Folk Tradition of Bengal (and Rabindranath Tagore)

by Joydeep Mukherjee | 2018 | 49,317 words | ISBN-10: 8186036989 | ISBN-13: 9788186036983

An English study regarding the Folk Tradition of Bengal and its influence on Rabindranath Tagore—an important Bengali polymath from the 19th century who excelled in philosophy, arts (painting), literature and music. This research tries to initiate the semantic aspect of “folk” through the help of various dictionaries....

Chapter 4 - Musical elements of Baul tradition

[Full title: Musical elements of Baul tradition and its influence on Rabindra Sangeet]

Music, if anybody looks at the pages of history, is found to be the root of all nations all over the world. Though the language is different, thematically and tonally it is equally acceptable and appealing revealing Wordsworthian view about the universality of “music in my heart, I bore” (The Solitary Reaper). It is a product of creative faculty of human society. The unified single expression of tone and speech, so pure and peaceful, contains a unique healing power that purges the soul off the impurities, soothes the disturbed and anxious soul and helps it live in the aesthetically sound world of peace. The main driving force of such power of music lies in its deep (un)seen connection as well as concern with humanism as its aim is to put forward and inject the broad humanistic attitude to life and the universe among the people for the betterment of society and culture. In one of the lectures, Chandril Bhattacharjee commented Tagore became Tagore in his youth. He further opined for an artist one desperately needs seclusion for the artist needs to feel his soul mate, listen to him and follow his instruction. Mr Bhattacharya beautifully understood the key of Tagore. In his youths he was deeply engrossed in the concept of nature, culture and tradition. Therefore, he was stuck in one apprehension i.e. ‘loss of inheritance’. In this connection, the research wants to pin point that after his close association with Bauls, he realized the importance to preserve the folk culture because it is a ‘wealth of a nation’, a result of constant laborious practice. Hence, it can easily be realised that Tagore not only tried to enrich his form of art with them but also took a fervent initiative to preserve. Tagore had the eyes of circumspection. Genius is best defined when invaluable things get the value of his/her interference. If it is so then Tagore is the real genius.

Tagore believed in one theory:

Doshe mili kori kaj
Hari jiti nahi laj


“To work together is much more important than the result of gain and loss.”

Therefore, in this task he insisted some of his predecessors or followers to conserve the folk tradition. Various magazines like Sadhana (1300), Bongiya Sahitya Parishad Patrika (1301-2), Bharati (1312), Probasi (1322) work hard for preservation.

Previously it is dealt that Tagore started his preparation in his childhood days. Prof. Majharul Islam opined that folk tradition of Bengal gives a spark to Tagore. Secret dedication of Bauls to achieve the unachievable startled Tagore and nods his inept soul to achieve perfection through such dedication. It can be pointed that they not only inspired him from the perspective of literary creation but more importantly they make him a human being in the real sense of the term. The indifferent attitude towards family life, concept of loss and gain, establishment secretly conveys the message of forbearance and renunciation. Therefore, ‘Rabi Baul’ was initially used to taunt him because nobody understood the process of transformation. Bauls are beyond any superstitions dogmas. So was Tagore he realized the soul of one’s heart can only feel the supreme soul. Therefore, one needs to keep himself free from all types of contamination. The burning pain from all around helped Tagore achieve such status. In his own words: “Rokter okkore chinilam nijer rup |” (Translation: I felt myself through the words of pen dipped in my blood). After that he engrossed himself in such dedicated worship only to search ‘swarup’ (abstract) in ‘rup’ (concrete) and wants to reach from ‘swarup’ (abstract) to ‘arup’ (desired thing). Bauls helped him research the limitless within limit, infinite within finite, unseen within seen, spiritual truth with inevitable truth, joy in sorrow and finally the soul mate within soul.

Tagore himself informed his readers in his words in Atmaparichay (self identity):

Ashchorjo ei j, ami hoiya uthitechi, ami prokash paitechi|


“I am stunned that I am in the process of being. It is an expression of self that automatically flourishes”.

His Hibbert lecture is a perfect example of his affection for folk culture. He let himself very loose to be lost in the flow of folk culture. Therefore, he turned out to be very resonant and composed some unforgettable compositions with rich variety depending on his volition. He composed the way his ektara (mind) gives tunes to him.

The readers should not forget the time period. British colourization vivisects Indian culture making it a skeleton and under their dominance people become mere simpleton. To boost up Indian youth writers like Tagore wrote numberless songs to invigorate Indian army. At this point of time Tagore rightly thought to inspire them with the information of rich heritage of West Bengal in particular and India in general. Proper awareness about Indian culture and traditions will automatically vibrate them to protect by fighting against the British. Right at this point of time and with this specific purpose Tagore took a conviction for its conservation may be through his writing or in the other form. History of a particular nation, based on library and some fundamental books, is absolutely nothing and meaningless. It makes no sense in the long run. Tagore himself took the prime responsibility to highlight or spotlight those treasures in front of them and brought it to their notice. The process itself shows how Tagore differs from others in their stereotyped ideas and conceptions.

In 1312 he addressed the students of “Bongiyo Porishad” where he vented out his earnest desire and expectations for them. He mentioned:

Puthi chariya sojib manush k protokkho koribar chesta korateiakta sikkha ache; tahate sudhu jana noi kinti janibar shaktir emon akta bikash hoi j, kono class er porai ta hoite pare na|


“If someone tries to educate himself without pages, the process itself educates him. Through the process, he not only learns but also discovers the power within him. Class oriented curriculum can impart neither power nor education.”

