Wednesday, February 20, 2013
by Mac Haque
The moment as I had anticipated for years is NOW.
Screams of “Islam is in Danger” since yesterday the 19th February 2013 by Jamaat e Islami and their cohorts, with the Projonmo Chottor Movement being unable to respond in kind is reminiscent of 1971. It took us nine months of bloodbath and millions dead to prove to the Jamaati murder merchants that they were dead wrong. Islam was never ever in danger in Bangladesh and never will be. If it ever was, their ‘voices’ wouldn’t have been heard today. Yet we must stop and pause and ask ourselves the fundamental question: What ‘Islam’ are we really talking about today? In 1500 years Islam has split officially into 72 firqas (sects) – unofficially it is probably over a thousand.
But does egalitarian ‘Muhammadi Islam’ of the marginalized or the striving and struggling people as desired by the Prophet exists in this chaos? The loudest voice we hear today are from the virulent and violent Salafi/Wahabi zealots the core ‘belief system’ of the murderous Moudadi inspired Jamaat e Islami, who are no more than an extension of ‘monarchic Islam’ imposed per force after they were usurped from Muslims less than 300 years after the death of the Prophet.
Driven by spurious and manmade Hadith – they degrade the meaning of the words within the body of the Qu’ran to suit their exploitative, divisive and murderous agenda. These Hadith’s have traditionally been used to imply that the Qu’ran is incomplete and therefore has to be interpreted by these self proclaimed ‘Ulemas’ and Scholars – whereas it says nowhere in the Qu’ran that one needs any kind of assistance from them. Our relationship with Allah is secret and sacred. Each women/man is to herself/himself and it better be that way.
It is most unfortunate that whenever we talk about Islam – we by implication tend to believe in the fictitious and murderous Islam propounded by the Salafi/Wahbi bigots. ‘Mainstream Islam’ which the ‘masses’ have been led to believe that this is Pukka (kosher) Islam. This is certainly NOT the Islam of Bengal. We have absolutely nothing in common with the Islam of Saudia Arabia, Taliban Afghanistan or Pakistan. The 1971 War of Liberation was fought to move away from these essentially hateful and murderous Kafis who masquerade as ‘Muslims’.
It is time to take the Projonmo Chottor Movement forward keeping the highest ideals of Ma’arefoti, Murshidi and Fakiri Islam that has always been the belief system of our marginalized. It is the strength of the grass root Islam of Bengal that has not only scared the religious bigots, but also out elite as much as the Media for we have always looked at the teachings of our Fakirs, Shadhus and Dervishes being a ‘subordinate culture’ of the riff raffs.
Yet we forget that historically inroads of Islam into Bangladesh did not come by swords – but by the benevolent and tolerant messages of Sufi Saints. There are per square miles more Sufi Saints and their tombs strewn all across Bangladesh than anywhere else in the world. We live in a Spiritual Shield that neither Jamaat nor its Zionist patrons can ever pierce and take off our heads. What more proof do we need to convince anyone about the Islam that our ancestors and predecessors preached and propagated?
It is time that the Projonmmo Chottor Movement gives a befitting reply and enough fodder in materials, songs and discourses are available in the public domain in the works of Fakir Lalon Shah and others. Now is the time to give the movement not a ‘religious’- BUT a spiritual dimension.
I REPEAT, the enemy today is Kafirs masquerading as Muslims and pretending to be defenders of Islam. These are the same Kafirs and infidels whose hearts didn’t dither when they slaughtered the grandchildren of Prophet Muhammad – courtesy of their usurped ‘Khalifa’ Iyazid. To imagine that they would have any hesitation to slaughter our children at the Projonmo Chottor is dwelling in fool’s paradise.
Are we ready for the challenge or are we again going to be slaughtered as we were in 1971?
Thursday, December 20, 2012
20DEC12: Mac Haque Dear Ranojit thanks for your message and inputs. I am certainly open to questions - but the confines of space in Facebook will make it unreasonable for a 'public debate' as most of your points will have been, or have been answered in my book due early next year. I do not claim what I say is the 'last word' on Bauliana, Nevertheless to your points :
1. I do not see any vast difference in interpretation of the epigram that you have quoted and I have mentioned. Yours is a rather scholarly interpretation while mine may best be called a 'lay mans'.
2. I have believed it is very easy to be complicated and hard to be simple and I have taken a simplistic approach for easier understanding of the curious who may or may not be informed of the 21 plus meanings of the word Sharia. The zaheri and bateni aspects of Sharia again is mind boggling and there cannot ever be an 'all encompassing one glove fits all' description.
To Lalon Shaiji's pod/kalaam:
ইসলাম কায়েম হয় যদি শরায়/কি জন্য নবিজি রহে পনেরে বছর হীরা গুহায়
Islam kayem hoi jodi shorai, ki jonyo nobiji rohey ponero bochor Heera guhai
If Islam was formed on the basis of Sharia,why then did the Prophet spend fifteen years in the cave of Mount Heera
পঞ্চবেনায় শরা জারি/মৌলভীদের তম্বি ভারী
ponchobenai shora jari/moulovi der tombhi bhari
on five Pillars the Sharia was imposed,and Moulavi’s scream this in arrogance
নবিজি কি সাধন করি নবুয়তি পায়/
Nobiji ki shadon kori nobuyoti pai
What penance did the messenger profess before he became a Prophet?
না করিলে নামাজ রোজা/হাসরে হয় যদি সাজা
na koriley namaaz roza/Hashore e hoy jodi shaja
If I do not say my prayers or fast/and consequently punished at Hashr
চল্লিশ বছর নামাজ কাজা করেছেন রসুল দয়াময়
chollish bochor namaz kaja korechen rasul doyamoy
Missed his prayers for forty years my compassionate Prophet
কায়েম উদ দ্বীন হবে কিসে/অহর্নিশি ভাবছি বসে
kayem ud deen hobey kisey/ ohonishi bhachi boshey
How would you be the great implementer of faith/I think about it night and day
দায়েমী নামাজের দিশে লালন জানায়
dayemi namajer dishey Lalon Janai
in continuous prayers, Lalon informs
If Makkah was/is the physical representation of Sharia - then the Caves of Heera was where Ma'arifa evolved. The 'simplistic' 4 stations that is popularly used to describe Tasawwuf - i.e Shariat, Hakikat, Tarikat and Marifat (Ma'arifa) and the super Ma'arifa - Wil'ayet ...therefore gets boiled down to the egg or chicken - and what came first debate The 'ponchobena' or five pillars likewise, also have been challenged by Fakir specifically in the order they are presented by the orthodoxy. More in the book.
