Sanatan Das Thakur Baul was born at Khulna, Bangladesh. His family had embraced the Baul tradition for at least four previous generations, so the young Sanatan Baba was immersed in the culture of Baul dharma, song and dance from an early age. His initiatory guru in the tradition was Shri Badal Chand Goswami, who introduced him to the Baul sadhana or spiritual practice. Later, the great Shri Nitai Khyapa guided him through the Baul path. Baba’s journey took him to the divine Guru Shri Monohor Khepa, who gave him instruction in the intricacies of the Baul Sadhana and insight as a Sadhaka. Baba lived in a small ashram in Khoirboni, a village in the Bankura district of Bengal, with his wife, Mira Maa and an extended family. Many came to him for spiritual guidance in the Baul tradition. He traveled occasionally, communicating the love for and longing for the Beloved (Moner Manush, the Man of the Heart, in Baul tradition) through his music. Sanatan Baba was particularly appreciated for his attractive dancing which, like his singing, had more conscious artistry about it . his style created entirely new way for the Baul songs and dance. He is one of the few Bauls who was occasionally asked to perform on All India Radio Calcutta. He traveled abroad and stole the hearts of many Gopis. He attained Mahasamadhi on Feb 28th at 3 am , 2016 at his Ashram in Khayerbuni.
From the Western Bauls devotees of Khepa Lee Lozowick
Remembrances of Khepa Sanatan Das Baul for his Mahasamadhi of Feb 28, 2016
On hearing the news of his mahasamadhi, letters of praise and appreciation for Khepa Sanatan Das Thakur began flooding in to Lalitha on Feb 29, 2016.
I met Sanatan Baba in 1991 when he came with Bishu and Basu to the ashram of my western Baul guru Khepa Lee Lozowick in Arizona. There has rarely been a day since then that he has not been in my thoughts and in my dreams and in my sadhana. My guru Lee gave many of us the gift to meet Sanatan Baba in this life and it is one of the most precious relationships I have. Sanatan has inspired me in my sadhana and inwardly helped me through difficult times in my spiritual practice. I consider him my spiritual heart-companion and I know that his contribution to us all is a rare and priceless treasure. I have full confidence that his work will be carried on by his beloved son Bishwanath Das who daily maintains the Baul practices, represents Sanatan’s teaching at Baul Melas and who so lovingly cares for the Jagabondhu ashram. Sanatan’s work is also preserved and carried on by his beloved spiritual daughter Parvathy Baul, who he initiated in my presence as Bina Das, and who transmits Sanatan’s teachings all over the world through sacred performance, teaching the Baul Path, supporting the livelihood of many other Bauls, and especially through her radiant heart of inner practice. When I saw Sanatan two months before he took mahasamadhi, I was touched by the daily care his family gave him, especially his good wife Mira Ma who was his companion for so many years.
Sanatan’s wonderful sense of humor was always present, teasing and joking with me about how I tried to mend my clothes, or how I mispronounced Bengali words. When we saw him just before he died, he even laughed at a joke that Jim made. Sanatan was saying we should all go to a Baul Mela and Jim said the mela was right there with Sanatan. Sanatan got the joke immediately and beamed with humor and gave a laugh. He practiced repeating the Name of God until his last breath and instructed us to do the same. Such is the extraordinary personality and practice of the rare yogi and Baul Master, Khepa Sanatan Das Thakur.
Kripa Mandir ashram
When last I saw Sanatan Baba in the body, he was told that I was in the space and was there anything he wanted to say to me. He replied, “I know him. He is in my Heart. What is there to say?” Sanatan Baba’s Love is immense and does not recognize the usual boundaries of time and space. He never said my name during the visit in December, and did not utter Lalitha’s name either. Names had become irrelevant. He had gone beyond mere personality and because of this, he is now able to be with us in a very powerful way after leaving the body. Yes, there will be great grief in our human hearts, but that will pass. Now is the time to Remember Who Baba is, while crying if necessary, but never to forget. Lalitha and I are with you all in spirit every moment during this time and have Sanatan Baba’s photo standing in our Darshan Hall beside Yogi Ramsuratkumar. Tina, my sister who came to visit Baba in 1993 with us and who saw Baba again in 2008 in Kolkata, has made certain that Sanatan Baba was included in the puja ceremony at Mr. Lee’s samadhi site. And the mala that Bishwanath gave me in December is now located in a prominent spot at the front of Lee’s darshan hall in Arizona. Sanatan Baba is dearly held by all Western Bauls; in America, Canada, Mexico, Europe, Australia, Scotland and even India Herself. We embrace you and bow in gratitude for the gift of Sanatan’s life and Light in the World.