Basically, what he said is all about commonplaceness. He laid emphasis on data collection for those people who are living in the lower stratum of society and belong to so called lower caste and religion. Tagore received this idea of ‘Ethnology’ from British became they initialled the process in India. But sparingly very few Indians noticed it. Tagore was one of them to implement for his own nation. He became relentless and restless at that point of time. Day after day he spent with students and young generation to guide them in the proper direction. He vowed to make himself activist and pursue other social activists and reformers to come to the fore for any social function eradicating the social obligation. He continued his creation simultaneously. Some of his critics opine that Tagore is Tagore ratter became Tagore became of his indefinable ‘delicate balance’ (the name of a novel of Rohinton Mistry) and equilibrium of mind. It is worth mentioning that from Silaidaha and Sajadpur he meticulously collected folk elements and preserved in him.

Everybody believes in change and consequent transformation within. In between 1891-1901, the time period is vital in Tagore’s life because he spent the period in East Bengal. He sailed through the river of Padma, Atrai, Nagor, Baral, Ichamati etc. He perceived the pristine beauty of Bengal. The heavenly beauty of nature brings him down from the state of illusion. Therefore, it invariably helped him shake off a status from city poet (Nagarik Kabi) to village poet (Palli Kabi) which is why Jamindar Rabindranath became Simpleton Rabindranath who will be found not in place but on the boat with the driver, in a premise with the poor of rural village.

Tagore inherited Kaligram area in Patisar paragana as a legacy. He was fortunate in the sense that Jamindar Paratha never deprived him rather it paves a way to his desire and expectation.

He expressed it in his own language:

Amar jouban o prouro boyoser sahitya sadhanar tirthasthan chilo Padmaprabahachumbito Shilaidaha pallite


“The premise of Shilaidaha was like a pilgrimage of my creation in my youth and old age.”

Tagore suffered from a clash class and the contrast between city and village life complicated his career though he confidently by passes it. But in his wide premise of Patisar, he felt himself free from all binding and bonding. Truly, he was least bother about the task for which he came here.

His introduction in one of the writings of Pramatha Chaudhury, he noted down:

Amar janmogata pasha jamidari, kintu amar swavabgata pesha asamndari| sei karonei jamidarir jami akre thakte amr antarer probritti nei|


“Jamindari i.e to look after the land and maintain the status of the family and the social hierarchy, is my family profession but to make peope common irrespective of social status and significance is my personal profession. I have no inclination for Jamindari”.

It became the recurrent theme in writings of Tagore. The river ‘Padma’ is not a river it is a character for him. It is an emblem of purity of spirituality. The unquenchable thirst in him burns him every movement. The nature, people and the culture of East Bengal framed a shape in him that is inseparable and gets totally dissolved within the spirit of creation. Without any hesitation he could consider East Bengal as his adi janma sthal (Eariler Birth Place). Now he has come here to be united with childhood entities.

In Modhyanya (Noon) he writes:

Ami mile gechi jeno sokoler majhe;
Firiya sechi jeno adi janmosthale, bohukal pore|


“After a long time, I have come back to my birthplace to have a get together among all.”

The world poet here felt the intensity of relationship. He re-realised ‘man is for man’. He sang:

Mor nam ei bole khayata hok
Ami tomaderi lok
R kichu noi
Ei hok sesh porichay|


“I want my name to be known as if I belong to you. I do not want anything. I want to keep this as my last identity.”

At this phase the research takes an initiative to foreground history and belief system at the household of Tagore family to locate and situate Tagore before and after his connection with Bauls. Class distinction was very stern at that point of time. People of lower class were ‘untouchable’ and were not allowed to enter the threshold of Brahmim families. Along with it of the then Bengal was in much turmoil regarding Hindu Muslim riots. On the whole an unhygienic atmosphere prevailed and surrounded Tagore. While Tagore is ground working for Gitanjali he was bit affected by old tradition, untouchability and notion of family prestige. But fortunately his imposed duty as a jamindar showed the beauty of creation, nature. He magnified his littleness, selfishness and callousness as a future citizen. He at heart and by heart understood caste, creed, religion and snobbishness of the culture prevent the flow of clear stream of reason.

Tagore believed in one theory ‘simple living and high thinking’. The research here wants to introduce one story which can exemplify his simplicity. In east Bengal Punnaha is a grand religions celebration where he was shocked to know the variety of discrimination among people regarding caste, creed and religion. Tagore was grieved a lot to witness the difference and discrimination. He vehemently reacted against it with a radical question of its utility and purpose. Later on, on the same festival, when he was invited, he joined just like a poor wretched man as if he is not the representative of a jamindar rather representative of those poor fellows who could not take equal part in the programme. In several letters especially “Chinnapatra” he bears the same mark. This is a golden period for Tagore. Along with revolt against social injustice, he goaded his contributions in literature. At this point of time he collected an anthology of Baul songs, rather it happened to come on his hand giving a new impetus in his poetic fervour. He was enthralled as if it is his scientific discovery of his self, a renaissance of his self. It pilled the layers of his mind and involved him for betterment.

Each and every composition of the collection puts a question mark against his fundamental existence:

Amr ei ghor khanai k birajo kore
Ami jonom hote akdin dekhlam na tare


“Since my birth I have never seen the partner who lives with me in me.”

In the similar fashion he wrote:

Ami k tai janlem na,
Ami ami kori kintu amr holona|
Karai karai kari gani
Char karai ak gonad gani
Kothai hoite elam ami, tare koi gani |


“I do not about myself. Every step I count money but I never counted the source from where I came.”

The question ‘I’ (Ami) made him so restless that day and night he sought for this identity in different locations. Symbolically the research can represent the idea in a way that this question turns out to be a sailor of his life that helped him cross the sea of life. In this connection Tagore finds a resemblance with the text of Upanishad “Antaratara jadmayatma”. He cannot but be stunned that it is reflected in the songs of Bauls.