3. On deho tottyo again no last word here, as there are no last words on physiology or anatomy if you we are going to branch them within the new domains of contemplative science, or yet unexplained phenomenon of para-psychology/spirituality - and what you say is very true. There are more detailed explanation on the same in the book.
4. There is a vast difference between the word Nobi and Rasool and the various pod/kalaam are available in the public domain under their distinct categorization in Bangladesh.
jOI gURU Alek sHAI /\
20DEC12: Ranojit Dasgupta · Friends with Aditya Kabir
Mac Bhai, Joy Guru. Since you are open to questions and debates as you've told my friend Aditya Kabir , I too would like to point out a few things: the epigram you quoted যাহা কিছু আছে ভ্রম্মে তাই আছে এই ব্রহ্মান্ডে would actually be 'যাহা কিছু ব্রহ্মাণ্ডে তাহা আছে দেহভাণ্ডে।' বর্তমান কথা! This human 'body' is a blueprint (নকশা) of the cosmos. Also your observations on the bauls' interpretation of the 'Sharia' is too simplistic. In Lalon's words 'আগে শরিয়ত জানরে মন বুদ্ধি শান্ত করে'. Only their interpretation of the Sharia is very different from the orthodoxy. But as they always reiterate শরিয়ত আগে হাসিল না হলে মারিফত কখনই হাসিল করা যাবে না or to quote Lalon again 'আইল ড্যাঙ্গায়ে ঘাস খাবা?' সেইটা না-মুমকিন! Also, apart from 8 'kuthuri's and 9 doroja's in this body their are 18 "mokams" and 24-1/2 'chandra's or 'tattva'-s, which you haven't mentioned. I have heard a different rendition to the Lalongeeti you have mentioned "ভজো মানুষের চরণদু'টি/নিত্যবস্তু পাবে খাঁটি"। সহজ মানুষ-টিকে ধরলে, তার ভজনা করলেই, একমাত্র তার থেকে 'গুরুবস্তু' পাওয়া যাবে, অন্যথা নয়। 'নিত্যবস্তু হবে খাঁটি' কথাটা vague, অনুমান। Finally, your informal categorization of Lalongeeti also seems a bit questionable to me। নবীতত্ত্ব আর রাসুলতত্ত্বে পার্থক্য কোথায়? দয়া করে পদের নমুনা দিয়ে বুঝিয়ে দেবেন? They can be broadly categorized into দৈন্য, রাগদৈন্য আর শিক্ষা। স্থূল-প্রবর্ত-সাধক-সিদ্ধ দশাগুলির ভাগ ঠিকই আছে, কিন্তু বাউল-ফকির সাধুগুরু-রা বলেন একই পদ ভিন্ন ভিন্ন দশায় ভিন্ন ভিন্ন অর্থ বহন করে আনে। তাই একটা পদের সম্পূর্ণ অর্থ ভেদ করতে ১২ বছর কেটে যায়! হক্ মুর্শিদ!!
19DEC12: Mac Haque Aditya interesting questions
1. Bauls are not a sect/cult or even a community. Best one may say - it is a loose fraternity. As far as I am concerned there is a Baul in each human crying to break free. Its only when you hear the cry, respond to the stimuli and work on it for liberation of your Soul, is the time when the Baul within you is awakened. Since Bauliana is not even an institution - there is nobody on earth who can certify who a Baul is - or isn't. Yes, for those interested and are willing to go under the full time tutelage of a Guru, there are induction rites - if not rituals and may vary with each and every Guru in question.
2. Very badly I am afraid, for Bauls have always challenged the prevailing status quo notions of 'belief' that has genetically infected us for hundreds of years. It is the radicals interpretation of 'holy text' and rituals that Bauls have put a spoke into for centuries, which has earned them the ire on the one hand of the bigoted, and at the same time endeared them to mass of our thinking populace. Since 1995 - there has been an worldwide explosion of curiosity about Bauls and their belief system.
3. This is a tricky question and I have addressed them in details in my book. Essentially the popular social construct of Bauls would most unfortunately imply as they being a people who live a 'mystical,spiritual' life - revolving in some 7th Heaven close to God. That is completely untrue, for they have always lived within our society, and from taken their positions of strength and overall acceptance have done a yeomen service by dispelling prevailing notions about life and living as we know it or are possibly attuned to. They are not to be even considered 'aliens' as some uninformed urban constructs would seem to infer on them
4. In the Lalonist school of thought his verse/pod or kalaam are informally bunched in the following 12 'curriculum' for understanding, contemplation and appreciation. They are :
Tri-Tottyobad (1.Noor Tottyo, 2. Rasool Tottyo, 3 Nabi Tottyo .)
Pancha Leela (4.Krishna Leela, 5. Goushtho Leela, 6. Nimai Leela, 7.Gouro Leela, 8.Nitai Leela)
and Chotur Desh (9. Shtulo Desh, 10.Proborto Desh, 11. Shadhok Desh and 12.Siidhi Desh)
Thanks for your kind interest. jOI gURU /\
19DEC12: Aditya Kabir a few questions:
1. how can someone become a baul? is there any induction ritual?
2. how do orthodox religions perceive bauls?
3. is there a true bauliana or are all mystic singers of bengal essentially bauls?
4. is there any system/method/structure to baul parampara?
p.s. Osho-r ekta boi paisi on bauls - "the beloved". a beautiful book that mostly agrees to your narration.
18DEC12: Mac Haque Syed Safiullah Sir, am extremely delighted with your kind comments. Indeed I personally feel Bauliana philosophy is the only available option we have out of the socio-political quagmire that we have been most unfortunately been subject to in recent times. The rest of the book is coming on in a torturously slow yet positive manner. I hope this proves useful to many in the days ahead. Your book serves as an invaluable reference material for my research. Kind regards.
18DEC12: Syed Safiullah Mac,you rightly deserve appreciation for explaining the baul philosophy in detail.i have tried to do the same from a scientist's point of view in the preface of my book"from the begging bag of the baul".in these turbulent times baul thought may make a critical contribution to conflict resolution.
