Archive for July, 2010
BULLHE SHAH is universally admitted to have been the greatest of
the Panjabi mystics. No Panjabi mystic poet enjoys a wider celebrity
and a greater reputation. His kafis have gained unique popularity. In
truth he is one of the greatest Sufis of the world and his thought equals
that of Ja1al-ud-din Rumi and Shams Tabriz of Persia. As a poet
Bullhe Shah is different from the other Sufi poets of the Panjab, and
represents that strong and living pious nature of Panjabi character
which is more reasonable than emotional or passionate.1 As he was an
outcome of the traditional mystic thought we can trace some amount
of mystic phraseology and sentiment in his poetry but, in the main,
intellectual Vedantic thought is its chief characteristic.
He was born in a Saiyid family residing at, the village Pandoki of
Kasur in the Lahore district, in the year A.D. 1680.2 This was during
the twenty-first year of Emperor Aurangzeb’s reign.3 According to C.
F. Usborne4 he died in A.H. 1171 or A.D. 1785 (i.e. in the short reign
of Alamgir the Second) at the ripe old age of 78. The kavvalis say that
he was brought up and educated on strictly Muhammadan lines, as
was the wont of Saiyid family in those days. C. F. Usborne says that
his father was a man of dervishic ideas.5 It is difficult to decide
between these two contradictory statements. But taking into
consideration the political situation of the times and the various
legends that have gathered round the saint’s life, we can safely say
that the kavvalis are right. The Saiyids of Kasur were said to be well
known for their bigotry were much enraged when Bullhe Shah
became a Sufi and a disciple of the Arai Inyat Shah. We conclude
therefore that Bullhe Shah’s father could not have been a man of
theosophic disposition and what C.F. Usborne meant by dervishic
ideas was that he was a religious man.
After completing his education, it is said that Bullha went to Lahore.
Of the two traditions, one says that, as was customary in those days,
he came to Lahore in search of a spiritual teacher, while the other
relates that he went there on a visit. Each of these two contradictory
traditions has a legend to support it. The first relates that while he was
busy searching the intellectual circles of Lahore to find out a
competent master he heard of Shah Inayat’s greatness and decided to
make him his murshid. He turned his steps towards the house of the
Shah, and found him engrossed in his work in the garden.6 Having
introduced himself, Bullha requested that he might be accepted
a disciple and taught the secret of God. Thereupon lnayat said:
Bullhia rabb da pan ai
edharo puttan odharo lan hai.7
O Bullha the secret of God is this; on this side He uproots, on the
other side He creates.
‘This’, says the tradition. ‘so impressed Bullha that, forgetting his
family and its status, he became Inyat Shah’s disciple.8
The second tradition says that Shah Inayat was the head gardener of
the Shalimar gardens of Lahore. When in Lahore, Bullhe Shah visited
them, and as it was summer, he roamed in the mango-groves.
Desirous of tasting the fruit he looked round for the guardian but, not
finding him there, he decided to help himself. To avoid the sin of
stealing, he looked at the ripe fruit and said; ‘allah ghani’.9On the
utterance of these magic words a mango fell into his hands. He
repeated them several times, and thus collected a few mangoes. Tying
them up in his scarf 10 he moved on to find a comfortable place where
he could eat them. At this time he met the head gardener, who accused
him of stealing the fruit from the royal gardens. Considering him to be
a man of low origin and desirous of demonstrating to him his occult
powers, Bullha said ironically: ‘I have not stolen the mangoes but they
have fallen into my hands as you will presently see.’ He uttered ‘allah
ghani’ and the fruit came into his hand. But to his great surprise the
young Saiyid found that Inayat Shah was not at all impressed but was
smiling innocently. The great embarrassment of Bullhe Shah inspired
pity in the gardener’s heart and he said: ‘You do not know how to
pronounce properly the holy words and so you reduce their power.’ So
saying, he uttered ‘allah ghani’, and all the fruits in the gardens fell
on the lovely lawns. Once again he repeated the same and the fruit
went back on to the trees. This defeat inflicted by the guardian, whom
the young Saiyid Bullhe Shah considered ignorant and low,
revolutionized his whole thought. Falling at the feet of Inayat Shah he
asked to be classed as his disciple and his request was immediately
The above two traditions, though different in detail, come to the same
conclusion, that Bullha, impressed by the greatness of Inayat, became
his disciple. Bullhe Shah in his verse often speaks of his master Inayat
Shah and thanks his good luck for having met such a murshid.
Bullha shauh ve nic kamini
Shauh inayat tari.12
Says Bullha, O God the Lord Inayat has saved me, low and mean.
Bullhe Shah di suno hakait
hadi pakria hog hadait
mera murshid Shah Inayat
Uh langhaai par. 13
Listen to the story of Bullhe Shah, he has got hold of the pir and shall
have salvation. My teacher, Shah Inayat, he will take me across.
In an account of the Panjabi poets it would perhaps be out of place to
speak at great length of Shah Inayat who wrote in Persian.14 But the
influence exerted by him through his teachings and writings has
linked him with Panjabi literature. Bullha the Rumi of the Panjab,
came most directly under his influence and, having learnt from him,
was inspired to write his remarkable poetry. It will therefore, be
proper to give here a short account of this wonderful man.
Inayat and his School 15
Hazrat Shaikh Muhammad Inayat-ullah, generally known as Shah
Inayat Qadiri, was born at Kasur in the Lahore district, of arais
parents. The arias in the Panjab were gardeners or petty cultivators.