Therefore, the following song was too favourite:

Ami kothai pabo tare Amar moner manush jere|
Haraye sei manushe tar uddeshe Desh bideshe berai ghure|


“Where shall I get the man, moner manush? Loss of him makes me travel from one country to another in search of him.”

This type of collection magnifies or intensifies his curiosity. He himself mentioned in “Atmasmiriti” about one of his favourite songs from a ‘Vaishnavi’ (female vaishnav):

More je bolo se bolo sakhi
Se rup niyokhi nari nibarite
Mojil jugol ankhi
Ona tanu khani keba sirajil
Ki madhu makhiya tai...|


“My eyes get stunned to see the beauty of the person. I don’t care my fiend what you would say. The entire body is as sweet as honey.”

The research can exemplify variety of such illustrations:

Ei manushe ache re mon
Jare bole manush ratan|
Ei manushe ronge roshe biraj kore sain amr|


“The man who owns real heart is not a man but a wealth for the entire human community. Sain is always with him.”


Khepa tui na jene tor apon khobor jabi kothai
Apon khor na bujhe baire khuje porbi dadhai
Ami je rup dekhina se rup din doyamoy|


“Oh Mad! You will be in trouble if you try to search the man in different places without looking at your heart. He is the figure if Din Dayamay whom you cannot see through normal eyes.”


Dube dekha dekhi mon tare-ki rup lilamoy
Jare aksh patal khoj ei dehe tini roy|


“You have to probe into the depth to realize the glory of the person. The person whom you search through land, water and air, can be easily found in the tiny body.”

Tagore sings:

O tora aire dheye dekhre cheye
Amr buke
Ore dekhre amr dunoyone|


“You come and see at the bottom of my heart. My eyes also reflect his image.”


Amr hiyar majhe likiye chile dekhte ami paini
Bahir pane chokh melechi hridoy pane chain|


“You hid yourself at the bottom of my heart. I looked at out but forgot to look in.”


Aponake jana amr furabe na
Ei janar songe songe tomai chena|


“To know my own self is itself an endless process. Along with this training I will know you.”

In an essay rather compilation of his lecture known as ‘the Religion of Man’, he showcased his deep respect for one and only Gagan Harkara. He was die-hard fame of his simple but rich compositions. Only one example or instance will justify the comment of the research.

His famous:

Ami kothai pabo tare
Amar moner manush jere|
Haraye sei manushe tar uddeshe
Desh bideshe berai ghure|


“Where shall I get the man, moner manush? Loss of him makes me travel from one country to another in search of him.”

It was published in his magazine Probasi.

This is not an end. He initiated the magazine with the reference of this immortal composition:

Amr sonar Bangla ami tomai valobasi


“I love my sonar Bangla”.

Another instance is the introduction of Haramoni by Manuinddin which he analyzed with the help of the song. He wrote:

Kotha otonto sohoj, kintu surer joge er ortho opurbo bhasai shone giyeche... jake janbar takei jano, na hole moron bedona|... Upanishad er bani eder mukhe jokhon moner manush bole shunlam, amr mone baro bismoy jegechilo|


“Language is very simple. Along with this tune gives an addition to that. You should know the purush. I was stunned the way they simplified the language of Upanishad.”

He became habituated to meet them quite frequently. Shilaidaha became a meeting place. Consequently, it increased the existent stock of collection and knowledge. He started exploring Bauls, their music and their thinking in various ways.

Here the research can cite one after another and at last he says:

Gaaner bhitor diye jakhon dekhi bhubankhani
Takhon tare chini ami, takhon tare jani|
Takhon tari alor bhashayakash bhare bhalobasay
Takhon tari dhulay dhulay jage param bane|
Takhon amar hriday kanpe tari ghase ghare
Ruper rekha raser dharayapan seema kothay haray,
Takhon dekhi amar sathe sabar kanakani|

(Parjaay: Puja (26), Style: Gaan, Anga: Baul, Published: Geetimalya, Written: 1918, Swarabitan: 34).


“When I try to experience the world through your songs, I can perfectly identify and know you.”

That is why he confessed:

Aapnake ei jaanaa aamar phurabe naa.
Ei janari sange sange tomai chena|
Kato janam-maronete tomari oi charonete
Aapnake je debo, tabu barbe dena|
Aamader je naamte habe ghate ghate
Bare bare ei bhubaner praner hate|
Byabsa mor tomar sathe chalbe bere dine raate
Aapona niye karbo jatoi becha kena|

(Parjaay: Puja (75), Style: Baul Sur, Anga: Baul, Published: Geetimalya, Written: 1914, Swarabitan: 41).


“To know my own self is itself an endless process. Along with this training I will know you.”

Earnestly Tagore wanted to assimilate Upanishad within him. But Bauls created the bridge of communion and communication.

It is Baul who translated the essence taught to him by Upanishad through songs:

1) Ami kothai pabo tare amr moner manush je re
Haraye shei manushe kaar uddeshe desh bideshe
Ami desh bideshe berai ghure|
Lage ei hridoi soshi shoda pran hoi udashi
Pele mon kato khushi dekhtam noyon bhore|
Ami premanol e morechi jole nivai kemon kore
Mori hai hai re ami o tar bicchchede
Pran kemon kore dekhna tora
Ore dekhna tora hridoy diye|


“Where Shall I mee him, the Man of my heart? He is lost in him and I seek him fromone place to another. I want to witness the beauty of moonlight. It can I think brighten my life.”

