and what Baul is mostly because of books and new Baul singers. This lineage family of Bauls has been traveling for more that 70 years. Babukishan for more than 40 years, spreading his one and only Lineage. There is no other lineage of Bauls, do not be fooled.
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 and Nargis ect.
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 has preserved this lineage because this is the only Baul Lineage who have made a platform for other NEW Baul singers and Bengali 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 Bauls 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 in 1962 and he agreed to take care of his first Grandchild the little Krishnendu Das Baul (Babu Kishan) until Nabani Das Baul passed away in 1969. Babu Kishan had 8 years sitting in Nabani’s lap during this time he met and was given darshan with the greatest Guru’s, Swami’s, Sadhu’s, Yogi’s, Siddha’s and Nath’s that traveled all over India to see Nabani Das Khyapa Baul. Those times and those Guru’s do not exist anymore.
And may I add that Babukishan is the first Baul to ever be educated with a BA and MA from Calcutta University. He is the first Baul to be a Music Composer, Film Maker and Producer he is the first Baul to Live in North America, he 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, no help from his family and no complaining. He is first Baul to record Baul all the songs, and today you will hear Bauls sing his songs, his recorded music but they make like they are the ones who created the songs.
There is even a new Baul women singer who has taken a Nabani Das Baul song recorded in the 1960’s by Hindustan Records and put another poets name on it? It makes ones head shake at the audacity, ignorance or not she also, is making up a lineage that does not exist?
Babu Kishan still has all the songs of his lineage inside of him as his memory is like a lazer. He remembers every story, every detail, especially of who is who and what he did for some of the old Baul singers. I suspect Babu’s memory is so great because he learned Sanskrit in the Oral Tradition.