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Saturday, December 30, 2023

Critique: of the book Sri Aniravan, Letter from a Baul life within life.



Compiled by Lizelle Reymond

I have to wonder, did anybody ever read this book and do any sort of exegesis or purva paksha before accepting Sri Anirvan was a Baul? He was a great classically University trained English speaker.


Baul is not ever Marxist. Baul is very specific, a Baul is never self-titled.  Narendra Chandra Dhar is not a sur-name for a Baul. The Bengali surname Dhar probably has its origin from “Dhar,” a word which, in Bengali, means “credit.” People with the “Dhar” surname were mostly zamindars or landowners. Bauls were never landowners in this sense or zamindars. 

This is an absolute necessity as there are hundreds of self-titled Bauls today, there are hundreds of documentaries that are vague, hundreds of academic scholars all with a different opinion and many speculations, many many new books, papers, articles and PhDs none of them are accurate. They may have a seed of truth, but when you comb through they are so far off base with mere speculations. 

It is no wonder Baul is extinct, why have Bauls fallen into a cultural genocide and people still keep making it up daily. One day Baul is Buddhist, the next day Baul is Radha. 

The pretendian Bauls have not got a clue, they make it as they usually see what others are doing or writing, making random connections that are not accurate. This has left the door open to constant pretendian experts who are trying to attain fundraising jackpots to preserve Baul, when Baul has already been preserved over 6 decades period by Babu Kishan aka Krishnendu Das. 

Baul does not collect people? Baul touched other peoples feet, it was a no no for Bauls men or women to enter the villages and have others touch their feet, that is not the Baul tradition and those that are displaying that merely are displaying their arrogance and acting all innocent, what they really want it to be a famous Maa or Baba and to fundraise? These people are using Baul.

There is no such thing as a Baul Master, this is a new construct to include some people who are not Baul, but are using Baul while making up fake lineages?


Copyright all rights reserved, do not copy, poach, or tell these stories on your youtube channel, by name dropping as if you are the expert. 

Stop the cultural theft of Baul songs and stop telling Babu Kishan's stories, they are not yours to tell. Stop lying saying there are 20,000 Baul in Bengal. Baul is extinct and no pretendian Baul can do anything other than copy and create their own personal fame, either trying to be Nabani Das Khyapa Baul stealing his style or trying to be Purna Das Baul (that was a one off) these 2 are history, Baul is complete. Copying Babu Kishan by triying to be a music composer, poet and scholar or trying to be in Indian Cinema?

Do not donate to anybody who is fundraising collecting donations in the name of Baul to preserve Baul. We have already documented other pretendian Bauls false teachings, intellectual property theft, theft of Baul songs from this one and only lineage.

Baul did not sing on stages until Nabani Das Khyapa Baul, as he did for Nehru during the quit Indian movement to draw people to come together to listen to Nehru give his speeches all over India, and this was continued by Purna Das Baul, his wife and eldest song Babu Kishan aka Krishnendu Das Baul who is the first indigenous Baul to be trained in the indigenous way and the classical way of a University education, he knows the difference. Babu Kishan is the first Baul to preserve Baul for over 60 years in modern times.

It is important to know that no one had an interest or knew about Baul until this family pioneered Baul around India and then worldwide, they were the first and Purna Das Baul songs were all recorded, this is how Bauls have songs to copy, they copied them from the radio.

Lineage ( is always based on a long line of ancestors) google lineage, know your own lineage, your own family, do not go around speculating making up fake lineages based on someone else's lineage? 

Lineage is not one or two generations? It is something you make up based on people who are not from Baul? Regarding Sampradaya there is only one Baul sampradaya it is Gosia Chand Das Baul and Dasi of Ekachakra Birbhum.

Because of the intellectual property theft of dress-up pretendian Bauls and nobody ever speaks out, with made up Baul Guru's, there are absolute distinctions that must be made. First of all Baul is indigenous to Birbhum to the soul and soil of Birbhum. 

