/Babu Kishan has been teaching Lineage Baul worldwide for 45 years !

Monday, December 27, 2010

The Baul way of Life, Lineage Baul instruments!!


Bauls are India wandering spiritual minstrels of West Bengal whose ecstatic songs and dance reflect their joy, love and longing for mystical union with the Divine. To them the human body is the holiest of holies wherein the Divine is intimately enshrined as the "Moner Manush",the person of the heart. Baul philosophy emphasises love for all human beings as the path leading to the Divine Love. Romantic love to the Baul is the link between the human being and God. In fact, they believe that God is the eternal lover of the eternal woman which is the human soul. The word "Baul" is derived from the Sanskrit word "Baul" which means "mad". Bauls are free thinkers who openly declare themselves to be mad for the God who dwells within us all. Among others, Bauls use the following instruments:

1. TABLA - the high drum.

2. BAYA - the bass drum: commonly known as a set of TABLAS. Capable of a myriad of different sounds and tonal combinations, these are the most popular drums of North Indian classical music.

3. EKTARA - literally "one string". This one string drone instrument is used to accompany singers into he folk traditions of many regions of India. In addition to plucking the strings, the skin head is also struck like a drum to provide rhythm accompaniment.

4. GUNGAROO - these ankle bells add to the orchestration as a singer plucks and beats his ektar, creating a kind of one-man-band effect. Classical dancers use a much heavier set of gungaroos with many more bells to create startling rythmic counterpoints to the slapping of their feet against the floor.

5. DOTARA - a folk instrument much like it's classical cousin, the sarode, and not unlike it's western relative, the fretless banjo. Plucked with a coconut shell pick, the strings are depressed with the fingernails of the left hand, rather than the finger pads as in a guitar or violin. the finger nail becomes like the slide on a slide guitar. My dotar has an electric pickup built into the bridge, which is normally made of elephant teeth, I am the first Baul to do fusion music, then I made an electric mandolin, and added more instruments...

"The first Dotara used by Bauls was by Gopal Das Baul in the early 1940's he was the husband of Radharani Dasi Baul ( Babu's aunt who was the biggest most famous Baul women ever.)  Gopal Das Baul was the disciple of Nabani Das Baul. Nabani asked what Gopal wanted because he was such a wonderful student, of all my students you are the best, and Gopal said I want to marry your daughter, Radharani, he said allow me to be in your family and take care of Radharani all my life.. Gopal Das was pure Vaishnava, a true sadhaka.
Radharani was the first official Baul to record for all India Radio... In 1960's there was movied call Raikamal made about Radharani's life, wrote by one of Bengali's top writers, Tara Shankar. In 1985 a movie called Togori was also made about Radharani's life.. A very historic family Lineage of Bauls....

Gopal Das was the son of the Ekchakra Nityananda Temple, and he was a great sweet maker. Nityananda Mahaprabu was a Baul and from this lineage." 

6. CHIMTAS - combination rhythm instrument fire tongs, and weapon used by Sadhus (wandering mendicants all over India). Sri Nabani carried this because he was a ardent wandering Sadhu.

7. HARMONIUM - portable pump organ, introduced to India by the missionaries, this little reed organ has become one of India's most popular instruments, perfect for 2 finger typists like myself - the left hand pumps the bellows while the right hand plays the keys. Babu's mother Manju Das Baul introduced the Harmonium as a Baul instrument, she played the Harmonium all over the world during her 0ver 50 years of traveling the world with her husband Purna Das Baul and her son Babukishan Das Baul. They played at places in London like the Royal Albert Hall, South Hall, Hyde Park, Carnegie Hall in New York.

8. KANJIRA - small frame drum. Used by both folk and classical musicians. This one has a goat skin head, but usually the head is made from a lizard skin.

9. KARTALS - finger cymbals. Great for making a lot of noise while singing Kirtan (chanting the names of God).

10. SMALLER KARTALS - for the quieter moments.

11. GUBGUBBI- (also known as Khammak) - an inverted bongo drum with two gut strings attached from the inside of the hide to the membrane on a small cup. You put the bongo drum under your arm, pull on the cup and pluck the strings. This is the most popular instrument of the Bauls of Bengal. It's also called "anandalahari" - waves of bliss. The name Ananda Lahari was a name given by Sri Nabani Das Baul, (Babu's grandfather.) 

12. GOPI CHAND Yantra- this one string instrument allows you to change the pitch by squeezing the bamboo sides. The tighter you squeeze, the lower the note gets, until the instrument breaks and you have to get a new one at the corner gopi chand store. The name Gopi Chand came from Babu's lineage, The Vaishnava Lineage Bauls of Bengal.

