Wild and free, they raised their clamour in the mansions of the rich, and roared in gaiety in the courtyards of the poor. They travelled by foot to fairs and festivals. They sang in buses and trains. Their melodies were poignant, their texts enigmatic. Garbed in long, flowing, multicolored robes, often living in pairs, they played their frenetic rhythms on strange, handmade instruments made of wood and clay, miming the contradictory moods of nature and of passion.
Freewheeling Mimlu Sen lives in Paris, where one day she witnesses an electrifying performance by three Bauls, mystic minstrels from Bengal, who spin like pillars of dust. Their music inspires her to return to Calcutta, and to go on an extraordinary journey with one of them, Paban Das Baul, from her respectable home in the city to his humble village, and on to the verdant Bengali countryside that is their common heritage.
Paban takes Mimlu through the itinerant Haul’s route — from the festival at Kenduli with its marathon performances, to tranquil Shantiniketan, where Hauls frequently stop en route and disrupt quotidian life; Agrodwip, deep in the Vaishnava world, to Nabasana, where mesmerising guru Han Coshain presides over Haul games and ultimately her mitigation, to Boral where she holds her own mahatsava. Along the way she encounters tantrics and tribals exorcisms and witch sightings catfish that climb trees and esoteric sexo-yogic secrets—S
and she falls in love.
Baulsphere takes you in to the heart of rural Bengal, and into the fascinating world of the Hauls. Passionate, enthralling and searingly lyrical, it is a stunning book.
Mimlu Sen is a translator, musician, music producer and composer. She collaborates with Paban Das Baul on all his recordings, performing with and managing his group on their concert tours around the world. She has travelled and worked between India and France since 1969, and was born and raised in Shillong. This is her first book.
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