The Bauls are called Bauls because they are mad people. The word ‘Baul’ comes from the Sanskrit root VATUL. It means: mad, affected by wind. The Baul belongs to no religion. He is neither Hindu nor Mohammedan nor Christian nor Buddhist. He is a simple human being. His rebellion is total. He does not belong to anybody; he only belongs to himself. He lives in a no man’s land: no country is his, no religion is his, no scripture is his.
Bauls have nothing — no scripture, not even to burn; no church, no temple, no mosque — nothing whatsoever. A Baul is a man always on the road. He has no house, no abode. God is his only abode, and the whole sky is his shelter. He possesses nothing except a poor man’s quilt, a small, hand-made one-stringed instrument called AEKTARA, and a small drum, a kettle-drum. That’s all that he possesses. He possesses only a musical instrument and a drum. He plays with one hand on the instrument and he goes on beating the drum with the other. The drum hangs by the side of his body, and he dances. That is all of his religion.
Dance is his religion; singing is his worship.
– The Beloved, Vol 1, Chapter #1
The Bauls say that life is not a creation of something new, it is just unfoldment. You already have it; it just has to be unfolded, barriers just have to be removed. Obstacles just have to be put aside and your life starts unfolding. You are like a bud: when obstacles are no more there, you start flowering, your lotus opens.
– The Beloved, Vol 2, Chapter #1
The methods of the Bauls are very simple. They say that if you can dance, many blocks will disappear from your being — because when a person dances and really moves into dance, and becomes movement, then he becomes liquid. Have you not seen it? If you have seen somebody lost in dancing, can’t you see it? that he is no longer solid? He is flowing. The solidity is gone; he has become liquid. This liquidity melts the blocks. So dancing is the Yoga of the Baul; he dances for hours together. When the moon is in the sky in the night, the Bauls will dance the whole night — because for them the moon is a symbol of their Beloved, Krishna. They call Krishna ‘the moon’. When the moon is there they will dance, and they will dance madly. And this dance is not a performance. It is not for somebody else to see. If somebody sees it and watches, that’s another thing. The Baul dances for himself, for his own pleasure.
– The Beloved, Vol 2, Chapter #1
Bauls have been very extraordinary people. The word BAUL means MAD. Bauls were mad mystics. They have talked in all sorts of paradoxes; but very beautiful. They are not philosophers, they are mad poets. They are not proposing any logical thing, rather on the contrary ‘they are trying to show you something through paradox.
– Tao: The Three Treasures, Vol 4, Chapter #2
Bauls were great mystics of such beauty and depth that people started thinking that they were mad. So the literal meaning of the word “baul” is mad; it means: the mad mystic. Their whole life was so utterly different, so radically different from the ordinary life, that naturally they looked mad. They danced, they sang, they moved like madmen, traveling up and down the country singing songs of joy, of celebration. Naturally they looked mad, because in a world of suffering how do you conceive of celebration? In a world where everybody is miserable, the man who is dancing and has laughter in his soul looks simply out of place, outlandish, mad, stoned, not in his senses. Hence the word “baul” — it means the mad mystic.
Slowly slowly they have disappeared; very few Bauls are still alive. But the glory is gone because this country no more welcomes the real mystic. It still talks about mysticism, in fact talks much about mysticism, but its heart has become materialistic.
– God’s Got a Thing About you, Chapter #13