13. DHOLAK - 2 headed barrel shaped drum popular in all sorts of Indian folk music.

©copyright, all rights reserved, Babukishan aka Krishnendu Das Baul

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Hridmajhare rakhbo, Written by Baul Saint Nabani Das Khyappa Baul, Babukishan's grandfather..

Please click on the title above. Hridmajahare Rakhbo.. it will open the video on youtube...
This is a Nabani Das Khyappa Baul song, singing by his Grandson Babu Kishan in a combination of styles of his father Purna Das Baul and Grandfather Nabani Das Baul.

What Nabani Das is saying is....

The song is of the silent love which is the deepest intimacy of love expression, that takes place silently between beloved Krishna, and Radha.  This profound deep love flows back and forth between Radha and Krishna. They do not want to lose eye contact.

I will keep you in my heart always and never let you go, because if the golden person of my life krishna goes I will never, ever get this person again, there is only one, there is no other for me, Krishna is my other half.

Krishna is invisible.. love is invisible.. everyday you have to say I love you.. I love you..I love you is the mantra... Love is like that out of site out of must constantly remember your beloved.
Radha.. always keeps in her heart.. the place of Braja.. This is where the pastime of Krishna and Radha take place..the memories of her play with her love Krishna.

When Krishna, and Radha are out of sight of each other, there is a strong feeling of speration, of deep loss, so they never want to be out of sight ...they want to gaze into each others eyes every moment

They are they are constantly pulling each other, constantly focused on each other. Eye to Eye, Heart to Heart,  Mind to Mind, always remembering their deep Love.

Nabani is saying, "I want to go to Braja and take the dust of Braja, spread all over my body, let it seep into my sould, I want to keep them in my heart on my body forever and never to forget.. so I can feel Radha and Krishna, and their intimacy lila.. I want to become Radha/Krishna in every pour of my being.

I want to be mad in the name of Radha..

Vaishanava Baul brings the male and female into one body...Radha, and Krishna live in their hearts, they view Radha as superior because she has the power to pull Krishna. You will not a Baul never shaves their heads, the reason for this is Krishna has hair, and remember half of them is feminine so they like to wear ear rings also.. They want to emulate Radha too. This is their Lila..

I only want to be in a deep bhava crazy for Radha God intoxicated for Radha.... mad in Radha's name... in oneness with Radha..and Krishna

When Kirhsna smiles all the birds fly, deers play, flowers sing, everything becomes alive in Beauty, Colors become brighter.. It is Radha who makes Krishna smile..

Krishna was ugly so black.. but his smile made him beautiful .. Radha made krishna smile, she made him beautiful.. all the gopis became alive.. everybody woke up, everything was God intoxicated, alive, happy, vivid, bright, awake, ecstatic..

When Radha and Krishna have eye contact... "which they do not do in Indian culture with anybody, you only have eye contact with your beloved, only your beloved can look into your soul." ..
They would feel I want to be in eye contact, and I will gaze and go inside..feel love..soul mate love. The love is in the eyes, the gaze of deep soul love.

How many millions of years I have been traveling one life, to one.. to just get this human body so I can feel Radha and Krishna in my soul, .. if I sing beautiful Krishna, the king of the flute will be kind to me, and come to me.. and then I will never let go.. Radha says Krishna is Peace.. Krishna say Radha is peace.. they are soul mates..

Ok quickly Babu just translated, he feel we will not understand the deepness of this song.. there are not word to translate this old bengali.... It take days of talks to understand..
He thinks western culture will not understand the depth..
I will try to get more later.. and try to do a better interpretation, but it is really hard.. because these songs are just seeds of higher philosophy....

Babu Kishan recorded this song in Woodstock New York at the Bearsville Studio of  Albert B Grossman's studio where Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix, recorded, his father recorded here back in 67 during Woodstock.. Babu recorded in 2004 with Levon Helm, Garth Hudson, Al Aronowitz, Patty Smith, and Robert Thurman, Dave Mathews present.. they danced, and danced while Babu was recording.

 Thanks to his long time friend Sally Grossman, .... Dave Mathews, said he had never heard anything like it.. haha Babu did not have a clue who Dave Mathew was??... Babu said it was lots of fun to make them dance, as they all really enjoyed.

Ektara Baul Foundation and Nabani Brijabala Baul Ashram and Vedic Academy

"Ektara Baul Foundation" AND the "Nabani Brijabala BAUL" ASHRAM & Vedic Academy

International Baul Ashram, For the Bauls of Bengal, including research, preservation, education, translation, support, food, medicine, health care, support for struggling Baul performers.
Traditional authentic spiritual Bhakti Yoga, including, Indian music, Indian Philosophy, Kirtan from an authentic India Kirtan lineage. 