2) Bolo ki sondhane jai sekhane
Moner manush jekhane
Andhar ghore jilche bati
Diba rati nei sekhane|


“Tell me how can I go there where there is the presence of moner mansh? There a lamp is always burning. Therefore, there is no difference between day and light.”

3) Tare dhorte parle mono beri ditam pakir pay
Kemne ase jai|
Kachar vitor achin pakhi kemne ase jai|


“Look how does the Mysterious Bird inside the Cage comes in and goes out. If I could only hold it back, I would put chain around Bird's leg.”

One point must be noted when he compiled the Baul songs under the title ‘Baul’ he was only involved with the tone rather lyrics of the songs. The philosophy of Bauls is little bit overlooked. It flourished when he composed Gitali, Gitimalya and Gitanjali. It is worth mentioning that during the composition of these anthologies Tagore was not in Shilaidaha but in his second home in Birbhum Shantiniketan, the cradle of Bauls. It must be mentioned that though he received another field for his fruitfulness, he could not forget the unfathomable fraternity with the Bauls of East Bengal. This aspect of the poet was beautifully captured by another researcher. He opined he is really mad like Bauls. If he were born in Shilaidaha instead of the rich family in Jorasanko, he would move from one place to another with an aktara like the Bauls.

Tagore composed innumerable songs keeping with Baul tradition in a vital time, the time of a great commotion the partition of Bengal in 1905. These are:

1) Aamar sonaar baangla, aami tomay bhalobasi.
Chirodin tomar aakash, tomar baatas, ogo aamar praane baajay baanshi.
O ma, Phaagune tor aamer bone ghraane paagol kore,
Mori haay, haay re
O ma, Oghrane tor bhora khete aami ki dekhechi modhur haasi

(Parjaay: Swadesh (1), Style: Baul Sur, Anga: Baul, Published: Bangadarshan, Written: 1905, Swarabitan: 46).

2) Ebar tor mora gaange baan esechhe joy maa bole bhaasa tori
Ore re ore maajhi kothai maajhi pranpone bhai daak de aaji

(Parjaay: Swadesh (5), Style: Saari-gan, Anga: Saari-gan, Published: Bhandar, Written: 1905, Swarabitan: 46).

3) O amar desher mati tomar hare thekai matha
Tomate bishshomayir tomate bishshomayer achal pata|
Tumi mishecho mor deher sane
Tumi milecho mor prane mone,
Tomar oi shyamalbaron komal murti marme gatha|

(Parjaay: Swadesh (2), Style: Baul Sur, Anga: Baul, Published: Bangadarshan, Written: 1905, Swarabitan: 46).

4) Orey tora nei ba kotha bolli
Dariye hater moddikhane nei jagali polli
Morish mithye boke jhoke, dekhe kebol hashe loke,
Nahoy niye apon moner agun mone mone jolli.

(Parjaay: Swadesh (27), Style: Baul Sur, Anga: Baul, Written: 1905, Swarabitan: 46).

5) Ghore mukh molin dekhe golis ne–ore bhai,
Baaire mukh aandhar dekhe tolis ne -ore bhai|
Ja tomar aache mone sadho taai poranpone
Shudhu tai doshjonare bolis ne -ore bhai|

(Parjaay: Swadesh (31), Style: Baul Sur, Anga: Baul, Written: 1905, Swarabitan: 46).

6) Chhi chhi chokher jale bhejas ne ar mati,
Aar kothin hoye thak na ore bakkhoduar aati,
Jore bakkhoduar aati|

(Parjaay: Swadesh (30), Style: Baul Sur, Anga: Baul, Written: 1905, Swarabitan: 46).

7) Je tore pagol bale tare tui balis ne kichu
Aajke tore kemkon bhebe ange je tor dhulo debe|
Kal se prate mala hate asbe re tor pichu pichu
Aajke apon maner bhare thak se bose gadir pare
Kalke preme asbe neme karbe se tar matha nichu|

(Parjaay: Swadesh (26), Style: Baul Sur, Anga: Baul, Written: 1905, Swarabitan: 46).

8) Je tomaay chhare chharuk aami tomay chharbo na.
Aami tomar choron,
Ma go aami tomar choron korbo soron aar kaaro dhaar dharbo na ma|
Ke bole tor doridro ghor hridoye tor rotonrashi
Aami jaani go tar mulyo jaani porer aador karbo na ma|

(Parjaay: Swadesh (25), Style: Baul Sur, Anga: Baul, Written: 1905, Swarabitan: 46).

9) Maa ki tui parer dware pathabi tor gharer chele?
Tara je kare hela, mare dhela, bhikkha jhuli dekhte pele|
Karechi matha nichu, chalechi jahar pichu
Jadi ba day se kichu abahele-
Tabu ki emni kare phirbo ore aapon mayer prasad phele?

(Parjaay: Swadesh (25), Style: Baul Sur, Anga: Baul, Written: 1905, Swarabitan: 46).


Jodi tor daak shune keu na aashe tobe ekla cholo re
Ekla cholo ekla cholo ekla cholo ekla cholo re|
Jodi keu kotha na koy ore ore o obhaga
Jodi shobai thaake mukh phiraye shobai kore bhoy
Tobe poran khuley
O tui mukh phutey tor moner kotha ekla bolo re|

(Parjaay: Swadesh (3), Style: Baul Sur, Anga: Baul, Written: 1905, Swarabitan: 46).

In his another anthology Kheya, he was reminded by the concept of madhukari (Begging of alms from five or more houses). In his poem Kripon (miser) he categorically notedamr nai ba holo pare jawa” (Translation: If I fail to cross the bank...).

