paban das baul
Photo: Paban Das Baul 1980s West Bengal
Book: The Honey gatherers travels with the Bauls by Mimlu Sen
Paban Das Baul, born in 1961 in Murshidabad, West Bengal, is an Indian singer and musician of the Baul tradition.
The word "Baul" means "mad", in the sense of someone who is passionate, "carried away by the wind". Mystical and iconoclastic singers and sages, the Bauls belong to an oral tradition born of the encounter between Sufi mystics, travelling over 1000 years ago from the Transcaucasian belt to the depths of the Indian Ganges plains, and the Sahajiya tantric sages.
The Bauls are strange people, especially in their manners, customs and practices. Though belonging to either the Hindu or Muslim religion, the Baul refuse to be guided by any social or religious convention. Freedom of spirit is their only guide. They thus go against the grain of habits, received ideas and general theories.
Paban Das Baul can be seen dancing and singing in the famous documentary "The Song of Fools" directed by Georges Juneau in 1979.
Paban has always painted and drawn without ever really trying to show his work. He draws and paints as he plays and dances, driven by a simple and obvious necessity.