(Preserving a traditional authentic Living Lineage of India)

Nabani Brijabala Baul Ashram

Bauls do not have temples, they had ashrams, not too long ago there used to be 22 now there are only 2, our goal is to preserve this dying tradition, and create a Baul ashram in Bengal for all Bauls, new Baul singers, lineage Bauls, Sufi Bauls ect .. so that they have a place, so that they at least can preserve this tradition. Most new Baul singers are singing regular Folk Songs, there needs to be a place to educate them correctly on Bauls songs, Baul Sadhana a place for philosophical discourse... Bauls are sadhaka's, sadhika's, and are poets, philosophers, they speak sanskrit, they are peacekeepers, and spiritual guru's, teachers.

The Bauls also need a place to perform, to survive in this world.. they need education, medical care, and food. They need hope, there is too much poverty, they need a solid ground to stand on in this changing world. This was Babu's dream years ago. but due to difficult family karmas he was not able to complete this.. now is the time... for a Baul ashram in Santinekatan, and one outside of India...This is our Cause, so that the Bauls are given a chance at an authentic education, and survival.

One thing I would like to add, is Babu would rather not do any of this, he is guarded about his spirituality, sort of letting the cat out of the bag, for many reasons, it is a double edged sword, he holds his secrets close to his soul. There is a saying that I learned in Tai Chi, and I observed from my Sifu, he never gave anything outright, he made you do research, encouraged deep inquiry, encouraged us to develop the inner master, "Never give pearls to swine." I see this with Yoga, all the changes, commercialization of Yoga, money, money, everybody is an authority. 

A mystic never talks. On one hand Babu wants to preserve his ancient oral living tradition, and on the other hand he does not like being used, he does not like the distortions mad by new Baul singers who make it so trivial, or by scholars, who are making it up as they go.

Most of the Bauls traveling in the name of Baul are not actually Bauls, I have heard the term shilpis, shilipis  are singers who are making up lineages based upon so called Baul Guru's who are not even Baul, they dress like Bauls, or should I say they dress like Purna Das Baul, they even out number the Bauls today, the real Bauls are poor, and in a desperate situation. People are talking to the Shilipis and thinking they are Bauls when they are not, these Shilipis have convinced people they are Bauls, that the western concept of Tanrtric Sex and smoking ganja is Baul... Sex today sells, this is a good way to make money, and a huge distortion on the real deeper meaning of what it is to be Baul, the Sadhana, practice, Guru lineage, seva the real message Baul..

There are many people who love the Bauls freedom who take it the wrong way, and are committing all sorts of bad behavior in the name of Baul, they are drinking, smoking ganja, they are treating women badly, all in the name of freedom, and Baul. This is not Baul. Yes a Baul may smoke ganja, but only a Avadhuta for spiritual purposes.. they are advanced yogi's not regular people. The difference is they smoke ganja, the ganja does not smoke them, and only an advanced yogi who lives away from regular people preforms this ritual.

Women have always been treated with respect. Today people come to the Baul Mela's thinking there is a freedom, but a real Bauls freedom is inside.. not outside... the real lover is inside.. the tantra is on a energetic level.. a soul level. The Baul women need respect.

Everything has been so distorted in the name of Freedom...people from all over the world with huge misunderstanding of who, and what these indigenous beings are..they are constantly used, scholars, filmakers, journalists, but does anybody give anything back to the Bauls. 

Some of these indigenous Bauls have not been able to handle all of the attention, and this has also led them astray... the 60's created a great influx of different ideas, and values for the Bauls, they were exposed to the 60's and were sought out by the freedom seeking foreigners, this has not helped the Bauls but has created a certain amount of damage in their actual way of this.... They after all are humans, and this has happened with indigenous cultures all over the world. 

Our goal is to educate all Bauls on what is Baul, and what is not.. To be as accurate as possible... and provide a ground, a place for the indigenous Bauls, and all Bauls of the Heart, to survive in this changing world.  They need medical care, food, shelter, education the basics first... then like any indigenous culture they need to preserve their songs, their poetry, their yoga, their way of life... and to do this properly, they need the basics first.

Babu is an indigenous Baul, yes he is also experienced in the world, and the first educated Baul, and feels the weight of the responsibility to come forward in a big way and preserve his tradition, he has been given so much, and to those who have been given much, he feel the responsibility to give back, and create this ashram as it was supposed to have created years ago, he must complete what he started on 20 years ago, but again due to difficult family karmas, his dreams were destroyed many times.