Tuesday, December 18, 2012
Excerpts from Mac Haque's expanded, unpublished version of the book - Bauliana - Worshipping the Great God in Man : The Bauls of Bangladesh and Fakir Lalon Shah
The purpose of this FAQ is meant to explain the philosophy associated with Baul music of Bangladesh, the esoteric schools of wisdom, the great Saints and Sages of our times and their thoughts, all of which combine to make it a unique cultural component of Bengal:
1. Is Bauliana a religion?
Bauliana has similarities with Buddhism as it not an organized religion, but a life style and belief system. Among the many strains of Bauliana the Sahajiya or easygoing/simple schools of thought, has a direct linkage from Buddhism. Bauls are spiritual people and by implication, it is the awakened spirit of Man in each and every religion, doctrines, beliefs and rituals which has primordial overtones and are enshrined in the soul of Man, is ideally their prime focus. Their practices and inquiry all revolve around ‘Man the being’, and they believe that it is in the faculty of Man, in his intellect and deeper within his consciousness is where God exist. The Bauls have always believed that God could not have existed without Man, for it is only Man that sings the great glory of God, in a roundabout way keeps him alive.
2.If Bauls are not religious people, what are they?
Bauls are spiritual beings having a human experience, not human beings having a spiritual experience. This thought stems from the understanding that spirituality perhaps predates religion. Religions came in to discipline, enlarge and codify Mans probing of a power greater than itself. The quest for God is as old as the history of Mankind, yet it is a necessary quest and has been so, for Man’s probing of the unknown has been one of the creature’s most dynamic instinct, and an instinct without which, Man would cease to exist.
3. Bauls do not believe in anything called the ‘absolute truth so what is truth as far as they are concerned?
Truth for the Baul is a perception. The hazard here is perceptions on the other hand, may not always be considered reality. To a Baul epigram:
অনুমান কখনো প্রমান বলে বিবেচিত হতে পারে নাOnuMan kokhono proMan boley bibeychito hotey parey naPerception can never be treated as proof
The above reasoning indicates that ‘truth’ even as a connotation is variable and the quest for ‘absolute truth’ is endless and will forever remain an ongoing process until the perceivable ‘infinity’. Since Bauls know of no ‘beginnings’, there cannot be anything called an ‘end’. The FULL STOP as such does not exist in the Baul vocabulary!
Objectively when we say that we have ‘arrived at the truth’, we actually mean ‘end results’ and those results tend to vary over periods of time, when ‘newer truth’, or ‘newer lights’ as we say, have emerged. ‘Truth’ per se has a tendency to be rendered obsolete over periods of time. Truth cannot be benchmarked, truth is always the footprint of Mankind and they last only until newer paths appear, whether they are relics of well marked ones treaded upon by our ancestors, or newer ones on ‘information superhighways’ as are discovered these days. Truth is dynamic, re-creative and pro-creative with interaction and pro-actions its driving wheel. It goes beyond the principals of cause and effect.
What our ancestors knew as truth has in many cases been rendered obsolete – even redundant. History has innumerable records to confirm that men have been hanged to death under the premise of what Courts thought then, that the evidence suggested strongly a Man’s unqualified guilt. Yet over time; time again has recorded that the entire process of gathering evidence was flawed, unscientific, and therefore a perfectly innocent Man has been 'killed' in the gallows. Here TRUTH as we know it was/were the evidence, and the evidence then was beyond any sphere of doubt the TRUTH, yet today we know they were not.
In Bauliana, the verses of Saints and Sages have traditionally left the question and concept or truth and its possible interpretation in parables and very difficult metaphors, anecdotes and questions. Most of the questions either remain unanswered and/or are debated centuries following their original composition. They have marked similarities with koans as in Zen Buddhism discourses.
4. Bauls do not believe in any organized religion so what makes them unique?
We take the opportunity to quote the UNESCO declaration of 2005 when Baul music and philosophy was recognized as the ‘Intangible Heritage of Humanity’ where it states:
Bauls belong to an unorthodox devotional tradition, influenced by Hinduism, Buddhism, Bengali Vaishnavism and Sufi Islam, yet distinctly different from them. Bauls neither identify with any organized religion nor with the caste system, special deities, temples or sacred places. Their emphasis lies on the importance of a person’s physical body as the place where God resides. Dimock, Edward
Bauls per se do not believe in any organized religion in it’s totally. It believes all religions are branches from a single tree that God created and they place themselves and their belief system in the centre of all existential equation – in the seed. However given the Baul philosophers egalitarian characteristics their emphasis is to respect and honour each and every religion and belief system known to Mankind. In the process, learning and understanding of religious text for enhancing knowledge is treated as part of the belief system. Without knowledge about the branches of the tree and essentially the seed, Bauls believe, survival of the tree or the branches are impossible. Cohesion is underscored.
5. Bauls do not believe in any Temple, Mosques, Pagoda, Church or Synagogues, so what do they pray and worship - if at all?
The Baul epigram that we will use for easier understanding and has Vaishnavite overtones is:
যাহা কিছু আছে ভ্রম্মে তাই আছে এই ব্রহ্মান্ডে
Jaha kichu Brohmye tai achey ei BrohMandey
The Universe lies latent in the human body
The concept of God as is popularly understood or prevalent in normal parlance among theist, polytheist or even monotheist is nonexistent among Bauls. They believe that all Temples, Mosques, Pagoda, Church or Synagogues etc are physical manifestations of ‘place of worship’ that already exist in the human body. Therefore there is no object more worthy of worship than physical human beings, and the human soul – the consciousness. If there is at all a God, ‘the Supreme being, the truth’ is embedded in human souls and each human body is a Temple, Mosque, Pagoda, Church or Synagogue in its own right. Likewise whatever is in the Universe, rivers, oceans, mountains etc to the celestial seven skies up in heaven and beyond are all present and exist within the human body.
Fakir Lalon Shah in one of his verses on Makkah, the spiritual centre of Muslims said:
আদি মক্কাহ এই মানব দেহে/ দেখনারে মন ভেয়ে
Adi Makkah ei Manob dehey/dekhna re mon bheye
The ancient Makkah is within the human body/Look for it O' brothers in devotion
দেশ দেশান্তর দৌড়ে কেনো মরছড়ে হাফিয়ে
Desh deshantor dourey keno morcho re hafiyeh
Why run between countries and continents and die in vain exhaustion.
