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May a thousand songs bloom – the Story of Subhadra Baulani

Subhadra Baulani* is a voice that refused to be silenced. She was hailed as a nightingale when she learnt to mimic the songs her brothers sang, but was forbidden to sing in public because of existing social norms and was packed off in marriage as a child. Her husband encouraged her to pursue her inner call and stood steadfast, even as society ostracized her for her musical ways, her audience greeted her with catcalls, fellow artists tried to stifle her song and Gurus sought undue favours to take her under their folds. All this, when she did not have a roof over her head to call home and poverty was the only constant in life.

But Subhadra’s resolve was as firm as her song. Today, with a little help from AFL*, the same Subhadra who had not ventured out of the confines of her district has stormed the male bastion, mesmerized global audiences and created an example for other women to follow. She has a house of her own (with toilets to boot), a steady stream of visitors to meet and greet, a school of students who revere her and above all, a village full of neighbors whose respect she has earned – her music refusing to do the Swan Song as ordained by the elders and embracing her detractors in the truest spirit of inclusive development.

But what is even more commendable is the fact that today Subhadra is the most acknowledged exponent of the “Mahajani Pada” which she has presented before spellbound audiences in Japan, Syria, France and Bangladesh apart from winning innumerable hearts in various parts of India many times over. She has already trained 17 Bauls, 5 of them being women in a lilting and soulful protest against the oppression she was subjected to. 

*Baulani is a woman Baul. Bauls are minstrels who believe that love for humanity is the way to achieve the divine and their songs propound this philosophy. Bauls advocate  an alternate/de-institutionalized religious philosophy and live in a free society. This sect originated around 500 years back. 

*AFL - Art for Life is the flagship initiative of banglanatak dot com to foster socioeconomic empowerment and social inclusion of rural marginalized communities. AFL has codified the process of transforming traditional art and craft skills into professional expertise developing the path for grassroots creative enterprises. AFL supports safeguarding and revival of traditional art forms, providing community artists with access to new audiences and hitherto unknown markets. Revitalization of art and craft skills, common capacity creation, developing artists’ organisation, promotion and creation of direct market linkages to support the grassroots enterprises with AFL helps create in its wake, art led ecosystems of economic development. The hitherto marginalized communities start participating in the development process. It results in gender equality, improved education, health and sanitation. With promotion, rejuvenation of the tradition and strengthened identities, the marginalized villages start evolving as cultural destination. 


  1. Wonderful to know her story. Keep it up AFL and

  2. Heartening and inspirational! Keep up the great work and keep sharing.

  3. Very inspiring. Is it possible to post an interactive session with Subhadra Baulani ?

  4. Thanks for the suggestion. Will do


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