Friday, May 29, 2009

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,

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.

A week later I was standing outside the Darbar or the shrine of Bulleh Shah in the heart of Qasur city. Dhol beats echoed loud in the air with chants of ‘Ya Ali’ and ‘Dam Mast Qalandar’ as a multitude throngs to the shrine of, one of the greatest Sufi souls of Punjab.

Bulleh Shah’s real name was Abdullah Shah, that later transformed into Bulleh Shah out of sheer reverence and affection of the common citizenry of Punjab who ardently adhered to his rebellious message of love, hope and wisdom.

Its widely believed he was born around 1680 at Uch Gilaniyan in Bahawalpur; later migrated to Malakwal and finally settled in Pandoke Bhatian, about 14 miles southeast of Qasur. It was here that Bulleh Shah got his formal education from Maulvi Ghulam Murtaza, who was the Imam of the main mosque in Qasur.

Later, after completion of his formal education Bulleh Shah started teaching at the same mosque, but spiritually he chose to follow the path of his mentor, Inayat Shah Qadri, who was a famous saint of the Qadirya chain of Sufis in Lahore. Bulleh’s rebellious yet highly rhythmic and appealing utterances attracted intense criticism from his family as well as friends; for his blindly following the Sufi order much different and opposite to that of the Syeds, [the Muslims who claim their lineage from the Holy Prophet Muhammad, PBUH] However, this criticism added even more spur to his rebellious mind. He revolted against those so called hierarchs of spirituality. Bulleh Shah remained steadfast to his master’s philosophy till his death in 1729.

Bulleh Shah’s attachment to his mentor’s philosophy was so strong that under the sheer spell of his devotion, he addressed his master as god, guide, lord, spouse, husband, beloved and friend. His teacher’s guidance made him experience the spiritual ecstasies and a vision that helped him explore the unfathomable realms of inner self. In this process of self realisation, he began his journey into a metaphysical learning process which was unique to have enabled him grasp the reality of things on one hand, and yet felt blessed and obsessed by revelations from within. The journey to the path laid down by his master continued to be so intense, so self sacrificing that rapture of being away from his spiritual master, the qualms, the torment his soul faced, never ceased till the end. So intense was this Ishq (a process to find God through an intense longing, fonding and attachment with one’s mentor) that he expressed the fire in him through these words.

He listeneth to my tale and lisseneth to my woe

Shah lnayat my guide my teacher is so,

He leads me to places high and low

Shah Inayat my Master honoureth me,

Gives riddance of wrangles and of me,

My master, my Shah is with me,

Then who can dare put strife to me,

Who dare anyone harm to me,

Shah Inayat graces me,

Gives riddance of wrangles and of me,

My master, my Shah is with Me.


Thus found Bulleh Shah’s spiritual quest in the finest expression of his poetry, the Kafis. His tone is satiric, razor sharp that acts like the precision of a surgeon’s lancet, his verses bleeding with pain, the anguish, the qualm of separation and unprecedented genius of his thought process, mercilessly cutting into the social norms, the taboos and established dogmas in the name of religion. He sets out his own aesthetics of the divine love, guidance, faith, virtuosity, love and forgiveness. Like all other Sufis, he preaches negation of the “self” while seeking unity with the divine. His poetry sets liberal standards with strong intonations of religious tolerance and communal harmony. Realizations of truth transformed Bulleh Shah into a true mystic. He purified his heart with the fountain of truth gushing deep inside his soul. Overwhelmed with an obsession of spiritual knowledge, like wine intoxicates the body and mind and thus becomes the principal driving force, Bulleh Shah heroically voiced his wisdom in his following verse.

Put fire to thy prayer rug

and break even thy water mug,

then quit even thy rosary

And let thy staff to the tug

Me tired of reading the Veda book,

Me tired of reading the Quran

And Me no kneeling, me no prostrating,

Nor me forehead down
For God liveth in holy Mecca

Nor he in Mathura resides
For only those who find Him

Who see the light with self besides.


With this verse Bulleh Shah stands tall in the Sufis’ lineage, a stalwart of the Sufis’ school of thought led by Mansoor who was penalized by clerics of the day, declaring his chantings of “Ana-al Haque” (I am the Truth, I am the God) as ‘Kufr’ (negation of God) oblivious of the ecstasies that torment and thus cleanse the soul of a Sufi or saint is a unique phenomenon hardly perceptible or understood by clerics and dogmatists; who go by mere words and not the meanings and context of a scripture. This happened with Mansoor Hallaj and this too happened with Bulleh Shah who met a similar torment to his soul, his inner self.

Bulleh Shah spent rest of his life in total self denial; he did not care at all of the concern and hostility that orthodox mullahs unleashed at him for his rebellious poetry. He danced ecstatically, fearlessly, perpetually and thus treaded the path of spiritual realization and atonement. He preached love and humanism with a firm rejection of any formal religious authority on the affairs of the people. So it was no surprise that on his death in 1758, he was denied a burial in Muslim cemetery and was thus laid to rest in isolation outside the main city of Qasur. But his massage of love, his fight against religious bigots, the traditional hierarchs of different theological schools in the subcontinent, made him a people’s wali or saint. That isolated grave is now a darbar where all including the clergy, the rich and the poor all throng to pay homage to that great soul of Punjab who treaded the path of Sufism, the non traditional mystic way of finding God and a solace for one’s soul.

Me the first, me is the last,

Me don’t know, no one else,

Me the wisest, no one else,

But Bulleya,

Me no knoweth

Who isseth Thee!

O’ Blleya,

Me no knoweth

who isseth Me!

Me know no secret, to me no religion,

Not one to me not known

From Adam and Eve, me not me was born

Me don’t know even the name me own

Me don’t know the people who bow and pray

Me don’t know the people who go astray

O’ Bulleya!

Me no knoweth who isseth Thee!

Me no knoweth who isseth Me!

Me no Arab, nor Lhori,

Me no Hindu, nor Nagauri,

Me no Turkic, nor Pishauri,

Me don’t live in infinity,

Yet, O’ Blleya!

Me no knoweth

Who isseth Thee!

Me no knoweth

Who isseth Me!

Folk Tales of Pakistan – Heer Ranjha

By Mast Qalandar

Dear readers, here is another post on that great folk tale of Punjab. It already appeared in Adil Najam’s blog. Even then I reproduce this for you, as I think Mast Qalandar is a guy who has done full justice to the leading Sufi poet of Punjab when he details this ever living legend in a very lucid, very absorbing style, especially as a writer who is not a native of Punjab. I myself would never have cast an iota of a doubt over his being not a native had he not divulged it himself in this very write up.

I personally am an avid fan of his writings and this reproduction is a testimony of my feeling for his forceful pen in general and this story on Waris Shah in particular. Once you complete the read, I am sure you too will agree with me.

Of all the folk tales of Punjab, Waris Shah’s Heer is the most widely read, recited (actually, sung), commented upon and quoted love story. People have even done Ph.Ds on it. It is a very long poem, written in the Punjabi baint meter, comprising of 630 odd stanzas of 6 to 12 or more lines each. Waris Shah wrote it sometime in the 1760s.

Rural folks in Punjab routinely gather, as they always did, at the end of a hard day’s work, under a tree or a chappar (thatched canopy) to smoke hukka and discuss and share the daily news, views and common problems. It is not uncommon at such gatherings for someone to sing a few passages from Heer. Folks listen to it, mesmerized both by the melody and its contents. Older people would often quote a line or two from Waris Shah’s Heer as a piece of wisdom in their conversations. In fact, Heer is quoted by the rural folks more often than any other traditional book of wisdom.

The story of Heer and Ranjha, like all such stories, is partly true and partly fiction. But it continues to have such a powerful hold on the imagination of rural folk that they want to believe it to be true.

Numerous people have written the story of Heer before and after Waris Shah, the earliest being Damodar and probably the latest being Ustad Daman. But it is only Waris Shah’s Heer that the world knows about – or cares to know about. By writing Heer, Waris Shah not only told a fascinating story but also raised the status of Punjabi from that of a rustic language, which was mostly a spoken language, to that of a language of literature. Many believe Waris Shah is to Punjabi what Chaucer and Shakespeare were to English or Sa’di was to Persian.