 Baul looks simple but it not, it is based on powerful ancestors, it is based on specific qualifying questions that must be answered, it is not a performance of actors and singers or people acting like a Baba or Ma singing the songs of this lineage, that were lifted either from Babu Kishan's youtube channel or from past recordings of Purna Das Baul of which Babu Kishan composed over 80% of his fathers most famed music, this can all be proven and will have to be answered for. 

There is no doubt Anirvan was an intellect, well educated at the best ashrams and Universities, at that time no Baul was educated at a University or even spoke English. The first sign he was not a Baul but perhaps appreciated Baul and added it to his name.

 Do people actually accept that Osho was a Baul, he was not a Baul, he was inspired by Nabani Das Khyapa Baul and mistranslated what and who Baul is in his 3 books, Babu Kishan knew him and qualified, questioned, debated him. Osho told Babu Kishan that he would rewrite his books but he passed before he could, what he created had nothing to do with Baul. The only Bauls that ever knew Osho were Nabani Das Khyapa Baul who only met him and Babu Kishan composed an album and put his lectures on tap when he worked for CBS India, Osho was just another client of Babu Kishan's.

 There are too many acceptances of what and who is Baul, with no actual qualifications going on by anybody who actually knows and has preserved Baul over 60 years, speculation and false narratives by neophyte experts on Baul, it has become a joke, now everybody is getting in on this interview expert bandwagon acting as if they are experts and know who the Bauls are, using Babu Kishan's life stories?

 During the time that Anirvan lived he may have been inspired by Baul many people are but they do not self-title themselves as Baul. Of Course at the time Rabindranath Tagore was initiated into Baul by Nabani Das Khyapa Baul and Tagore added to the popularization of Baul because he was popular at the time.

Anirvan which is not a Baul name must of been inspired by Baul and self-titled himself a Baul showing no actual Baul Guru? 

Authentic Baul in the day never went on vacation, this is coming from a English speaker as I am assuming Arivan was because to go to University in those days, one had to learn English. No indigenous Bauls spoke English back in the day at this time.

Questions to ask: how did a English women speak to Anirvan? She would not know how to speak Birbhum Bengali or oral Sanskrit? Of course she communicated in English, thus, Anirvan spoke English. 

"Madam Lizelle Reymond (1899-1994), a renowned European philosopher, first came to India with her husband Jean Herbert in 1937 in order to deeply explore the Indian culture and heritage. After few years they returned to Europe and planned to translate all the collated materials on Indian Philosophy and religion.

Reymond again came to India in 1947 after Independence and had a lot of experiences (1947-1953), which she admirably described in her two books— ̳My Life with a Brahmin Family‘ (1958) and  ̳To Live Within‘ (1969).

After many years Reymond herself compiled the book  ̳Letters from a Baul‘ from the Part II of the book  ̳To Live Within‘—mostly based on the letters of Sri Anirvan, a poet, philosopher and yogi and the recorded conversations that took place during her staying in the  ̳Haimavati Ashram‘ of Sri Anirvan in Almora;

 also the meetings with Sri Anirvan held in Assam and Bengal. 

She added here two new chapters— ̳Facing Reality‘ and  ̳Rambling Thoughts‘—two essays of Sri Anirvan. There are four more chapters in that book— ̳To Live Within‘, which were excluded by Reymond herself."

"His return to the Saraswat Sangha was a festive day for all the disciples. During each vacation that he spent at the Ashram, he had been for them all ―the beloved poet‖ illuminating the talks of the Guru, and making the work on themselves seen like labouring on the land to bring forth a garden of fruits and flowers."

In those days Baul had never been educated in University, he spoke English no Baul spoke English back them, as they were indigenous. He may have been inspired by Baul as Rabindranath Tagore was inspired by Nabani Das Khyapa Baul. Baul is indigenous, they only served the villages of Bengal as Seva, they would not have been on a vacation, it is not even a word they knew.

This is not Baul, especially at the time Anirvan lived, Baul is based on ancestry and oral Sanskrit, which is indigenous to Birbhum Bengal. Bauls did not live in ashrams they lived in akhara's. Bauls did not have a University education, they were not classically trained .
As a Baul, he took the name of Anirvan. (one does not take a name), you are born with a Baul name, Baul is based on ancestry) and who was his Baul Guru, you have to have a Baul Guru, his learning was classical. Baul is outside of grammer a Baul learns Sahaja outside of grammer in an Akhara not an ashram.

