Choto Golam Fakir

Choto Golam Fakir

interviewed at Jhaudia, Jalangi, Murshidabad


“My full name is Rashid Golam Fakir. I am presently a resident of the village called Jhaudiya, which is located at Charan-khana in the Murshidabad district of West Bengal.” ?(‘Rashid’ is the name of his guru, which he uses as his first name, in order to avoid being mistaken for his namesake, Golam Fakir, who happens to be another Baul artist. He was born in the village Jhaudiya which is located at a distance of two kilometres from the border of Bangladesh. He lived for a while in the ashrama (residence of a religious community and their guru) of his guru in order to train himself in Baul philosophy and music. Presently, he visits his guru’s ashrama once or twice every year.)

Q: “How were you initiated into Fakir music and Fakir philosophy? How did you meet your guru?”  (When he was in class seven, egged by his classmates Golam had smoked tobacco. And while he was high on tobacco he met a congregation of sadhus. He was influenced by their words of wisdom. And in these words he discovered the path to self-liberation and nirvana. These sadhus influenced him to embrace the Baul way of life and handed him the iktara. Before this, while in school, Golam would sing songs from Bengali films. The sadhus were impressed by his vocal talent and taught him Baul music. He started living with these Baul sadhus and began travelling from place to place performing the songs taught by them. He also began searching for a ‘kamel-mukammel’ guru, i.e., one who had found and perfected for himself the path of self-liberation. Golam had been regularly performing Baul music at an ashrama even before he had come in contact with such a self-emancipated guru. He had participated in a lot of Baul congregations at this ashrama. He thus spent seven to eight years of his life performing Baul music even before he had found his guru. He spent these years of his life in close proximity with the sadhus and, dressed in white attire, travelled to various ashramas and mazhars (holy place in Islam, similar to a dargah or shrine) with them.)

“It was around this time that my guru came to this country. India is believed to be the land of sadhus and wise men. Those in Bangladesh who are initiated into the philosophy of the sadhus harbour a great respect for India. My guru, along with a few other sadhus, had come to visit this country. However, they failed to leave an impression on the people of my region where they performed their music. My guru, Abdul Rashid Sarkar, then asked the people of the area whether they knew of any ashrama nearby where the sadhus would find peace and would be able to perform their music. The person of who he asked this question happened to be acquainted with me. He was the one who first brought my guru to my ashrama. I had sung a song from a Bengali film called ‘Sukheo Kende Othey Mon’ (‘My heart weeps even when happy’) in which the famous actor Uttam Kumar had played the role of the protagonist. On beholding my guru, my eyes had welled up with tears. I was filled with such immense happiness on beholding him! A great man had set foot in my ashrama! I am getting goose bumps now when I recall that moment. And he is such a great artist that he requires no musical accompaniment. The sound of every instrument, the flute, the harmonium, the dhol (barrel), seems to emit from his voice. He simply began to string on a kettle as he sang. And every passer-by on the street flocked to my ashrama to catch a glimpse of this unique performer. Soon there was a crowd. And my guru said to me, ‘Crazy sadhu you are! I have loved your ashrama immensely. I have to leave on some work to Berhampore. But I intend to return in two days.’ Even as those two days passed and he did not return I travelled to Berhampore to meet him. There I witnessed a lot of disciples gathered at his ashrama. All of them were singing his praises. I had not decided till that point that I wanted a guru. I had kept awake to hear his words of wisdom. Towards dawn, he asked me to become his disciple. It was then that I knew that I had been searching for an individual like him, whose heart mirrored the same love for humankind as mine. And I embraced his disciple-hood.

He had also interviewed my music. Having heard that I was a singer, he had handed me the iktara and asked me to perform in front of all his disciples. My erstwhile guru had been a woman named Mumtaz, who is a renowned artist from Bangladesh. Earlier, she was a Baul performer. Now she sings contemporary tunes as well. My guru, on hearing me sing, had said that if I continued taking lessons from my guru-ma I would become an established artist myself in two or three months. It was thus that he gave me his name. He introduced me to everyone as his singer-disciple.

