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Baul music celebrates celestial love, but does this in very earthy terms, as in declarations of love by the Baul for his bosh-tomi or lifemate. Some wear malas [Hindu rosaries] around their necks, some tasbis [Muslim rosaries], and so people say they've got different religions.
With such a liberal interpretation of love, it is only natural that Baul devotional music transcends religion and some of the most famous baul composers, such as Lalon Fokir, criticised the superficiality of religious divisions: Everyone asks: "Lalan, what's your religion in this world? But do you bear the sign of your religion when you come or when you go?
Bauls call the beloved sain (lord), murshid (guide), or guru (preceptor), and it is in his search that they go 'mad'.
There are two classes of Bauls: ascetic Bauls who reject family life and Bauls who live with their families.
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).
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).
The origin of Bauls is not known exactly, but the word "Baul" has appeared in Bengali texts as old as the 15th century.amar praner manush achhe prane tai here taye shokol khane Achhe she noyōn-taray, alōk-dharay, tai na haraye-- ogo tai dekhi taye Jethay shethay taka-i ami je dik-pane The man of my heart dwells inside me. In my every sight, in the sparkle of light Oh, I can never lose him-- Here, there and everywhere, Wherever I turn, he is right there!from outsiders, as they might be thought to be repulsive or hedonistic.Bauls constitute both a syncretic religious sect and a musical tradition.Bauls are a very heterogeneous group, with many sects, but their membership mainly consists of Vaishnava Hindus and Sufi Muslims.Although Bauls comprise only a small fraction of the Bengali population, their influence on the culture of Bengal is considerable.