The music of the Bauls, Baul Sangeet, is a particular type of folk song.

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Bauls are an extension of the Sahajiya philosophy, which in turn derives from the Nath tradition.

They believe in living the world as a half-sanyasi. Some modern scholars, like Shashibhusan Das Gupta have suggested that it may be derived either from Sanskrit word vatula, which means "enlightened, lashed by the wind to the point of losing one's sanity, god's madcap, detached from the world, and seeker of truth", or from vyakula, which means "restless, agitated" and both of these derivations are consistent with the modern sense of the word, which denotes the inspired people with an ecstatic eagerness for a spiritual life, where a person can realise his union with the eternal beloved – the Moner Manush (the person of the heart).

In 1982-83 the number rose to 905; in 2000, they numbered about 5,000.

Those who choose family life live with their wives, children and relations in a secluded part of a village.

They have no fixed dwelling place, but move from one akhda to another. A male Baul can have one or more sevadasis, who are associated with him in the act of devotion.

Men wear white lungis and long, white tunics; women wear white saris. Until 1976 the district of Kushtia had 252 ascetic Bauls.The Bauls themselves attribute their lack of historical records to their reluctance to leave traces behind. Jeanne Openshaw writes that the music of the Bauls appears to have been passed down entirely in oral form until the end of the 19th century, when it was first transcribed by outside observers.suggests that Bauls are descendants of a branch of Sufism called ba'al.Votaries of this sect of Sufism in Iran, dating back to the 8th-9th centuries, were fond of music and participated in secret devotional practices. Like other Sufis, they also entered the South Asian subcontinent and spread out in various directions.It is also suggested that the term derives from the Sanskrit words vatul (mad, devoid of senses) and vyakul (wild, bewildered) which Bauls are often considered.Like the ba'al who rejects family life and all ties and roams the desert, singing in search of his beloved, the Baul too wanders about searching for his maner manus (the ideal being).