He also told me that in the month of Chaitra (corresponding to the month March in the English calendar) I was to attend a congregation of devotees at his shrine in Bangladesh to understand their philosophy better. Around eight to ten of us went to the congregation. There I also met Mumtaz and she gave me bakhshish (a monetary tip).”

Q: Is Mumtaz your guru’s wife?  Yes, his second wife. At present, however, they do not live together. They separated on 21st February last year. Mumtaz has married again, although even now she considers him as her sole guru. She brought out an album last year called ‘Shesh Nishwas’ (The Last Breath) where she sung songs composed by him and was full of eulogy for him. Today, whatever she has achieved for herself is owing to my guru. She has said as much herself in her various radio interviews. It was Rashid Sarkar who had invested two thousand taka for Mumtaz’s first recording on radio. Today Mumtaz is a renowned figure. Yet even today, although she has another husband, she deems Rashid Sarkar as her guru. By doing so, perhaps she even runs the risk of inviting social criticism. This year when I had visited the sadhu congregation in Bangladesh, Mumtaz had stood on the stage and said that she herself was one of the many disciples of Rashid assembled there. She is not only a renowned artist now; she also has been elected as the representative of a political party and contests the elections. Because of this, she can no longer devote as much time as she used to among the sadhus. Yet her heart belongs here.

My guru had asked me to remain with him in Bangladesh. But I am deeply attached to this country. So I would regularly visit his ashrama after two or three months. At that time, the border situation had been normal. Common people like us were able to travel between the two countries without any hassle. My home is near the border. I would have no trouble visiting my guru in Bangladesh.”

Q: So you were in class seven when you began your association with sadhus?  (From a very early age Golam felt himself drawn to the sadhus and their way of life. At that time, the sadhus, considering him too young, had tried to keep him at bay. Yet, he would not heed their words of caution and sit with them at their congregations. And when in class nine, he completely embraced their lifestyle. His choice of this life eventually led to problems at his home. That is when he left home and began living with them. He would cook for them regularly.)

Q: Were your parents displeased? Did they disapprove of your choice? What problems did you have to face?  (Initially Golam’s parents thought that keeping company with sadhus would hamper his studies. They had also been upset with the sadhus themselves. They thought their son was going astray. But now they have accepted him. According to Golam, now they know that he has not wasted his life. Rather, he has fashioned his life the way he perceived himself. They also keep receiving compliments about their son from others.)?

“A performer’s voice is a gift which has been bestowed upon him/her by the One above. Not everyone is lucky enough to be blessed with such a gift. I will attempt to hold onto it as long as I can.”

Q: So the guru who taught you music (sikkha-guru) and the guru who initiated you into the Baul way of life (dikkha-guru) are the one and same person?  “Yes.” (In the earlier years of his life, he associated himself with sadhus of this country, by whose words he was greatly influenced. He would believe in and value the philosophy incumbent within these words. His guru identified him as a sadhu the very first moment he saw him. He would fondly call Golam ‘bharater sadhu’ (the Indian sadhu). Clad in white attire, in a white panjabi (a long kameez of tunic length) and white lungi (a piece of cloth which covers the lower half of the body and is worn in a skirt-like fashion) it was in this way that he had first travelled to his guru’s durbar in Bangladesh.)

Q: Who were these other seven or eight men you mention who travelled with you to Bangladesh when you first visited the durbar of your guru?

They are this country. Some of them were good performers once. There are a lot of different ways in which individuals interpret and implement for themselves this Baul philosophy. Some people, after receiving an initial training from their guru, practice the philosophy and the accompanying rituals at home. But the philosophy entails, As Lalon Shah himself has said, ‘He who is murshid (the disciple) is also rashul (the teacher).He also is Khuda (Allah).There lies no mistake in perceiving them thus.’ Lalon is here trying to say that only through the guru can we attain the truth. And for that, we need to consider the guru as Supreme; whether we call him (the Supreme) Bhagwan, Allah or Krishna does not matter. If we consider the guru as only a great teacher and sage we will never be able to perceive the Absolute, this Lalon Sahib has said. The guru needs to be considered as the very representative of that Absolute, as a supra-human.”

 Who were the composers whose songs you learnt from your guru? Whose songs do you like singing the most?”  (Golam says that there is a great demand for Lalon’s songs in India. Besides, according to him, Lalon’s lyrics are easily accessible. Thus he initially began by performing Lalon’s songs. Golam also mentions a Baul artist by the name of Mamun-Nadia who is from Bangladesh but whose guru’s abode is in the Nadia district of West Bengal. He released his first cassette with the pseudonym ‘Mamun-Nadia’ which was also his way of paying tribute to his guru. Golam had been influenced by Mamun’s music and performed these, along with Lalon’s songs. After he entered his guru’s disciple-hood, however, Golam learnt a lot of songs written and composed by Rashid. Rashid’s book ‘Manushe Thake Allah’ (In the Human does Allah reside) contains around a hundred and fifty songs composed by him. Besides, there are numerous other songs which have not been compiled in book form but which Golam has learnt directly from Rashid.)

Q: “How were the tunes of Mamun-Nadia’s songs? Would you sing a few lines?”  Mamun-Nadia comes from the Faridabad district of Bangladesh, where in Mokshed-Alisha there are a lot of Bauls and Fakirs who perform the songs of Lalon. Mamun claims he sings Lalon’s songs exactly the way they were composed. He claims his renditions are the original tunes of Lalon. There are a lot of different renditions and versions of Lalon’s music. I personally think that none of these can be called ‘original’. Each performer appropriates the tune in her/his way. I will sing a couple of lines—


“O fate! This did you ordain

Living by the sea, of thirst

The chataki died in vain…”

Q: Mamun-Nadia would claim this was the ‘original’ tune?  Yes, such was his claim. I have met him a number of times, at my guru’s durbar, at the Lalan Shah Mazhar, at sadhu congregations and at the Lalon Academy in Bangladesh.

Q: “Do you have any siblings?”  “Yes.”

Q: “Are they also into Baul music?”  They sing informally. They don’t practice music as a profession. You might ask where I got it from. Some people hold the opinion that Baul music has to be in your blood for you to sing it, or it is a family tradition which is passed down from one generation to the other. My mother is illiterate. But she could sing. When she was young, she would sing by herself while in her garden, while reclining on the bed, while going through her regular household chores. But she never performed on stage. Her immediate society was not such as would allow her to embrace singing as a profession. I think I have my ability to sing from her. I have never heard my father singing.”

Q: “What was your father’s occupation?”  “My father is an old man now. We have some land in the village. He looks after these.”

Q: “And your brothers?”  One of my brothers had a shop which sells fertilizers. Besides that, he is a seasonal farmer.”

Q: “You don’t have any sisters?”  I am the eldest. I have a sister immediately younger than me, then a brother, then two more sisters younger to him. We are two brothers and three sisters.”

Q: “So you have embraced the Fakir way of life?”  Yes. I have embraced the Sufi tradition.”