Waris Shah was born in a village in district Sheikhupura but studied at Kasur. He was a contemporary of Bulleh Shah and they are supposed to have studied at the same madrassah (not necessarily in the same class) under the tutorship of one Hafiz Ghulam Murtaza Makhdumi Kasuri.

Waris Shah by all accounts was a spiritual man, well versed in Islamic theology, but he was more of a mystic than a “maulvi”. In fact, going through his Heer one cannot help but wonder if Waris Shah were alive today would he be able to, or allowed to, write a daring epic like Heer?

He wrote the story while staying at the hujra (quarters) attached to a little mosque in village Malka Hans, which falls in district Pak-Pattan (old district Sahiwal).

It is said when Waris Shah completed Heer he showed it to his teacher. The latter was rather disappointed to see his talented student, instead of writing something on fiqh or shariah, had chosen to write a love story. He is reported to have said:

“Warsa (deflection of the name, often used in Punjabi to address juniors in age or rank), I am saddened to see that my efforts have gone waste. I taught both you and Bulleh Shah. He ended up playing the sarangi (a string instrument) and you have come up with this.”

Waris Shah then opened the book and started reciting Heer. As the teacher listened, the words slowly started sinking in. He wasso touched by the language, the poetry, the powerful imagery, the intensity of emotions, and the melody that he is famously reported to have said,

“Wah! Waris Shah, you have strung together precious pearls in a twine of “munj” (a coarse string of hemp or jute).”

Some commentators interpret the “pearls” in the teacher’s comment as the deeper spiritual meanings and the “twine of munj” as the coarse theme of physical love. In other words, they say, you would, if you care to, find profound meanings beneath the superficial words of the story. However, others interpret the comment to mean that such beautiful thoughts and powerful images are expressed in a language (Punjabi) that was considered coarse or not quite as sophisticated at the time. Having myself sped through the book I tend to agree with both the views. (I must confess, however, that, Punjabi not being my native tongue, it was not easy for me to fully understand the text. I had to rely mostly on the Urdu translation provided alongside the Punjabi text.)

Shorn of all the embellishments and detail – the devil, in this case, though, literally lies in the embellishments and the detail – here is the story for those who may not have read it or heard it before.

The events of the story are supposed to have occurred sometime in the middle of the 15th century. Ranjha (his given name was Deedho. Ranjha was his clan) was born in Takht Hazara, a town in district Sargodha, to a local landlord. He was the youngest of eight sons, and his father’s favorite. While others went about their daily chores Ranjha whiled away his time playing the flute that he loved so much. He grew long hair – longer than men usually wore those days – and was a very handsome young lad.

When their father died, a dispute arose between Ranjha and his brothers over the distribution of land. The brothers had apportioned the best land to themselves and gave Ranjha only the barren land. Ranjha, after a heated argument with his brothers, left home in protest. He headed aimlessly southward along the River Chenab until he reached somewhere near the present day Jhang where the Sayyal tribe ruled.

An incident that stands out during this part of the story, which has been described in great detail by Waris Shah, is when Ranjha stays in a village mosque for the night. In the quiet of the night, tired and distressed that he was, Ranjha starts playing the flute. The village folks, when they hear the poignant notes are attracted to the mosque. The maulvi of the village also turns up, not to listen to the flute, though, but to scold Ranjha for desecrating the mosque. The maulvi denounces Ranjha for playing the flute in the mosque and also for his long-haired looks, and tells him to leave the mosque. Ranjha is not intimidated and replies:

“You and your kind, with your beards, try to pretend to be saints, but your actions are that of the devil. You do evil deeds inside the mosques and then mount the mimbar (rostrum) and quote scriptures to others …”

(In fact, Ranjha is more explicit than what I have been able to paraphrase.)

The back and forth denunciations between the maulvi and Ranjha continue for some time. Interestingly, the village folks don’t seem to share the maulvi’s enthusiasm in denouncing Ranjha. They simply watch the scene as silent spectators. (Fortunately for Ranjha the blasphemy law was not in vogue then.) Anyway, Ranjha spends the night in the mosque and leaves early next morning. After a few days he ends up in Jhang.

The chief of Jhang at the time was one Chuchak Sayyal who had an extraordinarily beautiful and a headstrong daughter named Heer. Waris Shah describes her beauty and physical attributes, literally from head to toe, with the usual poetical exaggeration. Some of the analogies and metaphors he uses may sound a bit unfamiliar and even strange to the present day readers. For example, Waris Shah says:

“Can any poet sufficiently praise Heer’s beauty? Her face shines like the full moon. Her eyes are like the narcissus flower. Her eyebrows are like a Lahori bow (I didn’t know that Lahore was ever known for making bows). The kohl (kajal) in the corner of her eyes suggests as if the armies of Punjab have invaded Hind (India). Her lips are like red rubies. Her chin is like a selected apple from the King’s orchard. Her nose is like the pointed end of the sword of Hussain (!). Her teeth are like the white petals of champa flower and sparkle like pearls. She is tall and straight like a cypress in the garden of Paradise. Her neck is like that of a koonj (a species of cranes). Her hands are smooth and soft like a chinar leaf (similar to maple leaf) and her fingers like lobiay ki phallian (pods of beans, which are longer than most other pods). In short, her features are like a beautifully calligraphed book.”

Heer, when she meets Ranjha, is instantly taken by his wild and romantic looks and the soulful tunes of his flute. She persuades her parents to hire Ranjha as a cowherd for their cattle. Ranjha is hired, and thus kindles a blazing romance between Heer and Ranjha that lasts for several years, and has since been recounted and sung for almost 250 years. The two lovers often meet in the forestland along the river (known as bela in Punjabi) where Ranjha takes the cattle to graze. While the cattles graze Ranjha plays his flute. And Heer listens by his side. The days and months pass in total bliss – and very fast.

Heer’s uncle, Kaido, becomes suspicious and starts spying on her. He gathers sufficient evidence to report the matter to her parents. The parents admonish Heer on her conduct and warn her of terrible consequences. When Heer is not deterred they call in the village Qazi (a Muslim judge who decides disputes between people in the light of Sharia and also solemnizes marriages) to counsel her.

The Qazi tells her mildly that good girls, when they come out of their home, keep their gaze lowered; that they always keep their families’ honor uppermost; that they better spend their time in tiranjans (places where village women gather to spin yarn on spinning wheels and chat). He also reminds her that, being from a higher caste and a renowned family, it is unbecoming of her to mingle with family servants like Ranjha. Heer is not convinced and tells the Qazi:

“You cannot wean away an addict from the drug. It is not possible for me to walk away from Ranjha. If it is our destiny to be together then who, other than God, can change it?” And then she adds rather philosophically: “True love is like a mark that a hot iron burns on to the skin or like a spot on a mango fruit. They never go away.”

Seeing that Heer is admant the Qazi threatens her with a fatwa of death. But Heer remains unshakeable. Exasperated, Heer’s parents decide to marry her to a man named Saida Khairra from village Rangpur (Muzaffargarrh district). Nikah ceremony is arranged and the Qazi is invited to perform the ceremony. As is customary, the Qazi first asks the bridegroom if he would accept Heer as his wife, which, of course, the bridegroom readily does. Then the Qazi asks Heer and her answer is a loud No. When the Qazi insists for an affirmative answer, Heer says forcefully:

“My nikah was already made with Ranjha in heavens by no less a person than the Prophet himself, and was blessed by God and witnessed by the four angels, Jibraeel, Mikael, Izarael and Israfeel . How can you dissolve my first nikah and marry me a second time to a stranger? How is that permissible? “.

The Qazi is dumbfounded and angry, and tells Heer to shut up or “he will have her lashed with the whip of Sharia”, and goes ahead and solemnizes the marriage, anyway. After the ceremony Heer, in tears, is bundled off to Rangpur amidst great pomp and celebrations.

Ranjha, alone and heartbroken, takes to the jungle and joins a group of jogis (yogis). Dressed like a jogi, with ash rubbed on his body, wearing large earrings and carrying a begging bowl, he goes from house to house and village to village seeking alms – and also trying to find the whereabouts of Heer. Meanwhile, Heer languishes in Rangpur, pinning for Ranjha.

