Shah Abdul Karim :: Biography

Shah Abdul Karim was born on February 15, 1916 in Ujan Dhol village, Derai Thana, in Sunamganj District in Sylhet Division, one of the remotest villages of Bangladesh. Growing up with poverty and hardship, he started expressing his thoughts and emotions musically from very early age. Ektara, a traditional single string instrument has been his constant companion. His songs had spell-binding effects on the people in and around his village, not to mention his melodic, soothing and pleasingly rustic voice. He was so indulged in music that unlike other typical Bangladeshis he failed to engage in some ‘jobs’ and continued entertaining people with his music (by and large, music is yet to be recognized as a full grown profession in Bangladesh). However, poverty forced him to get into agricultural labour. But nothing could stop him from making good music. As he was growing up, he received training on spiritual and baul music only from ‘Shah Ibrahim Mastan Baksh’. Shah Abdul Karim was made famous purely from the one and only respectable person Shah Ibrahim Mastan whoses bari was in Sreepur Phir Mohol. At one point Abdul Karim lost his voice and he then came to Shah Ibrahim Mostan’s feet and begged for forgiven of his sins and then couple of years later Abdul Karim regained his voice again and even at the age of 90 years his voice was recognised to be the loudest yet beautiful for an elderly person, purely because of Shah Ibrahim Mostan.

Baul Shah Abdul Karim has written and composed over 1600 songs. These songs are organized in six books, like: Aftab Sangeet, Gano Sangeet, Kalnir Dheu, Dholmela, Bhatir Chithi and Kalnir Kooley. Bangla Academy has translated ten of his songs into English language.

Shah Abdul Karim, the legend of Baul songs and a versatile genius had all through lived a very simple life often faced with harsh reality. However, with the recent trend of popular ‘modern’ versions of his (and other) Baul songs in Bangladesh, he is now widely recognized and honoured by people, even by the younger generations who had never been ‘fans of tradition folk songs’. Though much belated, his contributions to Bengali Music has now been officially recognized by the State and its people.

He was awarded the Ekushey Padok in the year 2001 for his outstanding musical achievements. His contribution reflected by the modern singer Habib Wahid. He also received Drouhee Kotha-shahitayk Abdur Rouf Choudhury Award in 2000. He died in Sylhet on 12 September 2009 at 7:58 am Bangladesh time due to respiratory problems

Some of his Most famous songs

  • Jil Mil Jil Mil Kore
  • Bonde Maya Lagaise
  • Ashi Bole Gelo Bondhu
  • Kano Piritee Barailarey Bondhu
  • Gari Cholena Cholena
  • Ami Koolhara Kolonkini
  • Agey Ki Shundor Din Kataitham
  • Ami Tomar Koler Gari
  • Shokhi Kunjo Shajao
  • Ailai Na Ailai Na
  • Boshonto Batashey
  • Krishno Aila Radhar Kunje
  • Tumi bine akul poran
  • Ager Bahaduri Ekhon Gelo Koi