Q: “So what are the differences between the Baul and the Fakir way of life according to you?  There is no difference at all as far as the philosophical content is concerned. The difference is only in the realm of language and the rhetoric deployed by the philosophy. Otherwise both faiths are the same, the sadhus are the same, their mannerisms are the same, and the air, water and food they partake of are the same. I personally think that all the religions which exist in our world, Hinduism, Islam, Christianity, Jainism, and Buddhism are made by human beings themselves. There exists an original faith, which is the faith/religion of humanity, the Maker of which did not assign any name or caste to any individual. The Maker created them all as equal, as human beings, and vested within them the attributes of humanity, of intelligence, of conscience. The Maker created human beings as the most superior of all species. We merely deploy different rhetoric to mark out who is a Baul and who is a Fakir. We often hyphenate these identities. In reality, they share a philosophical proximity and are not different from each other. The difference is only on the level of language. Some say ‘Jol’ and some use the word ‘paani’, both of which means water. Within their individual rhetoric, the Supreme One may be varyingly called Allah or Bhagwan. But there is no difference in the crux of their philosophy. This is what my conscience seems to tell me. And many knowledgeable people seem to think the same as well. The crux of all the shashtras (religious doctrines) is that human beings need to demolish their sense of the ‘I’, their individualism. Our different religions engage with this through different rhetorics, some worship in the mosque, some in the temple, and some in the church. They each deploy their individual language of worship. The Bible is the word of the Supreme One, so is the Quran, so are the Vedas. Each of them seem to say that despite being the most advanced of the species on earth human beings often act in selfish and barbaric ways. And whenever wherever a sin is committed, it is the Supreme One who sends an emissary. Hazrat Muhammad was such an emissary of the Supreme One who had been asked to come to this earth and deliver us. Chaitanya Mahaprabhu was another such emissary. They are supra human beings, they are sent here to address and cleanse us of our sins. Each was sent in a different avatar, with a different language to help bring us back to the path ordained for us by the Supreme One. Every human is born from the mother’s womb. Within Baul-Fakir philosophy, it is believed that inside the mother’s womb the child has his palms joined in a prayer to the Supreme One and seems to be saying, ‘Release me into this world. Liberate me. When on earth, we will worship your name and sing your praises.’ Yet, after they come to this world, human beings get enmeshed in maya (temptation/illusion) which traps them like a spider’s net. They forget that they have been sent here on a mission. They forget the prayer they offered to their Creator while in the mother’s womb

Contrary to what biological and medical sciences believe, that organisms are automatically born within an environment which supports life, I think that behind the very act of Creation lies some greater purpose which the Maker has envisioned. What these sciences say may be partly true, but let me ask you a question. It’s been scientifically deduced that some planets in the solar system may contain water. Water being essential for any form of life to thrive, tell me then, why is there no life on these planets? Our philosophy tells us that the human race was created in one day’s span. We are their descendants whose source can thus be heuristically traced back. Within our philosophy, it is thought that the purpose behind our creation, indeed the very source of Creation and of life itself lies inside us human beings. A man and a woman come together to create life. Thus, the great poet has said

‘Is to create in human capacity?

For whoever creates

Lies hidden within creation.’—

This means that within every human being is located another human being. But perhaps, I should not be telling you all this.”

Q: Why not? You have learnt this from the sadhus, now let us learn from you.  Perhaps you do need to know all this. We, the sadhus and the fakirs distinguish between two kinds of human knowledge, one we call scientific knowledge and the other is called transcendental knowledge. People without special wisdom, in other words, common people who pursue this scientific knowledge, who travel to London, America and other countries abroad in pursuit of this knowledge, they have lost sight of the purpose for which their creation took place. Despite making new scientific discoveries everyday, they have forgotten the purpose with which they were created, i.e., to attain self-liberation through nirvana. They are lost in the labyrinth of earthly maya.”

(He digresses here to mention a person who has accompanied the interviewer and the group. Golam refers to a Sher (a rhyming couplet in Urdu) which this person has narrated. Golam says that the Sher describes how a baby when born is clad in a small piece of cloth which has no pocket. And the same individual leaves the world clad in nothing but a kafan (piece of white cloth in which Muslims wrap their dead before burial) which too does not have a pocket. According to this person whom Golam mentions, the pocket symbolizes the maya by which the people of this world find themselves engulfed. Golam says that people are seized by an obsessive and competitive desire for amassing wealth. He says that these people seem to forget that it is the Supreme One who has sent them here and who will also eventually recall them. There will then come the judgement day when each of these individuals would have to pass through the test of right/wrong, just/unjust actions, their sins and good deeds and their truths and lies—)