They are known to be Hindu converts to Islam and are therefore
considered inferior by Muhammadans. Rose, in his Glossary of the
Tribes and Castes of the Panjab, writes: ‘The nucleus of this caste
was probably a body of Hindu Saini or Kamboh cultivators who were
converted to Islam at an early period.16Ibbetson and Wilson are also of
the same opinion, and their view is supported by traditions of some
aria sub-castes who claim descent from Hindu princes of solar and
The descendants of Shah Inayat, however, claim descent from Kulab,
an ancestor of the Prophet Muhammad.18 The genealogical tree which
Shaik Siraj-ud-din has kindly furnished, however, cannot convince us
of Inayat Shah’s Arabian descent. Almost all names between the
present descendant and Kulab are Hindu names.19 The arias 20
according to all available, information, appear to be Indian Muslims
and Shah Inayat was born in one such well-to-do family. The date and
year of Inayat’s birth are not known, but one of his manu scri pts,
containing an endorsement in his own handwriting and also his seal,
bears the date A.H. 1110 21(A.D. 1699). From this we can conclude
that he was a contemporary of Aurangzeb and perhaps saw a part of
the reign of Shah Jahan. The Wazaif-i-Kalan gives the year of his
death as A.H. 1147 (A.D. 1735) during the time of Emperor
Muhammad Shah.22 He was educated after the manner of his time and
gained a good knowledge of Persian and Arabic. As he was born with
a mystic disposition he became a disciple of the famous Sufi scholar
and saint Muhammad Ali Raza Shattari.23 After he had finished his
studies he was created a khalifa. Later on he received the khilafat of
seven other sub-sects of the Sufi Qadiri. Soon after this event he left
Kasur and migrated to Lahore .The author of Bagh-i-Awliya-e-Hind
says that the great enmity of the Hakim Husain Khan compelled him
to migrate,24 but his descendants assert that it was the order of his
teacher that brought him to Lahore.25 Here after having quelled the
jealousy of his famous contemporaries, he established a college of his
own. To this college came men of education for further studies in
philosophy and other spiritual sciences of the time.26
The Doctrines of Inayat Shah
The Qadiris of the Panjab were famous for their philosophic studies. It
was their influence that had converted prince Dara Shikoh.27 They
were very much inclined towards Hindu philosophy. Shah Inayat was
no exception to this rule. He was a man of scholarly disposition, and
wrote several books, as well as commentaries upon the works of his
predecessors. In his Dastur-ul-Amal 28he described the different
methods employed for the attainment of salvation 29 by the Hindus of
ancient times. These various methods he classes in different groups—
the seventh and the last group, according to him, being efficacious to
procure for seeker the spiritual stage of Parma-Hamsa. This
knowledge, Inayatbelieved, was carried by the Greeksoldiers of
Alexander the Great to Greece, from where it was borrowed by the
mystics of Islam.31
Shah Inayat, besides his enunciation of Hindu thought wrote
considerably of Sufiism and its development. He it said to have
written a commentary on the Holy Quran, but that is not available
.The following are his Persian works, now in the possession of his
khalifa descendant, Shaikh Siraj-ud-din:
Islah-ul-Amal work on Sufiism and Sufi practices.
Notes on Jawahir Khamsa of Muhammad Ghaus of Gwalior.33
In addition to these, Inayat Shah is said to have written many other
books. But the fire that broke out in the house of his descendants,
during the troubled times that followed the death of Maharaja Ranjit
Singh, consumed them along with the vast library left by the saint.34
Such was the man whom Bullha Shah made his hadi or guru. This
action of Bullha, however, was highly displeasing to his family. His
relatives tried to induce him to give up Inayat and find another
murshid. But Bullha was firm and paid no attention to them or to their
wailings. The following will sufficiently demonstrate the indignation
of the family:
Bullhe nu samjhavan aiya bhaina to bharjaiya
al nabi aulad ali di bullhia tu ki lika laiya
mann lai bullhia sada kahna chadd de palla raiya
To Bullha sisters and sisters-in-law came to explain (advise). Why, O
Bullha, have you blackened the family35of the Prophet and the
descendants of Ali?Listen to our advice, Bullha, and leave the skirt of
To this reproach Bullha firmly but indifferently replies:
Jehra sanu saiyad akkhe dozakh miln sajaiya
Jehra sanu rai akkhe bahishti piga paiya
Je tu lore bag bahara Bullhia Talib ho ja raiya.37
He who calls me a Saiyid, shall receive punishments in Hell, he who
calls me an arai shall in heaven have swings; O Bullha, if you want
pleasures of the garden become a disciple of the aria.
Bullha seems to have suffered at the hands of his family, as he has
once or twice mentioned in his poetry.38 In the end, being convinced
of the sincere love and regard of their child for Inayat Shah, the family
left him alone. It is said that one of his sisters, who understood her
brother, gave him her support and encouraged him in his search for
Having broken with the family, Bullha came to live with his teacher
and soon mastered the secret of his teachings. As the political
situation of the times was against the Sufis and especially against the
Sufis of Inayat Shah’s type, he forbade Bullha, to speak freely and
openly against the established Muhammadan beliefs. But Bullha did
not pay heed to his master’s valuable advice, as is clear from this.
Bullhe nu lok matti dede bullha tu ja baih masiti
vicc masita de kih kujh hunda jo dilo namaz na kitti
bahro pak kitte kih hunda jo andaro gai a paliti
bin murshid kamil bullhia teri aive gai ibadat kitti
Bhatth namaza te cikkar roze kalme to phir gai saiahi
Bullha shah shauh andaro milia bhulli phire lukai. 40
To Bullha people give advice (saying). O Bullha, go and in the
mosque; what avails it going to the mosque, if the heart has not said
the prayer? What matters it being pure outside when from inside dirt
has not gone? Without a perfect teacher, says Bullha, your prayers are
of no avail.Into the fire the prayers! in the mud the fast of ramzan!
Over the kalma black has passed. Says Bullha Shah, the Lord is met
from within me, but the people are searching elsewhere.
Such utterances annoyed Shah Inayat, who practiced Haqiqat (reality)
in the garb of Tariqat41to escape the fate that so many Sufis in Islamic
lands had met before.42 But Bullha, with the enthusiasm of a new
convert, would not listen to his good counsel. This act of disobedience
made Inayat Shah extremely angry and so he sent him away. After
some time, realizing the truth of his master advice. Bullha Shah
regretted his attitude and wanted to go back to him. He tried all
devices but Shah Inayat ignored him. The only way then left open to
Bullha was to approach him personally. But how was he to do that?
He, however, knew his master’s love for music and dancing. So he
began to learn the arts from a dancing girl. When he had learnt them
sufficiently he came to Lahore and waited for an opportunity. One day
when Inayat Shah had entered a mosque, Bullha Shah, dressed as a
woman, began to sing and dance outside it. People gathered round
him as is the custom. Attracted by the music Inayat also came and
stopped. Bullha then was singing:
Vatt na karsa man rajhete yar da ve aria
Ishk allah di zat loka da mehna, kai val kara pukar kise nahi rahina
use da hal uho jane, kaun koi dam marda ve aria44
Never again shall I bear pride for my friend Rajha (God), O comrade;
love is an attribute of God but for people itis a taunt (i.e. it becomes a
thing to be taunted about). Whom shall I call (myown because) no one
is to stay (live eternally); his (one who loves) condition He (God, the
Rajha) alone knows, who is there that remains alive, O comrade.
When he was singing thus, he saw his master among his audience, and
so he continued:
Vatt ni karsa man rajhete yar da ve aria
ajjajokari rat mere ghar rahi kha ve aria
dil dia ghundhia khol asa nal hass kha ve aria. 45
Never again shall Ibear pride for my beloved Rajha (God), O friend;
tonight do stay in my house, O friend; undo the knots of your heart
and laugh with me, O friend.