We notice similar strains of thoughts in the Guru Granth Sahib where it mentions:
For the sake of it, you journey to sacred shrines and holy rivers; but this priceless jewel is within your own heart.
6. If Bauls by practice and praxis are neither Hindus, Muslims, Buddhist, Animist nor Pagans, what are they?
The Bauls instinctive retort to the question would be – ‘does it really matter’? Bauliana is a syncretic belief system combining and incorporating the best elements and influences of Shahajiya Buddhism, Vaishnavism, and Tasawuf (Sufi) Islam. In Bangladesh and Bengal it is also known as Fakiri Islam, etymologically evolving from the Arabic word Fiqh, or seekers with insight and practitioners of deep knowledge/wisdom. Fiqh is also the word used to explain Islamic jurisprudence. Prophet Abraham changed the perceived 'many God' concept as in polytheism, at the same time propounded the proposition of 'one God'. This may have been new for the Arabia centric world of the time, but then it took thousands more years to be crystallized, perfected and its outreach codified in precise scientific terms. But it did not mean that the concept of the one God only came from Monotheist Prophets. The Quran mentions that there is nothing in the book that was not known and it is only a reminder to Mankind as in 'seed truth'. ‘No, this is but a reminder’ - The Quran, 80:11
The Sarshina e Fakiri school of thoughts have run parallel to Islam since its birth, and although it is considered a branch of Sufism, what characterizes is as different is in its enquiry which are grounded on rationale, intellects and not hearsays. Fakirs such as Lalon Shah were never interested in the common perception of Islam post the times of Prophet Muhammad. They in practice had no trust on contents of the Hadith which they believe are spurious and written years after the death of the Prophet as also as the fact that he (Muhammad) forbade writing about him. Instead the Fakirs seek to find out the course of the Prophets meditation in the caves of Mount Heera, which reportedly lasted over fifteen years before the Quran was finally revealed to him. They question the entire paradigm of Sharia and the practiced belief and rituals of many Muslims.
There being no contact with any human other than that with his wife Khadija and his cousin Ali, the Prophet’s meditative practice remains unknown. The Fakirs believe that those practices are codified within the Quran and they (Fakirs) are therefore interested in unlocking the secrets through reading and researching the revelation. This they firmly believe, will reveal the egalitarian Islam of the marginalized, poor, dispossessed and oppressed, popularly called Muhammadi Islam, or the Islam that the Prophet preached before the times preceding his death and later usurped by kingship about thirty years following his death. This is in sharp contrast to the Islam preached by the kingship and the elite class, post his death until today, and found in traditions encapsulated in al-Hadith or even the Sharia, which are mostly fabrications and Man-made.
Bauls seeks equilibrium in religious quest, by transposing the best of Mankind’s teachings to realities and looking for similarities rather than dissimilarities in religious text and their myriad interpretations. The all important equation for Bauls is that Man is a natural creature and anything that defies or overlooks natural laws and its many principals is neither credible nor acceptable. It also lays bare that ‘Man the creature’ has limited free will and in praxis Bauls tend to lean towards nature, seasons, agricultural and cosmological cycles, with their food habits varying accordingly. With respect to all creatures of nature, for instance in the month of Boishakh (rains, monsoon) Bauls do not eat fish as this is also the month aquatic beings spawn. Ecology and preservation is a dominant criterion of the Bauls social behavior.
7. If Bauls do not believe in any special deities, symbolisms, shrines, or revered place of ‘worship’, where, when, how, who and what do they worship?
Bauls believe that ‘worshipping’ is a limited exercise humans habitually indulge in expected behaviorist rituals. This is an effort to reach out to a power greater than oneself. In Bauliana the word is ‘bhokti’ (derived from Sanskrit – Bhakti) meaning a natural gravitation to the Supreme Being of one’s choice, appropriation, association, aspiration, adoration or adulation. There can neither be a fixed nor multiple notions about the ‘nature’ of God. In the Baul equation it is this formless, sexless, voiceless entity that superimposes itself on the ‘one’, the human body is where all complexities begin and there is nothing more complex known to Man that his own physical being i.e. his body. Yet it is equally simple for those that care to look beyond the mundane, and enter a phase of ‘supra-mundane’ to appreciate this complex equation, in polishing and delving deeper into ones personality, where every personality is unique. For Bauls it is in the songs, and their inherent meaning that is the core of their belief. Bauliana falls within the domain of modern contemplative science in its own right and incorporates everything, from the Sufi state of ‘sama’ or trance/ecstatic like state, the others come about the ancient Indian art and practice of Kundalini Yoga. Devotion through meditation and contemplating on the body to unleash the possibility of a union with the divine is Baul ‘religion’ if one would like to term it so.
8. What about ‘God’ the all in all:
The phenomenon God’ is often referred to as adhar Manush or the dark/indefinable Man that lies dormant, hidden, in the unexplainable chasm of human consciousness. To make a ‘connection’ to/from the adhar Manush to the Shai, the wise or gifted one, the Guru and eventually to God, each human is expected to be a shohoj Manush or simple beings devoid of complexities and pretensions of materialism. The adhar Manush again can only be reached through dibyo gyaan, or deep knowledge and insight referred by no less then William Wordsworth as the ‘third eye’ i.e. profound and deepest of human intellect.
Man is born with essence, the adhar Manush. The essential Man is always there, maybe manifest or not manifest. The tree is already in the seed. Essence precedes existence, not otherwise. The Bauls say that life is not a creation of something new, it is just unfoldment. You already have it; it just has to be unfolded, barriers just have to be removed. Obstacles just have to be put aside and your life starts unfolding. You are like a bud: when obstacles are no more there, you start flowering, your lotus opens. Mokammel, Tanvir
Fakir Lalon Shah explains the search in this verse:
সহজ মানুষ ভোজে দেখ না রে মন / দিব্য জ্ঞানে
shohoj Manush bhoje dekh na re mon dibyo gyaaney’
Look for the simple being, in your deepest contemplation
পাবিরে অমূল্য নিধি বর্তমানে,ভজ মানুষের চরণ দু’টি
Pabi omulyo nidhi bortoMan, bhoj Manusher choron duti
You will find priceless gems in the present, worship the feet of humans
নিত্য বস্তু হবে খাঁটি,মরিলে সব হবে মাটিNityo bostu hobye khaii, moriley shob hobe mati
Utensils of regular use will be rendered pure; death will immortalize you in the dust of earth (corpses preserve intact by nature)
ত্বরায় এই ভেদ লও জেনে।।
Torai ei bhed lou jeney Move quickly over knowing this mystery.
