The SSP, who revolutionised the minds and souls

baba_farid

Do not speak a word that pains,
For in everyone the true Lord reigns,
Do not break the hearts to whirl,
For each man’s heart, is a priceless pearl.
·

Umair Ghani

·

Please don’t get struck by the caption of this post, am not talking of anything like some SSP from our law enforcing agencies. I’m rather going to put up a post about an SSP, the Sufi, the Saint and the Poet of Punjab, Hazrat Baba Farid-ud-din Masud Ganj-Shakkar.

Hazrat Ji, commonly known as Baba Farid was a Suf i preacher, saint and a poet, belonging to the Chishtia Order of Sufis.

Baba Farid is generally recognized as the first major poet of the Punjabi language and is one of the pivotal saints of the Punjab. Revered by Muslims and Hindus alike, he is also considered one of the fifteen Sikh Bhagats within Sikhism and his works form part of the Guru Granth Sahib, the Sikh sacred scripture.

Baba Farid’s ancestors hailed from a town called Aush, south of Ferghana [Babur’s hometown]. Baba Ji’s grandfather left Kabul and took refuge in Lahore under the Ghaznavid Sultan in 1125, but tired of Lahore’s courtly atmosphere he moved to Kasur where Sultan appointed him as Qazi. He, however, soon left Kasur and settled in Kothiwal.

He was born on the first day of Ramzan in 1173 in the city of Kothiwal, near Dipalpur in West Punjab. He was given this name after the great Sufi poet Farid-ud-Din Attar.

Baba Ji’s birth place is now called Pak Pattan; but its original name as recorded in history books was Ajodhan, which is said to be an important center of ancient India. The present city of Pak Pattan lies on the banks of the river Sutlej. People going across the river would generally clean or purify themselves before stepping on the ferryboat, so the old name was replaced with Pak Pattan.

Baba Farid’s father’ was Sheikh Jamaluddin Suleiman. His mother, Kulsum Bibi [some scholars mentioned Karsam Khatoon] was a God-fearing lady.

The name Ganj Shakar has an interesting tale. Baba Farid’s parents took extreme care that their child offered regular prayers and got an insightful religious education. The parents kept sweets under his pillow as a reward for the prayers their son offered. It was an incentive to keep him going that way. One day his mother found out that there were no more sweets in the house.

Fearing that their child would not pray without the promised prize the parents decided to collect some pebbles and place them under Baba Farid’s prayer mat. Farid woke and went straight to his prayer-mat, the moment he finished the prayers and reached for the prize his mother shouted, “No, sonny, they are not sweets; your father has gone to the bazaar to bring them.”

“But they are sweets,” said Baba Farid and placed them in his mouth one by one.

“No!” the mother shouted again.

But the child kept munching sweets and to his mother’s astonishment found them sweeter than before.

The bewildered parents witnessed a miracle. From that day, Sheikh Farid came to be known as Ganj-e-Shakar [the store-house of sweets]. Allah had kept child’s faith intact.

YOU are my protection
O Lord, my salvation
Grant to Sheikh Farid
Thy blessing
Of thy adoration

O Lord

Farid shifted to Multan for higher studies. Multan fascinated renowned scholars from Iran and Baghdad as a center of learning. That’s where Baba Farid met his spiritual guide Hazrat Qutbuddin Bakhtiar Kaki. He took Farid along with him to Delhi where they met Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti, the greatest name among the Sufis of all times.

Farid endured severe penance and asceticism under Khwaja Qutbuddin’s training. He went through strenuous physical exercises and suffered pain and hunger, and narrated his experiences in a number of his verses:

So says Farid
My bread is of wood
And hunger is my sauce
Those who eat the rich food
Do suffer from a fatal mood and

The severe agonies

Balban, the King at Delhi warmly greeted Baba Farid and introduced him to his family; Balban’s daughter was married to Baba Farid and the gifts for the marriage were distributed among the poor and fakirs. A town called Faridkot still exists in Indian Punjab.

After a short stay at Faridkot, he returned to Pak Pattan. It was here that Baba Ji breathed his last in 1266, on the fifth day of the month of Muharram. He was buried outside the town of Pak Pattan at a place called Martyr’s Grave. He was a matchless saint of God. His torch of Sufi thought was carried by his successor and subsequently by Bhagat Kabir, Guru Nanak, and many others.

Baba Sheikh Farid Shakarganj is quite truly regarded as the founder of Punjabi poetry. His verse goes deep into the soul, and induces in man the vision of the ideal life, a rising emotion in the heart, more purified than before.

Many of his verses are included in the Garanth Sahib. His message is not contracted or sectarian, but has a wide humanitarian base. In an age marked by great brutality in its social and political organizations, Baba Farid brought the touch of humanity and righteousness to all who came to seek his blessings, or to lay before him, the agony of their suffering hearts:

Rise Oh! Farid! Do your ablution

and say the prayers of morning to thy Lord,

Behead the head that does not bow before the Lord of us all.

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