One day I chanced to hear a song from a person belonging to the Baul sect of Bengal… What struck me in this simple song was a religious expression that was neither grossly concrete, full of crude details, nor metaphysical in its rarefied transcendentalism. At the same time, it was alive with emotional sincerity, it spoke of an intense yearning of the heart for the divine, which is in man and not in the temple or scriptures, in images or symbols… I sought to understand them through their songs, which is their only form of worship. – Rabindranath Tagore (Nobel Prize in Literature, 1913).
My love for music and our natural world has always been the two pillars that have defined my life. Ever since I won the Grammy® Award in 2015, I have used all of the music that I create to raise awareness on some of the problems that plague our planets such as environmental degradation, societal issues, and conservation challenges. In doing so, I have often looked at India’s culturally rich past to learn about sustainability, tolerance, and love from her diverse group of inhabitants. One such people that inspired me are the Bauls of Bengal, not just with their musical intricacies and heartfelt renditions of their songs but also with their ideological and philosophical paths.
For more than thousands of years, the Bauls of Bengal have sought to achieve enlightenment by looking within themselves to find divinity and by firmly rejecting all distinctions of caste and creed along with common beliefs such as established religion, religious institutions, rituals, and scriptures as well as materialism. Declared as an Intangible Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO, these non-conformists have passed down their rich philosophical themes through their music orally over the generations. With fascinating performances of their deeply meaningful songs, they seek to raise consciousness by creating a world that is egalitarian, inclusive, tolerant, and blissful.
There are many important lessons that we can incorporate into our own lives just by practicing some of the universal values that they believe in. We started working on this film three years ago and it has been an absolutely insightful journey. Through this epic documentary film, we aim to showcase their wonderfully mystical lives and people who are firmly rooted in their traditions of living in harmony without discrimination while navigating the problems of the modern world. ‘Who is Baul’ is directed by Ace filmmaker Sairam Sagiraju and produced by Vikram Sampath, Rajib Sarma, and me. It was an absolute pleasure for me to create an original score and supervise the music for this film.
‘Who is Baul’ released worldwide March 10th, 2021 on YouTube.
Grammy® Award Winner & US Billboard #1 artist, Ricky Kej is an internationally renowned Indian Music Composer and Environmentalist. He has performed at prestigious venues in over 30 countries, including at the United Nations Headquarters in New York and Geneva. Ricky has won more than 100 music awards in over 20 countries. He is the UNESCO MGIEP “Global Ambassador for Kindness”, UNCCD “Land Ambassador,” UNICEF “Celebrity Supporter” & Ambassador for “Earth Day Network.”