This was sufficient for Inayat to know who the singer was. Coming
near he asked, ‘O Singer, are you not Bullha?’ ‘No, hazrat,’ replied
the singer, ‘I am not Bullha but Bhulla’, (i.e. repentant).46 He was
forgiven and once again ho came to live with his master. He remained
with him till the day of his death.
The Mystic Life of Bullhe Shah
The mystic life of Bullhe Shah has three well-marked periods.
His meeting with Inayat Shah and his conversion to the Sufi doctrines
mark the first of the three periods. This Period was chiefly spent in
study, but he also wrote some verse. These compositions were in the
style of the traditional poetry of the Panjab, i.e. simple but emotional
and sentimental. From the literary point of view, poetry of Bullha,
though graceful and charming, is weak in thought and is yet therefore,
Here is an example:47
Dil loce mahi yar nu, dil loce mahi yar nu
ikk hass hass galla kardia, ikk rodia dhodia phirdia
kahio phulli basant bahar nu
Dil lece, etc.
mai nhati dhoti raihi gai, ikk gandh mahi dil baihi gai
bhah laie har shingar nu
Dil loce, etc.
Mai dutia ghail kitia, sula gher cuphero littia
Ghar ave mahi didar nu
Dil loce, etc.
Bullha hun sajan ghar aia, mai ghut rajhan gal laia
Dekh gae samundaro par nu.
Dil loce, etc.
Heart craves for friend beloved, heart craves for friend beloved, some
(girls, i.e. lovers) laugh and laughingly converse, others crying and
wailing wander, say in this blossomed season of Spring. Heart craves,
I washed and bathed in vain,one knot (grudge) now has settled in my
heart, O beloved (for not coming) let me put fire to (undo) my toilet.
Heart craves, etc.
The tunts have wounded me, acute pains have surrounded me; the
beloved should come for self-manifestation (to show himself to the
lover). Heart craves, etc.
Bullha, now the friend has come home, I have embraced hard my
Rajha; Behold us crossing the ocean. Heart craves, etc.
The above, though a famous kafi, fails to reach that height of thought
and force of character which are so characteristic of BulIha’s poetry.
In this period Bullha was still attached to his Islam theological ideas
which later on he shook in the believes in the idea of heaven, hell and
earth, which he not understand later on. Witness this:
Bullha shauh bin koi nahi aithe utthe dohi sarai
Sambhal sambhal kadam tikai phir avan duji var nahi
Utth jag ghurare mar nahi. 48
Bullha without the Lord there is none here (earth) and there heaven
and hell) in both the place. Carefully, carefully let your feet fall (take
the step) as for a second time you shall come. Awake, arise and snore
During this period he yet fears death and the grave, as would a pious
ikk roz jahano jana hai
Ja kabre vicc samana hai
Tera ghosht kiria khana hai
Kar cetta mano visar nahi
Utth jag ghurare mar nahi.49
One dayyou have to part from the world, in the grave you have to fit,
your flesh the insects will eat, remember this, do not forget from your
heart. Awake, arise and snore no more.
Here he is still clinging to the Islamic belief of only one life and does
not believe in transmigration which he will later accept as part of his
Tu es jahano jaegi, phir kadam na ehtthe paegi
eh joban rup vanjhaegi
Tai rahina vicc sansar nahi. 50
From this world you will part, never again shall you put your feet
here; you will then take leave of this youth and beauty, you are not to
live in the world.
This Preliminary stage of Bullha’s mystic life does not seem to have
lasted long as there is very little verse in this tone. But undue
importance is given to this poetry by the Sufis of the orthodox type,
because this helps them to save Bullhe Shah from being called a
The Second stage of Bullha’s mystic life perhaps began very soon
after the commencement of the first. During this period he assimilated
more of the India outlook. Here he resembles both the advanced type
of Sufi and a Vaisnava devote in thought, in religious emotions and in
his adoration of the pir or guru. Like them he places the guru and God
on the same level and finds no difference between the two. The
following resembles so closely the Vaisnava lore in idea and emotion
that, wareit not for the name Bullha at the end, it would be hard to
Ikk andheri Kothari duja diva na vati
Baho phar ke lai cale sham ve koi sang na sathi. 51
There is only one dark chamber (world) without any lamp or wick
(hope). Holding my wrist they (bad actions) are taking me, O sham,
unaccompanied and companionless.
In the above we find not only the Vaisnava feeling, but even the name
Sham given to God is Vaisnava.
Bhave jan na jan ve vehre a var mere
Mai tere kurban ve vehre a var mere
Tere jiha mainu horn a koi dhunda jangai beli rohi
Dhunda ta sara jahan ve vehre a var mere
Mai tere kurban ve vehre a var mere
Loka de bhane cak mahi da rajha loka vicc kahida
Sada ta din iman ve, vehre a var mere
Mai tere kurban ve vehre a var mere
Mape chor laggi lar tere, shah inayat sai mere
Laia di lajj pal ve vehre a var mere
Mai tere kurban ve vehre a var mere 52
Whether you consider me (as loved one) or not, O come, enter my
courtyard,53 I sacrifice myself for thee, O come, enter my courtyard.
For me there is none else like you, I search the jungles and wastes for
my friend, I search the whole world, Ocome, enter my courtyard; I
sacrifice myself for you, come, enter my courtyard. For others you are
a cowherd,54 I call you Ranjha when in company (but) you are my
religion and faith. O come, enter my courtyard; I sacrifice myself for
you come, enter my courtyard. Leaving parents I have held your
garment, 55 O Lord have compassion,56 my master save methe shame
of this long love (by comingback), O enter my courtyard;
Isacrificemyself for you, come, enter my courtyard. Bullha’s
adoration and respect for his guru are profound. He finds no
difference between God and his hadi, and sings to him in the same
strain as to God:
Pahili pauri prem di pulsarate dera
Haji makke hajj karn mai mukh dekha tera
Ai inayat qadiri hatth pakri mera
Mai udika kar rahi kadi a kar dera
Dhund shahir sabh bhalia kasad ghalla kehra
Carhi a doli prem di dil dharke mera
Ao inayat qadiri ji cahe mera. 57
The first step of love (on the ladder of love) is (like)being on the
pulsarat.58Pilgrims may perform hajj but Ilook to your face. Come,
Inayat Qadiri, and hold my hand (be mysupport). I am waiting, corn,
some time and make a stay. I have searched the whole town, what
messenger59 shall Isend? Having mounted the palanquin of love my
heart (now) palpitates; come, Inayat Qadiri, my heart desires you.