Bauls therefore ‘worship’ God IN Man as opposed to ‘God OF Man’ i.e., every human being is a part of God no matter how limited that may be, Man is worthy of worship. In the Quran, "Man is obliquely referred to as ‘Ashraful Maklukat’ i.e. often meant, as the ‘best of creations’. The term however falls short as the inference is by no means unconditional. Another verse refers to Man supposedly being created in the ‘best of GOD’s image’ – the Quran again makes no direct mention of the same". Rahman, Habib –Dhaka based Arabic linguist and Quranic scholar in personal correspondence with the author – 2012.
Man is created as representative of God on earth. Man is created out of dust and then God breaths into him His (Divine) spirit. 95, 4:5, The Quran
The spirit of Man, i.e. the ideals and standards that leads on to the creation of a spiritual being is the Bauls domain of contemplation. Boxed-in and ritualistic notions about God, makes the existence of God very trifling and inadequate. Negating affirmations or rejections of the status quo is a widely held principal in traditional Baul discourses called ‘bahas’.
9. What is implied by the discourses on the body and mind- Deho Tottyo/Mono Tottyo? :
Bauls believe there is nothing more mysterious in our existence than the human body and that it is within the human body alone where everything is concentrated. It is not a singular equation, for together with our body it is also our mind from where our creative faculty, our consciousness and our personalities evolve and develop, transmutes us into the beings that we are. Since Baul songs/poems are both philosophical and spiritual at the same time, ’Tottyo’ again has varied implications and may vary contextually. They are specific and discursive and include paradoxical ones relating to the human body which is referred to as ‘deho tottyo’ or discourses on the human body where everything from physiology, neurology to even embryology among others is included. A typical example:
দেহ ঘড়ি চোদ্দ তালা তার ভিতরে দশটি নালা
Deho ghori choddo taala, tar bhetorey doshti naala
The body has is fourteen storied and has nine drainage outlet
নয়টা খোলা একটা বন্ধ গোপন একটা তালা আছে
Noita khola ekta bondho, gopon ekta taala achey
Nine are open, one is closed, and there is a secret lock
Fakir Lalon Shah in one of his verses speaks about aath kutuhri noi doroja, or eight chambers and nine doorways which are complimentary. What we may call kuthuri, may also be called doroja or vice versa depending on the context and usage of the tottyo. The eight chambers or aath kuthuri can be defined as - 1 lingo (genital) = 1, 1 burjo (orifice) = 1, 2 chokh (eyes) = 1 (as both eyes combine to create 1 vision), 2 naak (nose) = 2, 1 mughdo (mouth) = 1, 2 korno (ear) = 2/Combined total = eight kuthuri. It could also mean 2 Feet, 2 Hands, 1 Genital/sexual organs, 1 Stomach/digestive, 1 Heart/respiratory, 1 Face = eight kuthuri.
Physiology has a different connotation in Bauliana. Hand/feet and the cerebral chambers and faculties have different spiritual numerology as much as the spine and central nervous system and veins. They would come under purview of 'taala' or stories, but then there are different schools of thought on this one. Let's take a count and see:
1 Skin (the largest single organ in the human body), 1 Mouth, 1 Heart, 1 Esophagus, 1 Stomach, 1 Liver, 1 Genital, 1 Orifice, 1 Navel = 9 exit/entries or doroja
Then we have the shodor kotha 'denoting a half open doorway signifying the open and exit that stays in 'front'. By that is meant the 'navel' our only connection to our mother, creation and ultimately Eve. In Yoga - the navel is significant as the powers of Kundalini are wrapped beneath it and if the 'serpent' can be 'uncoiled' through practice/praxis and meditation, great possibilities can be reawakened. Everything in Bauliana is explained in human context, all within, internalized, not without. "The shodor kotha is also referred to as the Master Chamber, and it could be the Brain/Psyche which enables us to take the spirit to a higher level to be in association with the Creator." Islam, Shawkat – personal communication with the author – 2012
The paradox to the above is in the Baul argument as how to enter a kuthuri or home, if it doesn't have a doroja or doorway?
Sometimes an entire Baul song is an extended metaphor. This is often the case with dehatattva songs. The body may be depicted as a house with two pillars (legs), nine rooms (the cakras; although the standard Hindu tantric system lists seven, they can vary in number depending on the tradition), a basement (muladhar), and an attic (sahasrar) in which a madman who is the Lord sits; or a bird cage with nine doors, housing an unknown bird (the soul); or a broken-down boat constantly leaking water (semen); or a tree of beauty that produces moon fruit (offspring). Everything from a watch to the city Mecca has been used in Baul songs to symbolize the body. Solomon, Carol – Baul Songs, Princeton University, 1995
In context of Bengal’s spirituality we simply cannot limit our thoughts to 'literal' meanings of a word. For instance when Fakir Lalon Shah uses Arabic or even Persian-Urdu words in his verses, it gets all the more baffling - because other than Quran being a book of verse, of knowledge, he also placed emphasis on the importance of the 'dil Quran' i.e. the human body itself is a Quran, when he says –
এই দিল কোরান টি না বুঝিলে আয়াত কোরান পড়ে কোনো লাভ হবেনা
ei dil Quran ti na bujiley, ayat Quran pore kono laabh hobey na
without an understanding of the Quran in your Soul, reading verses alone is of no use.
The precepta of faylasuf - i.e. the study of the Quran in its 7 esoteric (zaheri) and exoteric (bateni) significance, along with 'hidden depths' for more than verses, each alphabet has over 21 different meanings - and again relates to human anatomy, juxtaposed on the contemplative faculties.
In Bengali when we say ‘lekha pora mon diye koro’ or ‘concentrate on your studies’, the word mon here is used as a limb or an ‘instrument’, almost like ‘kolom diye lekho’ or ‘use the pen when you write’. Therefore the mind or mon is considered a physically functioning organ no different from other organs in our body. In English usage it is akin to ‘be mindful about your work’. Bauls expend a lot of effort on discussing ‘tottyo’ or esoteric meanings the mind, or the images it creates and drives our physical organs, that lead on to discourses and often debates with newer interpretations and explanation, an ongoing process.
