The History of Bauls of Bengal

 The Bauls pay no attention to social constraints like caste system and this has greatly impacted on their ability to attain liberation through the recognition of the Divine. Also, the Baul religion places emphasis on the significance of an individual’s physical body and their importance because it is believed that the Supreme lives within the body and it is the only place that people should search for God.

The fundamental of Baul principles is to attain spiritual goal of liberation. The songs of Baul are priceless to the preservation and maintenance of the ancient religion of Baul. Songs were usually utilized for instructional purposes by the guru to tutor the disciple and prepare them for the ultimate truth. The aim of Baul practitioners is to attain the recognition of the Supreme through the utilization of trantric and yogic techniques. The Baul philosophy is believed to have been in existence before other Vedic religions. It is essential to point out that the Baul name was first seen in the literature of the Bengal in the 15th century. It looks to have been derived from the word, ‘batula’ which means ‘he who is beaten by the winds; he that is; who abandons himself to his impulses’. However, this blissful madness is believed to have a close association with the love for God. Many scholars have speculated that Baul sect originated around the 15th to the 17th century.

Technically, Bengal’s Baul is perceived to be part of the unorthodox devotional convention that has been greatly influenced by Buddhism, Islam, and Hinduism but still very distinct from all these three. The tradition of Baul is quite eclectic. Its weight originates from tantric Buddhism (Sahajiya), tantric Hindusim (which is majorly Vaisnava Sahajiya but also has an element of Saiva-Sakta), Sufi Islam, and Bengali Vasinavism (Gaudiya). Special deities, sacred places, caste, and temples have no part in the Baul ideology. The religion has no allowance for the setting up of images of divinities or other religious representations in their places of worship. Their beliefs center on the ideology that the temple of the supreme is in their body. In essence, they are a tantric yogic sect who share general practices with some other tantric yogic customs.

Just like other tantric yogic ideologies, the Baul believes that the body is a part of the universe where the Supreme lives. In addition to this, they believe that the body is the only tool for attaining liberation and gaining victory over death. Anyone who desire to attain realization and knowledge of the Supreme should focus on their inner being.


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