Babu comes from a Baul lineage, a Baul family that has been Baul for thousands of years. Only his relatives come from this lineage, there are a very few who are initiated into this lineage, mostly because Bauls like true Yogi's do not share the secrets easily. A Baul may have told many westerners you are Baul, and they go, and form a group called Western Bauls, a Baul will always tell you ... yes you are Baul.. they do not care. However, to be a true Baul is so different, you must be with a Guru for years and years, you will have learned the songs, you should know sanskrit because the oral tradition is transmitted in sanskrit.. You must be a poet, philosopher, musician... a sadhaka, sadhika..

Baul is not a tourist attraction, it is not something you learn a few songs, perform at festivals, dress the part and you are a Baul... it is more than that.. it is deep, it is not easy, it is being in the world and not of the world. 

However, I must qualify myself, and the "Ektara Baul Foundation," I am pushing Babu to reveal, and speak out about his lineage, about who he is, about his life..I want Babu to realize his dream of preserving his lineage, the only lineage of Baul, if it is not his lineage, ther is no lineage Baul, because no other group of Bauls has a lineage..

Even though he has written books in the past, and tried to preserve his tradition traveling for 40 years, he has not been successful, all one can say is I guess God/dess wanted him to experience more, like losing everything, and being in Indonesia at the time of the tsunami in 2004. 

I in no way want anybody to think, this is easy, that this is something Babu even really wants to do again, he would be quite happy to just be Baul by himself, and forget the past.. It is I who am pushing him... As a westerner I am realizing there is much we just do not understand, layer upon layer of what it is to be an indigenous Indian, what it is to be from an oral tradition. I am humbled, and learning.

What he has experienced in his life, is beyond, beyond, and the Saints he has met do not exist on the planet anymore.... I can not imagine, to be near a Saint and have the ground shake as they walk by, the universe respond in such a way that everything moves. To see the miraculous happen all the time, life and death. Babu is an extra-ordinary person, and yet a simple human being, a big huge walking heart with 2 legs sticking out, with a fire that burns.

His experience are his, and I am the one who is pushing him, to reveal more. Believe you me, it is not easy, and when he does reveal something, I have to be ready, or I will not catch it, it comes out, and he will not repeat it, or should I say he is learning to repeat it. It flows like a river turning into a fire, catch it or it is gone, and certainly do not ask again, because if the fire is flowing, and you stop it, it can burn, and yes there is a love there I have never experienced, I am thankful he allowed me to join him in that place so deep.

I have taken this as my cause, preserving the ancient oral living lineage of Baul.. Vaishnava, Tantric, Bhakti, Sufi, Buddha Baul of Bengal... they like to move around, be on their feet, a mystical moving wandering, shaman just cruising by this space at this time....

We have been living in Vancouver for the past almost 2 years,  it has been the longest Babu has been in one spot except for when he spent 12 years in the Ramakrishna ashram but then he traveled around the world with his parents on breaks. There is constant movement, and in that movement, a constant sadhana, whatever one is doing, where ever one is in this world. Om shanti...

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Copied from Babu's, Krishnendu's Book "The Bauls of Bengal" published in 1985..

Baul Philosophy

That is why, brother, I became a madcap Baul. No master I obey, nor injunctions, canons or custom. Now no men-made distinctions have any hold on me, And I revel only in the gladness of my own welling love. In love there's no separation, but commingling always. So I rejoice in song and dance with each and all."
-- Rabindra Nath Tagore
The Hibbert Lecture, Oxford, 1930

A very rich branch of hindu devotional songs (sangeet) or hymns to goddess Kali - presumed to the source of all energy (Shakti). The Vaishnava Bauls have Krishna, and Radha installed on the alter of their soul, they worship the soul in their own body, the body is their temple.

Tantrik sadhus (monks) and household people alike, for fear or for love of Kali, sing Shyama's praise on the streets, in the paddy fields, on river boats, in the village.  Kali, in these songs, is the metaphorical mother whose kind attention and favour is sought with utmost eagerness to help with all material and spiritual problems. Lyrics are generally written for appreciation of the ordinary people -but often may involve themes and concepts far beyond their reach. Similarly, the compositions of the musical notes are for average persons' consumption but may at times touch the pinnacle of the most difficult of Indian ragas. They also sing songs of Indian Philosophy, Yoga, shastra, and Krishna and Radha, all things Indian from the oral tradition, not from books.

Baul Philosphy & Sadhana

Baul is a song of universal love.., mystic expression.. and spiritualism... Bauls are Peacemakers, their songs are of peace, and love between all races, all people, all castes, all religions. Bauls are not pedantic, they feel everybody is qualified, everybody is bonafide to love. They accept all.  Bauls are the original Das, and Dasi from thousands of years ago. They are the original Hare Krishna singers, and dancers in Bengal.  Bauls do not put other people or religions down. They incorporate pearls of Buddhism, and Sufi, they are masters of the energetics of the human body. They use the indigenous medicine of India, Ayurveda, and embrace the science of Light, Jyotish, in a natural way, learned orally, passed down through time word of mouth, from family to family over thousands of years.