Likewise he composed so many other songs:

1) Aamare parai parai khepiye barai kon khyapa se
Ore akash jure mohan sure ki je baje kon batase
Galo re, galo bela, pagoler kemon khela
Deke se akul kore, dei na dhara
Tare kanon giri khuje phiri, kede mori kon hutashe|

(Parjaay: Puja (555), Upa-parjaay: Baul, Style: Baul Sur, Anga: Baul, Written: 1909, Collection: Prayashchitta, Swarabitan: 9, Bhanga Gaan).

2) Roilo bole rakhle kare hukum tomar phalbe kabe?
Tomar tanatani tikbe na bhai rabar jeta setai rabe|
Ja khushi tai karte paro gayer jore rakho maro
Jar gaye sab byatha baje tini ja son setai sabe|

(Parjaay: Swadesh (36), Upa-parjaay: Baul, Style: Baul Sur, Anga: Baul, Written: 1909, Collection: Prayashchitta, Swarabitan: 9).

3) Graamchhaara oi ranga maatir poth Aamar mon bhulay re,
Ore kaar paane mon haat bariye
Lutiye jaay dhulay re|

(Parjaay: Bichitra (14), Upa-parjaay: Baul, Style: Baul Sur, Anga: Baul, Written: 1909, Collection: Prayashchitta, Swarabitan: 9).

4) Aamar praaner maanus achhe praane
Tai heri tai sakol khaane|
Ache se nayontarai alok dharai, tai na harai
Ogo tai dekhi tai jethai sethai
Takai ami je dik pane|

(Parjaay: Puja (549), Upa-parjaay: Baul, Style: Baul Sur, Anga: Baul, Written: 1910, Collection: Prayashchitta, Swarabitan: 9).

5) Aami phirbo naa re, phirbo naa aar,
Phirbo naa re -
Emon haawar mukhe bhaaslo tori
Kule bhirbo naa aar bhirbo naa re|

(Parjaay: Bichitro (33), Upa-parjaay: Baul, Style: Baul Sur, Anga: Baul, Written: 1909, Collection: Achalayatan, Swarabitan: 9).

6) Ha re re re re,
Aamay chhere de re, de re -
Jemon chhaara boner paakhi moner aanonde re|
Ghonoshrabondhaara Jemon bnaadhonhaara
Badol-baatas jemon daakat aakash lute phere|

(Parjaay: Bichitro (48), Upa-parjaay: Baul, Style: Baul Sur, Anga: Baul, Written: 1907, Collection: Prayashchitta, Swarabitan: 11).

7) Moder jamon khela temni je kaaj
Janis ne ki bhai|
Tai Kaajke kabhu aamra na darai
Khala moder larai kara,
Khala moder bancha mara,
Khala chara kichui kothao nai|

(Parjaay: Bichitro (117), Upa-parjaay: Baul, Style: Baul Sur, Anga: Baul, Written: 1915, Collection: Falguli, Swarabitan: 7).

8) Tumi kon pathe je ele pathik, aami dekhi nai tomare|
Hathat sapono samo dakha dile boneri kinare|
Phagune je baan dekeche maatir paathare|
Tomar sabuj paale laaglo haoa, ele joaare|

(Parjaay: Prakriti (255), Upa-parjaay: Basanta, Style: Baul Sur, Anga: Baul, Written: 1916, Collection: Probasi, Swarabitan: 16).

9) Jakhon porbe na mor payer chinnho ae bate,
Ami beybo na mor kheyar tori ae ghate,
Chukiye debo becha kena,
Mitiye debo go, mitiye debo lena dena,
Bondho hobe ana gona ae haate-
Tokhon amaye naiba mone rakhle
Tarar pane cheye cheye
Naiba amye dakle|

(Parjaay: Bichitro (13), Upa-parjaay: Basanta, Style: Baul Sur, Anga: Baul, Written: 1916, Collection: Probasi, Swarabitan: 16).

10) Aami Maarer saagor paari debo bisham jhorer baaye
Aamar bhoybhanga ei naaye ||
Mabhoi baaneer bharsa niye chhera paale buk phuliye
Tomar oi paaretei jaabe toree chhaya boter chhaaye ||

(Parjaay: Puja (199), Upa-parjaay: Dukkha, Style: Baul Sur, Anga: Baul, Written: 1922, Swarabitan: 52).

Surprisingly, all these are perfectly shadowed by Baul tradition. More specifically he is very meticulous to formulate the typical structure of Lalon’s songs in Rabindra Sangeet especially in Gitanjali and Geetimalya. He is referred to in a Lecture held in Mumbai (2nd January, 1951) by another village poet Jasimuddin.

He informed:

Gitanjali hoite gan ochonai kabi oshayi, antara, sanchari o avoger choke gan rochana korite arombho korilen| Eta tini Baulder nikot grohon koriyachen| Baulder ganer choke sanchari thake na| iha tini jog koriyachen|


“In Gitanjali Tagore began to compose according to the normal sketch of the song having four parts. They are inspired by Bauls. Sanchari, the third part was an addition or genius of Tagore which is not found in the songs of Bauls.”

He was so much deep drawn that even if he writes he substantiates in terms of song. No 43 poem in Sesh Saptak he talked about the oneness among Bauls.

He writes:

Tarun joubaner Baul
Sur bedhe nilo apon aktarate
Deke beralo
Niriddesh moner manush k
Onirdessho bedonar khepa sure|


“Young team of Bauls energized by the spirit of youth began to summon with the music accompanied by aktara. They are in search of moner manush through an unknown way.”

