Bauls : The Mad People
Osho on Bauls
I’M TREMENDOUSLY HAPPY TO INTRODUCE YOU TO THE WORLD OF THE BAULS. I hope you will be nourished by it, enriched by it. It is a very bizarre world, eccentric, in-sane. It has to be so. It is unfortunate but it has to be so, because the world of the so-called sane people is so insane that if you really want to be sane in it you will have to be insane. You will have to choose a path of your own. It is going to be diametrically opposite to the ordinary path of the world.
The Bauls are called Bauls because they are mad people. The word ‘Baul’ comes from the Sanskrit root VATUL. It means: mad, affected by wind. The Baul belongs to no religion. He is neither Hindu nor Mohammedan nor Christian nor Buddhist. He is a simple human being. His rebellion is total. He does not belong to anybody; he only belongs to himself. He lives in a no man’s land: no country is his, no religion is his, no scripture is his. His rebellion goes even deeper than the rebellion of the Zen Masters — because at least formally, they belong to Buddhism; at least formally, they worship Buddha.
Formally they have scriptures — scriptures denouncing scriptures, of course — but still they have. At least they have a few scriptures to burn.
Bauls have nothing — no scripture, not even to burn; no church, no temple, no mosque — nothing whatsoever. A Baul is a man always on the road. He has no house, no abode. God is his only abode, and the whole sky is his shelter.
He possesses nothing except a poor man’s quilt, a small, hand-made one-stringed instrument called AEKTARA, and a small drum, a kettle-drum. That’s all that he possesses.
He possesses only a musical instrument and a drum. He plays with one hand on the instrument and he goes on beating the drum with the other. The drum hangs by the side of his body, and he dances. That is all of his religion.
Dance is his religion; singing is his worship.
He does not even use the word ‘God’. The Baul word for God is ADHAR MANUSH, the essential man. He worships man. He says, inside you and me, inside everybody, there is an essential being. That essential being is all. To find that ADHAR MANUSH, that essential man, is the whole search. So there is no God somewhere outside you, and there is no need to create any temple because you are His temple already. The whole search is withinwards.
And on the waves of song and on the waves of dancing, he moves withinwards. He goes on moving like a beggar, singing songs. He has nothing to preach; his whole preaching is his poetry. And his poetry is also not ordinary poetry, not mere poetry. He’s not consciously a poet; he sings because his heart is singing. Poetry follows him like a shadow, hence it is tremendously beautiful.
He’s not calculating it, he’s not making it. He lives his poetry. That’s his passion and his very life. His dance is almost insane. He has never been trained to dance, he does not know anything about the art of dancing. He dances like a madman, like a whirlwind. And he lives very spontaneously, because the Baul says, “If you want to reach to the ADHAR MANUSH, the essential man, then the way, the way goes through SAHAJA MANUSH, the spontaneous man.”
To reach to the essential man, you have to go through the spontaneous man.
Spontaneity is the only way to reach to the essence…
so he cries when he feels like crying. You can find him standing in a village street crying, for nothing. If you ask, “Why are you crying?” he will laugh. He will say, “There is no why. I felt like, I felt like crying, so I cried.” If he feels like laughing, he laughs; if he feels like singing, he sings — but everything has to come out of deep feeling. He’s not mind oriented, not in any way controlled and disciplined. He knows no rituals. He’s absolutely against rituals because he says, “A ritualized person is a dead person.” He cannot be spontaneous. And
a person who follows rituals, formalities too much, creates so many habits around him that there is no need to be alert. Alertness is lost; habits are formed. Then the man of rituals lives through habits.
If he goes to the temple he bows down, not in any way conscious and alert of what he is doing, but just because he has been taught to do so, he has learned to do so. It has become a conditioning.
So they don’t follow any ritual, they don’t have any technique, they don’t have any habit. So you cannot find two Bauls that are similar; they are individuals. Their rebellion leads them to become authentic individuals. This has to be understood: the more you become a part of society, the less and less you are an individual, the less and less you are spontaneous — because the very membership in the society will not allow you to be spontaneous. You will have to follow the rules of the game. If you enter a society, you accept to follow those rules that the society is playing, or has decided to play. That’s what membership means: you enter into a certain organization; you have to play the game. Bauls have no organization, so each Baul is individual.
And that’s what religion really is: it is an individual approach towards truth. One has to go alone, one has to go in his own way; one has to find one’s own way. You cannot follow another, you cannot move on a readymade track. The more you search your own way, the closer you will be to God, or to truth, or to reality. In fact, the way is created by walking. You create it as you walk. It is not ready there for you, waiting to be walked on. You walk and you create it.
It is as if you are lost in a forest. What do you do? You have no map and there is no way leading anywhere — trees and trees and trees all around, and you are lost. What do you do? You start walking, searching, seeking. By your very walk, by your very search, a path is created.