At this time Bullhe Shah also began to believe in karmas, which is an
entirely Indian theory. Here he refers to his bad action thus:
Ved pothi ki dosh hai hine karam hamare 60
What fault is it of the book ved,61my karmas are low.
At the end of the second period Bullhe Shah appears to have some
vision of the Lord he was seeking. He had the vision which the Sufi
long to have, but hehad not as yetattained that stage where differences
vanish away. He gothis vision in the orthodox fashion. He was not
conscious of it every moment of his life. It was an occasional
occurrence. He had that divine vision like the great Sufis and the
Bhagatas, through the paths indicated by their respective religions.
Like them, Bullhe Shah’s vision of the Lord was also tinged with the
colors of Islam. He sings of his vision in the traditional way, exalting
the Prophet and through the verses of his Qur’an:
Hum mai lakkhia sohna yar, jis de husan da garm bazaar
Jad ahad ikk ikkla, si, na zahar koi tajalla si
Na rabb rasul na allah si na zabar kahar
Becu va bacaguna si be shubha be namuna si
Na koi rang namuna si, hun gunagu hazar.
Piara pahin pushaka aia,adam apana nam dharaia
Ahad to ban ahmad aia, nabia da sardar
Kun kaha fakun kahaia, becuni se cu banaia
Ahad de vicc mim ralaia ta kitta aid pasar.62
Now I have seen the handsome friend whose beauty’s demand is
great. When the One was single and alone there was no light manifest.
There was neither God and the Prophet or Allah, nor was there the
cruel tyrant. The One was without likeness and incomparable, and
without doubt and without form. He had no color or shape, (but) now
a thousand varieties. The dear One wearing the costumes came, and
Adam got his name fixed. From the One, Ahmad was made and the
chief of the Prophets. He said kun and fayakun was said, so out of no
likeness He created likeness. In ahad He inserted mim (i.e. produced
Ahmad) and then made the universe.63
The third and the last period of Bullha’s mystic life was unique. Here
he resembles no Sufi or Vaisnava of the Panjab or the rest of India.
During this time he is a firm believer in advaita and sees that allpervading
spirit. God, in all and independently of all religions. Like a
true vedantist he does not only see Him in friends and co-believers but
in heathens and opponents also. Here lies his greatness. He says:
Kih karda ni kih karda
Koi puccho kha dilbar ki karda
ap ikko kai lakkh gharda de, malak sab ghar ghar da
kih karda, etc.
musa ate pharun banu ke, do hoke kiu larda
kih karda, etc.
hazar nazar tuhe hai, cueack kits u kharda
Kih karda, etc.64
What does He, friends, what does He? Does someone ask what the
Beloveddoes? He isone, but the houses are millions and He islord of
every house. Whatdoes He, friends, what does He? Whatever side
Iglance Ifind Him. He keepscompany with each one. Creating Moses
and Pharaoh (thus) becoming two, why does he fight? What does He,
friend, what doesHe? You are ever omnipresent, (then) whom does
Cucak 65take away? What does He, friends, what does He?Does
someone ask whatthe Beloved does?
paia hai kujh paia hai, sattguru ne allakh lakhaia ha
kahu vair para kahu beli hai, kahu majnu hai kahu laili hai
kahu ap guru kahu celi hai, sabh apana rah dikhaia hai
kahu cor bana kahu shah ji hai, kahu mambar te bahi kazi hai
kahu teg bahadur gazi hai, ap apana panth bataia hai
kahu masjad ka vartara hai, kahu bania thakar dvara hai
kahu bairagi jap dhara hai, kahu shekhan ban ban aia hai
kahu turak musalla parhde ho, kahu bhagat hindhu jap karde ho
kahu gor kani vicc parde ho, har ghar ghar lad, ladaia hai
bullha shahu da mai muhtaj hua, mahraj mile mera kaj hua
barshan pia da ilaj hua, lagga ishk ta eh gun gaia hai
paia hai kujh paia hai. 66
I have found, I have found something. My true quru has made
manifest the Unmanifest. Somewhere It 67is an enemy, some-where It
is a friend, somewhere It is Majnu, somewhere It is Laila, somewhere
It is the preceptor, somewhere It is the disciple, in all It has
manifested Its own path. Somewhere It is a thief, somewhere a
bestower of gifts, somewhere sitting in the Pulpit It is a qazi,
somewhere It is Tegh Bahadur 68 the ghzi who has told of his own path
(sect). Somewhere It as a mosque 69 is in use, somewhere It has
become a temple, 70 some-where. It is a vairagi in meditation
absorbed, somewhere It becomes clad, clad as shaikhs, somewhere as
Muslims onthe musalla 71read the prayers, somewhere as Hindu
devotees re-peat God’s name. Somewhere You are engaged in digging
graves in each house, 72 You (God) are fondly fondled. Bullha says, of
the Master (God) I became desirous, the great king (Inayat) met (me)
and my work (with) was done (realized). For the manifestation of the
dear One (God) was my cure, forhaving loved (God) I have sung (i.e.
have been able to sing) this attribute (of God).
This highly intellectual and clear conception of the divine was only
possible to a few great mystics like Bayazid Bistami, Al-Hallaj, and
Jalal-ud-din Rumi. Yet we might mention here that they obtained this
after having spent their lives in established dogmas, willingly or
unwillingly, and after having struggled hard to become free of them.73
But Bullhe Shah appears to have obtainedthe advaita conception of
God soon after his initiation into Sufiism, because his poetry abounds
in this strain. Among the Indian Sufis we hardly find another who
beheld God as clearly in all creation, bad or good, as Bullha did. If
there were any possible exceptions they would be Mulla Shah 74 and
Sarmad.75 Mulla Shah, though in no wayinferior to Bullha in his
pantheistic philosophy and its realization in life yet lacked the moral
courage to declare it. Possibly out of fear he attached importance to
such religiouspre scri ptions as Ramzan and the obligatory
dailyprayers.76 Sarmad, the cynic philosopher, who walked about
naked in the streets of Delhi, though he had reached the highest state
ofmysticism, as is clear from the following could not get free from the
superiority of the Jewish theology.
My friend, the naked sword Thou comest I know Thee, in whatever
guise Thou comest.77
His denial of Christ as prophet on the authorityof the Old Testament,78
and hisother belief that God was material substance symbolized by a
human figure,79did not accord with his pantheistic thought. Were he a
true pantheist he would see God in all teachers and not Only in
Muhammad and deny him in Christ.This difference between the
pantheistic concepts of Bullha and of Sarmad illustrates thefact that
the latter realized the Truth only partially and at moments, while the
former lived with Truth and in Truth. Bullha sees, the Beloved in all
and ignores the ‘mirror in which He reflected.If the Beloved is not
seen in full grandeur in the meanest of the mean and the lowest of the
low as well as in the highest and the best, then the lover has not found
him. The Beloved isever the same and if the lover sees Himdifferently
in different creatures, then whose is the fault? The lover’s surely, who
has not yet fully realizedHim. Bullha had reached that stage where
proportion, differences and pairs of opposites do not exist. He saw
God in Muhammad as well as in Christ, Krishna, a poor beggar in the
street, or his own self. Witness this:
Bindraban me gau carave,
Lanka car ken ad vajave
Makke da ban hajiave
Vah vah rang vatai da
Hun ki thi ap chapaida.80
In Brindaban you grazed the cattle, invading Lanka 81 you made the
sound (of victory), you (again) come as the pilgrimof Mekka, you
have made wonderful changes of form, what are you hiding yourself
from now ?
Saiyo hun sajan mai paio I,
Har har de vic samaio i. 82
Ofriends, now I have found the Beloved, into each and every one He
The superiority of Bullha’s pantheistic conception of Godhead lies in
the fact that he broke all shackles of country, religion, convention
andsect. The integrity of the universal
soul and His omnipresence so deeply convinced him that no
differences existed for him. He became one with Him, the divine, and
experienced that cosmopolitan joy which knows no limits and
divisions. He says :
Bullha ki jana mai kaun
na mai moman vicc masita, na mai vicc kufar dia rita
na mai paka vicc palita, na mai musa na phiraun
bullha ki jana mai kaun
na mai andar vaid kataba, na vicc bhanga na sharaba
Na vicc rinda mast kharaba, na vicc jagan navicc saun
bullha ki jana mai kaun
na vicc shadi na gamnaki, na mai vicc paliti paki
na mai abi na mai khaki, na mai atish na mai paun
bullha ki jana mai kaun
na mai arbi na lahauri, na mai hindi shahir nagauri
na mai hindu turk pashori, na mai rahinda vicc nadaun
bullha ki jana mai kaun
na mai bhed mazhab da paia, na mai adam hava jaia
na mai apna nam dharaia, na vicc baithan na vicc bhaun
bullha ki jana mai kaun
avval akhar ap nu jana, na koi duja hor pachana
maitho hor na koi siana, Bullha shahu khara hai kaun.
bullha ki Jana mai kaun.83
Bullha, what do I know who I am?84 Neither am I a Muslim in the
mosque nor am I in the ways of paganism, nor among the pure or
sinful, nor am I Moses or the Pharaoh; Bullha, what do I know who
Iam?Neither in the books of doctors I, nor indulged I in bhan 85and
wine, nor in the wine-house in the company of the bad, neither awake
nor asleep. Bullha, what do I know who I am?Neither in happiness nor
in or-row, nor in sin or purity nor of water nor of earth, nor in fire nor
in air. Bullha, what do I know who I am? I am not of Arabia nor of
Lahore, nor an Indian nor of the city of Nagaur, neither a Hindu nor a
Muslim of Peshawar, nor do I live in Nadaun. Bullha, what do I know
who I am? Neither have I found the secret of religion, nor of Adam
and Eve am I born, neither have I taken a name, my life is neither
settled nor unsettled. Bullha, what do I know who I am? Myself 1
know as the first and the last, none else as second do I recognize, none
else is wiser than I. Bullha, who is the true master?
Such pantheism with all its grandeur, according to Mr. Kremer has
also a dangerous side and tends to atheism nd materialism while the
passage from it to most cynical Epicureanism is also a very natural
thing.86 True as the statement is, it does not apply to the pantheism of
Bullha Shah. He was not an exception to the rule like Mulla Shah and
Prince Dara Shikoh and a few others, 87 but he was a pantheist of a
different type. We have stated above that the pantheism of Bullhe
Shah was Hindu in its entirety and therefore differed a good deal from
the pantheism of the Sufis? Bullha’s pantheistic thought was
accompanied by its allied doctrines, reincarnation and karma. He
disagreed with the Sufis who believed ‘qu’il n’y pas d’existence,
individuelle apres la mort.88He was aware of the fact that (complete
annihilation, for which the real mystic soulcraves, could not be
obtained in one life, (being not so easy as It is ordinarily thought to
be), but demanded many existences)? And then it was not many lives
or ecstatic contemplations alone that made annihilation possible. His
secret of merging in the Universal Spirit was based on karma. When
the mind and the heart had entirety purged themselves of all sin, when
passion and ambition to achieve material happiness had vanished
completely, when God was ever present in his thought and act, and
when the only material tie was a sense of rightful duty without
attachment, then alone was the seeker fit to lose his individual
existence after death, and not before. This was an impossible task to
accomplish, as even small steps away from the right path might cause
another life or render the seeker unfit for complete fana. (The seeker
therefore dreaded atheism and a plunge in material pleasures more
than indulgence in them. This unique phase of Bullha’s conviction
made his pantheism free from all danger of becoming materialism or
atheism.)?Another superiority of Bullha over other Sufis was that he
never took part in the work of conversion.89His advaita which was
Indian in its essence, had So overpowered him, nay had transformed
him in such a way that any sort of conversion, mass or individual, was
beyond his understanding. He had understood the real sense of ana’l-
Haq’ and so to think of conversion from one religion to another was
to mock his own belief. All religions to him were the same, no one
was more efficient than another in finding the Beloved. It is evident
from his poetry that it was the zeal and the sincerity of the seeker for
the sought that was taken into account, and not the religion he was
born in. We can, therefore, say that in this respect no Sufi of any
country can venture to dispute the spiritual summits which Bullha
After the death of Inayat, Bullhe Shah returned to Kasur. He remained
faithful to his Beloved and to him-self by not marrying. The sister
who understood him also remained single and kept him company in
his last years. He died in A.D. 1758 and was buried in Kasur, where
his tomb still exists.
Bullha, says the tradition, was not understood by his own family and
people,91 who gave him up for lost. But he had captivated the hearts of
the Panjabis and had the support of the masses. For the Panjabis he is
still alive, Inspiring them to sing of the eternal Beloved with whom he
has become one.
The Poetry of Bulleh Shah
Sufi poetry all over the world is erotic in expression, but in meaning.
It is essentially symbolic. ‘Almost all the Sufi poets wrote about the
Divine Beloved in the terms applied to their beautiful women.’ 92 The
mystic poetry, therefore, if literally taken seems sensuous and
monotonous. In India the Sufi inherited this tradition with the
difference that while in Persia and other Islamic countries the Beloved
was described both as man and woman, in India. He became a man,
and the seeker or the lover became a woman. This essential change is
due to Hindu, especially Vaisnava, Influence.93 Apart from this the
Sufis generally borrowed from the Persians, as we have mentioned
above, the terms for describing the different parts of the Beloved.