Noticeably, he had categorically used the words like khepa (colloquial use of mad), moner manush and aktara (the instrument) so on. Ideally within few things he tried to grip the whole of their essence. Therefore, No 15 poem of Patraput is an honest confession of his oneness with them “Ami oder dole” (Translation: I belong to their team). Tagore here emphatically emphasized the class of Bauls not the ‘class’ of Bauls and it is his pride to include him as one of them. Therefore, the research can point out the aspects of Tagore which are sternly based on his faith in Bauls.

Here are some of the points:

i) Rabindra Sangeets attuned with Baul tone and devotional aspect is the direct result of his close association with them.

ii) Use of symbol rather symbolic representation of life from the perspective of common day to day life is taught by them. It became contagious in him.

iii) Romanticism is not new to Tagore but Bauls shade his romantic expressions through the exceptionally common words. This really evokes a sense of wonder in him when he was able to think far in terms of ‘bidesh’ (Foreign country), unknown in terms of ‘bideshini’ (foreigner), death in terms of ‘poropar’ (the other bank of the river), man in terms of ‘pathik’ (traveller), life in terms of ‘ghat’ (river) and destiny in terms of ‘thikana’ (address).

iv) Bauls taught him that defeat is not a failure rather it is a beginning with an experience. Therefore, focus should be to move without any backlog of caste, creed, religion and sense of hierarchy.

v) Coded symbols used in songs and poems in general invariably demand knowledge, intellect and perception to decode. But Bauls showed him the trick to simplify the solidity of symbols. After that Tagore remoulds his applications of such esoteric symbol into a comprehensible one for common mass.

vi) Baul tradition unfolds or unveils a new window for his world of art which was previously an outcome of Sanskritization. Later on he skilfully presented the ideas through the language in which common mass think and talk. Bauls are so lyrical to him and their stories as ballads. Therefore, as Lyrical Ballads by Wordworth inspired the future poets to write for common man in common language, Bauls injected the same in him by being both lyrical and ballad to him.

vii) Bauls make him a free bird to come and go according to his own wish and desire in his own world without any interruption of caste, creed and religion.

Henceforth, the research wants to convey that this is not about a blind follow up. At heart he felt the theme, in pulse he felt the breathing and in mind he felt the importance. It helped him take a successful step whenever he imbibed western philosophy of art and creation, modernisation, thoughts of Upanishads and cultural heritage of India. Considering the value of both these two opposite aspects namely ‘loukik kavya’ and ‘upanishadikkavya’ he mentioned that he is now feel the comfort of completeness. Gulam Murshid has pointed out another aspect of Tagore i.e. his gradual separation from Vaishnavism and the consequent inclination towards Baul. Without much exaggeration, it can be said that he took a step back from Upanishad.

Prof. Karunamoy Goswami made it very clear in his seminal work in Rabindra Sangeet Parikrama published in 1993:

Rabindra Sangeet er porinata rup rochonai Baul akti guruttopurno prosongo ebong ei prosonge 1905 sa akti mail folok| ei bochor thekei ak jug dhore sonchito ovigyota Rabindranath kaje llagan oti byapok vabe ebing samogrik orthe Baul tar sangeet rachana, nandanik bodh nirman o darshanik chintai giver provab bistar kore| (p. 151).


“Baul is an important discussion in relation to the compact nature of Rabindra Sangeet. In this context, the year 1905 is a milestone. In the same year Tagore implemented his vast experience and knowledge bagged for a era about the Bauls. Bauls played a major role in his compositions especially in songs and enlarged his vision for the aesthetics of art.”

What is noteworthy is Geetabitan, the collection of his songs. Undoubtedly it can be said the ‘autobiography’ of his various emotions, passions and feelings.

Most notably he chose a song based on Bauls with which he began the collection:

Kanna hasir dol dolano poush faguner pala,
Tari modhye chiro jibon boibo ganer dala-
Ei ki tomar khushi, ami tai porale mala

(Parjaay: Puja (1), Upa-parjaay: Gaan, Style: Baul Sur, Anga: Baul, Written: 1916, Swarabitan: 16).


“Life is a game of emotion like pain and laugher and season like Poush and Falgun. In between I will decorate and fulfil my life with the flower of songs. That will create happiness in you and satisfy with its delicacy and sweetness.”

What a rich composition it is to start an anthology like Geetabitan. In Geetabitan he selected almost 13 songs aligned with those of Bauls with some minute detachment. What the research tries to mention is that these songs of Puja Parjai are named as ‘Baul’. Naming is very important here. These are devotional songs suggesting a devotion acknowledgement for the Bauls.

These are following 13 songs belonging to this group:

1) Aami kaan pete roi o aamar aapon hridoygahon dware baare baare
Kon goponbaasir kaannahasir gopan kotha sunibare -baare baare ||
Bhromor setha hoy bibagi nibhrito nil padda laagi re
Kon raater paakhi gaay ekaaki songibihin andhokare baare baare ||
Ke se mor kei baa jaane kichu taar dekhi aabha |
Kichu pai anumane kichu taar bujhi naa baa |
Majhe majhe taar baarota aamar bhaasay paay ki kotha re
O se aamay jaani paathay baani ganer taane lukiye taare baare baare ||

(Parjaay: Puja (546), Upa-parjaay: Baul, Style: Baul Sur, Anga: Baul, Written: 1922, Swarabitan: 15).

2) Aami taarei khnuje berai je roy mone aamar mone.
Se aache bole
Aamar aakash jure phote tara rate
Praate phul phute roybone aamar bone bone|

(Parjaay: Puja (551), Upa-parjaay: Baul, Style: Baul Sur, Anga: Baul, Written: 1919, Swarabitan: 42).