Bauls are music Masters, they are musicians, singers, they sing their poetry. They are Poets. A baul always has a qualified Guru, one from a lineage, so that the teachings can be passed down through time.

A song of Universal Love:

 Bauls do not believe in any conventional mode of worship, still spiritualism forms the main root of their philosophy. What need, they say, have we of temples and churches when in this body of ours, the supreme spirit has his abode? The human body despised by most orthodox religions in thus for them the holy of holies wherein the divine is intimately enshrined as the "Man of Heart".

The Baul is the wandering mytical minstrel, journey from place to place ( village to village), dance in ecstacy and sing songs joy, love and longing for mystical union with the Divine. Their language is simple and their deep thoughts and mystical experiences are clothed in home spun words and metaphors of village folk. They are free thinkers, performers whose livelihood depends entirely on donations which used to be freely given.

The word Baul has come from the ancient Sanskrit word "Batul" which means mad. Bauls seek their own person throughts out of their songs. Their sadhana is singing spiritual songs. Although it has some folk characteristics typical Baul song is not like other folk songs. It's tune is rural in character like the folk song but the theme has deep significance through their songs, the wandering minstrels, try to focus on the importance of the soul in the human body. According to Baul philosophy, the soul or the "Maner Manush" is nothing but the God within oneself who has to be percieved and realised through inner enlightenment. Baul origin can be traced back to the 16th century, the time of advent of Chaitanya Deva, and Nityanada Mahaprabu, who was a Baul, Nityananda had been singing the Hare Krishna Mahamantra long before he met Chaitanya. Nityananda gave the Mahamantra to Chaitanaya who then started his Gaudiya Vaishnavism revolution. Nityananda's Baul lineage had been singing the Mahamantra for thousands of years previously. There is so much that has been writtne on this subject that is completely false, the story has been changed by ambitious reformers who have had agenda's of creating, and reforming what they deemed to be not controllable. You can never control, or capture a Baul..they are freebirds... they deserve to fly free of pedantic, religious control, free of rules and regulations, they are lovers of love, where they believe everybody is qualified, bonafide, they are already philosophers, they know what to do, they know what material nature is...

A song of Mystic expression:
Baul speaks about the universal mysteries of life is simple words to touch the heart of common man and a Baul singing and dancing in ecstasy with an "Ektara" (single string instrument) in hand represents the finest specimen of folk song tune to the soil of Bengal and its culture.

 A song of Spritualism:
Bauls do not believe in any conventional mode of worship, still spiritualism forms the main root of their philosophy. What need, they say, have we of temples and churches when in this body of ours, the supreme spirit has his abode? The human body despised by most orthodox religions in thus for them the holy of holies wherein the divine is intimately enshrined as the "Man of Heart".

The Baul is the wandering mytical minstrel, journey from place to place (or village to village), dance in ecstacy and sing songs joy, love and longing for mystical union with the Divine. Their language is simple and their deep thoughts and mystical experiences are clothed in home spun words and metaphors of village folk. They are free thinkers, performers whose livelihood depends entirely on donations which used to be freely given.

The word Baul has come from the ancient Sanskrit word "Batul" which means mad. Bauls seek their own person through out their songs. Their sadhana is singing spiritual songs. Although it has some folk characteristics typical Baul song is not like other folk songs. It's tune is rural in character like the folk song but the theme has deep significance through their songs, the wandering minstrels, try to focus on the importance of the soul in the human body. According to Baul philosophy, the soul or the "Maner Manush" is nothing but the God within oneself who has to be percieved and realised through inner enlightenment. Baul origin can be traced back to the 16th century, the time of advent of Chaitanya Deva, this lineage is the lineage of Nityananda Mahaprabu, who was a Baul, he is the original Hare krishna singers, and dancers from thousands of years back.

A Baul is who searched for God in the human. He becomes mad by worhsipping man and remaining in trance of joy, the Baul ascends above good and bad. Bauls are a class of Indian saffron-clad folk singers who mostly live in huts or rural Bengal. They are fond of both Hindus and Islam religions. The religion of the Baul is within man. His God lives in his body, hence he soul that lives in human body in his God.

Since God, the soul the Maner Manush (the immortal soul) lives in all human beings, he finds no difference between man and man. Universal brother/sisterhood is their religion.

Bauls songs are sources of peace and tranquility of the disillusioned and dissatisfied modern people. Peace and tranquility do not come from the outside. You cannot discover it by travelling from one corner of the world to the other.