In ‘mono tottyo’ discourses are on the functioning and working of the human minds, behaviors and actions in its relations to the soul and include psychology, parapsychology and lessons in as diverse and hard to explain subjects such as extrasensory perceptions, telepathy, precognition as well as telekinesis.
মনখড় স্রোতা নদী বাইন্ধ্যা রাখা ভিশন দায়
Monkhoro srota nodi baindha rakha bhishon dai
Our drought stricken mind is a river out of control and hard to bind,
মন রে মন চেনে না নন জানে না সে কি চায়
Mon rey Mon cheney na Mon janey na, shey ki chai
The mind doesn't recognize, doesn't know what it desires
10. How do Bauls interact with other faiths/belief systems?
Because of their unique social position, Bauls are neither a cult nor a community. They can best be described as a ‘fraternity’ without any formalized power base or a spiritual or social hierarchy. Bauls have traditionally despised, confronted and challenged the clergy. Mullahs, Purohits and Padres have no place in their spiritual equation. Respect and admiration for elder Bauls such as Shadu Guru, Guru and Murshid-Pir who are powerful guides and teachers is emphasized. These men of wisdom are indeed Bengal's rural intellectual elite, often unlettered and employ the ancient working institution termed ‘Guru/ shishya or pir/murshid-murid parampara’ i.e. teacher-students interactions in traditional school of lip to ear knowledge/wisdom. There are no ‘sacred texts’ or books among the Bauls although references are always made from Upanishad, Vedanta, Mahabharata, Puran, Tripitaka as well as the Quran judiciously. Knowledge and readings about monotheist Prophets are expounded and hagiographies of Saints discussed with Sufi spiritual lineage, transmission flow charts or shirzanaama are widely used to understand and explain historical transmissions. Vishnu, Radha, Krishna and latter day Saints like Shri Sankaradeva Mahaprabhu and Shri Chaitanyadeva are held in veneration.
11. Bauls shun sectarianism or communalism of all forms and practices – any truth behind the claim?
Sectarian and communal identities are considered vices in the Baul fraternity for essentially it is racism in different names. In reality these have nothing to do with religions and both are mindsets and most unfortunately interalia have become part and parcels of every religion, used to divide communities and races. The issue is not with religions per se, but more to do with the implied Man made superiorities of races, caste, creed etc that creeps in as a consequence and inevitably becomes the core points that leads to exploitation and degradation of human. For instance the word ‘communalism’ is a British invention and was used to preach hate and eventually divide and conquer. Valid and pointed discussions on religions and scripts are acceptable in the Baul credo, what is not is any kind of provocations having communal overtone or prevarications that seeks to damage harmony. Questions like ‘are you a Hindu or Muslim’ are shunned forcefully. There are no gender bias among Bauls neither is any ‘politics of identity’ tolerated.
12. Are Bauls theist or atheist?
In essence, the techniques and the four basic stations of Fakiri Islam i.e. Haqikat, Tarikat, Shariyat and Ma’arifa (Ma’arefot in Bengali) in attaining spirituality, or knowing the unknown world, proximity with God and more importantly the concept of 'representative of God' comes from the Quran. As far as practicable, most of the Baul teachings are based on Sahajiya (simplified) Buddhist tenets, and although this is never spoken about, by implications, Buddhism played an immense role in the spread of Bauliana and is dominant in the works of most of the luminaries and Saints, including those of Fakir Lalon Shah.
Bauls are neither theist nor atheist. They are ‘agnostic monotheist’ the twist being while they have faith in ‘one God’ or are ‘ek iswarbadi’ ; on the question of his existence they are open-ended and more specifically silent. It’s like an open safety pin, sharp and vulnerable when open, safe and rounded when in unison of circularity. It is acknowledging and appreciating our left and right and knowing that cohesion comes only when the two meets up with the one, our intellect - or akel. It is neither stereophonic nor monophonic, but quadraphonic. It is the surrender to the centre by the dual. It is our physical supplication as demonstrated in prostration that most religions encourage, is that we understand our left and right but not our centre, the head, that must be grounded (as in electricity) for electricity to flow its full course.
It is in confirming within our physical being that wherever there are in pairs - ear, eye, nostril, hands, legs, lungs, kidney, testicles etc; there is usually nothing that would be a consistent bother of any kind in the short run. It is wherever they are in singular that we have to handle insurmountable obstacles. Starting with our mouth, esophagus, liver, stomach, penis/vagina, and orifice, we do know and have to live with the issues that these organs challenge us on a day-to-day basis. It is only in aligning plurals with the singular over the centre, with the spine and the two great organs, the brain and heart that have multiple chambers, to the global axis of poles (as in magnetism) that our equilibrium to our ONE in ONE, our ALL in ALL - Bhagwan, Iswar, Guru, Boddhisatva, Allah, etc can be positioned and the importance of prostration in all religions is defined. The hypothetical ONE therefore is the sum total of aligning the combined plurals on the singular.
Like a ship has constantly to check its coordinates to North/South/East and West via the stars up above, so has Man in his day to day existence. The process of surrender is exemplified for as and when Muslims kneel and prostrate 'due West' (in case of those of us living in the East) - it is only to appreciated that as per the fundamental principles of polarity and rhythm juxtaposed with the principals of mentalism - equilibrium to the great YES 'maybe' discovered in exercise of our limited free will. That however is an individual experience and defies explanation, for each experience then is very private, unique and personal. ‘Sacred and secret’ starts here quite unnecessarily for one simply cannot explain it or put in pen or paper (keyboards in these ‘enlightened times’!).
Silence as a weapon of expression is a practice that sees its origins in Buddhism with Sakyamuni - the order of silence being the prevalent strain and school of thought among Buddhist in Bengal even today. It is said that the Lord Buddha attracted more followers into his fold in the times he remained in silence, then ones spent preaching his belief. Because India and Buddhism were unknown to the Arabs (although the Quran has an apparently allegorical reference of the Buddha) the process of the contemplating Man as the centre of all truth; as opposed to the prevalent hub-and-spoke notion of Man being on earth and God in a 'celestial heaven' up above, was perhaps equally unknown. The Quran is thought to have put the final seal of authority in the realms of scientific-spiritual-mystical yearnings of Mankind and there were important historical precincts here.
All translations from Bengali by the author.
