There is no denying that folklore is simply the tale of simple human beings, their everyday stories-stories of love and pain, happiness and hardships. Folk literature is different from others as it deals with the root. Folk literature always looks for the opportunity to examine the origins, the untold and the unsung. Sumankumar Das, though a new name, adds new flavor in the field of folklore studies. Through his unique research, Das established his name within very short span. Starting his research writing with Baul Abdul Karim, Suman is continuing his journey towards exploring the new and newer horizons of folklore studies. He is a very dependable name in bringing out the unexplored heroes of the soil, untold stories behind the man and music.
Sumankumar’s very recent book Bauler Akhray Fakirer Deray has been published by Prothoma Prokashan in April, 2019 which is basically a series of travel stories in different akhras of Baul, fakirs and devotees. This is a documentation of what he experienced during his visit to these spots of devotion on different occasions. Though not bigger in size like a traditional research book, Das has brought out some new issues of different forms of folk music and philosophy. He deliberately pointed out some areas of Baul and Sufi philosophy that are apparently unknown to the common people. A close reading of this book will help the common readers to dismiss the prejudice about Saints prevailing in the society. The lucidity and spontaneity of his language, the easy narratives of different incidents make the book enjoyable for the readers. In four different chapters, Sumankumar Das explores the diverse areas of worshipping, lifestyle, practices and rituals of the Tantrik and the Sadhak. The fact that makes the book authentic is that these are not the stories heard or collected from somewhere, rather these are the life stories Das documented while mixing with those fakirs, talking with them, sharing heartfelt experiences and attending different festivals. Suman put his deep insight on the thoughts, philosophies and ideologies of those rare mahajons who has had their own way of life. Suman Das, with a skilled hand, uncovers those issues and welcomes readers to dive into that mysterious world of magic, mantra and reality. In fact, those Gurus develop a mystic world of their own which cannot be fully comprehended by the common folks. General people have a curiosity about them as they lead a mysterious life beyond the realm of the regular people.
Das visited different shrines, abbeys and monasteries, met with the sadhus and tried to explore their world and explain the mystery to the general readers. The ascetic world is always a world of suspension and mystery to the common people. Moreover, this book is a journey towards exploring the extraordinary ideologies of sufism. It should be mentioned that Sylhet is a fertile land of sufis and fakirs. Sumankumar Das, as a son of the soil, invested his time, energy and talent to bring out the secrets of the Fakirs and Devotees.
The four chapters were written in narrative style, sometimes in biographical manner. The very specialty about this book is that readers can easily access and discover a new phase. The chapters are loaded with information about different folk festivals, culture and music. These basically bear the mark of witnessing the author’s understanding of those contemplating saints who always seek the company of Godliness. Through the magical spell of his words, the author takes us to the world of Tantra-Mantra, to the deep thoughtful canvas of those devotees.
The book is divided into four individual chapters-”Fakirer Veder Kotha,” “ Ki Sandhane Jai Sekhane,” “Bhabjogoter Govire,” and “Tantra Sadhanar Path Dhore.” In these chapters we discover many facts about the saints, their ways of meditation, their life style etc. Through the journey of the author, readers also get introduced with some strange people and places, for example, Kafil Uddin, Fakir Shamsul, Mohorom, Ashura etc. There are also descriptions about different sorts of philosophy of meditation. The way he narrates every incident makes everything appear visual.
Finally, though Suman Das has contributed more than fifty books about different issues of folklore, this book is especially useful as it deals with the less explored aspects of the folkloric world of our country. On the other hand, this is a great contribution to the folk literature as well. This attempt of Sumankumar Das can help the researchers a great deal. It can also increase interest about such wonderful field of studies among the youth. So, happy reading, Bauler Akhray Fakirer Deray.
Pranab K. Deb is an Assistant Professor of English at Sylhet International University. He is Alumni of US State Department and Founder of Book Reading Movement, Boipora Utsab.