The Guru occupies a vital position in the life of Baul. The Baul sees the Guru in two forms: as a person and as a soul, the form of God/dess. Unless you have devotion to the person Guru, God. It is a total surrender to the Guru and nothing is secret to the Guru.

The Baul is aware of the transitoriness of the body, they are not obsessed with death. The believes in the immortality of the soul. The Baul and his beloved are the reincarnation of the Radha-Krishna love consciousness. Roop/Rup that which is seen is full of pain and pleasure, it is man or woman but swaroop - the unseen, the immortal and timeless is Krishna in man and Radha in woman. The union of Radha and Krishna is Chaitanya/ Nityananda  swaroop. Bauls sings and dances from village to village for the realisation of supreme spirit within and the universal love of people. There are very few real bauls left, as the village is becoming extinct..
Copy right, all rights reserved.

We are the bird people---we do not know how to walk, we like to fly." Babukishan


The Black listed Journalist.. A sizzling Baul!

Eighteen years after he first comes to my apartment in New York, Babukishan Das, son and rhythm drummer of the celebrated Purna Das Baul, comes to visit me again in the Fall of 2003.  I know him as Babu.

He started out phoning me repeatedly a number of years ago. He wanted to come to the U.S. to connect with American musicians. He told me he has become a success in India writing music for a number of the films being ground out assembly "line-style in Bollywood, which is what India calls the capital of its thriving film industry. India's Bollywood, in fact, now rivals America's Hollywood in selling movie tickets. With its name obviously meant as a take-off of America's original movie capital, Bollywood, is located in India's teeming Bombay, now renamed Mumbai for local political reasons of which I am currently ignorant.

Babu's Indian music is not like Ravi Shankar's sitar music. Babu is a Baul, a product of the famous Bengali Bauls, of which his grandfather, Nabani Das Baul, was the patriarch and of which his father, Purna, is currently the celebrated leader. The Bengali Bauls represent not a religion or a sect or a tribe but a way of life grown from performing in the streets. In other words, Baul music is one of India's folk musics. Fusing it with a combination of America's myriad musical genres is an interesting concept. Not a bad idea at all! In fact, the idea is so good, it started rekindling dreams of musical entrepreneurship in my battered brain.

Babu starts out by phoning me a lot. I tell him to buy a computer and email me, because that'll be cheaper. He does just that and starts filling my inbox regularly. But, before we do anything else, he wants me to write a story about him for my website. He sends lots and lots of photos of himself. Every day. I get another email from Babu full of information about himself and about the Bauls. Soon, he sweet talks a web-tekki named Mary into setting up a Babukishan website for him.

But when I finally go to his website to look it over, I get this message: "BROKEN HEART--SITE CLOSED." Turns out that Mary and Babu had a spat and she closed down Babu's website. Next thing you know, Mary thinks it over and recognizes Babu is just following the Baul way of life, which is Casual with a capital C. Next thing you know, Mary fills my inbox with 24 messages containing all the material that had been on the website she erased. Eventually, Babu tells me she now calls herself Mary Das Baul.

Now, I am confronted with a massive overdose of Babu's information. This comes at a time when I am not only overwhelmed by my never-ending duties as editor and one-man staff of THE BLACKLISTED JOURNALIST, an e-zine that requires a new issue on the Internet every month, but I also have begun the exciting and time-consuming task of publishing THE BEST OF THE BLACKLISTED JOURNALIST in a series of paperback books. I find myself paralyzed by indecision. Do I really have time to turn my attention to Babu? Then I get this email:

Subject: hi al,i am in newyork...babu
Date: Fri, 26 Sep 2003 08:27:45 -0700 (PDT)
From: babukishan das

In New York, Babu is in Queens. My keyboardist son, Joel Roi, volunteers to go get him. Soon, Babu is here in my crowded apartment. It turns out that although Babu, now 41, has a big hit in India and claims to've made a name for himself in Bollywood's relentless movie mill, he still has to tour with his father, the great Purna Das. That's why he's in the U.S. He's touring with his father's troupe, performing for the most part before Indian "migr? audiences across our nation.
In my pad, which is strewn with papers, cassettes, books, pamphlets, computers, files, file cabinets and everything else I can't find when I need it, Babu says he has a kurta punjabi for me---a long Indian shirt like the silk and elegant bright orange one he's wearing. Only, the kurta punjabi is back in Queens. He's forgotten to bring it with him.

He brings me a cassette of his hit, Soulmate, on MIL MUSIC INDIA, which Babu tells me is topping India's music charts. We play it and I find it lilting, delightful and endearing. Again, Babu tells me he wants me to write a story about him like the one I wrote about his father 18 years ago. I tell him I will when I get around to it.