Jai Guru, Jai Guru
Anonde Bawlo Jai Guru Jai
Kripa Mandir ashram, BC Canada
Your dear Sanatan Das Baul was so precious to Lee and to us. When he came to Arizona, he joked with me often because my name was Mirabai and YOU are his Mira. When he spoke of you, I felt as if I had met you! All of Lee’s Sangha feels profound gratitude for our association with Sanatan and his wonderful family.
Please let us know if we can support you in anyway in the future! We send our love and comfort during this time…
Thank you for the profound love and support you are for his entire family!
Thinking of you!
Lee’s Mirabai Prescott Arizona USA
When Sanatan Das came here to the prescott Ashram some years ago, his visit was an electrifying and deeply moving spiritual experience for us all. He and his sons did a public performance that Lee took the whole community to attend. It was amazing! Lee raved vary positively about it. Lee had a deep and heartfelt regard for both him as a practitioner and for the Baul music he sang. Lee even had pictures of his performance permanently hung on the wall in his dinningroom – where they still remain today. An entire 80 page issue of our Tawagoto magazine was devoted to his visit. All of us here have profound respect for his work and the great love he and Lee shared together, everyone here has very deep regard for his Ashram, and the role his work plays in the Baul Tradition.
I will never forget him as long as I live. He inspired the following quote in our ashram magazine at that time: “And their tears of love became the ocean” Dated: April 1991
Brother Juniper Triveni ashram, Arizona USA
I had never heard such music before. I was a Westerner raised on rock and roll. So, when Sanatan Baba and his two sons arrived at Lee Lozowick’s ashram in Arizona in the early 1990s, and began their ecstatic song, dance and musical play, I was carried away to a new world. Certainly I knew that music was prayer, that sacred song was prayer, but the level of heart passion contained in these songs as Baba offered them, was beyond anything I had ever known. It was pure prayer of longing,
Sanatan Baba was so kind, so generous to all of us, and so full of devotion. To simply be around him was a great honor, he was a living witness of a life of sadhana and love for God and creation.
I am so deeply grateful that I have met him in this lifetime.
I send the promise of my heartfelt prayers to all his family and disciples that all may be comforted in their sorrow, and that joy and peace continue to reign in all hearts.
Regina Sara Ryan, author of Only God, A Biography of Yogi Ramsuratkumar; Arizona, USA
For the Baul Family of beloved Sanatan Baba:
I will always remember Khepa Sanatan Das Baul Thakur, who I first met in 1991 at Khepa Lee’s ashram in Arizona, along with his sons Bishwanath and Basudev. He was regal, splendid, a bright star of spiritual radiance, generous, and kind. He taught us the meaning of “Jai Guru!” the first day. He was a spiritual king in beggar’s clothes, like our mahaguru, Yogi Ramsuratkumar, whose murti he saw, picked up, and declared, “Baul guru!” I sensed even then that our lineages and spiritual work were deeply connected here on earth and beyond space and time. I will never forget how he loved Khepa Lee from the first moment they met, how he sang for us and introduced us to the power and magic of Ektara, how he introduced us to the true way of Baul.
When Sanatan Baba and Lee were reunited in Kolkata in 2008, the tenderness, deep regard, and spiritual friendship between them touched everyone who was present. We were so glad to see again Bishwanath, Basudev, their wives and children, and to meet Parvathy Baul. Sanatan Baba was so generous, he answered all my questions, allowed me to interview him and to write about him. I will never forget the way he said, “In the end, on the Baul path, it is all about nama.” I am honored to have the opportunity to tell the West about Sanatan Baba in The Baul Tradition, and in an article that was published in NamaRupa magazine several years ago.
Sanatan Baba has inspired me to work for what is possible on the spiritual way of the Bauls, both in the East and West. His example lives in me and helps me in my sadhana for the rest of my life, and for this, and for the great good fortune to have met him and spent time in his company, I am grateful.
May his journey be always joyous. All praise to a Great Baul Khepa!
With loving regard and deep pranams to Mirabai Ma and all of Sanatan Baba’s beautiful big family,
Jai Guru! Mary Angelon Young Triveni Ashram, Arizona USA
To have met one so accomplished at living a life of prayer truly was a great honor. Jai Guru Sanatan Das Thakur Baul!
Dr. Maxim Stykow
Kripa Mandir ashram, BC Canada
What I remember of Sanatan Das Baul was the moment our eyes met. Mahadeb was serving delicious ginger black tea and biscuits in Sanatan’s room who was lying down underneath many different colored blankets. Sanatan Baba was awake and looking around the room. The quality of his eyes spoke to me, they were tender, one pointed and dignified. It seemed like he was looking at me, I allowed my gaze to meet his and in that moment I caught a glimpse of his life of practice and prayer, a glimpse, which is continuing to unfold everyday. I experienced in Sanatan Das a living example of what a full life of practice and praise of the beloved looks like. I am deeply grateful to have had the opportunity to be in his physical presence while he was in his body, and receive the gift that was his sadhana.
