Chapter 1: The Roots and the Flowers Are One
Somebody asked Tulsidas, a great poet, “Why have you written Ramayana? Why?” - because he devoted his whole life to it. Said Tulsidas, “Swantahsukhai Tulsi raghunath gatha”: for my own pleasure I have been singing the story of Rama - swantahsukhai; for my own pleasure, for my sheer pleasure, but for my own pleasure. It is not a performance, it is not for somebody else. The Bauls dance swantahsukhai, for their own pleasure.
Singing is another of their methods, They have chosen very aesthetic methods, not hard, but very soft methods, feminine methods, Taoist methods. They sing and they are lost completely in their singing. Singing is chanting for them, singing is prayer for them. And they sing about their Beloved, and they sing about their Lord, about their God. If you are lost in your singing you are lost in nadabrahma, you are lost in “the soundless sound.” And their singing and dancing is not a ritualized thing. There is no ritual. Each Baul is individual. You will not find two Bauls singing the same song or singing in the same way. And you will not find two Bauls dancing the same dance or dancing the same way. They don’t follow any ritual.
This has to be understood, because this is very, very fundamental for them. And this I would like you to remember: if anything becomes a ritual, then drop it; it is useless now - because a ritual means a repetition. Mohammedans do their namaj in a certain way every day; it becomes a ritual. Christians do their prayer, the same prayer again and again. They become so habitual with it that no consciousness is required. They can do it and they can think many thoughts in the background. It has become robot-like. They can repeat the words. They know the words, they have repeated them so many times. It is a dead ritual.
Bauls say, “Let your prayer arise in each moment. What is the need to carry the past? Can’t you talk to your God directly? What is the point of repeating the same thing again?” Today is different from yesterday - the prayer has to be new, as new as the morning sun or the morning dewdrop. Say something that arises in your heart. If nothing arises, bow down in deep silence, because he knows. He will understand your silence. Some day you feel like dancing - dance. Now that is the prayer for that moment. Some day you want to sing - but don’t repeat anybody else’s song, because that is not your heart, and that is not the way you can pour your heart into the divine feet. Let your own song arise. Forget about meter and grammar. God is not too much of a grammarian, and he is not worried about what words you use. He is more concerned about your heart; he is more concerned about your intention. He will understand. So Bauls make their own songs on the spur of the moment. It is spontaneous. They just relax in the moment: they let the dance happen, they let the singing happen.