That evening, my son drives Babu to my old friend David Amram's farm in Westchester. David is a famous master musician, who conducts symphony orchestras, leads a jazz group, is a French horn virtuoso, plays almost every other musical instrument known to man and delights audiences by accompanying himself while singing rap songs he improvises on the spot---something akin to the spontaneous bop prosody of his one-time buddy, Beat Generation saint Jack Kerouac. Before leaving my place, Babu says he will be back to see me in a day or two. When I ask Joel Roi what happened when Babu and Amram jammed together that night, he gives me an answer in one word: "Magic."

Dammit! And I couldn't be there! I had to stay chained to my computer. I had an issue of THE BLACKISTED JOURNALIST to get on the web. Or was I being pressed to get VOLUME FOUR OF THE BEST OF THE BLACKLISTED JOURNALIST ready for 1st Books Library, the print-on-demand press in Indiana? There are too many things happening at once.

In the meantime, I am in contact with Sally Grossman, the person who, after being alerted to them by Allen Ginsberg, discovered the Bengali Bauls during her trips to India years ago. She is also the one who brought the Bauls to the attention of Bob Dylan and, in addition, she is is the inheritor of the Bearsville estate of her late husband, music magnate Albert Grossman, the entrepreneur who managed Dylan's rise to prominence. Sally graciously offers her Bearsville Studio as a place to record Babu's fusion music---on condition that David Amram is in charge of the production.

But Babu never returns to my place. Instead, he goes off touring the country with his father's troupe to new adventures and new friends. Eventually, I send Babu an email saying:
David Amram, my son Joel (keyboards) and Hayes Greenfield (sax) and Julian Fenton (drummer), stepson of Apple's Neil Aspinall want to make a fusion album with you and Sally Grossman will make her Bearsville studio available. You want me to write story bout you and I want to write it but right now, I'm tied up working on a Bobby Darin book. And my next column. --Al

And eventually I get an email from Babu:

Subject: i am glad to know ....babu
Date: Fri, 14 Nov 2003 11:08:56 -0800 (PST)From: babukishan das
To: al aronowitz
hi al,
wow! i am glad to know that they like to do fusion music with my music. great!!! i'll be in in new york 10th dec and 'll be there up to 30th dec. tell joe i am happy to r u?
and ur health?
i am ok.

Well, for a long time I don't hear from Babu but that's the Baul way. Casual. In fact, that's my way, too, so I understand. In something apparently written by Sir John Wodroffe, an English scholar, I read:

The bauls are called bauls because they are mad people. The word 'baul' comes from the ancient language sanskrit root 'vatul'. It means: mad, affected by wind. The baul belongs to no religion. He is neither Hindu nor Muslim nor Christian nor Buddhist. He is a simple human being. His rebellion is total. He doesn't belong to anybody, he only belongs to himself. He lives in a no-man's land. No country is his, no religion is his, no scripture is his.

Well, I tell myself, doesn't that just about describe me, too? But there's more:

Bauls have scripture, not even to burn, no church, no temple, no mosque..Nothing whatsoever. A Baul is a man always on the road. He has no house, no abode. God is his only abode and the whole sky is his shelter. He possesses nothing except a poor man's quilt, a small hand-made one-stringed instrument called "ektara? and a small drum, a kettle drum called "baaya." That's all that he possesses---a musical instrument and a drum. He plays with one hand on the ektara and he goes on beating the drum with the other. The drum hangs by the side of his body and he dances. That is all of his religion. Dance is his religion, singing is his worship. He does not even use the word "God."

That's because the Bauls don't believe in an external God?a God in Heaven or in the trees or in nature or in anyplace outsides of themselves, The Bauls believe in a God withinthemselves. To

The Bauls don't have to go
to any kind of church
to worship

the Bauls, God is inside you, me and everyone. To the Bauls, God is the essence of man. And so each human is his or her own temple or church or mosque or synagogue. And so, a Baul's search for God is "withinwards." This is what I read:

. . on the waves of song and on the dancing, he moves withinwards. He goes on moving like a beggar, singing songs. He has nothing to preach. His whole preaching is his poetry. And his poetry is also not ordinary poetry. He's not consciously a poet. He sings because his heart is singing. Poetry follows him like a shadow. . .He lives his poetry. That's his passion and his very life. His dance is almost insane. He has never been trained to dance. He even doesn't know anything about the art of dancing. He dances like a madman, like whirlwind. And he lives very spontaneously.

Well, I think, if that explains Babu, that also explains me. Except, I don't play an instrument. I used to be a pretty good dancer, though. And, like Babu, I do things when I can get around to doing 
them. And I'll go so far as to join the Bauls in saying, as one writer has quoted them:

We are the bird people---we do not know how to walk, we like to fly."
And, so Babu's own musical group back in India is called 'the Birds."
Did you ever try to catch a bird? That's like trying to catch Babu

In my rekindled dream of musical entrepreneurship, I want to rope him into recording the magic he made with David Amram the night I wasn't there.
Silently, my thoughts call out:
Babu, where are you?
He turns up in New York again in December of 2003 and I try to get my musician friends together.