Waris Shah uses a lot of ink and a lot of pages in describing the heartache and anguish that both Heer and Ranjha suffer during this period. Amrita Pritam (died 2005), a great Punjabi poet and novelist refers to this pain and anguish, in a different context, though, in her memorable poem, when she addresses Waris Shah in these words:

Ik roi si dhee Punjab di,
Toon likh likh maare vaen
Aj lakkhan dheeyan rondiyan,
Tainu Waris Shah noon kehn

When one daughter of the Punjab wept
You penned a thousand dirges of lament
Today a hundred thousand cry out to you
To make another statement

Eventually, Ranjha finds Heer’s village and Heer also comes to know through her friends that the young handsome jogi in town was no one else but Ranjha. The two meet and, with the help of Heer’s friends and her sister-in-law, Sehti, manage to elope one night.

The Khairras follow them and capture them in the territory of one Raja Adli (a raja, not to be confused with Ranjha of the story, is a ruler of a territory or state). The lovers are brought before the raja. He asks the local Qazi to decide the case according to the Muslim law. The Qazi, without much ado, declares that Heer belongs to Saida Khairra, her “lawful” husband.

Heer and Ranjha are both devastated, but helpless.

When Heer is being forcibly taken back by the Khairras to Rangpur a forlorn Ranjha, still dressed as a jogi, raises his hands skywards and begs loudly:

“Oh, Lord, you are also Qahar and Jabbar. Destroy this town and these cruel people so that justice may be done.”

Coincidentally, a huge fire erupts in a part of the town. The village folks as well as the raja, being superstitious, are convinced that the fire was the result of the jogi’s prayer and might consume the whole town. The raja immediately proceeds to undo the “wrong” administered by the Qazi, stops the Khairras from taking Heer away and holds court to hear the case anew. After listening to all the sides he decides to allow Heer to go with Ranjha.

Joyful, Heer and Ranjha leave for Jhang Sayal expecting to live happily thereafter. However, the Sayyals, believing their honor was soiled by the unconventional behavior of Heer, conspire to “cleanse” their name of this ugly stain. While appearing to welcome the couple they suggest that Ranjha go home and bring a barat to take Heer as a wife in a proper conventional manner. Ranjha happily agrees and goes back to his brothers in Takht Hazara, who by now have forgotten their old quarrel and are also remorseful. He informs them of his planned marriage. Preparations begin for taking a colorful barat to Jhang and bring Heer home.

Meanwhile the Sayals quietly poison Heer. She dies. A messenger is sent to Takht Hazara to inform Ranjha of the unexpected and sudden death of Heer. On hearing the news Ranjha collapses and dies there and then. Thus ended the lives of Heer and Ranjha. But they continue to live in the hearts and hearths of the people across Punjab and elsewhere – and so does Warish Shah.

Baba Guru Nanak Dev Ji & His Message for Humanity


The hallow around this face enlightens the whole world of Sikhism

by Nayyar Hashmey

This week the 539th birthday celebrations of the founder of the Sikh religion, Baba Guru Nanak will start with a deep devotion and fervor in different parts of Punjab, Pakistan. Members of the Sikh community from around the globe will attend the five days religious ritual with great enthusiasm and pay homage to the great Sufi poet of Punjab, who changed the lives of millions of people through his message of love, peace, and devotion to God, tranquility and equality for the mankind.

Every year in November, the authorities in Pakistan make special arrangements for the occasion to provide transport and lodgings for thousands of guests from abroad. Pakistan Railways induct special train schedules for Indian Sikhs to attend the celebrations on Pakistani side of the Punjab and then return home safely. PIA, the national airline also scedules special flights from various destinations to Lahore for devotees from all over the world.


The man to whom all this homage being paid, all these celebrations being held; was born in a Hindu farming family at a place which was then a tiny remote village called Talwandi Rai in Sheikhupura district, 160 kilometers from Lahore, the capital of the province. Though originally an unknown spot in the vast expanse of Punjab, Rai Talwandi attained a special status after the birth of the Great Guru, not only for the followers of the Sikh religion but also for Hindus and Muslims. Gradually it turned into a town, became a tehsil of Sheikhupura district and now is a district headquarters itself.

I remember my first journey to Nankana Sahib in early eighties. The road from Sheikhupura to Nankana was a narrow countryside road and after every kilometer there were so many sudden bumps and jumps that one could hardly call it a road. But now a, fully carpeted highway takes you from Sheikhupura to Nankana Sahib turning your journey into a happy comfortable ride, more so to a place blessed as the birthplace of the Great Guru. The place got its name changed from Talwandi Rai to Nankana in recognition of the teaching and services for humanity by Sat Guru, Nanak Dev Ji during his life time.

Gurdwara Janam Asthan, the birthplace of the founder of Sikh faith in Nankana Sahib is the center of spiritual zeal for Sikhs scattered all over the globe. Every year, this month, the faithful converge to pay homage to the spiritual Guru, whose message is still relevant in fast changing times.

While glancing over the life of the Guru, I learnt that he had started to tread on path of his Creator from the time he was just a child. The Maulvi to whom he was sent to learn vernacular knowledge, told his father, Nanak didn’t need any teaching for he knew what others did not. Later, in his boyhood, when his father sent him to make certain purchasing deals for the business, Nanak spent the money to feed the Sadhus. When asked by his father about the deal he was to make out of money given to him, Said Sat Guru, “Bapu, I made a Sacha Sauda”. Now this word Sacha Sauda means a true deal but I never knew its connotations except that it was a small railway station between Faisalabad and Lahore which I had to cross every time I took an express train during my travels from the then Lyallpur to Lahore.

The true meanings of this “true deal” were revealed to me when I started reading about the life of the Great Guru. I learnt this was the place where the Guru had struck this saccha sauda, the true deal in his boyhood days. It’s now a pretty bustling town near Nankane Sahib and a unique, impressive Gurdawara building under the same name stands here.


After having struck the real deal of his life, the Guru underwent a process of enlightenment which all men of God experience in their life. Soon Guru’s world-changing movement spread all over Punjab, the target audience was the poor peasants of rural areas.

Nanak Dev used the rhythm of Punjabi poetry and soothing Sufi music to pass on his message of love. He stood against social evils and promoted the equality of every one, without any discrimination of color, creed, race or sex. Baba Nanak was the first one who fought for the rights of the women.

The Sikh code was revolutionary because it guaranteed food and a living place for every human being without any discrimination. Gurdwaras, where Sikhs offer worship remain open 24 hours for everyone with arrangement of free food. “You can’t find any Sikh as a beggar simply because of the teachings of Baba Nanak Ji,” said once Chaudhry Anwar Aziz, a Michigan university law graduate, former politician and a federal minister, who served in successive governments. Interestingly, Baba Guru Nanak Ji never compiled the Sikh code of practice and rituals that came after his death.

The vastly traveled founder of Sikh religion Baba Guru Nanak also performed the Hajj and paid homage to the holy prophet Muhammad (PBUH) at Medina. His close associate and lifetime friend Sufi musician, Bhai Mardana was a Muslim minstrel, who spent his life with him as a follower. The teachings of Guru Nanak Ji had great resemblance and commonalities with Islamic teachings and philosophy. Being a child from a Hindu family, the lifestyle and jargon of Nanak Ji was influenced also by typical Hindu traditions that overlapped the ideological contradictions with Hinduism, yet many in India believe Sikhism to be an offshoot of Hinduism. But, in fact it is a religion which like Islam doesn’t believe in idolatry and has an absolute faith in oneness of Rabb, the Creator and Nourisher of all of us.

Guru Nanak Dev spent his last decade in a village called Kartarpur Sahib, in Narowal district on the lush green banks of the river Ravi. Before he died he announced that Sikhism had been completed. According to mythology, immediately after his announcement of the completion of Sikhism, he passed away. There was a brawl over his last rituals, his Muslim followers wanted to bury him and his Hindu followers insisted that they should cremate his body. While, the scuffle was going on, suddenly the enraged followers came to know that the body of Nanak ji had disappeared mysteriously and a lot of roses had taken its place.

To settle the dispute both groups distributed the roses, the Muslims buried and Hindus cremated these flowers. At Darbar Sahib Kartarpur there is a marble clad grave outside the complex and inside a crematorium, both stand in veneration to the great Sufi poet and founder of new progressive religion of Sikhism.

