Photo by Francesco Gallirepresentatives of a syncretic religious tradition which combines elements of tantric Vaishnavism, Buddism, Shaktism and Sufism. Although Bauls make reference to Hindu and Muslim traditions, they reject the holy books of Hinduism (Vedas) and Islam (the Koran) and instead stress the direct links between the disciple and guru. The body is considered the one and only shrine and means of connection with God. They are loyal to the fundamental belief of tantrism, according to which no knowledge can be achieved without action and they employ a special technique of ecstatic dancing in which the body is identified with the Cosmos while singing songs expressing their mystical experience. Due to this, the tradition they pursue is sometimes called, for sake of simplicity, dance- or drama-based yoga.

Bauls are active primarily in West Bengal where Grotowski encountered them during his travels in India. Between 2 and 25 February 1980, as part of the Theatre of Sources project, Grotowski and his collaborators (Micado Cadet, Pierre Guicheney, François Liege, Marek Musiał, Katherina Seyferth and Jacek Zmysłowski) travelled around the areas inhabited by Bauls. During this journey the team carried out, among other things, two workshops, one in the village of Kenduli and another with The Living Theatre in Khardaha. According to Deepak I Majumdar’s report, these workshops consisted of ‘exercises for acquiring psychophysical energy from the primary elements’, ‘wrestling with oneself’ and work on ‘the biomechanics of internal theatre’ (cited in Grzegorz Ziółkowski, Guślarz i eremita [The Guslar and the Hermit], Wrocław 2007, p. 79). One result of this stay was that six Bauls were invited to Poland in order to participate in a Theatre of Sources seminar (30 May – 31 August 1980).