3) Se je moner manus keno tare bosiye rakhis nayondware
Dak na re tor buker bhitor, nayon bhasuk nayondhare|
Jakhon nibhbe alo, asbe rati, hridoye dis ason pati
Asbe se je sangopone bichchederee andhokare,
Tar asa jaoar gopon pathe
Se asbe jabe apon mate
Tare badhbe bole jei karo pan se thake na thake badhon
Sei badhone mone mone badhis kebol aponare|

(Parjaay: Puja (548), Upa-parjaay: Baul, Style: Baul Sur, Anga: Baul, Written: 1925, Swarabitan: 3).

4) Aamar praaner maanus achhe praane
Tai heri tai sakol khaane|
Ache se nayontarai alok dharai, tai na harai
Ogo tai dekhi tai jethai sethai
Takai ami je dik pane|

(Parjaay: Puja (549), Upa-parjaay: Baul, Style: Baul Sur, Anga: Baul, Written: 1910, Swarabitan: 9).

5) Aamar mon, jakhon jaagli na re
O tor moner manus elo dwaare|
Taar chole jaawar shobdo sune bhaanglo re ghum
O tor bhaanglo re ghum andhokare|
Maatir pore aanchal paati ekla kaate nishitraati|
Taar bnaasi baaje aandhar-maajhe, dekhi na je chokkhe tare|
Ore, tui jaahare dili phnaaki khuje taare paay ki aankhi?
Ekhon pothe phire paabi ki re ghorer baahir korli jaare?

(Parjaay: Puja (550), Upa-parjaay: Baul, Style: Baul Sur, Anga: Baul, Written: 1914, Swarabitan: 44).

6) Aami taarei jaani taarei jaani amai je jan apon jane
Tari dane dabi amar jar adhikar amar dane|
Je amare chinte pare sei chenateri chini tare go
Akoi alo chenar pathe tar prane ar amar prane |
Apon moner andhokare dhaklo jara
Ami tader modhdhe aponhara
Chuiye dilo sonar kathi, ghumer dhaka galo kati go
Nayon amar chuteche tar alo kara mukher pane|

(Parjaay: Puja (547), Upa-parjaay: Baul, Style: Baul Sur, Anga: Baul, Written: 1933, Swarabitan: 56).

7) Jani jani tomar preme sakol premer bani meshe,
Ami seikhanetei mukti diner seshe|
Sethaay premer charom sadhon, jaay khose tar sakol badhon
Mor hridoypakhir gagon tomar hridoydeshe|
Ogo jani amar shranto diner sakol dhara
Tomar gabhir rater shantimajhe klantihara,
Amar dehe dharer parosh tomar sudhaay holo saros,
Amar dhularee dhan tomar majhe nutan bese|

(Parjaay: Puja (552), Upa-parjaay: Baul, Style: Baul Sur, Anga: Baul, Written: 1928, Swarabitan: 3).

8) Tomar khola haawa lagiye pale tukro kore kachi
mi dubte raji achi ami dubte raji achi|
Sakal amar galo miche, bikel je jai tari piche go
Rekho na ar, bedho na ar kuler kachakachi|
Majhir lagi achi jagi sakol ratribbela
Dhaugulo je amai niye kare kebol khela
Jharke ami karbo mite, darbo na tar bhrukutite
Dau cheye dau, ogo ami tuphan pele bachi|

(Parjaay: Puja (553), Upa-parjaay: Baul, Style: Baul Sur, Anga: Baul, Written: 1914, Swarabitan: 43).

9) Mon re ore mon, tumi kon sadhanar dhan.
Pai ne tomai pai ne, shudhu khnuji sarakhan|
Raater tara chokh na boje–andhakare tomai khnoje
Dike dike berai deke dakhin-sameeran|
Sagar jamon jagai dhani, khnoje nijer ratanmani
Temni kare akash cheye arun alo jai je cheye
Nam dhare tor bajai banshi kon ajana jan|

(Parjaay: Puja (556), Upa-parjaay: Baul, Style: Baul Sur, Anga: Baul, Written: 1932, Swarabitan: 1).

10) Aami jakhon chhilem andho
Sukher khelaay bela gachhe paai ni to aanando
Khelagharer deyaal gnethe kheyal niye chhilem mete,
Bhit bhenge jei ele ghore ghuchlo aamar bandho|
Sukher khela aar roche na peyechhi anando|

(Parjaay: Puja (554), Upa-parjaay: Baul, Style: Baul Sur, Anga: Baul, Written: 1932, Swarabitan: 42).

11) Aamare parai parai khepiye barai kon khyapa se
Ore akash jure mohan sure ki je baje kon batase|
Galo re, galo bela, pagoler kemon khela
Deke se akul kore, dai na dhara
Tare kanon giri khuje phiri, kede mori kon hutashe|

(Parjaay: Puja (555), Upa-parjaay: Baul, Style: Baul Sur, Anga: Baul, Written: 1909, Swarabitan: 9).

12) Kon aalote praaner pradip jaaliye tumi dhoraay aaso
Saadhok ogo, premik ogo
Paagol ogo, dhoraay aaso|
Ei okul songsare
Dukho aaghat tomar praane bina jhankare,
Ghor bipad maajhe,
Kon janonir mukher haasi dekhiya haaso|
Tumi kaahar sandhane
Sakol sukhe aagun jele berao ke jaane,
Emon byakul kore,
Ke tomare knaaday jaare bhaalobaso|
Tomar bhaabna kichu naai
Ke je tomar saather saathi bhaabi mone taai,
Tumi maron bhule,
Kon ananto praansagore anonde bhaso|

(Parjaay: Puja (557), Upa-parjaay: Baul, Style: Baul Sur, Anga: Baul, Written: 1910, Swarabitan: 38).