The Sikh code of teachings was compiled after Baba Nanak Ji, and nine successors of the great Guru shaped the contours of this new religion. Finally the tenth guru Gobind announced the compilation of the Sikh scripture and holy book the Granth Sahib. Guru Gobind Ji, the great warrior of his times, converted pure Sufi movement into the militant group and introduced five K’s. He also declared that Granth Sahib will be considered a living Guru after him, and that no one be appointed his successor. The Granth Sahib contains the work of three great Muslim Sufi poets, Baba Farid Shaker Ganj, Hazrat Mian Meer and Waris Shah.

Their work makes up 33 percent of the book. The Granth Sahib is considered an eternal living guru; hence at every Sikh place of worship, the Gurdawara, a spacious room is earmarked as an abode of the holy Granth Sahib.

The essence of Nanak’s teachings are found relevant in today’s world, when he insists upon all men:-

Realize your unity with all.

Love God. Love God in man.

Sing love of God. Repeat His Name.

Sing His glory.

Love God as the lotus loves water,

the bird Chatak loves rain, as wife loves husband.

Make divine love thy pen and thy heart the writer.

Repeat His Name, you live; if you forget, you die.

Open your heart to Him.

Seek a communion (with Him), sink into His arms;

and you will feel the divine embrace.

To end my wandering thoughts, an humble tribute to the Sufi, the Poet and the Messiah from Punjab, I quote one of his hymns – a beautiful summary of his teachings, a nirvana particularly for today’s anguished world.

Love saints of every faith, put away your pride

Remember Essence of religion, throw away the trite

In meekness and sympathy,

Not the fine clothes, Not the Yogi’s garb and ashes,

Not the blowing of horns, Nor the shaven heads,

Nor prayers and the corns, Nor recitations and tortures,

Not ascetic ways, long departures

But a life of goodness and purification,

Amid the world’s temptations,

Seek eternal glorification.

Sufism and Pakistan

Sufism and Pakistan


Sufi’s are lovers of truth.

The message of Sufis, the mystics who touch our mind and soul, is universal. Because of truth, richness, and its down to earth approach, Sufi philosophy finds a following amongst elite as well as the masses – irrespective of color, creed or religion.

Though Sufis’ message of love reached almost every nook and corner in the subcontinent, it was particularly so in Pakistan where it spread to find big success with the common folk, yet the universality of Sufis’ message found support and following equally amongst the nobility.

Sufis’ message being part of people’s psyche now, rich tributes are paid to these noble souls at their birth or death anniversaries. Involvement of common men in paying tributes is so deep, so vehement that these have taken the form of ecstatic celebrations, celebrations which have almost acquired the form of carnivals.

Every year many such festivals are celebrated across the whole of Pakistan. The homage to these godly souls is so deep rooted that such occasions are perhaps the only places where true demonstration of secular gatherings is observed. Here one finds Muslims and non Muslims of different sects who otherwise will not offer prayers with each other, but in Sufi shrines at a particular Urs they would not only celebrate but dine, sleep and, pray together. Such is the force of Sufis’ following: these people feel themselves like children of same father, the patron saint under whose blessings they feel like brothers and sisters. Before partition, at such celebrations the Hindus and Sikhs in the area joined these celebrations with same enthusiasm and attachment as their Muslim counterparts because they believed the message was as much applicable to their lives as those of their Muslim followers.

Sufism is a blend of Islam and Mysticism

The mystic tradition of Sufism found home in Islam encompassing a diverse range of beliefs and practices dedicated to Allah and divine love to help a fellow man. Its not surprising, therefore, that Sufi orders associated with every branch of Islam exist.

It is widely believed though that Sufi thought emerged from the Middle East in the eighth century, yet its adherents are now found every where in the world.

Almost all traditional Sufi schools (orders) trace their “chains of transmission” back to the Prophet (PBUH) via his cousin and son-in-law Imam Ali ibn Abi Talib, except the Naqshbandi order which traces its origin to Caliph Abu Bakr. From their point of view, the esoteric teaching was given to those who had the capacity to contain the direct experiential gnosis of God, and then passed on from teacher to student through centuries.

Sufi is the Arabic word for “wool”, in the sense of “cloak”, referring to the simple cloaks the original Sufis wore, but the Sufis use the composing letters of the words to express hidden meanings, and so the word could also be understood as “enlightenment.”

Sufism became organised and adopted a form and institution in the 12th and 13th centuries A.D. The two great pioneers in this field were Sheikh Abdul Qadir Jilani and Hazrat Shahabuddin Suhrawardy. By introducing the system of ’silsila’ which was a sort of association / order, and takia / khankha, a lodge or hospice, they invested the movement with a sense of brotherhood and provided it with a meeting place. The ’silsila’ and the takia / khankha were the king-pins of the organization. With a stream of selfless workers available and with no dearth of devoted and assiduous leadership, the movement made swift progress and spread far and wide.

The character of Sufi movement was such that it did not require official patronage or military protection. It succeeded without both in a number of countries like Malaya, Indonesia, East and West Africa. The same is true of their work in Pakistan. In fact, power was a hindrance rather than a help to the progress of Sufi mission. Eminent Sheikh Nizamuddin refused to consider a proposal made by Mohammad Tughlaq to coordinate missionary activity with political expansion.” (Indian Muslim by Prof. M. Mujeeb)

The Sufi Spirit

Sufism has universal appeal and its characteristics are universally acclaimed. Sufism on the whole is primarily concerned with direct personal experience, and as such may be compared to various forms of mysticism such as Zen Buddhism and Gnosticism. It negates rigidity and promotes free religious thought that emphasizes God’s love and mercy that sustains the whole universe. Sufism stresses the essence of faith rather than mere observance of rituals. It shuns wealthy, monarchic and bureaucratic infestations of big cities and detests false values based on pelf and power and charters to restore morality in its proper place.

The Sufi Traditions in Pakistan


Pakistan and Sufism are inter-related, inter-woven and inseparable from each other. If Pakistan’s beginning is traced back to the conquest of this sub-continent by Muslims armies, as is erroneously thought, then the whole sub-continent should have become Pakistan since Muslim arms were successful throughout the area. But Pakistan emerged only in those territories where Sufism met with success. Pakistan, therefore, can be described as the fruit of the Sufi movement.

Early in the 8th century A.D. when Mohammad Bin Qasim conquered Sind (which included most of Punjab), yet the general conversion to Islam in Pakistan, according to scholars, began on a sizeable scale two hundred years later from the 13th century. This period starts with the arrival of Hazrat Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti in the subcontinent followed by a large number of Chishti and Suhrawardy Sufis.

The great pioneers of the 13th century Sufi movement in the areas of present-day Pakistan were the four friends known as ‘Chahar Yar:’ Hazrat Fariduddin Masud Ganj Shakar of Pak Pattan (1174-1266), Hazrat Syed Jalaluddin Bukhari of Uch-Bahawalpur (1196-1294), Hazrat Bahauddin Zakaria of Multan (1170-1267) and Hazrat Lal Shahbaz Qalandar of Sehwan (1177-1274). It is said that 17 leading tribes of the Punjab accepted Islam at the hands of Hazrat Fariduddin Masud Ganj Shakar.

But the Sufis did not do their work in a hurry. They first set an example of highest probity by their personal acts and propagated the message of Islam in a simple, yet forceful manner without exerting any political or economic pressure so that the work of conversion continued for centuries throughout the Delhi Sultanate, down to the days of the British Raj.

Contrary to conventional Islam, music also played a significant role in spread of Islam through Sufi’s creed. Classic music is the only art where a synthesis between Hindu and Muslim artistic traditions took place in the Indian subcontinent. Sufis with their spiritual preoccupations also remained in the forefront of this synthesis. Khawaja Moeenuddin Chishti, the founder of the Chishtyia order in the subcontinent and his successor Khwaja Bakhtiyar Kaki, both listened to music as a spiritual stimulant. In the assemblies of Nizamuddim Auliya, Amir Khusro’s ghazals were sung along with the other pieces of music.

The Chishti tradition regarded music as an indispensable aid to ecstasy and a means to attain revelations through it. It relied on Persian verse as the content to musical composition but in some provinces it soon borrowed or adapted mixed Persian and Hindi wording.