Even the rose garden and the bulbul, which are characteristic
ofPersian verse, were unhesitatingly borrowed. In Panjabi Sufi poetry,
however, the influence was much less than in other literary forms.
Bullhe Shah, the king of the Panjabi mystics, seems free from this
foreign influence, and his poetry is far from being erotic. Apart from a
very few poems which he wrote in the early part of his mystic Life,
his verse is entirely exempt from human love. No doubt he called Him
the Beloved and Ranjha, but never went on to describe his different
limbs. During the third period of his Sufi life the Beloved was the allpervading
universal soul and so there was a difference between two
beings belonging to different sexes. If there was some physical
difference, it was immaterial to the poet. So Bullha talked of the
eternal Beloved in terms highly spiritual and pure, as behaves a real
seeker. This was an innovation Bullha brought about in the Panjabi
Sufi verse.94 The change was due to the following causes. Firstly,
there was the natural growth of his own character. He never sought
the shelter of a woman’s love. He fell in love with the universal Lord
and, therefore, found worldly love entirely superfluous. This was the
first and the chief cause why his poetry was essentially non-erotic.
Secondly, it was due to the growth of his spirituality. Once he had cast
off the veil of ignorance and had found the Lord, he had found his
own self. He therefore could not write poetry in the material sense,
following tradition and poetic convention. Nowhere in his kafis do we
find fabulous de scri ptions of the eyes, nose, neck, cheeks, etc. of the
Beloved. So we can safely say that his poetry represents truly what is
naturally felt in loving the divine. His verse is suffused with the love
divine. This is the greatness of Bullhe Shah the poet.
The second reason for his greatness is that his verse is most simple,
yet very beautiful in form. If it is pathetic it is full of vivacity, if it is
intellectual it is full of feeling. It has no ornamental beauty. Its beauty
lies in thought and in the facility and simplicity with which that
thought is expressed. Who could express with greater facility his
union with God?
Rajha rajha kardi ni mai ape rajha hoi
saddo ni mainu dhido rajha, hir na akko koi
rajha mai vicc mai rajhe vicc hor khial na koi
mai nahi uh ape hai, appni ap kare dil joi
rajha rajha kardi ni mai ape rajha hoi
saddo ni mainu dhido rajha hir na akho koi
hatth khundi mere agge mangu, modhe bhura loi
Bullha hir saleti dekho, kitthe ja khaloi
Rajha rajha kardi ni mai ape rajha hoi
Saddo ni mainu dhido rajha, hir na akho koi.95
Repeating Rajha Rajha, friends, myself I have become Rajha. Call me
(now) Dhido 96 Rajha, none should call me Hir. Rajha is in me and I
am in Rajha, no other thought there is, I do not exist, He himself
exists, He amuses himself. Repeating Rajha Rajha, etc. In my hand
the staff, before me the wealth,.97 and round my shoulders the rough
blanket; Bullha, behold Hir of Sial, where she has gone and stood.
Repeating Rajha Rajha, friends, etc.
Bullha also did not follow the conventions regarding the similes,
verse-forms and alankaric beauties. Here lies his Poetic originality in
which he excels moat of his Indian and almost all of his Panjabi Sufi
contemporaries, predecessor and Successors.
Bullha did not write much, but what he wrote was inspired and to the
point. A great amount of poetry is said to have been composed by the
poet, but one can easily distinguish the real from the counterfeit by the
force and strength of the language and the directness of thought which
is so characteristic of Bullh’s verse.
We have already seen how familiar he was with all that was Panjabi in
tradition and beauty, and how gracefully he spoke of it. He never
attempted to explore those regions of which he had no real
knowledge. He was a child of the Panjab and so sang in his mothertongue,
in the old original verse-forms of his land, taking his similes
from the life that was familiar to him. His poetry, though remarkably
abstract, is not incomprehensible. We give below a few of his kafis or
their literary interest:
Meri bukkal de vicc cor ni, meri bukkal de vicc cor
kihnu kuk sunava ni, meri bukkal de vicc cor
cori cori nikal gia ni, jagg vicc paigia shor
meri bukkal de vicc cor
musalman sivia to dared, hindu garde gor
dove ese de vicc marde, iho doha di khor
Meri bukkal de vicc cor
kitte ramdas kitte phate Muhammad eho kadimi shor
mitt gia doha da jhagra nikai pia kujh hor
meri bukkal de vicc cor
arsh manuro milia baga, sunia takht Lahaur
shah inayat ghundhia paia, lakk chip khicda dor
Meri bikkal de vicc cor. 98
Within the folds of my veil was the thief, O friend, within the folds of
my veil was the thief; to whom shouting at the top of my voice should
I tell that within the folds of my veil was the thief? Stealthily,
stealthily, he has gone out, and (this) has caused surprise in the world.
The Mussulmans fear the crematorium, and the Hindus fear the tomb,
both die in this(fear) which is the trouble of both; somewhere it is
Ramdas, somewhere it is Fateh Muhammad; this is the eternal
struggle. The difference of both has ceased, as something different has
turned up. From the high heavens the prayer-calls were made and they
were heard at the throne99 of Lahore; Shah Inayat tried the knots and
now He (God), hidden behind, pull, the strings.
Here Bullhe Shah stands forthe, unity for human welfare, of the
followers of different religions and sects. He bases his argument on
the fact that he sees God installed in the heart of each individual, no
matter to what religion he belongs. The expression of the sentiment is
simple, impressive, and beautiful.
Hindu na nahi musalman, behie trinjhan taj abhaman
Sunni na nahi ham shia, sulh kul ka marag lia
Bhukkhe na nahi ham rajje, nange na mahi ham kajje
Rode na nahi ham hassde, ujare na nahi ham vassde
Papi na sudharmi na, pap pun ki rah na ja
Bullha shahu har citlage hindu turk do jan tiage.100
Neither Hindu nor Mussulman let us sit to spin, abandoning pride (of
religion). Neither a sunni nor a shi’a, Ihave taken the path of complete
peace and unity. Neither am Ihungry
(poor) nor satisfied (rich), nor naked I nor covered.Neither am I
weeping nor Laughing, nor deserted nor settled. Neither a sinner, I,
nor a pure one, I am not walking in the way of either sin or virtue.
Bullha, in all hearts I feel the Lord, (therefore) Hindu and
Mussulmans both have I abandoned.
