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) are a group of mystic minstrels from Bengal, which includes the country of Bangladesh and the Indian State of West Bengal.Bauls constitute both a syncretic religious sect and a musical tradition.

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The Bauls themselves attribute their lack of historical records to their reluctance to leave traces behind. Jeanne Openshaw writes that the music of the Bauls appears to have been passed down entirely in oral form until the end of the 19th century, when it was first transcribed by outside observers.

There are two classes of Bauls: ascetic Bauls who reject family life and Bauls who live with their families.

The origin of Bauls is not known exactly, but the word "Baul" has appeared in Bengali texts as old as the 15th century.

The word is found in the Chaitanya Bhagavata of Vrindavana Dasa Thakura as well as in the Chaitanya Charitamrita of Krishnadasa Kaviraja.

Ascetic Bauls renounce family life and society and survive on alms. Women, dedicated to the service of ascetics, are known as sevadasis (seva, service dasi, maidservant).

They have no fixed dwelling place, but move from one akhda to another. A male Baul can have one or more sevadasis, who are associated with him in the act of devotion.

Unlike ascetic Bauls, their rituals are less strict.

In order to become Bauls, they recite some mystic verses and observe certain rituals.

Those who choose family life live with their wives, children and relations in a secluded part of a village.

They do not mix freely with other members of the community.

Men wear white lungis and long, white tunics; women wear white saris. Until 1976 the district of Kushtia had 252 ascetic Bauls.

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