Life is wild, and it is good that it is wild. It is good that it has no map, that it is not charted, that it is still unknown. And its unknowability is such that there is no way to make it known. Otherwise, all charm will be lost, all beauty will be lost. Then life will not surprise you; and if surprise is lost, all is lost. Then there will be no wonder, no wondering. Then your eyes will go dead and your heart will stop beating; the passion will disappear. Love will not be possible. Awe, wonder, surprise: these are the ingredients of the charisma, of the mystery of life.
So it is good that there are no scriptures; it is good that there are no ritualized religions; it is good that you are not on a super-highway.
The Baul is a rebellious person, and I say ‘rebellious’ with great consideration. He is not a revolutionary. A revolutionary is still thinking in terms of the society. How to change the society: that is the revolutionary’s continuous brooding. But he remains society-focused, society-oriented: “How to change the world?” A rebellious person does not bother about the world because he understands that the world cannot be changed by him, and who is he to change the world? — “What’s my authority to change the world? And if the world decides to be the way it is, who am I to interfere with it?” He leaves the world to itself. He does not interfere, he does not meddle with it. He starts changing himself. His revolution is inward; his revolution is absolutely inner. A rebellious person is a drop-out. He simply drops out of that society which doesn’t suit him. He does not wait for it to be transformed so that he can fit with it. That desire is foolish, stupid. Then you will be lost. And that day, that utopia will never happen — when the society has changed so much that you can fit with it, and the society can fit with you. It has never happened. Revolutionaries have lived down through the centuries, and died. The world has remained the same, more or less, but the lives of those revolutionaries were wasted in changing it.
Just think of Marx, Lenin, Trotsky, coming back and looking at the world — they will start crying. This is the world for which they wasted their whole lives? This is the world for which they hoped and staked their whole lives, gambled with their lives? They could not live their lives because they were trying to change the world. They were trying to change the world because they thought that only when the world had changed according to their wishes would they be able to live. Otherwise, how could they live? How can you live happily in an unhappy world? — that is the revolutionary’s question. Very significant: “How can you be happy in an unhappy world?” — so he tries to make the world happy.
The rebellious person says, “Leave the world to itself. Nobody has ever changed it.” He is more practical and down to earth: “I can live my own way. I can create my own world within me.” He is a drop-out. Bauls are drop-outs. They don’t belong to any religion, to any society, to any nation. They are beggars, wanderers, vagabonds, hippies, gypsies, moving from one village to another, singing their song, dancing their dance, living their lives in their own way, doing their thing. A rebellious person is one who says, “I’m not going to wait, I’m going to live right now.” The revolutionary hopes for the future. He says, “I am going to wait. I will wait for the right moment.” The rebellious person says, “The right moment is here-now, and I’m not going to wait for anybody, I’m going to live right now.” A rebellious person lives in the present.
And one thing more to be understood: a rebellious person is not against anybody. He may appear against because he is trying to live his own life, but he is not really against anybody. He may not go to the mosque but he is not against Mohammedans. He may not go to the temple but he is not against Hindus. He simply says, “I am not concerned; it is irrelevant.” He simply says, “Please leave me alone. You do your thing and let me do my thing. Don’t interfere with me and I will not interfere with you.” The vision of the rebellious mind is very realistic. Life is short. Nobody knows whether tomorrow will come or not. The future is not certain, and this is the only moment one can live. Why waste it in fighting with others? Why waste it in trying to convince others? Enjoy it, delight in it. A Baul is a hedonist; he is epicurean. He starts living: he loves, he lives, he delights. When a Baul dies, he is not afraid of death — he is ready. He has lived his life. He is ripe. The fruit is ripe and ready to fall to the ground, with no hesitation.
You will be afraid. You are already afraid of death because you have not been able to live. You have not lived yet and death has come or is coming. You have not yet had time to live and death has knocked at the door. How can you accept death? How can you welcome?
A Baul is ready to die any moment because he has not wasted a single moment of life. He has lived it as deeply as it was possible to live. He has no complaint, he has no grudge against life, and he has nothing to wait for. So if death comes, he is ready to live death also. He embraces death. He says, “Come in.” He becomes a host to death also.
If you live rightly, you will be ready to die peacefully, blissfully. If you are not living rightly, if you are postponing, if you are simply putting aside your life and doing other things rather than enjoying life, doing a thousand and one things rather than delighting in life, then of course, naturally, you will be afraid of death. And when death comes, you will be a coward in front of death.
A Baul dies dancing, a Baul dies singing, a Baul dies playing his AEKTARA and his DUGGI. He knows how to live and how to die. And he is not worried about God; he’s only worried about the ADHAR MANUSH, the essential man that resides in him. His whole search is to find this essential man that he is. ‘Who am I?’ is his essential search. And he’s very respectful about other human beings because they all belong to that essential nature. All other forms are of that formless essential nature; all the waves belong to the ocean. He’s very respectful, tremendously respectful.