 I even contact Garth Hudson, The Band's former keyboardist, with whom I helped produce The Bengali Bauls at Big Pink many years ago. But Garth is touring. David Amram is also preparing to tour. He's going on the road with Jack Kerouac's 'sacred scroll," Jack's manuscript of On The Road. As for Hayes Greenfield, he's otherwise busy. And Julian Fenton is still in London. Sally Grossman isn't even around. She's avoiding the winter cold in Palm Springs.

So, Babu spends a night jamming with Joel Roi and one of Joel's musician friends. Joel has invented a device that enables him to stroll and play his keyboard while it's strapped around his neck like a guitar and the next night, he brings Babu to my cramped apartment. Here, Babu delivers the promised kurta punjabi to meEquipped with a dupki, which is something like a tambourine, and also with a bracelet that he calls a ghoonghoor, Babu begins to jam with Joel in my cramped apartment. They get a riff going, with Babu hitting thedupki and shaking the ghoonghoor with hypnotizing percussion.

Before long, Babu starts singing in Hindi and then starts dancing in my cramped place. There's room only for Joel to sit while I'm perched on the edge of my cot. I can't understand a word of what Babu's singing, but he's sizzling. I find myself spellbound by the gracefulness of his dancing and the passion in his voice. Once again, my dreams of musical entrepreneurship start burning and I?m compelled to imagine girls singing a background refrain in English. Enraptured by the show Babu is putting on, I find myself compelled to rise up on my frail legs and start to dance with Babu. But there's room enough only for me to take a few awkward steps.

Afterwards, we go to dinner, Babu goes back to India and I go back to my computer to write this. I guess I've grown too old to have my rekindled dreams of musical entrepreneurship come true. 


Babu loved Al Aronowtiz as a Baul loves purely, and in that love there is a deep innocence, he was so sad Al passed away in 2005. He still misses him today.

.Alfred Gilbert Aronowitz (May 20, 1928 – August 1, 2005) was an American rock journalist best known for introducing Bob Dylan and The Beatles in 1964.

A graduate of Rutgers University, Aronowitz became a journalist in the 1950s and his work in that decade included a 12-part series on the Beat Generation for the New York Post.
Al Aronowitz was the original manager of The Velvet Underground; getting the band their first gig at a high school auditorium. The Velvet Underground stole Aronowitz's tape recorder and dumped him weeks later when they met Andy Warhol.
Aronowitz introduced Bob Dylan to the Beatles. According to his own journal entries, at this meeting he brought a marijuana joint which would be the first pot smoked by the Beatles.
On August 28, 1964, the Beatles were staying in the Delmonico Hotel in New York City. Aronowitz brought Dylan to meet the band and also introduced them to marijuana that evening. According to John Lennon's interview in Rolling Stone magazine, Dylan "thought 'I Want to Hold Your Hand' - when it goes 'I can't hide' - he thought we were singing 'I get high.' So he turns up with Al Aronowitz and turns us on, and we had the biggest laugh all night - forever."
Aronowitz also claimed that Dylan wrote the song “Mr. Tambourine Man” while staying in Aronowitz’s Berkeley Heights, NJ home.
Aronowitz's son Myles is a well-known photographer, often credited as the still photographer on feature film productions

Mary passed away in 2006 from cancer, she worked relentlessly on Babu's web site, and re-editing, and promoting Babu, they were friends, in which Mary became attached to Babu, thus in anger at never being able to capture Babu, she took with her his "Web site", all his instruments, his bank account ect... Mary lived in Seattle Washington..
Babu had a problem in trusting everyone, he gave her all his passwords, bank accounts, ect...
God rest her soul. Jai Maaa

It sounds strange, but it has been a long road to get Babu to stop trusting almost an impossible task. 

He also lost his music studio in Mumbai because he trusted his right hand man by giving him power of attorney, so he could take care of business when Babu was out of the country.. Well he took care.. and sold his studio, all of his equipment, and many of his masters, and fled to Dubai. Hard to believe???

Also, when Babu used to buy property, he used to put it in his fathers name...and use his mother as his bank account...yup all sold out from under him... and in the end.."Babu you have no proof".. the response... Shani grinds you down... one way or another.

Babu is a true artist, a true musican of the soul, a man of heart.. he is his grandfathers child....

So you see trusting is a virtue.. but we live in Kali Yuga.... but to a Baul, a true Baul in the soul, God/dess is great, and all will be OK..