It is said in Bengal that the Baul tradition originates from a time unknown, beyond what human history can trace, from Lord Shiva himself. This year at SAND Italy we got a direct taste of this ancient lineage through Parvathy Baul, a renowned Baul folk singer, musician and storyteller who opened the conference with a sensational performance that transfixed and transfigured. The presence of the sacred in the room was palpable. Parvathy is a part of a living nondual wisdom tradition transmitted from teacher to student for thousands of years, song by song, melody by melody.
In every aspect of its expression Baul points to the nondual nature of reality. “There comes a time when singing and not singing becomes one,” Parvathy reveals. “What is being sung is just a manifestation of the sound which we can experience with our senses, but there is also the sound of the Silence inside us, for which we don’t need the senses. When one becomes close with That, the singing and not singing becomes one.”
Unlike the traditions suspicious of the body and of human experience in general, the Baul tradition celebrates embodiment and sees singing and movement as a way to open the Higher Mind and incarnate it. “Until you experience it in the body, it is not going to stay.” Parvathy explains, ”So we say, bring it down.” There is a deep trust in the presence of the divine within the mundane. “Whatever is here, I have to experience the divine with my body. Where should I go from here? I’m in the world and I have no other place to go. The goal is to experience the divine here by living it every day.”
It is difficult to listen to Parvathy's breathtaking melodies without something deep in the heart being profoundly moved. Her singing emerges of deepest devotion, evokes the great longing of the soul, offers a living thread, a lineage leading to the Feet of Reality. Parvathy, is a testament to the nondual heart of devotion. “Make your life into a prayer,” she reminds us in the interview we want to share with you today, “Every action has to come from there.”