The above text was published as a booklet and circulated during Mac Haque's tour of Assam, India (23rd to 28th November 2012) that covered discourse and recitals on Bauliana in the Guwahati International Music Festival and at the Tezpur University's Cultural Studies Department
Monday, October 15, 2012
আন্ধাবাজি ধান্দায় পড়ে অন্দাজিতে করলি সাধন
Entrapped and blinded in scams, you contemplate on guesses
কোন সাধনায় পাবি পরম ধন,
what austere practice will bring you eternal wealth
ভোগ দিয়ে ভগবান পাইলে আল্লাহ পাইতে শিরনিতে
in feeding you hope to find Bhagwan, and Allah in sacred rice pudding
মক্কায় গিয়ে পাইলে খোদা ফিরতো না মন খালি হাতে
in Makkah you go looking for Allah, and return empty handed
গয়া-কাশি-বৃন্দাবনে পাইলে হরি আসতো না রে,
From Gaya-Kashi-Vrindavan will you return if you find Hari
খ্রিস্থান গির্জা ঘরে পাইলে ইশ্বর ভূলত না রে
In churches if Christians find God, would they forget him?
নগদ পাবার আশা করে পুজো করলি আয়োজন,
In cash you expect returns so a Puja you arranged
নগদ পাওয়া দুরের কথা, বাকিতে শুধু যায় জীবন
cash being out of question, your life is ridden in credits
ফকির লালন বলে লুটাও গুরুর চরনতল,
Fakir Lalon says fall at the feet of your Master
পাবি সে ধন নিরঞ্জন
You will find treasures heavenly
ফকির লালন শাহ - Fakir Lalon Shah (d.1890)
© Translation, Mac Haque, 15th October 2012, 122nd transition year of Fakir Lalon Shah
Monday, September 24, 2012
জগৎ মুক্তিতে ভোলালেন সাই
Jogot mukti te bholalen Shai
The wise one spoke about freedom for mankind
ভক্তি দাউ হে যাতে চরণ পাই
Bhokti dau jatey choron pai
Said with submission let me touch his feet
রাঙ্গা চরণ দেখব বলে
Ranga choron dekhbo boley
With hopes that we will see thy blessed feet
বান্চা সদাই হৃদ কমলে
Bancha shodai hrid komoley
That being the earnest desire of our Soul
তোমার নামের মিঠাই মন মজেছে
Tomar naamer mithai mon mojeychey
The sweetness of thy name has my Soul in raptures
রূপ কেমনটাই দেখতে চাই
Roop kemon – tai dekhtey chai
Your appearance - we want to behold.
ভক্তি পদ বঞ্চিত করে
Bhokti pod bonchito korey
Do not deny me my surrender
মুক্তি পদ দিচ্ছ সবারে
Mukti pod diccho shobarey
This missive of freedom you offer everybody
যাতে জীব ভ্রমন্দ ঘুরে
Jatey jeeb brohmande ghurey
So that creatures of this Universe can roam free
কান্ড তোমার দেখি তাই
Kando tomar dekhte pai
We see you and your wishes
চরণের ও যোগ্য মনো নয়
Choroner o jogyo mono noy
I am not worthy of your blessed feet
তথাপি মন ওই চরণ চাই
Tothapi mon oi choron chai
Yet my soul yearns that I touch your lotus feet
লালন বলে হে দয়াময়
Lalon boley hey doyamoi
Lalon says, O Merciful
দয়া করো আজ আমায়
Doya koro aaj amai
Have Mercy on me today
© Translation by Mac Haque, 24th September 2012
Monday, April 23, 2012
Abdel Mannan none could get the gateway of salvation without depend upon a wise guru who is living Buddha - April 4
Mac Haque The gateway doesn't necessarily have to be a human and bUDDHA was no gOD nor claimed that he was living or dead /\- April 5
Abdel Mannan without gateway how to entry inside the mystry? Gautom has changed 3 guru to be a Buddha or Shiddharta.- April 12
Mac Haque The decline of bUDDHISM in Bengal started after they moved away from the teachings of bUDDHA ....he was made a deity - a 'gOD' - that he never wished for. True he changed 3 gURU which only reinforces the idea that no gURU as such is required if the gURU lives within us....- April 22
Abdel Mannan Truly, Buddha never introduced Buddhism. His some disciples done it. Now a days they are divided in 38 sects. If there are no necessity of Guru why do you called Him Buddha instead of Goutom? Is The Buddha a historical person or the Stage of higher mind? Lalon Shah said~Chirodin iccha monay/ ail dingaya ghash khaba/ Mon sohojay ki soi hoba? - April 23
Mac Haque I call him the bUDDHA because he is the figurative representation of a historical icon and importantly because he didn't want to be known either as Gautama or Siddhartha. bUDDHA never claimed to have 'attained' anything - not even nIRVANA. All he said was -'IT has left me'. When something leaves you, you cannot say you have attained - you may feel only 'elevated' because you have less of a burden to carry. He was opposed to be even considered a 'higher mind' or 'higher human' - also he did not want to be trusted or believed. There was no rigidity in bUDDHISM. Each human experience with spirituality was/is personal/private and simply cannot be explained in words or deeds.. What he did infer was anyone can be a bUDDHA with practice and diligence. He was totally opposed to gURUism in the precept we use/practice it. Since in sAKYAMUNU bUDDHISM the concept of gOD as we know it never existed - the context of gURU being a gOD-Man is also absent. gURU for all practical purpose is an object of belief - a higher power that we can attain and achieve. The limitation being no one can ever be the 'all in all' - the 'complete being' - hence the practice and praxis of how we consider 'humans' we call gURU, Murshid, Pir, Wali, Kutub etc is also non-existent in bUDDHISM. jOI gURU /\- April 23
Abdel Mannan Who attained BODHI he is called Buddha. To me a real Buddha never could be limited in time and space. - April 23
Mac Haque True...nothing can be limited in time and space. Life itself translates to time - thus we call it a 'lifetime'. A 24/7/365 dimension that exist only in our limited imagination. - April 23
Abdel Mannan worldly people are attached with time frame, space. But Guru as Buddha is always detached from these. - April 23
Mac Haque Very unlikely - they were conscious about the real world and their spiritual journey was personal. We may only imagine it - and even if we try - there is no guarantee that we will gather the very same experience.-April 23
Friday, February 24, 2012
আদি মক্কাহ এই মানব দেহে - The Ancient Makkah is a Human Temple
Fakir Lalon Shah
আদি মক্কাহ এই মানব দেহে/ দেখনারে মন ভেয়ে
The ancient Makkah lie within the human body/ look for it O' brother in devotion
দেশ দেশান্তর দৌড়ে কেনো মরছড়ে হাফিয়ে ||
why run in between countries and die in vain, in exhaustion.
করে অতি আজব ভাক্কা গঠেছেন সাই মানুষ মক্কাহ/ কুদরতি নূর দিয়ে
with a strange format the Lord created the Human Temple, with a spark of divine light
ও তার চার ডারে চার নূরী ইমাম/ মধ্যে সাই বসিয়ে ||
oh, on four corners are four illumined leaders, at the center is placed the wise one himself
তিল পরিমান জায়গার উপর গঠেছেন সাই আজব শহর / মানুষ মক্কায় |
On a space equal to a pulse, the Lord has built this strange city/the Human Temple
আছে শীন দরজায় একজন দাড়ি নিদ্রাত্যাগী হয়ে ||
in the penultimate doorway stands a respondent in sleep deprivation
মানুষ মক্কাহ কুদরতি কাজ/ উত্ছেরে গায়েবী আওআজ |
The Human Temple is a blessed piece of work, it sounds words from the unknown realms
সাত তালা ভেদিয়ে/ লাখ লাখ হাজী করতেছে হজ/সেই মক্কায় বসিয়ে ||
stretching the seventh stories, hundreds upon thousand pilgrims perform Hajj with Makkah at its center
দশ দুয়ারী মানুষ মক্কাহ / গুরু (মুশিদ) পদে ডুবে দেখগা/ ধাক্কা সামলিয়ে |
The ten doors within the Human Temple/ learn within deep knowledge imparted by your Guru/ learn handling hazards
লালন বলে গুপ্ত মক্কায় আদি ইমাম মেয়ে ||
Lalon says in the ancient hidden temple, the the primal priest is feminine
(C) Bauliana - The Global Bauls from Bangladesh
Thursday, February 16, 2012
While I liked your article overall, the entire purpose and thrust of your arguments have been defeated by a series of anachronism. You set out by pointed reference to the limits of 'all religion' - yet over all your selective hatred of Islam and Muslims in particular was pronounced and created a lot of unnecessary visual noise. You should have learnt from your engagement on the Internet that Islamophobia or Islam bashing is no longer fashionable.
Having said that - I am an agnostic and in very many ways like you, do not believe in anything that any 'holy book' mentions, or an 'holy men' utters. However the quest for truth and it appears to be what you have argued about 'logically'- is not driven by religion at all - but by spirituality.
Spirituality predates religion in it efforts at human civility. 'We were born human - and religion is secondary' is an oft argued notion in our culture but is a conjecture as flawed as the 'chicken or the egg - and what came first' debate that have raged inconclusively from times immemorial. There will be no 'logical' end to this :)
We are not human beings having a spiritual experience, but spiritual beings having a human experience. It would be a dangerously uni-polar assessment to say that only logic would explain or defeat the dilemma (and lead us to the truth) created by interference of politics into religion or vice versa.
That in effect would be catapulting logic's to the status of a 'new religion' based on mathematical principals (if I have read you correctly) - and you could also be accused of being logically illogical! Mathematics as a science is still at its infancy - and maths known by our forefathers will not exactly be the maths that we know today, or ones that our progeny will use in posterity.
I am surprised that in this new millennium you are still obsessed with the 80's 'fashionable' segregated picnic of the likes of Taslima and Azad - when time since have rendered them redundant.
Taslima has done more damage to women and Bangladesh - because it was her selfish sensationalist quest to grab international headlines (which she managed to do effectively) - that led to the systematic and equally effective far-right rise of Mullahism in our country. The fight for those of us who do it frontally (as opposed to her escapism) has been made all the more perilous.
She was indeed lucky for back in the 80's the Internet age hadn't dawned on Bangladesh - and she wasn't or couldn't be challenged by the overall liberal section of our society. Her challenge came only from the Mullahs and the politically positioned nihilist. If that was in today's world - she wouldn't make much headway given the power of information available at our fingertips. Her latest book appears to be no more than rehashed pages from her earlier works, signifying the morbidity of her creativity. You may like to read an essay I wrote on the topic in 2003 at this link.
About Azad - the least said the better. His slander on Fakir Lalon Shah in the 90's - when he termed Shaiji 'insane' - led to the collective curses of the Bauls of Bangladesh - the rest is history.
Finally I am very disappointed when you asked a commentator in your personal wall whether 'Islam has made human civilized'? This is an affront not just to Muslims but to human dignity - and display of arrogance that will never make your writing any stronger or you be taken seriously.
Anybody can quite 'logically' question you - 'what proof do you have that you are civilized'? It will be an endless debate.
Nonetheless do keep up the good work and I look forward to read more of your writings.
Saturday, February 11, 2012
Fakir Lalon Shah on Shahada/Kalima : لا إله إلا الله
আইন ভেজিলেন রসূলাল্লাহ |
A sacred canon was called by the Messenger of Allah
মুখে পরোরে সদাই - লা ইলাহা ইল্লালাহ ||
recite, 'there is no God but Allah'.
নামের সহিত রূপ ধেয়ানে রাখিয়ে জপো |
In its truest appearance, seek him in your deepest meditations
বেনিশানায় যদি ডাকো চিনবি কি রূপ কে আল্লাহ ||
if you seek aimlessly, how will you know the appearance and who is Allah?
লা ইলাহা নফি সে হয় ইল্লাল্লাহ সেই দিন দয়াময় |
La ilaha is your base negation, Illal lah the forever benevolent
নফি এসবাত ইহারে কয় এহি তো ইবাদাতুল্লাহ ||
This meditation is to negate affirmation, this is Allah in our prayers
লা শরিক জানিয়া তাকে পর কালাম দিলে মুখে |
That he has no second, recite with your heart and soul
মুক্তি পাবি থাকবি সুখে দেখবিরে নুর তাজুল্লাহ ||
free yourself and live happily and see the the light of the face of Allah.
বলেছেন সাই আল্লাহ নুরি এই জিকিরের দরজা ভারী |
Said the Sai, contemplation on the Divine Light is the highest level of incantation
সিরাজ সাই তাই কয় পুকারি শোনরে লালন বেলিল্লাহ ||
Siraj Sai beseeches. O Lalon mend your ways, be with Allah.
(C) English Translation : Bauliana - The Global Bauls from Bangladesh