Shah Abdul Karim, after his heart throbbed for long 93 years, found his worldly presence too fragile and left us on 12 September for eternal rest in the other world after years of his probing into the mysteries of 'expression of body' (Deho Sadhona) and 'expression of mind' (Mono Sadhona).
Bauls are basically very restless; they cannot confine themselves to a specific area. Nature beckons them to come out from the incarceration of worldly living. They like to roam around the countryside all alone or in a group wearing distinctive clothes with an 'ektara', the quintessential one-stringed musical instrument a baul must carry.
Shah Abdul Karim was one of those Bauls. About one hundred years ago he was born in a low lying area in Sunamganj called 'Ujandhol' that he found remaining submerged almost eight months a year. Abdul Karim could feel the earth beneath his feet only for four months---too small a time for a child to take roots and make a bond with the soil.
Abdul Karim never had a chance to enrol himself in a school. So, he had to garner knowledge from what nature could present him in cryptic language only a saint or a Sufi could decipher---the knowledge that turned him into a legendary poet-cum-singer. Nature wanted to see in him a songster who would captivate his countrymen. His soul-searching baul songs have hugely captivated his countrymen in Bangladesh and many of his fans living abroad. His countrymen have not deprived him of his dues. Abdul Karim earned many awards including “Ekushey Padak”, the highest national award in Bangladesh.
Through a myriad baul songs woven with colourful threads of allegories, Shah Abdul Karim tried to take our souls away from this busy world at least for a while to unite us with God and to open our eyes to the mystic world. He took us as his companions to show us the state of separation existing between the souls of men and the spiritual ground. He made us understand many other mysteries, which are not touchable, viewable or audible in this world full of noises made out of greed, envies, and sins.
He used to pull us to a tranquil world far above this earth. He let us rediscover the meaning of life lived, passion of love translated into marriage and also the glory of love unrequited---all through his baul songs.
May God grant this mystic minstrel eternal peace he craved for!
We are shocked at the news that Baul Samrat Abdul Karim is no more. He was a pastoral bard and his songs enthral us all. The philosophical content of his songs arouses our thoughts. We pay due homage to him.
Abdur Rahman, On e-mail