A Baul never condemns anything. To me, that is the very criterion of a religious man: he has no condemnatory attitude. He accepts everything, his world includes everything. It does not exclude anything. Sex is accepted, SAMADHI also.
His world is very rich because nothing is excluded from it. He says, “Everything comes from that essential core of your being, so why deny it? And if you deny it, how will you be able to reach to the source?” Wherever you deny something, you cling there, you stop there. Then the journey cannot move to the very core.
Life, as it is, is totally accepted. That does not mean that a Baul is a man of mere indulgence, no. He knows the alchemy of how to transform the baser into the higher. He knows how to transform iron into gold. He knows how to transform sex into SAMADHI; he knows the secret.
And what is the secret of transforming life into eternal life, time into eternity? The secret is love. Between sex and SAMADHI, the bridge is love. Love is participated in by both: on the one hand sex, on the other hand SAMADHI. It is the bridge. One bank is sex, the other bank is SAMADHI. Love includes both, comprehends both. Through love, the Bauls say, one reaches to the eternal home. So that is the only provision for the path: love. Love is their worship, love is their prayer, love is their meditation. The path of the Baul is the path of love. He loves tremendously.
There are two traditions in India: one is the tradition of the Vedas, the other is the tradition of the Tantras. Vedas are more formal, more of the nature of rituals. Vedas are more social, organizational. Tantras are more individual — less concerned with rituals, forms, habits, more concerned with the essential; less concerned with the forms, more concerned with the soul.
Vedas are not all-inclusive. Much is excluded; it is more puritan, more moralistic. Tantras are non-puritan, allinclusive, more human, more earthly. Tantras say that everything has to be used and nothing is to be denied. Bauls belong more to the Tantras than to the Vedas. There is only one improvement on Tantras; that is the only difference. Tantra is all-inclusive, more feminine than male. The Vedas are more male-oriented, the Tantras are more feminine. Of course, woman is more inclusive than man. Man is included in woman, but woman is not included in man. Man seems to be a sort of specialization. Woman seems to be more general, more fluid, more round. Tantra is the way of the feminine, just like Tao.
But the Bauls have improved upon Tantra also. Tantra is too technical. The very word ‘Tantra’ means technique. It is a little harsh, more scientific. Bauls are more poetic; Bauls are more soft — singers and dancers…
The Bauls say you can live attached in the world and yet be unattached; you can love a woman and yet be a witness; you can be in the marketplace and yet be beyond it. You can live in the world and be not of it. This vision is my vision also. That is the meaning of my SANNYAS: be in the world but don’t be of it. And, nothing is of worth if it is not done through love.
The first poem….
These poems belong to different Bauls, but I’m not going to use their names. That is irrelevant. They all belong to the same vision. Different poems, but they remain, deep down, as the same poem; different words, different forms, but running through them is the same current. It is just like in a garland, many flowers are held together, but only one thread runs inside and holds them all. We will insist on that thread. We will not be bothered about who has written this poem. In fact, many of the poems are anonymous. Nobody has ever known who wrote them, because in fact, they were never written.
Bauls are illiterate; maybe that’s why they have such purity. They are not very cultured people, educated in the ways of the world. Maybe that’s why there is such innocence. They are children of the earth: uneducated, poor, humble, but very sincere. So, I will not be telling you who has sung this song, or the other songs that will follow in the coming twenty days. That is irrelevant. They come out of the same vision. They have a certain melody, so individual that it is called BAULSUR, the melody of the Baul; so special, the taste is so special and the fragrance is so individual that whenever you hear a song from the Bauls, you will immediately recognize it. It has its own individuality, its own style: wild, illiterate, uncultured, but very individualistic. Just as the ocean tastes the same — from anywhere you taste it, and it is salty — in these songs, immediately you will feel that they come from one vision, one attitude, one passion, one experience. And they were never written. Bauls have been singing them down through the centuries. Each Baul has dropped something, added something, made his own songs or used the old songs that he had heard from his Masters, but the vision is so clear that you can never miss when you hear a Baul song.
This is an excerpt from the transcript of a public discourse by Osho in Buddha Hall, Shree Rajneesh Ashram, Pune.
Discourse Series: The Beloved, Vol 1
Chapter title: Submission is the secret of knowledge
21 June 1976 am in Buddha Hall
Osho has spoken on ‘Bauls’ in many of His discourses. More on the subject can be referred to in the following books/discourses:
- The Beloved, Vol 2
- A Sudden Clash of Thunder
- The Dhammapada: The Way of the Buddha, Vol 7, 8
- Returning to the Source
- Tao: The Three Treasures, Vol 4
- Theologia Mystica
- From Ignorance to Innocence
- The Grass Grows By Itself
- I Am That
- I Celebrate Myself: God Is No Where, Life Is Now Here