Baul music is the soul of Bengal and is essentially the music of self searching. It’s about 500 years old. Chaitanyadev’s Bhakti Cult movement, which is seen as the first social reform movement in Bengal, may be the basis of evolution of Baul music. Chaitanya started his music, called ‘Keertan’, reached out to the oppressed ones and mobilized people against the social divide (due to gender, region, class, caste) and the social evils like ‘Sati’ (Where the widow was forcefully burnt alive along with the dead husband). Then comes, Lalan Fakir, who used to live at Kushtia in Bangladesh and he may be called as the father of Baul music. Living the life of an esoteric, denouncing the material world, they urge people to rise above the narrow divides created by caste, creed and religion to find love, peace and harmony. Do not look for God anywhere, look for Him in the human body. Only then will you get Him, feel Him and be able to know your own self too.

Baul is a philosophy and Baul is a music. The Bauls and Fakirs believe that ‘Murshid’ or the Guru is the steersman who can lead a devotee to God. The philosophy gets  passed on from Guru to his disciples. Bauls are Hindus and Fakirs are Muslims and both the communities practise the same philosophy with little difference in nuances. One can see the impact and influence of Sufism, Vaishnavism, Buddhism and Nath doctrines on the Baul-Fakir philosophy.

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Baul and Fakiri artists are largely found in Nadia, Birbhum, Bardhaman, Murshidabad and Birbhum districts of West Bengal. Bauls and Fakirs of Nadia are known for their Akhra-based practice. These A....

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This research project, Heritage Sensitive Intellectual Property and Marketing strategies: India (HIPAMS - INDIA), is funded by the British Academy's Sustainable Development Programme, supported under the UK Government's Global Challenges Research Fund 2018-2021.