It is said that the Sufi practice of listening music first took place in the Indo-Pak subcontinent and then passed on to rest of the Muslim world. Our Sufi poets such as Baba Farid, Shah Husain, Sultan Bahu, Shah Latif Bhitai, Bulleh Shah, Sachal Sarmast, Khwaja Ghulam Farid, Mian Muhammad Bakhsh and Maulvi Ghulam Rasul continued the finest tradition of poetry and music. Still today, the shrines of these Sufi saints host classical music contests. Festivals and carnivals abound with dhamal, whirling in a ritual reverie. Men, and sometimes women, in bright traditional robes dance and shout around frantically following their own path to enlightenment. A traditional drum called dhol beats deafeningly and hypnotically, making everyone to dance to forget surrounding and tread in a voyage of ecstasy. Another popular genre of Sufi music is qawwali, the most important and widespread in the Khusrau tradition, which has remained alive for more than seven centuries.

Sufi festivals and Tourism

The fairs at Sufi shrines or Sufi saints (popularly called the Urs) generally mark the death anniversary of a saint. At every Urs, devotees assemble in large numbers and pay homage to the memory of a saint. Soul inspiring music with dhamaal (when devotees dance in ecstasy on beat of a drum) on such occasions takes the colour of a folk festival and appeals to all and sundry. It forms a part of the folk music carrying mystic messages (verses) of the Sufi or saint which throbs the heart of every one and people from all walks of life throng the dargah or mausoleum. The countryside of Punjab but not excluding the urban centres or metropolises, abound with Urses like the ones of Data Ganj Bakhsh, Hazrat Mian Mir and Shah Hussain in Lahore, Urs of Baba Farid Ganj Shakar in Pakpattan, Urs of Hazrat Bahaudin Zakria in Multan, Urs of Sakhi Sarwar Sultan in Dera Ghazi Khan, Urs of Hazrat Bulleh Shah in Kasur and Urs of Hazrat Imam Barri Lateef in Islamabad. A big fair is organized at Jandiala Sher Khan in the Sheikhupura district on the Mausoleum of Syed Waris Shah.

A great festival of lights, called Mela Chiraghan, is held in the last week of March, outside the Shalimar Gardens, Lahore, in the memory of Sufi poet Madhu Lal Hussain. Every year, no less than 500,000 people come from across the country and from abroad to attend the festival.

The touristic importance of these festivals is so strong that they need be incorporated in the overall tourism policy of the country. In the tourism year 2007 one of the slots was to organise Sufi Festivals in Multan and Sehwan. Such type of events directly relate to Islam’s eternal message of peace, tolerance and international human brotherhood promoted through the works of our Sufi saints. These festivals could be held in the month of September, in synchronization with the Urs of our great Sufi Saint Lal Shahbaz Qalandar which is held every year from Sep. 3rd to Sep. 6th .

Multan is famous as the city of Peers and Shrines, and has some landmarks in this regard. Shams Tabriz’s Shrine is a beautiful tourist attraction. The sky-blue engravings and glazed red bricks further add beauty to this monument. Shah Rukh-e-Alam Shrine is popular for its large domes. The shrine was built during the period of Tughlaq. The Sheikh Yusuf Gardez shrine is the other place worth visiting.

Uch Sharif is another beautiful and the historical site. Located at the confluence of the two rivers Sutlej and Chenab, Uch Sharif is a wonderful tourist destination. Basically famous for its various beautiful shrines and tombs, the place offers another venue to host Sufi festival. Its beautiful shrines and tombs attract thousands of general tourists and people of Sufi following from almost every place in the world. Famous shrines in Uch Sharif include Hazrat Jalaluddin Surkh Bukhari, Makhdoom Jahanian Jahangasht, Hazrat Bahawal Haleem, Shaikh Saifuddin Ghazrooni and Bibi Jawandi.

Shah Hussain (1538 - 1599)


Shah Hussain (1538 - 1599) was a Punjabi poet and Sufi saint. He was born in Lahore (present-day Pakistan). His tomb and shrine lies in Baghbanpura, adjacent to the Shalimar Gardens.

His urs (annual death anniversary) is celebrated at his shrine every year. It is known as "Mela Chiraghan" ("Festival of Lights") and is the second largest festival in Lahore after Basant. It used to be the biggest festival of the Punjab.

Shah Hussain's love for a Brahmin boy called "Madho" or "Madho Lal" is famous, and they are often referred to as a single person with the composite name of "Madho Laal Hussain". Madho's tomb lies next to Hussain's in the shrine.

Shah Hussain was the pioneer of the kafi form of Punjabi poetry.


Kafiyan ٍShah Hussain

In the new Lahore lies buried Shah Husain and with him lies buried the myth of Lal Husain. Still, at least once a year we can hear the defused echoes of the myth. As the lights glimmer on the walls of Shalamar, the unsophisticated rhythms of swinging bodies and exulting voices curiously insist on being associated with Husain. This instance apparently defies explanation. But one is aware that an undertone of mockery pervades the air - released feet mocking the ancient sods of Shalamar and released voices mocking its ancient walls. Husain too, the myth tells us, danced a dance of mockery in the ancient streets of Lahore. Grandson of a convert weaver, he embarrassed every one by aspiring to the privilege of learning what he revered guardians of traditional knowledge claimed to teach.

Then again, fairly late in life, he embarrassed every one by refusing to believe in the knowledge he had received from others, and decided to know for himself. He plucked the forbidden fruit anew.

The myth of Lal Husain has lived a defused, half-conscious life in the annual Fare of Lights. The poetry of shah Husain which was born out of common songs of the people of the Punjab has kept itself alive by becoming a part of those very songs. In recent past, the myth of Madhu Lal Husain and the poetry of Husain have come to be connected. But the time for the myth to become really alive in our community is still to come.

Husain's poetry consists entirely of short poems known as "Kafis." A typical Husain Kafi contains a refrain and some rhymed lines. The number of rhymed lines is usually from four to ten. Only occasionally a more complete form is adopted. To the eye of a reader, the structure of a "Kafi" appears simple. But the "Kafis" of Husain are not intended for the eye. They are designed as musical compositions to be interpreted by the singing voice. The rhythm in the refrain and in the lines are so balanced and counterpointed as to bring about a varying, evolving musical pattern.

It may be asserted that poetry is often written to be sung. And all poetry carries, through manipulation of sound effects, some suggestion of music. Where then lies the point in noticing the music in the "Kafis" of Shah Husain? Precisely in this: Husain s music is deliberate - not in the sense that it is induced by verbal trickery but in the sense that it is the central factor in the poet's meaning.

The music that we have here is not the vague suggestion of melodiousness one commonly associates with the adjective "lyrical : it is the symbolic utterance of a living social tradition. The "Kafis" draw for their musical pattern on the Punjabi folk songs. The Punjabi folk songs embody and recall the emotional experience of the community. They record the reactions to the cycle of birth, blossoming, decay and death. They observe the play of human desire against the backdrop of this cycle, symbolizing through their rhythms the rhythms of despair and exultation, nostalgia and hope, questioning and faith. These songs comprehend the three dimensions of time - looking back into past and ahead into future and relating the present to both. Also, these songs record the individual s awareness of the various social institutions and affiliations and clinging to them at the same time - asserting his own separate identity and also seeking harmony with what is socially established.

Through this deliberate rhythmic design, Shah Husain evokes the symbolic music of the Punjabi folk songs. His "Kafis" live within this symbolic background and use it for evolving their own meaning.

By calling into life the voice of the folk-singer, Husain involves his listeners into the age-old tension which individual emotions have borne it its conflicts with the unchanging realities of Time and Society. But then, suddenly one is aware of a change. One hears another different voice also. It is the voice of Husain himself, apparently humanized with the voice of the folk-singer, and yet transcending it. The voice of the folk-singer has for ages protested against the bondage of the actual, but its fleeting sallies into the freedom of the possible have always been a torturing illusion. The voice of the folk-singer is dragged back to its bondage almost willingly, because it is aware of the illusory nature of its freedom and is reluctant run after a shade, fearing the complete loss of its identity. The voice of Shah Husain is transcending folk-singer s voice brings into being the dimension of freedom - rendering actual what had for long remained only possible:

Ni Mai menoon Kherian di gal naa aakh Ranjhan mera, main Ranjhan di, Kherian noon koori jhak Lok janey Heer kamli hoi, Heeray da wer chak

Do not talk of the Kheras to me, O mother, do not. I belong to Ranjha and he belongs to me. And the Kheras dream idle dreams. Let the people say, "Heer is crazy; she has given her-self to the cowherd." He alone knows what it all means. O mother, he alone knows. Please mother, do not talk to me of Kheras.

