The word “Baul” has its origin in the Sanskrit word “Vyakula” which means “restless”. The “Baul” are a group of people from Bengal (some part of India and Bangladesh) who have kind-of-rejected the traditional social norms and have formed a distinct sect that upheld music as their religion. They can be identified by their distinctive clothes, uncut hair, long beard and a particular type of musical instrument that they use. “Baul-song” is the name given to the genre of folk music developed by this creative cult. Bauls pour out their emotions in their songs. They never bother to write down their songs and thus maintain an oral tradition. Though Bauls comprise only a small fraction of the population of Bengal, their influence on the culture of Bengal is noteworthy. In 2005, the Baul tradition was included in the list of “Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity” by UNESCO. Bengal’s greatest poet, the Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore was greatly influenced and inspired by the Bauls.
This is a portrait of a baul who seems to be lost in his philosophical thoughts. Look at his eyes, which seems not be interested in any of the worldly activities happening around him. I clicked this picture in West Bengal, India.
By Swagata Mukherjee (view more of Swagata’s work here).