Performing Arts > Baul Music

Baul Music

The Bauls are mystic minstrels living in rural Bangladesh and West Bengal, India. Their music and way of life have influenced Bengali culture, especially the compositions of Rabindranath Tagore. Bauls travel from village to village and earn their living from singing to the accompaniment of the ektara, a simple one-stringed instrument, and a drum called dubki. They belong to an unorthodox devotional tradition, which has been influenced by Hinduism, Buddhism, Bengali Vasinavism and Sufi Islam, yet it is distinctly different from these. Baul poetry, music, song and dance seek man's relationship with God, and achieving of spiritual liberation. Their devotional songs can be dated back to the fifteenth century when they first appeared in Bengali literature.

The maintenance of the Baul songs and the general context in which they are performed depend mainly on the social and economic situation of their practitioners, the Bauls, who have always been a relatively marginalized group.

Villagers as the main audience for Baul poets, no longer have the means to support them with part of their earnings.


Contributed by: Atashi Ray, CEE Kolkata

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