People of the Music

August 18, 2017 2017年8月18日



The shrine has a mosque-like roof, white as a meringue. People, some in robes, walk among evergreen trees laden with jackfruit. It’s the rainy season in Bangladesh and everything is hot and wet. Muhammed Ali fixes us with a calm gaze beneath authoritarian eyebrows. Behind him, a woman sweeps around the grave of saint Lalon Shah and that of his mother. The two six-foot-long prisms are covered with patterned material and spicy smoke threads through latticed burners. More of Lalon’s disciples are buried outside the small mausoleum. Ali points out one of the graves. “My father lies there. I inherited the role of caretaker from him,” he says. He takes us to the main hall. We slip off our shoes and step onto cool, white stone. Inside, devotees recline in the midday heat. Women and children sit around bags of spicy peas and rotis, their saris the color of oak and red squirrels and emerald. Lalon Shah lived and taught here, in Kushtia, Bangladesh, throughout the 19th century. He died in 1890 aged over 100 years old.

这座陵墓的白色屋顶充满清真寺风格,看上去像是一块巨型蛋糖霜。常绿乔木菠萝蜜树林中,人来人往,其中还穿插着穿着长袍的僧人。正值孟加拉雨季,一切炎热又潮湿。Muhammed Ali凝视着我们,目光平静而肃穆。在他身后,一个女人正在清扫圣人Lalon Shah和他母亲的陵墓。两个六英尺长的棱柱,被布满花纹图案的材料覆盖着,一缕缕刺激的烟雾从镂空的焚烧器里飘出来。Lalon的其他弟子被埋在了小陵墓的外面。Ali指着其中一处墓地,说:“我的父亲就埋在那儿。我继承了他管理者的职位。”我们跟着他来到主殿,脱掉鞋子,踏上冰冷的石头地板。在炎热的正午,信徒们正在殿内斜躺着。女人和儿童围着一袋袋辣豌豆和罗蒂斯坐着,头上戴着橡木色、红棕色和翡翠绿色的纱丽布。19世纪的时候,Lalon Shah就在孟加拉的库什蒂亚这里生活和教课。1890年逝世时,他的年龄已经超过100岁。

“Lalon was one of the most influential mystic saints of the Indian subcontinent. He inspired millions with his songs,” says Lalim Haque, a researcher and Lalon expert. “His lyrics are so profound. He has been able to touch the lives of not only people who have a taste for music but all people.” Haque said Lalon’s songs, especially when heard in their original Bangla, have the power to propel people to spiritual heights. Estimated to have composed thousands of songs, Lalon and his followers went on to influence 20th-century greats like Bengali poet Rabindranath Tagor, American poet Allan Ginsberg, and even Bob Dylan. To contemporary Bangladeshis, he’s like Shakespeare, Martin Luther King Jr., and Eckhart Tolle rolled into one.

Lalim Haque是一名研究学者和Lalon专家,他说:“Lalon 是印度最有影响力的神秘圣人之一。他用音乐激励着无数的人。他的歌词如此深刻,他所触动的不仅仅是爱好音乐的人,而是所有人的生活。”Haque觉得,Lalon的音乐,特别是当它们以原始孟加拉语唱出时,拥有提升人们精神境界的力量。据估计,Lalon和他的追随者谱写了上千首歌曲,许多20世纪的文学和音乐才子都受到过他们音乐的影响,譬如印度诗人泰戈尔(Rabindranath Tagor),战后“垮掉的一代”代表诗人艾伦·金斯堡(Allan Ginsberg)和民谣歌手鲍勃·迪伦(Bob Dylan)。对于现代孟加拉人来说,他就像是集莎士比亚(Shakespeare)、马丁·路德(Martin Luther King)和心灵作家艾克哈特·托勒(Eckhart Tolle)于一身的伟人。

Outside the shrine, there is a park overlooked by a ten-foot portrait of Lalon. The air wafts of weed and tobacco. Rumana, a former lawyer, has been a full-time Baul for 22 years. She plants a clay pipe between her fingers, cups her hands and inhales. She is charismatic, intelligent, and, unlike many of her companions, reveals clean white teeth whenever she smiles, which is often. She can speak English but refuses to be interviewed until we come back with a translator, saying that Bengla is the only language she can use to describe these sacred things.

