The existence of folk literature and the court literature indicates
the stratification of Bengali culture. The eclipse of the individual
character by the dominance of the material narration defines
and confirms the stable, unchanging, lastingly stagnant nature
of Bengali economy. The intellectual climate of 'Mangal' literature
and Punthi literature rotated within a very narrow circle. The
chronological survey of Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim eras reflect
a continuity deriving mainly from the lack of economic expansion.
This, in turn compelled the agriculture-bound rural population
to an inward looking culture that logically went through the
process of many obscure Tantric cults and sectarian practices
of decadence. The decadent form of Buddhist religion is the
Tantric religious practice, that of Brahminism is the Shakti
cult and Islamic decadence manifested itself in it's primitive
faith in magical rites and ritualism. The Baul community is
a continuing form of such decadent search for diversification.
Nath Dharma no longer exists, and so is Abadhut cult. The naturalist
Sahajias have transformed into the Vaisnavite groups; but in
many practices of the Bauls, those lost rituals and mores of
primitive agricultural societies are surviving. The magical
practices of Mantra and Mandala, earth and the seed and the
creeper practices: Jantra Practices, three pulse practices are
the ones to be noted. In the Buddhist cult these took the form
of Latana Rusana and Abadhuti, in Brahminite cults Irha, Pingala,
Suchumna. These are relics of an older primitive magical cult.
Economic stagnance has had similar effect on the mental climate
of a people. This general sociological truth is exemplified
in these cults of Baul and Tantra. The ways of Baul and Tantra
are the ways of an inward-looking, decadent folk culture. In
these practices they are trying to grasp the truth of the universe
in the body. Their concept formation revolves round the physicality
of the cult practices. The Masculine' expressed in this is indifferent,
apathetic and without any effort. The root of this inactive
masculine principle is hidden in a long past matriarchal society.
The ideas of a primitive agricultural society is always mother-dominated
or fertility motif laden. Fertility cult is the basis of Baul
Philosophy. Since the agricultural economy has remained in the
semi-primitive state, this Baul thought has persisted to this
The conquest of Bengal by the Muslims did not create a dynamic
change in the overall economic change and the folk literature
reflects this lack of dynamic quality of the economic life.
In Punthi literature the memory of a far away country is the
subject and there is no experiential knowledge. This absence
of realism helped to keep alive religious practices and superstitions
and became tiresomely repetitive and monotonous in its lack
of imaginative vitality.