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Friday, April 06, 2007

11. The Baul Guru: Extelligence over Intelligence

To understand the Guru is to step back to a time capsule of at least 300 years or more and try to appreciate how life was then. Trapped in our millennium lifestyle of speed and technology with its associated ease, our imaginations simply cannot comprehend a scenario of how things revolved around realities where one had no electricity, no cars, no means of traveling anywhere other than walking, by bullock carts or a country boat that would take days to reach ones destination, and what we see is a bleak picture of rural Bengal. Yet on the flip side, we have been regaled by tales of great men of wisdom or miracles, of teachers, Murshids, Pirs and yes the Guru.

Men and women would traverse the length and breath of Bengal only to catch a glimpse of these great men, seek their counsel, learn a few prayers, get a talisman or two, or ‘pure water’ with the ‘breathe’ of the sages ‘powerful’ prayer to rejuvenate themselves or the ailing or dying back home. People went to these seats of learning only to receive ‘salvation’ of one form or the other, and it is not inappropriate to point out that then, as even today, a society reeking with superstition was prone to exploitation, and those vulnerable, were easy prey.

What set these ‘great’ men apart from the rest and ‘capital’ used to conduct their business, was ‘intelligence’, which they actually misused to offer solutions for those ailing in ‘spiritual’, if not physical health. Crudely they had more in common with millennium psychoanalyst or even psychiatrists. The talisman that seemingly exorcised the ‘devils’ could well have been any inanimate object of no real scientific or spiritual value, and ‘pure water’ mere placebos that too often worked just by sheer coincidence or by accident – if they worked at all.

In any case the above observation is not in anyway meant to belittle the herbalist or Kabiraaj or Ayurveda specialist of our rich heritage of folklore medicine whose treatment and care of patients were then as is now, based on closely working, scrutinizing, experimenting and applying scientific judgments on patients, which have lived through ages and will continue to live- indeed will grow from strength to strength.

The focus of this chapter in this series of essays is to seek an insight into what it was that sent people thronging to men and women with ‘great intelligence’ centuries ago when it was the Soul of man that was tormented and needed answers that were not forthcoming? Let us put this across as aptly as we possibly can that the search for ones Soul is never as a result of any loss or gain. It is only to rediscover what was always there, and can best be described as a ‘rebirth’ in ones life, although in extent and purpose it still fails to capture the quest for Bauliana – for as we mentioned earlier it is more about ‘shedding’ – not acquiring.

The forever-curious Baul cynically looked at ‘intelligence’ as an internal and selfish quest for knowledge to be used as a weapon for exploitation, for gain. They believed that the ‘intelligent’ would use their knowledge-base to weaken and not encourage the spirit, by histrionic tales of the omnipotent Maker being a ‘fearfully notorious entity’, whose advantage was in punishing and avenging the ills of man. Compassion and Mercy were attributes that were ruefully excluded from the Maker.

The ‘formula’ for appeasement of the Maker therefore, had to be ‘strictly’ as prescribed by the TRUTH these ancient scamsters upheld while they imitated cultural components in the quest of the Bauls, specially in forceful use of Music, which we had mentioned earlier, the natives of Bengal had a natural inclination to appreciate and understand. Let us call this 17th century infotainment for easier understanding!

For the Baul, intelligence just like any other intangible commodity was again a natural attribute that all Man is blessed with, a gift from nature, and is free till such time Man wishes to doctor it to a farce. It was the Bauls that perhaps raised the demands for free education as a birth right of all Man, and what we now call human rights? ‘True work’ is in educating and education, and no matter how obscure or ill defined that may be, the Baul again is no ‘educator’ - he is a pointer, promoter and a referrer to sources of education readily available in nature; ones that have stood the tests of times, because they contributed to benefit Mankind. For application of education to be of any use, the Baul insists on a practical ‘each Man for himself or herself’ approach, tapping into the radiating aura of the Makers ‘light’ that is picked up by our extra sensory organs which is not to be confused with extra sensory perception, for perceptions are never reality in the first place, but mirages that we may seek and never find, unless they are grounded and relate to verifiable real life examples.

Real examples are based on agreed and accounted premises of rationales, with irrational quest’s being a time worn domain of the occult, of abject magicians with words and not deeds. The Baul provided an alternative direction towards the TRUTH if not the complete truth and he insists on picking up external stimuli’s provided by our sources of conscience, deep within every one of us, in our Extelligence, which is a product of sharing. The process is like polishing a mirror; no matter how bright they appear, or however we look gazing at it, our urge is always to keep it ever more ‘dazzling’, for in our use of the same over time, we see new ‘fogs’ appearing to disturb and distract us. The Soul in Man is as such a ‘commodity’. It needs constant attention, to keep it sharp, focused, agile and dexterous. Since it is supple in its basic character, it bends at will in distractions that come together with these natural stimuli’s, and a sieving of the accumulated residues to leave only the best at the top - is the Bauls ultimate quest.

The Baul Guru therefore is no Man, but the Maker in each and every Man, and it is how we approach our faculties associated with cultivating knowledge, is the difference in the Guru that the Baul reveres and ones the charlatans have made a practice to exploit his fellow Man. The sore bone of contentions that have ravaged the minds and thinking of evolving thought processes in Bengal however continues unabated even among the different schools of thoughts of the Bauls. To equate the Guru to that of the Maker is Sin in the Baul pantheon, for possibilities of arrogance and subterfuge have appeared, with damming ramification to Mankind. Let us be reminded of the Pharaohs, long before monotheism came about.

1 comment:

mueja said...