在陵墓之外的一个公园里,放置着一个高达10英尺的Lalon雕像。雕像上布满了杂草和烟草。前律师 Rumana 已经是一名有 22 年经验的全职巴乌尔。她的手指间夹着一根陶土烟斗,她双手掬起,吸了一口烟。她是一位漂亮而聪明的女性,还很喜欢笑,和她的许多同伴不同,她在笑的时候,会露出一口洁白的牙齿。她会说英语,但拒绝用英语接受采访,直到我们带回了一位会说孟加拉语的翻译,她才肯接受采访。她说,神圣之物只能用孟加拉语来讲述。

After returning with a translator, she tells us that she smokes weed every day to help focus and access a meditative state. “We believe that Lalon’s songs are as important as the verses in the Quran. In Islamic law people are obliged to recite verses from the Quran every day; similarly, we Bauls sing Lalon’s songs every day,” Rumana says. She exhales a plume of smoke and passes the pipe to a friend with a matted beard and bloodshot eyes. She picks up her ektara and starts to pluck, making up for her rudimentary singing talents with her sincerity. Her bearded companion calls for tea, prompting a sari-swathed woman in a nearby stall to bawl at her daughter, who jumps up and soon arrives with tiny cups of tea that would be unpalatably strong were it not for the large scoops of sugar.

有了翻译之后,她告诉我们,她每天都会抽食大麻,这样可以帮助她集中精神,达到冥想的状态。“我们相信,Lalon的音乐和在《古兰经》的经文一样重要。伊斯兰教法要求人们每天诵读《古兰经》;同样的,我们巴乌尔人也会每天唱颂 Lalon的音乐。”Rumana 说。她呼出一口烟,将烟斗传给旁边的友人。她的朋友长着一脸乱蓬蓬的胡子,双眼布满了血丝。她拿起Ektara(孟加拉单弦琴),开始弹奏。虔诚的心弥补了她质朴的歌声。她留着胡须的友人向邻近一个摊档点了一杯茶,裹着纱丽的女摊主把蹦蹦跳跳的女儿叫来,让她把几杯茶端来。如果不是加了好几大勺的糖,这些茶会浓得难以下咽。

Muhammed Ali places his teacup down on the shrine floor and strokes his beard. Behind him, a Baul group start to sing “A Strange Bird,” one of Lalon’s favorite songs. Below is the song translated by Azfar Hussain.

“Look, how a strange bird flits in and out of the cage!

O mind, you are a bird encaged! And of green sticks
Is your cage made, but it will be broken one day.
Lalon says: Open the cage, look how the bird wings away!”

Even though I don’t understand Bengla, the song touches my heart with its longing; it makes me want to rush over to someone and fling open my arms. There is no applause when it’s over, instead, the Bauls bless a finished song by praising the lord, saying “shai shai, shai shai.”

Muhammed Ali将茶杯放在陵墓地板上,捋着他的胡子。在他身后,一群巴乌尔音乐人开始哼唱Lalon最喜欢的歌《一只怪鸟》(A Strange Bird),Azfar Hussain翻译了其中的歌词。



尽管我不懂孟加拉语,但这首歌所诠释的渴望之情触动了我的心;它使我想要跑向某人的怀中,张开我的双臂。歌声结束时,没有掌声。因为一般歌唱完毕后,巴乌尔音乐人喜欢说一个词来代替掌声,他们会说:“shai shai(我的主), shai shai(我的主)”。

Contributors: Nathan ThompsonJeremy Meek
Photographer & Videographer: Jeremy MeekNathan Thompson

供稿人: Nathan Thompson, Jeremy Meek
图片与视频摄影师: Jeremy MeekNathan Thompson