Nityo Gopal Das

Nityo Gopal Das

interviewed at HMV Studio, Dum Dum, Kolkata, West Bengal

2009-09-01

I. What is your name?
N. My name is Nityo Gopal Das.

I. What is your father’s name and where do you live?
N. My father’s name is Viswanath Das Baul. We live in the borpurush family [conventionally understood as family of a man and his unmarried consort]; our entire family are Bauls; even my grandparents were Bauls. I still sing Baul.

I. I How did you learn to sing?
N. I learned from a singing school like setting. From many teachers. I learned from them and listened to them. That is how I slowly learned.

I. What does being a Baul mean?
N. We are Bauls from birth. But how am I a Baul? Others can wear red (orange?) clothing and pretend they are Bauls, but not everyone who wears red clothes are Bauls. Many people act like Bauls, but real Bauls are few. Others wear Baul clothes and sing like Bauls to survive, but they are not real Bauls. To become a Baul it is not enough just to say you are one. It isn’t easy. You have to work hard and go to a teacher and become his servant to become one. You have to stay with your teacher. How many have done this? A few.

I. What is your grandmother’s name.
N. My grandmother’s name was Jozmai (?) Dasi.

I. Did your mother sing?
N. Yes, my mother used to sing a little but not professionally.

I. What is your mother’s name?
N. Her name is Padmaboti Das.

I. Who else sings in your family?
N. My older brother, little sister and I and my grandparents, as well as other aunts and uncles. Our entire family members are Bauls.

I. Who did you learn to sing from and who is your teacher/
N. My teacher is my father. I learned to sing from him.

I. Now who are your teachers?
N. The people who are my teachers are the people who teach me about God, about knowledge, about health. When I see them, I think of them as my teachers and I respect them and learn from them.

I. Did you decide to become a singer or did someone compel you to become one?
N. In the evening my father used to sit me down and say, “We are Baul children and have to learn this to survive. We can’t work in the fields. I can’t send you to school, because I have no money. But learn this, learn to sing. “ And sometimes my father used to beg for food. My grandmother used to beg for food, and I used to go with her. We used to play the drums and cymbals. Whatever we used to get from the people, we would cook and eat it. That is how I grew up.

I. Now that you are older, and you know how to sing, do you still beg for food?
N. Yes, I still go begging when I want to. I just did 2 hours ago, begging for food.

I. Did you just sing in your own area or elsewhere?
N. Yes, I went around the country and outside, too. I met a lot of different people, and I like to beg for things. I feel like this is my fate.

I. Do you beg only in this country or outside, too?
N. Yes, I have been to 15-16 other places to beg, like Germany, Poland, London, Paris, Holland, Belgium, Israel, etc.

I. Which country did you like the most?
N. I liked all of Europe, but Italy is my favorite.

I. Do you have any albums out?
N. Yes, I have 3 out. And about 10-12 in the market. They are doing well in the market. Village people buy them. I have sung both Baul and other types of songs. Peopled said I should go to a company and record them. After that, they came onto the market.

I. Who gave you these songs to sing?
N. People have written these songs, and I sing them. Companies will take them.

I. Will you always be a Baul singer or do something else?
N. No, we are born Bauls, and my father has done this since we were children, so I will do this until I meet God.