Lucas Josiah Schroeder
Kripa Mandir Ashram
British Columbia, Canada
Matthew and I went to Shantiniketan in 1986. It was a “side trip” to Bengal that Lee encouraged during the trip he took to India with 20 Americans. We were looking to make contact with any contemporary Bauls, and had heard that we might find some in Shantiniketan. Once there, we talked to a university professor, who said that there were no longer any real living Bauls except for one named Sanatan das. He gave us a written address for Sanatan’s ashram and told us that we could travel there by bus, but that Sanatan might be at a mela and not at his ashram. We decided to go anyway, traveling on buses that were filled with Indians who spoke no English, with some riding on top. We were directed to change buses after showing the written address we had been given to someone who gestured for us to get off at a certain stop and get onto another bus. We had no idea where we were going.
After hours of travel, someone on the bus indicated where we should get off. No one was in sight except for one young, thin man who had a bicycle rickshaw and strained to pedal us up a slight incline to what we discovered was the ashram. We were met by smiling faces of a few people who led us to a hut where Sanatan das was laying down. He seemed very alive, lithe, with a strong presence, someone who knew how to channel energy in the body. It was clear that he knew only a few English words. Hospitality came quickly, with the question, “Rice?” We rested and showed him Lee’s picture from one of Lee’s books. I remember Sanatan looking at the book, then pointing to Lee’s picture and saying, “Guru.” He took Matthew and I for a walk and stopped in a way that seemed to communicate that we should open to the sun, breathe, and take in everything all around. We met Mira, Bishwanath, and Basu dev, who were very friendly and seemed like relatives from a distant land. We were given oranges and stayed overnight under mosquito netting. Sometime before leaving to rejoin our group and tell Lee about Sanatan das, his family, and the ashram, Sanatan gave me a coconut bowl. This surprised me because, if I understood correctly, he had received it from his Guru. Lee must have told me I should keep it, and I touch it to remember Baul practice almost very day.
Prescott Arizona, USA
I was so fortunate to be in His presence.
His blessing will follow me on my path.
His presence will be in my heart forever.
Paule from Kripa Mandir ashram in Kelowna BC Canada
I was honored to have met Sanatan Das Baul personally when he visited our ashram in Prescott. I was also asked to serve he and his sons and translator by my teacher Lee in the form of bringing them food and water and sometimes mail that came for them while they were staying on the ashram during their touring time in America.
I remember once bringing a letter to him in his temporary quarters in the blue trailer up on the hill in the Prescott Ashram. As I handed the letter to him he looked at the address and immediately his eyes seem to slightly water as he held the letter to his forehead and said with a big smile on his face ” Guru!! “. It seemed it was a letter from either his guru or from his guru’s ashram. His focused attention on the slightest regard from his Guru made a big point with me.
I also remember how his eyes were so alive and on fire with his devotion and awareness. During the time he spent walking around the ashram and seeing the offices and dining spaces he seem to take it all in and at the same time bless it all with his life force.
I was there in the main office when he picked up a cassette tape that was in front of Lee’s desk, Lee’s 1st album Accused, and with the surety of a true Master, Sanatan Das held it up and said, “Western Baul music”. I could feel then his Love & Devotion for his Path and the camaraderie of he and the Eastern Baul way for his Western Baul cousins.
His nobility and fierce practice coupled with his humor and compassion will always inspire and move me. He was a shinning example of the Baul way.
I will always be thankful to my western Baul master Lee Lozowick for bringing Sanatan Das into my life.
President, Hohm Sahaj Mandir
Triveni ashram, Paulden , Arizona USA
I met Sanatan Das at the end of December 2015 when we travelled with Lalitha and Parvathy to his home. His family was wonderfully gracious, accepting us into their family home. Although only having spent a few days with Sanatan Baba, it was obvious to me that his sadhana has been very strong and that his influence was very far reaching. His very presence was a gift and I could not believe my good fortune to be sitting with him. He said that there is the possibility to “live a life of prayer”, and I will not forget these words. Nearing the end of his life, he was so generous with his life force and I carry his blessing with me.
Joy Guru Sanatan Das Baul
Krisna Zawaduk, Kripa Mandir ashram, BC Canada
To Mira Ma and family:
So many many years ago that we visited the ashram there, but I remember like it was yesterday. Sanatan Das was the perfect host, watching over us like a mother. He showed by example the way of the Bauls……I will never forget him. A memory that I have of Sanatan Das was in the dark wee hours of the morning that we left, as the rickshaw pulled us away, he called out, clear and loud, like a bell…”Jai Guru!” I can hear it still and it fills my heart every time.
Jewel Hernandez, Colorado, USA
What I remember most about Sanatan Das was the way in which he always carried himself with such dignity.
Jai Guru, Juan Hernandez, Colorado USA
Photos By: Jason