Bullhe Shah was an impartial critic of bigotry and those setrules and
regulations of a church which forbid free expression of the divine
love. Not finding any difference
between the spiritual codes of Islam and Hinduism he allottedthem
both a place inferior to that which he assigned to the divine love. In
the following kafi he gives a dialogue between the clerical code and
love, in which love comes out victorious:
Ishk shara da jhagara paigia dil da bharm matava mai
saval shara de javab ishk de hazrat akh sunava mai
shara kahe cal pas mulla de sikkh lai adab adaba nu
iskh kahe ikke harf batera thapp rakkh hor kataba nu
shara kahe kar panj asnana, alag mandir ki puja re
ishk kahe teri puja jhuthi je ban baitho duja re
shara kahe kujh sharm haya kar band kar is camkare nu
ishk kahe eh ghungat kaisa khullan de nazare nu
shara kahe cal masjid andar hak namaz ada kar lai
ishk kahe cal maikhane vicc pike sharab naphal parh lai
shara kahe cal bihishti caliye, bihishta de meve khava ge
ishk kahe otthe paihra sada ap hatthi vartavage
shara kahe cal hajj kar moman pulsarat langana re
ishk kahe bua yard a kabba uttho mul na halna re
shara kahe shah Mansur nu suli utte caria si
ishk da darza arsh mualla sirtaz laulaki re
ishk vicco paida kitta bullha ajiz khaki re .101
Love and Law102 are struggling (in the human heart); the doubt of the
heart will I settle (by relating) the questions of Law, and the answers
of Love I will describe, holy Sir; Law says: Go to the mulla103and
learn the rules and regulations. Love says (answers): One letter is
enough, shut up and put away other books. Law says: Perform the five
baths 104 and worship alone in the temple. Love says: Your worship is
false if you consider yourself separate 105 Law says: Have shame and
hide the illumination (enlightenment). Love says: What is this veil
for? Let the vision be open. Law says: Go inside the mosque and
perform the duty of prayer. Love says: Go -to the wine-house and
drinking wino read the naphal.106 Law says:Let us go to heaven; we
will eat the fruits of heaven. Love says: There we are custodians or
rulers and we ourselves will distribute the fruits of heaven. Law says:
O faithful one, come perform the hajj, you have to cross the
bridge.107Love says: The door of the Beloved is ka’aba; from there I
will notstir. Law says: On the cross 108 we placed Shah Mansur. Love
says: You did well, you made him enter the door of the Beloved. The
rank of Love is the highest heaven, the crown of creation.109 Out of
Love He has created Bullha, humble, and from dust.
The following were the true feelings of Bullhe Shah which he was not
supposed to express. But being unable to hidethem any longer he
pours them out with that vehemence and force which ardent but
genuine suppressed thought generally possesses. Besides, the beauty
of this poem lies in the fact that though Bullha uses the very words
and expression which an enraged Panjabi would use, he carefully
avoids all that could in the least make it vulgar or violent How many
poets could express great Philosophic truth with such force and so
briefly and sweetly as Bullha did ?
Muh ai bat na rahindi hai
Jhuth akha te kujh baccda hai, sacc akkhia bhambar macda hai
Dil doha galla to jaccda hai, jacc jacc ke jehba kahindi hai
Muh ai bat na rahindi hai
Ikk lazm bat adab di hai, sanu bat malumi sabh di hai
Har har vicc surat rabb di hai, kahu zahar kahu chappe di hai
Muh ai bat na rahindi hai
Jis paia bhet kalandarda, rah khojia apane andarda
Sukkhvasi hai is mandar da, jitthe carhdi hai na lahindi hai
Muh ai bat na rahindi hai
Etthe bunia vicc hanera hai ate tillkan bazi vehra hai
Andar varke dekho kehra hai, bahar bhalkat pai dhundedi hai
Muh ai bat na rahindi hai
Etthe lekkha pau pasara hai isda vakkhara bhet iara hai
Ikk surat da camara hai jiu cinag daru vicc paidi hai
Muh ai bat na rahindi hai|
Kite nazo ada dikhlai da, kite ho rasul milai da
Kite ashak ban ban aid a, ikte jan judai sahindi hai
Muh ai bat na rahindi hai
Jado zahar hoe nur hori, jal gae pahar koh tur hori
Tado dar carhe Mansur hori, utthe shekhi na maidi taidi hai
Muh ai bat na rahindi hai
Je zahar kara asrar tai sabh bhul javan takrar tai
Phir maran bullhe yar tai, at the mukhfi gall sohindi hai
Muh ai bat na rahindi hai
Asa parhia ilm tahkiki hai, ulthe ikko haraf hakiki hai
Hor jhagara sabh vadhidi hai aive roula pa pa bahindi hai
Muh ai bat na rahindi hai
Bullha snahu asatho vakkh nahi, bin shahu thi duja kakkh nahi
Par vekkhan vali akkh nahi, tahi jan pai dukkh sahindi hai
Muh ai bat na rahindi hai. 110
The speech that has come into the mouth cannot be withheld. if state
an untruth something remains, by telling the truth the fire spreads;111
of both (truth and untruth) the heart is disgusted112 and in disgust the
tongue speaks. The speech, etc. One necessary thing concerns
religion, but to me all things are known; everything is the image of
God, somewhere It is visiblesomewhere hidden. The speech etc. He
who has discovered the secret of the saint (pir or guru), (he) has found
the path of his inner self and is the happy resident of this temple (selfrealization)
where there is no rise or setting. The speech, etc. Here on
earth is darkness, and the courtyard (path) is slippery; look within,
who is there? Outside, the crowd is searching (for God). The speech,
etc. Here theaccount (karma) has spread its feet, the secret of it is
different and unique. Of one image (God) there is the light as a spark
falls into wine. The speech, etc. Somewhere He (God) shows
coquetry, somewhere He brings Muhammad, somewhere as a lover
He comes, somewhere His soul suffers separation. The speech, etc.
When light (God) became visible, the mountain of Sinai was aflame,
again on the cross mounted Mansur, there exists no boasting of mine
or yours. The speech, etc. If I proclaim the secrets, all quarrels (of
religions) will be forgotten (cease); then they (the clergy) will kill the
friend Bullha; here on earth hidden speech (ambiguous) is charming.
