Today marks the 130th death anniversary of Fakir Lalon Shah. Even 130 years after his death, he continues to inspire us through his songs, philosophies and humanitarian ideologies.
Fakir Lalon Shah holds a special and unique place in the history of traditional music, as his songs blend in various philosophies and ideologies.
Lalon was against religious conflict and many of his songs mock identity politics that divide communities and generate violence. A true liberal at heart, Lalon is celebrated as an epitome of religious tolerance. He did not believe in classes or castes, the fragmented, hierarchical society, and took a stand against racism. His powerful beliefs reflected in his songs.
Through his songs, Lalon envisioned a society where people from all religions and beliefs would stay in harmony and peace. He was hailed as a humanitarian.
His songs highlighted the material and spiritual aspects of life, rejecting the idea of dividing people on the basis of barriers, religions and other societal discriminations.
The literary and musical prowess of Fakir Lalon Shah, influenced hundreds of people, including Rabindranath Tagore and Kazi Nazrul Islam among other legendary musicians and artistes.
Lalon has been ranked among the top 20 Greatest Bengalis of all time, according to BBC polls.
His creations are celebrated throughout the country, in both rural and urban areas, among people of every age and every class. Lalon continues to inspire new generations of musicians and artistes.
It is estimated that Lalon composed more than 2,000 songs, but there are no official records. There are no written copies of his songs, which were transmitted orally and later on, his followers transcribed most of the songs.
Known as, "Fakir Lalon," "Lalon Shai," "Mahatma Lalon," his followers referred to him as "Shai," and occasionally, "Guru." Lalon was honoured with the title, "Mahatma," 25 years before Gandhi.
Lalon founded the institute known as the Lalon Akhrah in Cheuriya, Kumarkhali, Kushtia, where he taught his disciples spiritual lessons of life.
Lalon has been portrayed in numerous literary works, films, television shows and theatre plays among others. The film, "Lalon Fakir," directed by Syed Hasan Imam portrayed the Baul King's life. The short story, "Dui Musafir," by Shawkat Osman and the novel, "Moner Manush," by Sunil Gangopadhyay, also commemorates the legendary bard's life and works. Based on Sunil's novel, the film, "Moner Manush," directed by Gautam Ghose and the film, "Lalon," directed by Tanvir Mokammel, are two notable works on him.
Fakir Lalon Shah psssed away at Chheuriya on October 17, 1890.
Translated by Rasheek Tabassum Mondira