Bulla, ki jaana maen kaun

Bulleh Shah, one of the most acclaimed Sufi poets of Punjab was a humanist and a philosopher. His poetry represents him as someone providing solutions to the sociological problems of the world as he lived through it, describing the turbulence his motherland Punjab was passing through, while concurrently searching for God.
Bulleh Shah’s poetry also highlights his mystical spiritual voyage through the four stages of Sufism: Shariat (Path), Tariqat (Observance), Haqiqat (Truth) and Maarfat (Union). The simplicity with which Bulleh Shah has been able to address the complex fundamental issues of life and humanity is a large part of his appeal.
Thus, many people have put his kafis to music, from humble street-singers to renowned Sufi singers like Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Pathanay Khan, Abida Parveen, the Waddali Brothers and Sain Zahoor, from the synthesized techno qawwali remixes of UK-based Asian artists to the Pakistani rock band Junoon.




by N. Jayaram


Every year, an urs or commemoration of the death of a Sufi philosopher-poet-singer, takes place in the Pakistani city of Kasur, in the month of August, and that month someone posted a few lines on Facebook from a beautiful poem anyone – atheist or believer – can identify with.

Baba Bulleh Shah’s poem, Bulla, ki jaana maen kaun (text and youtube links below), has particular resonance in the context of a great deal of xenophobia and distrust of the other that we are witnessing in many parts of the world, including India.

In my southern Indian city, Bangalore, rumours recently led to the exodus of thousands of people originally from Northeastern India. The rumours were blamed on another minority in the city, the Muslims, who then felt obliged to host extensive rounds of Iftar parties (breaking the fast during the month of Ramadan/Ramzan) and dinners, inviting people from Northeastern India living in Bangalore, so as to reassure them that neither posed any threat whatsoever to the other.

It was apposite that just as the city began to recover from that ignoble trauma, the urs for a humanistic saintly figure began in another part of the subcontinent, where too large numbers of Pakistani civil society activists were energetically denouncing attacks on minorities and outrageous allegations of blasphemy. The troubles in India itself had started because of exaggerated rumours and false pictures depicting the fate of the Rohingya minority in Burma. And what is far worse, there have been clashes in the northeastern Indian state of Assam, pitting tribal people against presumed ‘outsiders’ from Bangladesh.

Who are outsiders and insiders among human beings who have been constantly migrating for thousands of years, whose DNAs can be traced back, according to overwhelming scientific evidence, to an African mother and whose languages, philosophies and religions are so interlinked? What earthly basis is there for this Auslaender raus (outsider out) thinking?

The poem by Bulleh Shah (1680-1757) contains many lines acutely relevant to the present times. This version is taken from the singer Rabbi Shergill’s websites.



“This body is God’s home”

Moving [counting beads] of tasbih [rosary] does not move [transform] the heart, so why hold a tasbih? If gaining of knowledge does not evoke humility [obedience] then what is the gain of [such a] knowledge? If sitting through chillas [isolation] does not bring any fruits then what is the purpose of adopting [the ritual] of chillas? Without mixing [of yogurt] the milk does not transform into yogurt even if it has been boiled many times over and turned reddish. You [Mullah] have become a professional tasbih-mover and you utter incoherent words.The jewel of your heart does not move while you are wearing garlands made of hundreds [five-twenties] of pieces /When you have to give something your throat is squeezed but when you have to get something you become a lion. O Bahu! for the stone-hearted people the rain [of love] gets wasted.



by Dr. Manzur Ejaz


Historians and commentators have provided contradictory portrayals of Sultan Bahu’s life and his political inclination. However, his poetry seems to be a coherent collection of baits (a four line verse). Neither his predecessors nor his successor poets can match his direct harsh criticism of Mullahs, Qazis and clerics of Islam. His exploration of man’s inner self is also uniquely deep.

Sultan Bahu belonged to the Awan tribe, and was born in village Anga near Shorkot, Jhang in 1631, about two-three years after Shah Jahan (1592-1666) had ascended the Mughal throne after killing many of his relatives. His father, Sultan Bazaid, is said to have been connected to Shah Jahan’s court, which is reported to have given him a large tract of land. Most historians agree that Sultan Bahu was schooled at home by his mother, Bibi Rasti Quds Sara. He was sent to Habib-ullah Qadri at Baghdad (not the Iraqi city) on the banks of river Ravi.



Punjab, the land of five rivers, can take pride in its rich collage of Sufi poetry. And its people know by instinct what is meant by ‘living in the moment’. No wonder, poetry of Bulle Shah, Sultan Bahu, Baba Farid, Khawaja Ghulam Farid, Waris Shah and Hashim, with their raw, intense appeal and forthrightness, finds instant takers in the ordinary folk.



Adil Najam & Afat Qiyamat


Punjab is the land of the Sufis. Its also the land where Heer, Sahibañ, Sohni, not to mention Dani Jatti, the all female characters [and the list goes on and on] weave its folklore.

 Its also the land where Waris Shah, Hazrat Bulleh and other Sufi poets / saints dominate, and of course there is Data Ganj Bakhsh, the patron saint of Lahore, Hazrat Miañ Mir and Baba Farid, or transcending the boundaries of religion, is Guru Gobind Singh, and where in accompaniment of musicals, rhythmic body movements like Bhañgrha, Luddi, Tappay and Dholki rule the roost. (more…)

Published in: on 15/06/2010 at 12:26 am  Comments (13)  
Tags: , ,

The SSP, who revolutionised the minds and souls


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. (more…)

Bulleh Shah: The Mystic Voice of Punjab


Me no believer—no believe in mosque

And me no pagan, no ritual no task

Me is no pure amongst the impure,

Me no believer—no believe in mosque

And me no pagan, no ritual no task

Me is no pure amongst the impure,

And me no Moses, no Pharaoh endure,

But Me no knoweth.

Who isseth Thee!

O’ Bulleya,

Me no knoweth,

Who issethMe!

by Umair Ghani

Farida Breuillac, a practicing Sufi from France, now living in Turkey, is sitting beside me on a stool in Lahore’s Regale Inn, discussing Sufism over a cup of desi tea. Dazzled as she is by the beauty and stark truth of Bulleh Shah’s verse, I recite to her the poetry of the great saint of Qasur, verse by verse as she whirls around in a trance. (more…)

%d bloggers like this: