French woman finds peace in Lalon’s philosophy
KUSHTIA, Aug 15: Deborah Jannat, a former yoga teacher and a young Frenchwoman, came to Bangladesh in February 2016 to research the Baul King Fakir Lalon Shah's philosophy of life and became charmed with it. So, she has been living at the shrine of Fakir Lalon Shah in Kushtia for the last three years.
An accomplished French-to-English translator with a master's degree in philosophy, Deborah has gone as far as to change her former French surname, which she refuses to use anymore.
Taking lessons from her guru Baul Fakir Nahir Shah, she has found calmness in the Baul lifestyle. She currently lives in Daulatpur Upazila of Kushtia, and despite having gone back to France multiple times, returned to her newfound lifestyle out of her sheer love for it.
She said to The Daily Observer, "I became devoted to Lalon Shah after I came here in 2016. When I went under the guidance of my guru, I didn't know how to speak Bangla. However, the philosophy and discipline of the lifestyle did not require me to know any language. One can only understand this amazing, karmic philosophy if one lives the lifestyle and spends time with those who do."
According to Deborah, people were more important to Lalon Shah than religion or caste. In line with his philosophy, one has to look for the right path in order to gain God's favour.
"I came here to know more about Fakir Lalon Shah. I wish to stay here as Guru Nahir Shah's pupil until I die," she said.
Deborah got married to Rajon, a pupil of Nahir Shah, two years back as per the directives of the guru.
When asked if she would ever go back to France, she said, "I will not go back as I have found my peace in this country and this philosophy."
According to Fakir Nahir Shah, a charge of Darbesh Loban Shah alias Abdur Rob Shah, the Frenchwoman came to Bangladesh after looking for the truth in 15 other countries.
"I was introduced to her by a journalist, who said Deborah wanted to know more about Lalon Shah. She then became my pupil for two weeks, and at that time she learned extensively about the Baul King," Fakir Nahir Shah also said.
"Afterwards, she pledged her life to Lalon's philosophy, and I told her to learn Bengali in order to fully understand its tenets. After she learned the language, we had a dialogue, and I instilled my knowledge of the philosophy into her," Fakir Nahir Shah further said.
Lalon Shah was a Bengali baul, mystic, songwriter, social reformer and secular thinker. He has become an icon of religious tolerance and secularism in Bengali culture.