Are we truly familiar with the deeper connotations of the terms
`Baul-Bairagi-Dervish-Fakir-Sahajiya' or for that matter the Sufi and the Udasin-terms
that we often loosely apply to certain people or sects while ploughing through the routine
walks of life? H.A. Wilson (The Various Religious Cults of India) or Akshaykumar Dutta had
rightly spotted these people and produced seminal works on this community more than a
century and a half ago.
In Along Deep Lonely Alleys: Baul-Fakir-Dervish of Bengal, the author opens the doors
to a new vision of this unique world of wandering minstrels. Having travelled through the
districts of Nadia, Murshidabad, Birbhum and Bardhaman - cutting across tiny hamlets and
settlements tucked away in the farthest corners of Bengal - he completed an intensive
research over a period of time spanning two decades.
These spiritual communities and cults are unique as well as varied; the language they
use and the norms of living they follow are remarkably mysterious and tinged with a
certain rarity. The obscure mysticism in their songs and nuanced bends in their train of
thoughts and philosophy have been portrayed in the book through an inclusive approach,
with singular clarity and totality. A relatively unknown world thrives parallel to the
extensive studies in folk sociology and rural cultural anthropology. Tracing this
distinctive strain of folklore, music and spiritual beliefs, this book throws up certain
characters which have no archetypes, lending a composite structure to it all.