A Master’s View of the Baul Retreat

Lakshman Das Baul, one of the regular Baul Masters to grace the Baul Gyan Darpan since it’s early stages, writes about his experience at the Baul Gyan Darpan 2017

Ekathara Kalari

Ektara means where the mind and soul of a human being is tuned on a single note. The Baul festival ‘Ekathara Kalari’ is organised by Parvathy Baul every year. Apart from yoga training, training for Baul songs are organised in the festival. The mission of this festival is not only to give training for Baul songs, it is also a platform for making everyone conscious of the Baul tradition. All the Baul Masters who participate in this festival give a very good training of Baul songs and practices.

One very important aspect of this festival is that most of the participants come from non-bengali families. The cannot speak Bengali properly. Only the interest to know about the tradition drives them to come here. A lot of foreign participants also come. It is a place for global cultural exchange. Everyone who is interested in Baul tradition must come and participate in this festival.

I should mention Parvathy Baul in this context. Despite her personal engagements, she arranges this festival that lasts for 7 to 8 days every year. She stays there all the time and personally looks after every matter. I must thank her for arranging such a beautiful festival. My regards to Parvathy.

I want to mention about their hospitality. We felt the warmth of their reception right from the railway station or the airport. Kalari received us very cordially and respectfully at the rail station or airport and then brought us to the Ashram of Parvathy Baul. Arrangements for food were also spectacular. First, the Baul Masters had their food. After that all the other participants (Indians and foreigners) were served.

It is our tradition to serve our Masters first. Parvathy follows this tradition very respectfully and the whole world came to know about her and other Baul traditions due to Parvathy’s hard work and effort (this is my personal opinion).

The work of the Kalari starts from very early morning with yoga and pranayama, where Parvathy herself participates. After that the morning music session starts with the teaching of Prabhatee gaan (morning songs). The next music session starts from 10 am, where BauL songs are taught and performed. The participants enjoy the training session immensely.

In the evening, ‘Satsang’ is organised, which means a Baul maestro explains the Baul tradition, sings and performs. The Ashram is lit with earthen lamps. The whole environment becomes very joyous with spiritual songs, dance and discussions. I pray to God that the Baul festival organised by Ekathara Kalari must take place every year with more and more participants from Inside and outside India.

By: Lakshman Das Baul

Lakshman Das Baul is a disciple and the adopted son of renowned Baul Master and composer Shri Shudhir Goshai of famous Joydev-Tamaltala Ashram in Birbhum Dist. He is a young performer well known for his magnificent and energetic performance2s. He accompanies himself with Anandalahari and Dotara while he sings. He performed in many parts of India. After the demise of Shri Shudhir Goshai, he looks after the Joydev-Tamaltala Ashram. He lives with his wife and son and the Mother (the companion of Shri Shudhir Goshai).Since the last four years, he has been collaborating with Parvathy Baul.

Musical instruments: Dotara and Ananda Lahari

He was part of the December 2014, October 2015 and January 2017 Retreats.

Translation by Mallika Parial Banerjee