At first , the little "Kafi" deftly suggests the underlying folk-song patter. The usual figures in the marriage song - the girls, the mother, the perspective husband and the perspective in-laws are all there. And the refrain calls the plaintive marriage-song address of the girl to he mother on the eve of her departure from the parents house.

But the folk-song pattern remains at the level of an underlying suggestion. The mother and the daughter in the folk-song were both helpless votaries of an accepted convention, bowing before the acknowledged power of an unchanging order. Here in the "Kafi" the daughter assumes the power of choice and rejection. She stands outsides the cycles of time and society. The mother continues to represent the social order and the accepted attitudes according to her convictions, the Kheras offer the best possible future for her daughter because they assure mundane security and prestige, within a decaying order. But the daughter I snow determined to go beyond this order and seek further inner development. To her the Kheras, her unacceptable in-laws, represent the tyranny of the actual forced on the individual. To her, Ranjha, the socially condemned cowherd, represents the consummation of her revolt, promising a union which is the real inner fulfillment. The accepted attitudes are based on a superficial vision, which takes appearance to be the only reality. Ranjha, who always hides his real self behind the shabby garb of a jogi or a cowherd can never be understood and can never be preferred to the wealthy Kheras. His real identity is a mystery that can be realized only in Heer's individual emotions. And for such a realization, a conscious break with the order of appearances is a prerequisite. Husain's triumph is achieved, not by evading the bondage s of the actual but by suffering them and finally transforming them. The mother remains a part of the daughter s consciousness - in addressing her she addresses herself. But this part of her consciousness is now subjected to more vital individual self. In the refrain:

Ni Mai menon Kherian di gal naa aakh

there is a tone of confidence - a mixture of earnest protestation and assured abandon.

Here is a "Kafi" presenting a different emotion:

Sujjen bin raatan hoiyan wadyan Ranjha jogi, main jogiani, kamli kar kar sadian Mass jhurey jhur pinjer hoyya, karken lagiyan hadyan Main ayani niyoonh ki janan, birhoon tannawan gadiyan Kahe Husain faqeer sain da, larr tairay main lagiyaan

Nights swell and merge into each other as I stand a wait for him. Since the day Ranjha became jogi, I have scarcely been my old self and people every where call me crazy. My young flesh crept into creases leaving my young bones a creaking skeleton. I was too young to know the ways of love; and now as the nights swell and merge into each other, I play host to that unkind guest - separation.

The slower tempo of the refrain sets the mood of the "Kafi." The voice of the singer stretches in an ecstasy of suffering along the lengthening vowel sounds. The vowel sounds initiated by the refrain are taken up by rhythms and several other words.

The Heer-Ranjha motif is used here in a different emotional background. The intense loneliness here contrasts sharply with the confidence of fulfillment shown in the earlier "Kafi." Here people s preoccupation with appearances is not treated with indifference;

Ranjha jogi, main jogiani, kamli kar kar sadian

instead it adds to the plain. But in the notes of suffering, there is a strange quality of single-mindedness. One is not aware of any fidgety second thoughts. The plain does not evince any desperation: in fact there is an air of contemplative pose, born out of the awesome finality of commitment.

In another "Kafi" using the Heer-Ranjha motif, we are taken back to a still earlier stage of the poet s emotional Odyssey:

Main wi janan dhok Ranjhan di, naal mare koi challey Pairan paindi, mintan kardi, janaan tan peya ukkaley Neen wi dhoonghi, tilla purana, sheehan ney pattan malley Ranjhan yaar tabeeb sadhendha, main tan dard awalley Kahe Husain faqeer namana, sain senhurray ghalley

Travelers, I too have to go; I have to go to the solitary hut of Ranjha. Is there any one who will go with me? I have begged many to accompany me and now I set out alone. Travelers, is there no one who could go with me?

The River is deep and the shaky bridge creaks as people step on it. And the ferry is a known haunt of tigers. Will no one go with me to the lonely hut of Ranjha?

During long nights I have been tortured by my raw wounds. I have heard he in his lonely hut knows the sure remedy. Will no one come with me, travelers? <

The folk-song locale is present here in the shape of a river, a ferry and a batch of travelers. The travelers gather to set off to remote places for business, duty and other reasons. And there is the self conscious girl who comes daily to hear some chance gossip drop a word about her friend. The river for centuries has flowed between desire and fulfillment. No one knows where it goes; it has no beginning and no end. The river is ancient and unfathomable - holding mysterious dangers. It causes both life and death but shows a fascinating indifference that compels awed men and women to kneel and worship the river. There is another reason for this homage. The river bounds the village. It limits and defines the known and tried capacities of humanity. The girl s father has no possessions beyond the river. What she was born with lies placidly marked this side of the river. What is beyond, is vaguely threatening. But this hazardous unknown fascinates the girl and seeks to lure her out of the complacent peace she was born with.

But the girl in the "Kafi" differs from the girl in the folk-song in one vital respect. The girl in the folk-song has for ages, waited on this side of the river. She visits the ferry and moves among the travelers with questioning looks. But in her words and looks there lurks the knowledge of perpetual impossibility, the acknowledge that desire is never more than a wish is often less than it. The girl in the "Kafi" is prepared to bridge the gap between desire and attainment. She too is aware of the hazards of her ways but for her he imperative need to set out has become the supreme fact.

The image of a patient, desperately looking for a last remedy contains subtle implications. When Heer fakes illness in the house of her in-laws, Ranjha the fake jogi was approached for some magic cure. Heer was cured in a way the people did not foresee and her illness turned out to be of an unexpected nature. Those believing in appearances as the only reality were given a dramatic lesson. Here in the "Kafi", the metaphorical background is recreated. The girl earnestly wishes to align herself with ordinary motives and measures. But the uncommon purpose of her journey and the uncommon destination still stand out among the group of travelers. Her request for some one to accompany her only throws into stranger relief her unique loneliness. The ecstatic rhythm brings to the refrain a tone of finality, a finality comparable to that of death. The journey across the river is a transition as radical as death. The two worlds of experience are as different from each other as the familiar life and the unknown beyond.

Kafian کافیاں

ربا میرے حال دا محرم تُوں!
اندر تُوں ہیں، باھر تُوں ہیں ،رُوم رُوم وِچ تُوں
تُوں ہیں تانا، تُوں ہیں بانا،سبھ کجھ میرا تُوں
کہے حسین فقیر نماناں،میں ناہیں، سب تُوں

اوکھے لفظاں دے معنے

مِحرم: واقف
رُوم رُوم: لُوں لُوں


چرخہ میرا رنگڑا رنگ لال!
جے اوڈ چرخہ،تے ڈومنے ہُن کہہ گیا باراں اپنے
سائیں کارن،لوئن رُنّے روئے ونجایا حال
جے وڈ چرخہ،تے وڈگُھمائن سبھے آئیاں،سیس گندائِن
کائی نہ آیا حال ونڈائِن ہن کائی نہ چلدی نال
وچّھے کھاہد گوہڑا واڑا سبھولڑ دا ویہڑا پار
میں کیہہ پھیڑیا ویہڑے دا نی سبھ پئیاں میرے خیال
جے وڈ چرخہ تے وڈ پچھی ماپیاں میرے سر تے رکھی
کہے حسین فقیر سائیں دا ھر دم نال سنبھال

اوکھے لفظاں دے معنے

رنگڑا: رنگیا ہویا
اوڈ: جنا
لوئن رُنّے: اکھیاں روندیاں ہین
ونجایا: برباد کیتا۔ کافیاں شاہ حسین:کافی3-4


نی اسیں آؤ کھڈا ہاں لُڈّی
نوں تار ڈور گڈی دی، اسیں لے کے ہاں اُڈّی
ساجن دے ہتھ ڈور اساڈی، میں ساجن دی گُڈّی
اس ویلے نوں پچھوتا سیں، جد جائے پوسیں وچ کھڈّی
کہے حسین فقیر سائیں دا، سبھ دنیا جاندی بڈّی