“Among the eight thousand species on this planet, human beings are the only ones that possess a conscience. And yet, we incessantly misuse it. Our conscience is no longer operative for it lies buried under layers of sand. According to the Hadith (a compilation of sayings and actions of the prophet Muhammad and his followers/ companions) there lies within every human being an essence which is called the ‘Kalpa’. It is in this ‘Kalpa’ that the Supreme One resides. It is also stated in the Vedas that long ago, during the Satya-Yuga (Era of Truth) divine energy was vested within human beings themselves. But they misused it. Thus, this divinity was seized from them and concealed within philosophical wisdom. Some deities suggested that it be buried deep beneath the earth’s surface. The Supreme One said, ‘No, humans will one day dig deep enough to reach the earth’s core.’? And today, we know some mines are indeed much deeper than the sea bed. Then some other deities suggested this energy be hidden amidst the vastness of the sky. The Creator said, ‘No, Humans will also reach there one day.’ And today that too has happened. Humans have travelled to the moon, sent satellites to other planets. So where could this energy be concealed? The Creator then decided that it would have to be concealed within humans themselves. For they would indeed search the entire planet, traverse the skies and scourge the earth’s layers; but they would never look within their own selves. So, you see divinity is within us. It is said in the Hadith ‘Allah resides amidst the caverns of the human body’. Within the mortal human’s ‘Kalpa’ is the abode of Allah. In the Vedas it is stated that within the mind of every creature, Krishna resides in the form of the soul. We seek everywhere, but we almost never introspect. Lalon has written as much in a song—

‘Know yourself and you will have known

For who knows not the self never perceives the Unknown.’—

Then there is another song—

‘On knowing who I am my sadhana’s end will I attain

Yet, I cannot know myself; with possessions my body is laden.’—

We are always seeking the Absolute in different places. But it is clearly stated in the Hadith, and in the Shashtra that The Absolute resides within the human, which if we perceive once, we will have perceived Allah.

Q: And is it this you sought within your guru?”  I have seen a lot of gurus. I will refrain from calling any of them incompetent. One of my guru’s principal teachings is that there can be no division on the basis of religion, whether one is Hindu, or Mussalman, or Christian. A lot of people belonging to the Buddhist faith are regular visitors at my guru’s durbar. All religions of the world culminate in the religion of humanity, and within the Baul and Fakir philosophy. My guru taught us never to dislike other religious systems and to respect the faith which is practised by others. He was an extremely kind-hearted individual detached from the ways of this world. He would seldom sleep of his own accord, get up at the crack of dawn and impart his teachings among us. We would also devote an hour to bodily exercises, such as practising the pranayam (an exercise which involves holding the breath). He would show us the correct way of performing these exercises, of inhaling and exhaling during them. He lives the life of a Fakir in a unique and different way. Bangladesh is a Muslim country. A lot of people there hold very right-wing conservative views vis-a-vis Islam. A renowned Alem (leader) who is presently a Member-of-Parliament has voiced his stringent view of the Fakirs. The way people like him interpret Islam cannot be justified. My guru is fearless about these matters. He openly critiqued such viewpoints in his album. So, when this MP’s words reached my guru’s ears, he simply said ‘No alem in Bangladesh can contest whatever I have said by referring to the Hadith. There are a lot of obstacles in our way. Such obstacles and adverse situations have always existed in history. In fact, we find great references of such incidents in the Mahabharata.

Q: How is the situation of Fakirs in the place where you live? Do they still face adversity?  At present the situation is better. But there was a time when Fakirs were ostracized in our village. They were not allowed to venture outside the house, they were not allowed to procure food and groceries from the local shops, and they were not allowed to walk freely on the streets. Once the house of a fakir in our village was cordoned off and besieged by angry mobs. But nothing of this nature occurred in the locality where I live. My guru is well versed in the Quran and the Hadith. He, and a lot of other sadhus like him, confronted these people and explained to them that the Fakir tradition is indeed mentioned in the Hadith. They were explained how it is necessary to receive knowledge from a Guru, referred to as pir in Islam, in order to attain self-liberation. My guru would cite sections from the Hadith and the Quran to help these people comprehend that the Fakir tradition does not go against Islam. As a result, his disciples, including myself, never had to confront such adversity. The people have been enlightened. My father and my paternal uncles have indeed been very supportive to me. I have my own ashrama which I established last year and which I dedicated to my guru. Whenever there is a congregation or a musical performance organized here, my relatives as well the local people throng to my ashrama.

