Baul Retreat January ’16: A Letter

Dear Arpita,

we do our best according to the time we have, and our limitation in english, 

we were doing a new version, when suddenly Maa wrote to us and gave more details about what should we do,  we were  starting by our “personal” experience of being in seva, then we shift into a global feeling of the retreat. We can again adjust tomorrow…

 

End of december 2015. Time to reach Nedumangad to prepare the space for the 3rd Baul retreat.

Volunteers arrive one after the other, some we already know, some we meet for the 1st time.

Parvathy is in Bengal!

Usually the meals break is the perfect time to speak about what we have to do, by who, and how…
It’s very natural how things go on, may be thanks to the good food made by Girija and Usha daily.
It’s never an individual decision, it’s very nice to discuss with others and find what will be the best.

Even if everyone knows what they have to do, we always inform others and get sure it’s fine.
Chittore house is anyway a place of togetherness, of love, of joy…
It’s such a wonderful feeling to prepare the space for the Baul masters who are coming by tomorrow and few days later people from all over the world will come, (for what)??? we don’t know;

How people can reach Nedumangad without knowing much on Baul tradition, without being in singing, in dancing, in spirituality, but they are coming, it’s just magical.
So it has to be “perfect”, welcoming, beautiful and clean.

The last job of the day before going to bed, is to sit all together cutting the old sarees of Parvathy Maa, and making wicks…

Many wicks…  laughing together, meeting each other link by a long piece of cotton… which will be so important later on…

Next morning Parvathyji and the masters are here.

I don’t know how 3 “people” can completely change the space, it’s suddenly become so full, so intense, so powerful.

We could all feel strongly that something special starts.

Just to think back of this time, I start crying…

Evening time everything was ready in the kalari, masters could come and sing.

They like the space very much,

it’s so beautiful, lit only with old oil lamp everywhere, hang up from the roof, all around, in different shape, intensity and heat.

Now we feel the space is occupied, the energy of the masters is here, and themselves feel now at home in Kerala! No doubt.

Next day, people are coming by 2, alone, for some of them not really at ease yet, but totally ready for a new experience.
Then evening program in Trivandrum, just perfect to discover Bauls in their best way of expression, dancing and singing, and because they are 3 on stage, we can feel they have a lot of fun together.

We (the volounteers) don’t know now at all what will happen!

But ready for anything.

 

Then Maa’s email reached, so I continue differently.

 

To look at the schedule of the retreat seems impossible, so intense, so challenging…

I apply, so now lets jump into it.

Get up around 3 AM, get ready for the bus, for the total unknown.

The yoga space is unbelievable, under the stars, with big mud plate as oil lamp and handmade wicks!! In front of every straw mat, with Parvathyji in the middle teaching yoga, her yoga, a moment of total give up , of total consciousness, I don’t know! something magic, in which it’s difficult to put words, a total peace, love, a yoga without the feeling of doing but just being here and now fully. A yoga in which you feel the energy of others, in yourself. A yoga of communion, a prayer for life itself, a big respect to mother earth, to feel the presence of the divine…

If we think of what happen outside has an effect inside us,

I think of all the spaces which were prepared with such love, such care, it couldn’t have been better, as if we were welcoming the divine in that space, so the divine inside us.

 

At the end of the “session” suddenly we could hear music from quite far, but more and more louder,

Yes, the masters are coming singing the morning songs…
turning around us, feeding our open mind and body with the music of their heart.
Such an unforgettable gift.

 

The sun is now with us, time to go…
Everyone has to be in the Kalari for the next session, Parvathyji in saffron in the middle (again!), the fakir, Mansoor Da in black on her left and Anando Da in white on her right, a nice way to break our “ideas” of Bauls are in orange… The diversity of Bauls and fakir are just there in front of us.

 

04

 

The morning session is a time to jump into Bauls daily life, hours of sitting, cutting by music, deep philosophy, and laughing…

Then you realise that they don’t sing or play, the dotara is totally part of their body, they play dotara as if they touch a part of themself, the voice is just an expression of their entire body without any search of beauty, or performance. They are totally transparent, free, they have nothing to hid.
So everyone can be imbibe by that energy, so no more questions of how “I” will sing, “I”m not able to do it, or dance, the masters, they are totally free- free not to think that some are able to, and some not able to, so you jump into their deep ocean of love, they will find the best in everyone, after that the group of individual is now one.

Parvathy juggle with the two opposite energies of Mansoor da and Anando da, respecting the personality of everyone. Enjoying fully being with them, discovering more about who they are.
After a joyful prayer, start the meals… incredible meals, made by 2 ladies.

Every day different, and so many things in one meal, everyone can enjoy.

Then a welcome digestive break very useful for the food and the teaching, few hours later ready to absorb more.
Going to the evening session is a shock, you don’t recognise the morning kalari, the space is totally different, the kalari is illuminated only by oil lamp, old oil lamp everywhere, hang up from the leafs roof in different high, shape, numbers of wicks, it’s totally enchanting, the heat of the flame, the smell of the oil, the flowers all around the space in such a lovely way. It’s an experience of beauty, purity, love, we can stay there for ever.

Ready to listen the life of the masters, to get carried away…

By their truthful speech you can also find similarity with yourself,
The kalari is really a space between earth and sky.

 

Tiredness is absent.

 

There is no one minute which is like another one, it’s a permanent satsang.

I can speak for hours of each session, mornings, evenings one, meals, in between, but…
As Dr. Vinod said one evening, you can write PhD on sugar unless you haven’t taste the sugar itself what is the meaning, I feel the same with the retreat, it’s an unique experience which has to be experienced.

How describe the divine madness of Bauls, how describe the love they have for everyone present, how describe their sense of humour, their freedom, how describe the permanent teaching by being with them, breathing with them? Actually it become more and more mysterious, it’s may be why the link is unbreakable, you want to know more, not really by asking questions but just by being with them.

Who are they? From where that joy is coming from, from where the voices are coming from? How to be free like them, how to become more Baul?
I still don’t have the answer, but I don’t mind, what I know by having this experience with Bauls masters I understood that they are great unknown masters.

Thinking of the 1st day looking at the schedule and wondering how I will manage make me laugh, few days later I even don’t understand the fears I had, it was a natural flow, an acceptation of everything!

Even seeing your weakness, your bad side was so nice, being more tolerant with yourself, with others, seeing what I have to improve to grow with love in focus. I really have red light when now I’m in the same situation…
Songs are still resonate in me, the ektara is a new friend, very faithful.

We feel privileged by being there, a unique time, orchestrated by Parvathy Maa.

 

Cannot wait for the next one…

 

 

Arpita, Maa speak of impersonal report, so I write it in that way, even not from the volunteer side, but I can change it,

 

please read this and tell me if it’s ok.

we are laughing because even in France we feel the energy of Maa,

today we had lunch at 3 PM almost burn, no time to take care of it!!!

no need to be closed to her, we feel her everywhere she just stop you in what you are doing…
 
 


 
 

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By: Valerie and Samuel Glaize

Valérie and Samuel are cooks in France. Half of the year, they run an organic, veg restaurant. They spend almost the second half of the year in India for which they have an “unconditional” love. They fell in love with Bauls many years back. Later on, the meeting with Parvathy was determining, and made them plunge into the Baul music, philosophy and sadhana.

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