اوکھے لفظاں دے

لُڈی: اک پنجابی ناچ
نوں تار: نو حواس
گُڈی : پتنگ
ساجن: محبوب
پچھو تاسیس: پچھتائے گی۔
کھڈّی : گڑھا جیس وچ جولاہیا تانی بُن دے ویلے پیر رکھدا ہے۔ ایتھے مطلب قبر۔
بُڈی: ڈُب رہی ہے۔


دل درداں کیتی پوری نی،دل درداں کیتی پوری
لکھ کروڑ جیہناں دے جڑیا،سوبھی جھوری جھوری
بھٹھ پئی تیری چٹی چادر، چنگی فقیراں دی بھوری
سادھ سنگت دے اوہلے رہندے،بُدھ تیہناں دی سوری
کہے حسین فقیر سائیں دا، خلقت گئی اُدھوری

اوکھے لفظاں دے معنے

جڑیا: جمع کرلیا
جُھوری: پریشان ہوئی
بھٹھ: تندور،اگ
بھُوری: لوئی۔ کمبل۔


میرے صاحبا! میں تیری ہو مُکی آں
منوں نہ وساریں تُوں مینوں،میرے صاحبا! ہرگلّوں میں چُکی آں
او گنہاری نوں کو گُن ناہیں،بخش کرے تاں میں چُٹھی آں
جیوں بھاوے،تیوں راکھ پیاریا، دامن تیرے میں لُکی آں
جے توں نظر مہردی بھالیں، چڑھ چوبارے میں سُتی آں
کہے حُسین فقیر سائیں دا، در تیرے دی کُتی آں

اوکھے لفظاں دے معنے

ہو مُکی آں: مُک گئی آں
منوں: دِلوں
گلوں: گل بات وچ
او گنہگاری :گنہگار
گُن: خوبی۔اچھائی
چھٹی: آزادی ۔رہائی
بھاوے: پسند آوے
راکھ: رکھ
لُکی: چھُپی
مہر: رحمت۔ محبت


جاگ نہ لدھی آ، سن جند ہبھو وہانی رات
اِس دم دا کیہہ بھرواسا' رہن سرائیں رات
وچھڑے تن من' بوہڑ نہ میلہ' جیوں تروڑٹٹے پات
کہے حسین فقیر سائیں دا،ہوئے گئی پربھات

اوکھے لفظاں دے معنے

جاگ: اثر کرن والی تھوڑی چیز، جیہڑی دوجی شے نوں اپنا بنا لوے۔جیویں ددھ
وچ تھوڑا جیا دہی رلا دیون نال اوہ بھی دہی بن جاندا ہے۔
لدّھی: ملی
جِند: جان
ہبھو: ہوکے
وہانی: لنگھاونی
بھرواسا: بھروسہ
رہن: رہنا مراد دنیا
سرائیں رات: جیویں سرائے وچ رات لنگھاونا
بوہڑ: دوبارہ۔ پھیر
پات: پتے
پربھات: تڑکے


ویلا سمرن دا نی، اٹھی رام دھیائے
ہتھ ملے مل پچھوتا سی، جد ویسی آوقت وہائے
اس تڑے توں بھر بھر گئیاں،تُوں بھی اپنی وار لنگھائے
اکناں بھریا، اِک بھر گئیاں،اک گھرے اِک راہے
کہے حسین فقیر سائیں دا، آتن پھیرا پائے
اوکھے لفظاں دے معنے

رام دھیائے: اللہ دا ناں لو
وہائے: لنگھ گیا


سائیں جیہنا ندڑے وَل' تیہناں نوں غم کیندا وے لوکا
سوائے بھلیاں جورب ول آئیاں، جیہناں نوں عشق چروکاوے لوکا
عِشق دی سرکھاری چائیاں، در در دینی آں ہوکا وے لوکا
کہے حسین فقیر سائیں دا ،لدھا ہی پریم جھروکا وے لوکا
سائیں جیہناندڑے ول، تیہناں نوں غم کیندا وے لوکا
ہو میں واری غم کیندا وے لوکا
اوکھے لفظاں دے معنے

وَل: پاسے۔نال
کیندا:کِس کا
لوکا:اے لوکو!
بھلیاں: چنگی
چروکا: پُرانا
کھاری: ٹوکرا
ہوکا: درد بھری آواز
پریم جھروکا: محبت دا طاقچہ


اک تینوں سُپنا تھیسن،گلیاں بابل والیاں دو
اُڈ گئے،بھور پُھلاں دے کولوں، سَن پَتراں سن ڈالیاں
جِت تن لگے، سو ای تن جانے، ہور گلاں کرن سُکھالیاں
رہ وے قاضی ،دل نہیوں راضی، گلاں ہوئیاں ناہوون والیاں

اوکھے لفظاں دے معنے

سُپنا تھیسَن: واہوا پتہ ہوون گئیاں
سَن: سنے
سُکھالیاں: سوکھتاں
رہ وے: پرے ہٹ
سو ١ی:اوہی


جت ول مینڈا مِتر پیارا، اوتھے ونج آکھیں میری عاجزی وو
جوگن ہوواں، دھوواں پاواں، تیرے کارن میں مر جاواں تیں ملیاں
میری تازگی وو
راتیں درد وہیں در ماندی ، مرن اساڈا واجبی وو
لٹاں کھول گلے وچ پائیاں ، میں بیراگن آودی وو
جنگل بیلے پھراں ڈھونڈیندی ، کوک نہ سکاں ماری لاج دی وو
کہے حسین فقیر سائیں دا،راتیں دھیں میں جاگدی وو

اوکھے لفظاں دے معنے

مِتر: پیارا۔ محبوب، سنگی
ونج: جا کے
دہیں: دن نون
در ماندی:پریشان
لٹاں: سر دے وال
لاج عزت
دھیں: دن

Madho Lal Hussain

Madho Lal Hussain of Lahore: Beyond Hindu and Muslim. By Yoginder Sikand from Pakistan Christian Post, Oct. 31, 2005

`Shah Hussain! Shahadat Paye O Jo Maran Mitran De Age (Shah Hussain! He [alone] attains martyrdom who dies at the feet of his beloved)

Sufism has had a long and rich history in the Indian sub-continent. It is perhaps in Punjab, more than in any other part of this vast land, that Sufism has struck the deepest roots, producing many great exponents and exercising a pervasive influence on the minds of the ommon people. To this very day, the innumerable Sufis of this region are held in the highest esteem by millions of Muslims, Sikhs, Dalits and Hindus of the province and beyond.

Shah Hussain is one such mystic who is still fondly remembered by millions of ordinary Punjabis four centuries after his death1. He was born in Lahore in 1539 A.D. into a family of the Dhatha Rajput tribe.2 This tribe had recently converted to Islam, hence the epithet "Shah" attached to his name.3 Even as a child Hussain showed a marked preference for red clothes, which explains why he was also called Lal (Persian for "red") Hussain.4 Hussain`s strong mystical inclinations were apparent very early in his life. In childhood itself he managed to memorize the entire Qur`an under the guidance of his teacher, Shaikh Abu Bakr. Then, at the
age of ten he was initiated into the Oadiriyah Sufi order by the renowned saint Bahlul Shah Daryai of Chiniot.5 For the next twenty-six years he lived under the strict supervision of his Pir (spiritual master), faithfully following all the rites and practices of orthodox Islam, and leading a life of great austerity.

