Parvathy Baul and discovering oneself anew, everyday

She says Baul songs underline a certain truth — are translucent and ever flowing. That their essence, a fruit of consciousness, emerges after finding the clarity and the source of our being. “And they deal with the tatva of creation and destruction; something so eternal. They surpass all divides — of class, culture or creed. After all, we all carry the same consciousness, and know pain and pleasure. The truth therefore is unchanging. And Baul songs are part of this consciousness — of the divine. Precisely why they are timeless,” Parvathy Baul, Indias best known Baul folk singer and storyteller, tells IANS.

Though this Sangeet Natak Akademi awardee has been immersed in Baul for decades now, performing across the world and teaching students, her fascination for it remains intact. She feels that with tradition one discovers himself everyday.

Stressing that the self is ever new and inner truth has no ‘presence’ while being in eternal attendance, she adds: “The shape of that presence is in the nature of how we contemplate it. Precisely why Baul stays ever-new. There is no feeling that the same thing is being repeated. In a forest, the same mango tree gives the same fruit every year. But is it not new every time?”

Talking about the similarity of essence between Baul and Sufi, the practitioner who will be part of ‘An Evening With Parvathy Baul’ organised by the Kolkata Centre for Creativity (KCC) feels that both seek an inner truth and boast of total commitment towards the divine. She says that both look at the world with compassionate eyes.

“Precisely why even the music and poetry are very similar sometimes. Be it the poems of Hafez and Bulleh Shah, and a Baul song from Lalon Fakir. Don’t both the traditions talk about complete surrender? In fact, humility is the strength shared by both.”

Parvathi feels that much more needs to be done by all quarters for the preservation and growth of Baul. She feels that steps need to be taken even on the level of awareness considering many people feel that Baul is only a music tradition.

“The music is a part of the tradition. Baul is a parampara in itself, which has so many other disciplines. And every discipline that is practised through the days, through the months and years by the Baul practitioners — every element is supportive of what we see as the manifestation of Baul songs. Even when it comes to Bengal, people can benefit a lot by knowing the depth and the teachings of Baul songs. Deep understanding our own culture and literature enriches the thought process.”

While the ground-breaking ceremony of her gurukul Sanatan Siddhashram, a vision of Parvathy’s guru Sanatan Das Baul, was done in 2018 and they have been building, musicians have already started doing their practice.

It is a place for practitioners, and a centre for bringing all the schools in Baul together. She adds that the aim is to archive the tradition not just in the library, but also inside human bodies. “We have already had three international festivals. It’s a self-sustained aashram and we do organic farming. The focus is on a holistic way of approaching life and the environment.”

Looking forward to more live performances after Covid so as to remain pure with the tradition, she is not really interested in “fusion or mixing things”.

“I would like to retain the solo performances steeped in tradition. My performances are not meant for entertainment, but are a transformational tool — bringing an awareness towards the self in a very meditative way,” she concludes.