About Parvathy Baul

Parvathy Baul is a practitioner, performer and teacher of the Baul tradition from Bengal, India. She is also an instrumentalist, storyteller and painter.

 

She has performed in over forty countries, including such prestigious concert halls and music festivals as the Noh Theater in Kyoto, the World Music Center in New York City, Melbourne Arts Center and the Festival of World Sacred Music in Fez, Morocco.

 

She has also collaborated with world’s leading theater director Eugenio Barba.

She visits several dance, theatre and music institutions across the globe in the capacity of a teacher.  

The depth of her mesmerising performance is rooted in her deep spiritual practice.

It is described by critics as “riveting” and “spellbinding.” 

 

Parvathy’s performance work emerges from a long lineage of master Baul singers, dancers, and spiritual teachers.

She studied closely with two of the most respected Baul singer-gurus of the previous generation, Sri Sanatan Das Thakur Baul and Sri Shashanko Goshai.

 

She was recognized by her gurus as both a musical and spiritual teacher in the Baul tradition, carrying forward their spiritual legacy. 

Parvathy has co-founded Ekathara Kalari along with Sri Ravi Gopalan Nair, a non-profit institution promoting ancient Indian spiritual traditions, with an emphasis on Baul arts and practice. 

 

As per her Guru Sri Sanatan Das Baul’s vision, she has established Sanatan Siddhashram, a traditional learning center for the Baul tradition in Birbhum district, West Bengal, India.

Recognising her unbroken commitment to the tradition, the government of India conferred upon her the most esteemed Sangeet Natak Akademi award in the year 2019. It is the highest Indian recognition given to practicing artists.

She was felicitated by honorable President Sri Ramnath Kovind.

Holding the lineages of her Gurus

Propagating the Baul Wisdom

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Lineage & Masters

Parvathy Baul carries the lineage of two great Baul Masters – Shri Sanatan Das Baul and Shri Shashanko Goshai. They were well-known in Bengal for their dedicated practice and nuanced performance. They upheld very ancient ways of performance and singing which is now fast vanishing from the Baul sphere.

Parvathy Baul now upholds the lineage of both traditions. She aims to strengthen this traditional spiritual practice through the Gurukul, Sanatan Siddhashram, which is now established in Birbhum district of West Bengal.

Vision of this Gurukul was bestowed by Sri Sanatan Das Baul.

SHRI SANATAN DAS BAUL

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Shri Sanatan Das Baul was born in Khulna district (now in Bangladesh) in the Bengali year 1930 into a traditional Vaishnav family. His father was Jagadbandhu Das Thakur and Mother Suvadra Dashi. Sanatan Baba received his first lessons in singing from his grandfather, who was a kirtan singer. Kirtan is a Vaishnav tradition, with long hours of storytelling through songs.

 

Two years before the partition of India, the family shifted to India. He was initiated into a Jatra theater team. As a young boy, he was donning female roles. Later he developed deeper interest in the traditional Baul songs. As a youngster, he spent very little time with his family. He traveled often to meet Baul masters. He spent time with legendary Baul masters like Ananta Kana, Nitai Khapa, Trivanga Khapa, Chintamoni Dashi, Madan Shah Fakir and Golam Shah Fakir.

 

Sanatan Baba became a highly reputed singer and regularly performed in many Sadhu Mahochab, Baul Fakir Melas and village festivals.Later he received his final initiation in Baul practice through Shri Shri Khepa Manohar Thakur. Over 50 years Sanatan Baba has been inaugurating Baul Fakir Melas at the highly regarded Paush Mela in Shantiniketan, which was founded by Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore. He performed in France, United Kingdom and United States. In 1995 he was the recipient of Lalan Puroshkar. He was also conferred with West Bengal Government's Rajyo Academy Puroskar.

 

In March 2016, Shri Sanatan Das Baul left his mortal coil and assumed Samadhi. His Ashram is located in Shonamukhi village of Bankura district.

SHRI SHASHANKO GOSHAI

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Shri Shashanko Goshai was born in the Shingar Village of Murshidabad District. His year of birth is indeterminate. When he took his Samadhi in the year 2007, he was believed to have crossed over 100 years. He was born into a traditional Viashnav family. His father Hrishikesh Vairagya was a famous percussionist of Shree Khol , Pakhawa etc. His mother's name is Surodhini Dashi. During the days of Zamindari in Murshidabad, the landlord used to invite many great musicians, female courtesan singers from Lucknow and Allahabad. Shashanko Goshai's father used to accompany them during these performances. Shashanko Goshai lost his father when he was 13 years old and his family was in dire straits. The responsibility of rearing his three sibling sisters and brothers fell on his young shoulders. He joined Jatra theatre company and became a famous actor. He also worked part time in a sweet shop.

 

When his family had to endure great suffering like millions in Bengal during great famine in 1943, he took to the path of Spiritual practice, thus he turned to the Baul tradition. There was a one string instrument, Ektara in his house with which his father used to sing. He repaired that instrument and started singing Baul songs. He practiced his music with many great masters such as Vrindavan Goshai and Nalin Goshai. Later he was initiated into Baul practice by Nityananda Goshai of Murshidabad. All these masters were exponents of the oldest style of Baul tradition which essentially had the singers playing Ektara and duggi together.

 

Shashanko Baba has kept himself away from the glitter of the outside world and remained focused on his practise. However he used to sometimes accept the invitation to perform in villages. A highly respected Baul master, though he had several disciples, he taught only five of his disciples the art of performing the Baul songs.