"It is no doubt Nirvacanīya becoming, with an ―a‖ privative, a-nir-vac-anīya, which corresponds syllable by syllable to in-ex-plic-able in English, the root meaning being clear in the former and figurative in the latter. In general, people called him ―Mahārāj,‖ and those who knew him: ―servant of the Rishis.‖
Although he never spoke of his past, through his letters we learn of some striking incidents in his life. 
As a Baul he simply disappeared, becoming a traditional wanderer through the Himalayas. He lived for some years in a cave at the foot of the Kamakhya Hill in Assam.
Later he was discovered apparently as an anonymous ―man walking through the market place.‖ This was in Delhi where, while working as a tutor, he was translating the books of Rama Tirtha because he thought that the Bengali needed to listen to his voice. 
He was reputed to have become a consultant on many difficult philosophical problems posed by scriptures ranging from the Bhagavad Gita to the Gathas of old Iranian Prophets.
Still later, some people from Ranchi called on him for help. 
They wanted to have a few chapters of The Life Divine of Sri Aurobindo translated into Bengali. This huge work had been written originally in English. 
Fascinated as he was by the text, Sri Anirvan accepted on condition that their Guru, Sri Aurobindo, would agree. 
The result was that Sri Anirvan retired for four years to Almora in order to give his whole time to translating the entire work.
Against his will, many people, including refugees, knocked at his door. They harassed him so much that a very simple kind of life was organized around him to protect him; it was devoid of encouragements to stay!
When, in due course, Sri Anirvan came to translate the ―Third Mandala of the Vedas,‖ his work became even more intense. He needed more helpers as well as complete isolation. It was at this point that I, Lizelle Reymond, among a few others, came into his circle."

Although I must say that this book is a good book, and many of these writing letters are accurate without the nuances of the way a Baul would describe things, many things are on track and Anirvan was a great intellect trained classically. He was inspired by Baul and but not indigenous to Baul. One thing I can say is that he understood the intellect it take to be a Baul so sorely lost by the cultural genocide that academic scholars, writers, journalists have created by their speculations of calling Baul degraded, illiterate, and interviewing all the wrong people for their thesis? And by academic scholars perpetuating this false narrative of Muslim Baul and Fakir Baul. Bauls are based on the Vedas and Tantra.

"Shrimat Anirvan (8 July 1896—31 May 1978) had mastered the Astādhyayi of Pānini at a very early age. 

After completing his formal education he renounced the world and joined the Kapilamukh Ashram at Jorhat (in Assam) founded by his Guru Swami Nigamananda Paramahamsa where he was given Sannyasa and he became Nirvanananda Saraswati. But after a few years he dropped the ochre robes and changed his name to Anirvan by which he became known to the world at large. 

He spent a number of years in Lohaghat (Almora) where Madame Lizelle Reymond, a Swiss spiritual seeker, joined him and literally took him to the West through her books My Life with a Brahmin Family and To Live Within. He later shifted to Shillong in Assam and finally to Kolkata where he spent his last years. His first book was a Bengali translation of Sri Aurobindo‘s The Life Divine which was described as a ―living translation‖ by Sri Aurobindo himself and was published in two volumes between 1948 and 1951. 

Another sister- publication, Yoga-Samanvaya-Prasanga, based on Sri Aurobindo‘s The Synthesis of Yoga, was published in 1961. According to Ram Swarup: ―In translating Sri Aurobindo‘s works, he was paying his debt to an elder brother and old friend from another life, as Shri Anirvan once said.‖ 

But the centre of his studies was the Vedas on which he acquired a rare mastery over the years. 

His other published works include his magnum opus, Veda Mimāmsā, (published in three volumes), Upanisad-Prasanga (three volumes on Īsa, Aitareya and the Kena), Gitānuvacana (three volumes), Vedānta Jijñāsā and Pravacana (four volumes) to name a few."

Anirvan was a great classically trained scholar, but he was not a Baul, Baul is very specific with specific sadhana's originating in Birbhum Bengal.