Q: So presently, Fakirs do not face social stigma in Murshidabad?  Presently. But in Bangladesh under the Jamaat-E-Islam regime, Fakirs were discriminated against and persecuted. Many of them had to flee to this country. They took refuge at various religious shrines in Ajmer and Delhi. Here, they live in comparative peace and can pursue their music and faith. There were instances in Bangladesh when their hair was shaved off. This is only one of numerous such instances of persecution, owing to which they had fled the country. My house is situated near the border. From time to time, there have been some repercussions of this form of persecution in our village, where a lot of people had been swayed by conservative views. But after the Awami League government came to power in Bangladesh, the situation has been relatively peaceful for the Fakirs. As a result, the situation in our village is also calmer.”

Q: Aren’t Bauls and Fakirs required to regularly practice the rituals pertaining to sex and copulation?  We are ‘grihastha-sadhus’ (sadhus who have entered the socially sanctioned structure of heterosexual marriage and family), unlike sannyasis and brahmacharies who have renounced marriage. Many sannyasis hold the opinion that sexual union with a woman impedes the way to self-liberation. But I will cite two examples to the contrary from two religious doctrines. In the Hindu Shashtra there is a tale where the sannyasi called Nimai renounces his married life with Bishnupriya and embraces fully the life ordained for a sannyasi. Yet, had he not first consummated a physical union with the woman, he would never have been able to fully embrace the life of renunciation. I feel that the pursuit of self-liberation remains incomplete without wedlock and sexual union with a woman. In Islam too there is the story of Hazrat Billal. It was prognosticated that Billal would die in seven days and that he would not attain heaven (behesto). In his life he had been so detached from the material world, that the doors of behesto should have been open for him. Yet he had not married. And in Islam, according to the Hadith, marriage to a woman is a duty. Although Billal knew that he would die in seven days, he did not try lying to a woman and coercing her into marriage. Billal’s father went to the house of a woman named Nadiya with the proposal of marriage and she decided to wed Billal of her own volition. She is believed to have said that if she had not committed any sin in her life, her husband would not die. After his marriage to Nadiya, Billal was blessed with another seventy years of mortality. A Fakir by the name of Osman was sheltered in Billal’s house. It is said that when the Farista (angel) of death came to Billal’s door to take his life, the Fakir Osman would not let him cross the threshold. Osman had said, ‘I have partaken of bread in this house. You cannot kill here.’ Fearful of incurring the Fakir’s wrath, the angel of death returned to Allah’s durbar empty handed and narrated these events to him. Allah wanted to know who this person was who defied the angel of death. On inquiring, He found out that this Fakir was indeed a great man of Allah himself. As such, Allah could not turn down the Fakir’s words. So what could be done? Allah had given Billal seven years of mortal life; the Fakir shed his tears for Billal and placed a teardrop beside the seven years ordained by Allah. Thus, Billal was blessed with seventy years of mortality.

In the union of man and woman lies the only true faith. The great purpose of the Creator is concealed within the very act of creation. Not only in human beings but also in animals and insects there are the masculine and the feminine that unite sexually to create life. This is Allah, the Maker’s purpose which is concealed in the very act of sexual union between the man and the woman. Such a union is even superior to the metaphysical union between deities, so is believed. The Maker has concealed Himself within human creation, and the Maker resides within both man and woman as they unite together through the act of copulation. Man and woman are the two halves of the Maker according to those learned in our philosophy.

Q: How did you meet Mallika?  He had been travelling to various places with the sadhus. He believes that women occupy themselves with the household and want to mother children. He believed that marrying any such woman would impede his pursuit of his faith. He was seeking a woman who understood the philosophy of Fakirs and who knew music. He met Mallika at a musical congregation in Berhampore. Mallika herself had wanted to marry a Fakir like him. He explains that the Baul tradition has been part of Mallika’s paternal family for generations. In the village where Mallika comes from, almost everybody has embraced the Baul-Fakir way of life. Golam was the apt bachelor for her. Once they met, they liked each other and it was thus they got married. Golam says in the interview that the eleventh of next month is their wedding anniversary.

Q: You travel and perform together now?  Yes.