SHRI SHRI KHEPA MANOHAR THAKOR

Sri Sri 108 Swami Birajananda Bharati, also popularly known as Sri Sri Khepa Manohar Thakur was born on the 6th day of the month of 'Shrabon' in the Bengali calendar year of 1303 at Sonthali in Purulia district. He was born in a highly religious Vaishnav family, in the lineage of Sri Sri Ram Das Thakur. Sri Khepa Manohar displayed intense devotional traits right from early age. His family got him married to Sri Sri Gouri Devi. They had three daughters and one son. Shri Gouri Devi left to heavenly abode due to illness. 

 

Later Khepa Baba met Sri Sri Jadavananda Swami of Kashipur Thana, district Purulia near the village Bhatin, who was a Brahamagyani and a Sidhapurusha. Khepa Baba was initiated by him through a dream. He later taught Khepa Baba Asanas, Pranyam and some Yogic actions. After that there was a mental change in Khepa Baba. He became less conscious about his family and was drawn towards Bhajans and Sadhana. With the help of his diksha Guru, he came in contact with Sri Sri Sadanand Das (Swami), who was also known as Sri Sri Buddababa of village Burudi of present day Purulia district. At the age of twenty seven he took sanyas from Buddababa. Then he started Sadhana and Bhajan as per instructions of Budababa. He did Raj yog sadhana in the Siddheshwar temple in Khosjudi for fifteen days and attained Divine Grace. After this he did his tantra sadhana in shiva temple in Siyada and attained Divine grace within seven days. After that upon advice of Buddababa he did sadhana as confidante of Krishna in Navadweep for six years. During this time Srimati Radharani Devi came into contact with him and took diksha from him. Subsequently, he gave her sanyas and she became Sri Sri Ashram Janani and Sangha Janani. 

 

On the advice of Buddababa, he started propagating “Srinam” to people of all religions. He wrote a number of Baul songs and songs related to the human body. He became known as a “Baul Sadhak”. But he wrote other than Baul songs too. They are Bhatyali, Jhumur, Jumri, Shyamasangit, Padakirtan, Geet etc. He started or concluded the composition in the different names like Sadananda, Purnanda Din Monohar, Dinkhyapa, Dingouri, Khyapa, Gonsai, Khyapa Monohar, Monohar Khyapa Boul.

 

Sri Sri Khepa Monohar Thakur completed his corporal life of ninety nine years and left for his heavenly abode on Saturday 8th June 1996 at 5:50 pm. He was 99yrs 11 months at that time.

SHRI NITHAI KHEPA

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Nitai Khepa was a great yogi who lived in Betalbon- Dwarnori, an interior village in the district of Burdwan, West Bengal. He lived in a small hut ashram with his consort Mata Ma, a cow and her calf. Sri Hari Goshai initiated and guided Nitai Khyapa in the Baul path. If he would sing in a Sadhu gathering many devotees from far away villages used to come and gather. Nitai Khyapa's Duggi and Ekatara are as legendary as his songs, Sadhana and stories. His Ektara was made of bell-metal, and the Duggi was made of copper. He used to dance with the anklets "Nupur". When Nitai Khyapa  performed the Baul songs he used to make his listeners sit in two parts. He would create a narrow lane between the two groups. He would move back and forth from top to down the narrow lane with singing and dancing, in-between he would explain the songs with simple stories and humour. 

 

He used to dance and move his body much and do a lot of hard work to bring pure expression for the Bhava of the song. Sweat would gather on his forehead, then his face, and then the whole body. The more his body was drenched in the sweat of physical exhaustion, the more he was in deep joy in a plane that could be accessed by only spiritual masters. He experienced something so sweet through his offering of songs that he would often experience bhav samadhi.

SHRI MAHAGURU THANGAL

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Mahaguru Thangal was a great Siddha who belonged to the school of Mast Kalandar , who lived his life in Trivandrum. Born in muslim family, Nedumangad and studied Arabic. In a very young age he became Maulvi of a Mosque. Then he met Gafoor Ali of Ajmer Sharif , who transmitted spiritual teaching to Mahaguru Thangal which unfolded into mystical journey. Ever since that special event , Mahaguru Thangal gave up his life as the scholar and religious priest. He became Mast and moved in the lanes of small town of Nedumangad for years. Local people have witnessed many instances of miraculous healing by this master. People started calling him Thangal,  meaning respected spiritual elder. Mahaguru Thangal took Mahasamadhi in the year 2007 in Nedumangad.

SHRI RAVI GOPALAN NAIR

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Sri Ravi Gopalan Nair was born in 1959 to Chittor Gopalan Nair and Sumathi Kutty Amma. He studied black and white photography under his father’s guidance, who was a great portrait painter from Ravi Verma school. He joined his elder brother G Venu to revive the lesser known traditional art forms of Kerala. He learnt traditional carving of wooden puppets, Pava kathakali, mask making and traditional wooden costume design. He trained in the Grotowski method of theater in France. He lead several milestone traditional performances in Europe, Japan, and USA  of ritual theatres of Kerala, such as Thayyam, Therayattam, Krishnattam, Mudiyattu, Nagakollam. Beside all this work he is a devoted student of Mahaguru Thangal since his teenage years. He trained Parvathy Baul from the year 1997 till 2010. Now he lives a completely dedicated spiritual life in Nedumangad.