At the age of thirty-six an incident occurred that was to completely change Hussain`s life. One day while at a madrasa studying a tafsir (commentary) on the Our`an under the tutelage of Shaikh Sadullah of Lahore, he came across the Qur`anic verse: "The life of this world is nothing but a game and a sport." He asked the Shaikh to explain the verse and was told that it meant that the world should be shunned. Hussain refused to accept this interpretation and asserted, instead, that the words of the verse must be taken literally. He told his teacher that, in accordance with his understanding of this verse, he would spend the rest of his life in enjoyment.6 It was during this period of his life that Hussain met Madho, a Brahmin lad. The two men became so closely associated that in the popular mind the saint is most commonly known as Madho Lal Hussain, as if the two had been fused into one. The intensely close relationship that blossomed between them has been the subject of much speculation and controversy, starting in their very lifetime. John Subhan, an expert on Indian Sufism, writes that their contemporaries saw this intimate connection between a Hindu boy and a Muslim faqir of "questionable character" as "a disgrace", though he himself sees this "irresistible attraction" between the two men in terms of "fervent love".8 Like wise, the Punjabi historian

Shafi Aquil speaks of the relationship between Madho and Hussayn as one of "boundless love" and for this employs language generally used to describe male-female relationships. Thus, he writes, "Shah Hussayn was in love with Madho and Madho himself, too, desired him" (Madho se Shah Hussayn ko pyar tho aur khud Madho bhi unko chahte the). He goes on to add that, "Under no condition could Shah Hussayn bear to be separated from Madho".9

Nur Ahmad Chishti, author of the Sufi chronicle Tahqiqat-i-Chishti, suggests that some among the couple`s contemporaries saw their relationship as `improper`. He writes that Madho`s relatives, "seeing him sleeping in the same bed with Lal Hussain, came to murder them both."10 However, as luck would have it, he adds,that "the power of Hussain made them blind and, as they could not find the door, they returned". Lajwanti Ramkrishna, a recognized authority on the Punjabi Sufis, relates that many people "had become suspicious of the un-natural [sic] relationship" between the two. 11 Whatever the case might be, the story of the two lovers is a fascinating one that is unparalleled in the annals of Punjabi Sufism.

The historical records give varying accounts of Hussain`s first encounter with Madho. The author of the Tahqiqat-i-Chishti writes that Hussain first saw Madho riding through the main market of Lahore on a "majestic horse in a fashionable manner."12 So wonderstruck was he at Madho`s beauty that "he then tried in vain to possess the lad for sixteen years, at the end of which he succeeded." Rizvi, an acclaimed authority on Indian Sufism, also writes that Hussain first saw Madho riding in the market and says that upon seeing him he felt instantly "under the

intoxication of a mystical trance." Thereafter, he adds, Hussain shifted to Shahdara, the suburb of Lahore where Madho lived and "began following him like a household slave."13 Ramakrishna says that some believe that Hussain`s first meeting with Madho took place during a liquor-drinking bout at a wine shop but he prefers to believe that it was Madho`s regular attendance at his Sufi preaching sessions that attracted Hussayn to "the handsome youth."14

"The love of Hussain for Madho", writes one biographer, "was unique and he did all that lay in his power to please the boy."15 It is said that not for a single day did the two fail to meet each other. So overpowering was Hussain`s fascination for Madho that he would often rise in the middle of the night, cross the river Ravi and walk for several miles to Madho`s house. Madho`s parents, however, did not approve of their son`s relationship with Hussain. Once they plotted to take Madho away with them to the Hindu holy town of Haridwar for a pilgrimage, hoping that separation from Hussain might cause Madho to forget him. Hussain, however, could not bear the thought of being kept apart from his dear one. Accordingly, he refused to let Madho`s parents take him along with them but promised them that he would send him to Haridwar later. When Madho`s parents reached Haridwar, so the story goes, Hussain made Madho shut his eyes and then, after striking his foot upon the ground, made him open them again. Madho did as he was told and found himself miraculously transported all at once to Haridwar. His parents were amazed at his sudden arrival all the way from Lahore.16 Thereafter, it is said, Madho left his parents` house and began living with Hussayn.17

It is possible and, indeed, very likely that Hussain`s relationship with Madho had a deep impact on his thinking, his mystical poetry and, most of all, on his religious life. In his passionate love for Madho he bravely defied the norms of his own society, expressing a stern

indictment of the orthodox theologians, for whom religion had been reduced to a set of soulless rituals, rigid rules and strict restrictions, drained of love, joy, compassion and emotion.18

Hussain`s relationship with the Hindu Madho also appears to have made him profoundly tolerant in his attitude towards other religions. To please Madho he celebrated with great enthusiasm, Basant, the Punjabi spring festival, as well as the Hindu festival of Holi. During Holi, for example, Madho and Hussain would follow the Hindu custom of throwing coloured powder on each other.20 According to the medieval Persian text Hasanat-ul-Arifin, Hussain is said to have asserted that he was "neither a Muslim nor a pagan"21, thus suggesting an eclecticism and breath of vision which few in his generation possessed or appreciated. Ramakrishna also notes that Hussain had close spiritual links with the Hindu mystic Chhaju Bhagat and Guru Arjan of the Sikhs.22

Hussain`s undying love for Madho is also clearly reflected in his poems or Kafis which are still considered as some of the most precious gems of Punjabi literature today. True spiritual realization, he believed, could only be attained through infinite love, for, as he wrote:

This youth will not come back again So laugh and play while you can with your lover.

Love, believed Hussain, can so intimately unite two souls (or a human being with God) that they lose their individualities and separateness and merge completely into each other. In much the same way, Madho and Hussain became so inseparable that they became known by one single name-Madho Lal Hussain.

Perhaps it was referring to this that Shah Hussayn wrote: Ranjhe Ranjha Menu Sab Koi Akho Heer Na Akho Koi

Let everyone now call me Ranjha, not Heer [for no longer am I Heer since I have become one with Ranjha.) 23

Hussain breathed his last in 1599 and was buried in Lahore on the banks of the Ravi. Madho survived him by forty-eight years, and he was put to rest in a tomb next to Hussain`s. The shrine, containing the graves of the two inseparable lovers-united in death as they had been in life-continues to attract large numbers of faithful pilgrims to this very day.


1. Hussain is best known for his poetry. He was the first to write kafis set to classical Hindustani ragas and raginis.

2. Ramakrishna, however, adds that according to the Tazkira Aulia-i-Hind, he belonged to a family of converted Kayasths, the caste of professional scribes. For more on Hussain`s ancestry, see Lajwanti Ramakrishna, "Punjabi Sufi Saints" (New Delhi: Ashajanak Publications, 1973), p.32.

3. A title often adopted by new converts to Islam.

4. This is despite the fact that orthodox Islamic theologians frowned upon the wearing of red garments by Muslim men.

5. For greater details see "Shah Hussain-Kalam" (Islamabad: Lok Virsa Publications, 1987).

6. Ramakrishna writes that such intimate love between Sufi males was not at all unusual. In fact, it can be said to have been perfectly normal for many Persian Sufis and for Indian mystics influenced by them. She notes that the orthodox opponents of the Sufis, however, charged that they kept handsome youths only "to satisfy [their] animal nature" (p. 40).

7. John A. Subhan, "Sufism: Its Saints and Shrines" (Lucknow: The Lucknow Publishing House, 1960, p. 279.

8. Shafi Aquil, "Punjabi Ke Qadim Shayar" (Karachi: Anjuman Taraqqi-i Urdu), p. 114.

9. Quoted in Ramakrishna, op. cit., p. 35.

10. Ramakrishna, op. cit., pp. 35-36.

11. Ramakrishna, op.cit., p. 34.

12. Saiyed Atthar Abbas Rizvi, "A History or Sufism in India" (New Delhi: Munshiram Manoharlal, 1992), vol. 2, p. 65.

13. Ramakrishna, op. cit., p. 34.

14. Ramakrishna, op.cit., p. 36.

15. Subhan, op. cit., p. 279.

16. Subhan (op.cit., p. 80) writes that upon witnessing the miracle, Madho`s parents and Madho converted to Islam. Ramakrishna (op. clt., p. 36), however, believes that this was not the case.

17. Aquil (op. cit., p. 100), writes that one day a certain Maulvi Abdul Hakim of Sialkot approached Hussain in order to become his disciple. At this Hussain is said to have burst into a fit of laughter saying,

"You are from among those who strictly follow the Shariah (Islamic law). So then, why do you wish to give me a bad name [by seeking to become my disciple]?" 18. Rizvi, op. cit., p. 65. Indeed, till as late as the end of the last century, the use of coloured powder on the occasion of Holi was the main feature of the annual celebrations at the twin tombs of Hussain and Madho. Today, however, under pressure from the puritans, this practice has reportedly stopped.

19. Quoted in Ramakrishna, op. cit., p. 36.

20. Ramakrishna, op. cit., p. 39.

21. Here, Hussain is also probably referring to himself in his intimate

relationship with God.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009





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