Q: In which places in the country have you performed?  He has performed in Kolkata, in the Budge-budge area in the South 24 Parganas, and in Midnapur. He once participated in a concert in Delhi where renowned vocalists like Manna Dey and Suresh Wadkar had performed. He has also sung at various mazhars in Delhi and Ajmer. Besides, he has been to Bhutan, Siliguri and Jharkhand where he has performed Baul music. He would often travel to his guru’s durbar is Bangladesh. When there, he would often be called to perform in other places such as Dhaka and Kushtiya.

Q: How old are you now?  If you consider my age since birth, I am around thirty-seven or thirty-eight. But, I have been born into this world of Baul sadhana for twenty years now. It has been thirteen years since I have been born into my guru’s disciple-hood.

Q: “What pleasure do you obtain by following this path?  This path is one of pleasure. The people of this world are busy in their pursuit of scientific knowledge. The transcendental knowledge can only be attained by the sadhus and the Fakirs, who have been taught by the guru and who have the apposite respect for their guru. Raja Harish-Chandra was one such great person. Transcendental knowledge is available only to those who have succeeded in abolishing their sense of the ‘I’. According to me a foreigner who is trained in all forms of scientific knowledge is highly inferior when compared to a Fakir or a sadhu. I feel his/her entire life is a waste.

Let me then share with you the crux of our philosophy. When a farmer plants seeds in the soil, these are often destroyed by rodents and pests and even by unfavourable natural circumstances. The farmer spends hours of labour behind them, spends a lot of money on procuring them and the fertilizers, and yet all his effort goes to waste. He repeats his labour once, twice, thrice, but eventually tires. He ends up unhappy and not at peace with himself. Human beings are also similarly harvested. The man possesses the seed with which he impregnates the fertile ground of the woman’s body. She possesses the egg. It is when the seed and the egg unite that a human child is reaped. Most men keep shedding their seed anywhere and everywhere. They do not comprehend how precious this seed is. Bauls, sadhus and Fakirs understand the import of this seed. And it is with this knowledge that they practise their rites of desire. They do not waste their seed without reason because it contains the source of human life, which is of greatest value. The animals in the wilderness, the cows and the goats copulate only in accordance with a seasonal cycle. Human beings do not adhere to any such cycle. Only the sadhus and sages engage in sexual union with a woman in accordance with the cycle. They fulfil their sexual desires, but they do not waste the paternal energy (pitri-sattwa). They preserve this energy because they know that their seed is the source of creation. And this is the way of perceiving the Maker, the path of true faith. The foreigners are ignorant and so are the common men because they do not follow this path, because they keep dissipating their seed everywhere. This ‘Bindu-sadhana’ is the most primary of all sadhanas. And within it lies the great mystery of Creation. We need to discover it. Truth be told, we keep going to the woman to satiate our sexual desires and thus, we keep depleting ourselves. Those who practise this faith know how to satiate the woman’s desire and also preserve their energy. This knowledge is imparted by the guru to his disciples.”

Q: When your guru had first handed you the iktara and asked you to sing, which song had you sung?  I sang the song I mentioned earlier, ‘Living by the sea, of thirst/ the chataki died in vain.’ This song has a symbolic meaning. The chataki resembles the sadhu. The world has plenty of water. Yet the monsoon-bird (chataki) drinks only the rain drop which falls from the sky. It does not drink the water that has touched the ground. The sadhus are of a similar inclination when it comes to knowledge. The song thus goes—


‘No other water it drinks,

It fulfils its promise to the rain.

The chataki died in vain…

To the dark cloud it prays

Which in another land strays;

Its soul caught in its beak

Its life-force grows weak.

So says Lalon

Don’t forget my song?

Which Shiraj-Shahid did forget

No second chance did he get!


So remember my words, and

Your purpose you will attain.

The chataki died in vain. —

If we fail to perceive this knowledge, we will never be able to preserve the energy. Lalon has said that human life is not easily achieved. Therefore, when we do attain it, we need to understand the purpose with which the Creator made us. The Maker is concealed within our very selves. Even in this Kali-Yuga (era of darkness) it is possible to perceive the Absolute which lies within our very selves. Then only can we attain liberation from the self.



Interviewed by Aditi Sircar

Camera: Jesse Alk

Translated by Parjanya Sen