13) Amare ke nibi bhai, sapite chai aponare
Amar ai mon goliye kaj bhuliye sange toder niye ja re
Tora kon ruper hate cholechis bhaber bate
Pichiye achi ami apon bhare|
Toder oi hasikhusi dibanishi dekhe mon kemon kare
Amar ai badha tute niye ja lutepute
Pare thako moner bojha gharer dware
Jemon oi ak nimishe banna ase
Bhasiye ne jai parabare
Ato je anagona ke ache janasona
Ke ache nam dhore mor dakte pare?
Jodi se barek ase darai hese
Chinte pari dekhe tare|

(Parjaay: Puja (558), Upa-parjaay: Baul, Style: Baul Sur, Anga: Baul, Written: 1890, Swarabitan: 28).

Lalon’s “Sob loke koy Lalon ki jat songsare” (Translation: All people ask about Lalon’s Caste) became the source of many poems and songs.

His famous poem ‘Africa’ is one of them:

Eso jugantorer kobi-
Obosanno e sondhar rossipate|
Nirdoy dalit oi man hara manabir kache khama vikkha karo
hok taha taba sovotar
higoshro pralaper majhe sesh punyo bani|


“The poet! You have come to an end of the day. You say sorry to those distorted people. That is going to be a line which will be a memorable one among the people of the world.”

Interestingly, everywhere there is an attempt to come to closer to those people who never become the part of his thinking and reflection of thinking i.e. writing. Therefore, these poems through which he portrayed his untraded people, bear the mark of repentance and “mark of weakness and mark of owe”.

For instance Bharattirtha repeats:

Eso Brahman, shuchi kari mon
Dharo hat sobakar
Eso he potit karo apanit
Sob opoman var


“O Brahmin! You also come and join in the process of purification. Hold the hands of all and shake off all the little mindedness from you.”

The poem calls for union forgetting the barrier of birth, caste, creed, religion, position and hierarchy. Everywhere there is a presence of those people.

In Buddhavakti he says:

Hata ahoter goni sonkhya
Tale tale mondrito hobe jaya danka


“I count the number of injured. In its rhythm there will be resounded a victory.”

In Prayaschitto from Nabajatak, the poet says:

Sobe na debota heno opoman
Ei faki bhaktir
Notun jiban notun aloke
Jagibe natun deshe|


“O God! No one can bear such an insult. There is lack of devotion. If you can change, there will be fresh air and light which will energize you to live.”

The research of Pravat Kumar Mukhopadhyay, the biographer of Tagore, helps the readers trace so many instances where Tagore lost his identity as Tagore. In 1920 Tagore visited England for giving lectures and during these fifteen days, he focussed on “The Message of the East”. Surprisingly during that period of time he vastly lectured on folk, folk culture of Bengal and its contribution and consequent continuation in Indian culture and philosophy.

For an instance in 1930, he lectured on the internal theorization of Bauls songs in the University of Oxford. He informed:

It spoke of an intense yearning of the heart for the divine which is in man and not in the temple, or scriptures, in images and symbols. (The Religion of Man, London, 1931, p. 110)

Creative Unity (1922) holds a collection of all these lectures. But the research wants to focus on the essay written for Bauls named as An Indian Folk Religion. Very clearly Tagore propagated the humanistic theory of the Bauls thorough the medium of these essays. He not only translated more than ten songs especially for its richness, variety, simplicity of thinking and thought provoking concept of life in general but also the research repeatedly mentioned how he was over shadowed by the songs Lalon Fakir in perticular. He tries to get channelized through a wonderful connection with P.B. Shelley. He said that it reminds him of Shelley’s poem in which he sings of the mystical spirit of Beauty. Contextually, it is true that on various lectures he exemplified Bauls as an ideal race having no institutionalized religion and its rituals. Even he instructed people to follow them how to be man for whom humanity is the only religion.

Finally, it can be said that Tagore though a prolific poet, essayist, novetist, short story writer and what not becomes Tagore because his songs. These are so varied and enriched that only through songs he can be tasted. Being a colossal composer he is more than a capable artist to hypnotize the world. Therefore, the research gets the clue what is in Bauls that forces him turn back with great craze keeping an indelible impression on him. What is striking is his simplicity and generocity. No matter he could have easily dissolved his impression or the materials he borrowed from them in the midst of his composition. But he did not do it just because the simplicity that the readers talk about is imbibed in him by the Bauls. If it is ingrained in him by them, Tagore must emulate it like an obedient student. These qualities make him different from all.

Therefore, his honest confession:

Tumi kemon kore gaan koro hey guni,
Aami obaak hoye shuni, kebol shuni.
Shurer aalo bhubon phele chheye,
Shurer haawa chole gogon beye,
Paashan tute byakul bege dheye
Boihya jaay shurer surodhuni
Mone kori omni sure gaai,
Konthe aamar sur khunje na paai.
Koite ki chaai, koite kotha baadhe -
Haar mene je poran aamar kaande
Aamay tumi phelechho kon phaande
Choudike more shurer jaal buni

(Parjaay: Puja (4), Upa-parjaay: Gaan, Published: Gitanjali, Written: 1909, Swarabitan: 38).

Translation by Tagore:

I know not how thou singest, my master!
I ever listen in silent amazement.
The light of thy music illumines the world.
The life breath of thy music runs from sky to sky.
The holy stream of thy music breaks through all stony obstacles and rushes on.
My heart longs to join in thy song, but vainly struggles for a voice.
I would speak, but speech breaks not into song, and I cry out baffled.
Ah, thou hast made my heart captive in the endless meshes of thy music, my master!

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