The speech, etc. I have studied the science of search (divine) and
therein only one word is genuine. All other arguing is additional (and
unnecessary) and useless noise is made. The speech, etc. Bullha the
Lord is not separate from us, apart from the Lord nothing else exists;
but there is no seeing eye, hence the soul is suffering pain. The
In sultan Bahu we have a poet who is universally admitted to have
been among the greatest mystics of India. All accounts are silent with
regard to the date of his birth, but they agree about the time of his
death. He died on Friday night at dawn in the first jumadi alsani
month in the year A.H. 1102 1 (A.D. 1691). He was sixty-three lunar
years of age at the time of his death.2 From this we conclude that his
birth took place in the year A.D. 1630 at Avan, Shorkot in Jhang
district. Being born at Avan he is also known as Avan.3
According to Manaqab-i-Sultani, his ancestors migrated to India from
Arabia after the death of Hasan and Husain.4 Having fought and
defeated the Hindus of Pind Dadan Khan, Ahmadabad, and the
districts around them, they forced them and their chiefs to embrace
Islam.5 Whatever his ancestors may have been, the father of Bahu was
a resident of Jhang district. He is said to have been a person of quiet
disposition and so was his wife, the mother of Bahu. 6 Legends
relating to his childhood are numerous and of a varied nat. One of
them is so interesting that we cannot help relating it here. It runs thus:
When Bahu was a boy, he was such a devout Mussulman that a sort of
radiance spread round his face, and whenever a Hindu witnessed it, he
was so impressed by it, that forgetting all, he renounced his own
religion and became a Mussulman. This miracle wrought exclusively
by his radiance frightened the Hindus, who sent a delegation to wait
upon his father and request him to keep his son Bahu indoors, except
certain hours. This request was complied with, and the young boy
thereafter had to remain indoors.7
His family was held in great regard by the Emperor Shah Jahan who
conferred on his father, Sultan Bazid Kahar Janan in jagir.8
Bahu received his education at home, and his mother was mostly
responsible for it. It is said that after he had married and had begotten
children he wanted his mother to become his murshid or pir. But she
declined, stating that women in Islam were not permitted to be
spiritual teachers and that he had better go and find a male teacher.9
Thereupon he left his wives and family and went to Hazrat Habibullah
Qadiri 10 at Baghdad 11 on the banks of the river Ravi.
After a short period of discipleship Sultan Bahu defeated his master in
his power of karamat or miracles.12 Thereupon Habib-ullah frankly
informed him of his inability to teach any further and directed him to
go to his master Hazrat Pir Saiyid Abdul Rahman of Delhi. This
Abdul Rahman, as Habib-ullah describes him, ‘was apparently a
mansabdar of the Emperor but possessed great spiritual knowledge.’13
Sultan Bahu then went to Delhi and learnt from Abdul Rahman 14
what he desired.
Bahu, Says Sultan Bakhsh Qadiri, was held in great esteem by
Emperor Aurangzeb, who paid him all possible attention, but for some
unknown reason the saint never seems to have cared for the
Emperor.15 Bahu had four married wives and seventeen mistresses. Of
the former, there were Muslim and fourth Hindu. He had eight sons
from his wives.16 This sort of life, though sanctioned by the Muslim
law, did not befit a saint and a teacher. But it is not for us to judge his
private life, and so we proceed.
On his death, Sultan Bahu was buried at Kahar Janan. In A.H. 1180
(A.D. 1767) Jhanda Singh and Ganda Singh17 raided the district. The
relatives and murids, though they were very anxious to protect the
tomb, ran away in fear. One murid of the saint nevertheless refused to
prove faithless to his ashes. The Sikh chiefs, however, did not despoil
the tomb and left the faithful disciple unmolested.18 What the Bhangi
chiefs spared, nature, however, did not.19 Some time after, the Chenab
having changed its course, its waters covered the graveyard, and many
tombs were swept away. The murids and khalifas thereupon began to
weep and wail, but a voice comforted them by telling them that next
morning an unknown person would come and bring from under the
water the coffin containing the dead body of Sultan Bahu. As stated
by the voice, a strange Person brought the coffin out of the river 20 and
having ordered its burial under a pipal tree, in a deserted building,
disappeared.21 The coffin accordingly was taken to the said building,
put under the tree, and a brick platform raised on it. The grave was not
dug, as was the usual custom.22 This event occurred ten years after the
Sikh raid district, i.e. in A.H. 1190 (AD. 1775).23
Bahu, says the author of Tawarikh Sultan Bahu, wrote in all a hundred
and forty books in Persian and Arabic.24 Nothing is recorded about his
works in Panjabi except that he wrote poetry in Panjabi also.25 What
happened to this latter poetry is not known. Most probably, as Panjabi
was considered vulgar and unscholarly his works in this language
were ignored and ultimately lost.26 In spite of all this indifference,
some of Bahu Panjabi verse was preserved by the gaddi-nishins,
though not because they loved it. The followers and admirers of
Sultan Bahu are mostly villagers and uneducated people ‘who know
no language except their own mother-tongue, Panjabi. So the
descendants, to maintain their own prestige and influence over these
credulous people, have preserved some of Bahu’s verse.27 It is sung by
the kavvalis on the ‘urs days.
Bahu, relates the author of Manaqab-i-Sultani, wrote in his ‘Ain-ul-
Fuqar that he thanked his mother for having given him the name
Bahu, which by the alteration of one nukta or point becomes yahu.28
The only published siharfi of Bahu is very lengthy. Each letter of the
alphabet has one, two, or four short poems, each consisting of eight
tukks. But some letters have more than twenty such poems. The most
striking thing about Bahu’s poetry is that every second tukk ends in
hu. Hu is regarded as a name of Allah, and it is considered highly
meritorious to repeat it as often as possible. Lines ending in hu are an
innovation in Panjabi poetry. They are also a great help in establishing
the authenticity of Bahu’s Panjabi verse.
Bahu, as judged from his poetry, belonged to the philosophic school
of the Sufis but for some reason or other he hid his philosophy under
the veil of orthodoxy. It may be that to ensure his safety 29 he
disguised his philosophic thought. Then there was another reason,
namely his sainthood, which did not permit him that liberty and
happiness which Bullhe would enjoy. He had become a pir, not in the
sense of a preceptor but as a religious head and object of respect and
worship. This demanded a certain amount of reserve and prudence on
his part. So he had to present his philosophic ideas slightly tinged with
orthodox thought, In spite of his personal convictions. Yet it is worth
stating here that Bahu’s ideas, though philosophic, were different
from those of Bullhe Shah, his younger contemporary. He does not
seem to have believed in karma and reincarnation, and if he did, they
had not become convictions with him. There was a great lack of
balance and equilibrium in his pantheistic philosophy, and it is this
lack which accounts for his indulgence in sexual pleasure and princely
living. His private life was a natural consequence of his philosophic
Bahu’s verse is composed in simple and unpretentious style. It has a
well-marked character of its own and rests entirely on the resources of
the poet’s thought knowledge of the language. There is an absolute
lack of artificiality. Another thing which is creditable about him is that
his verse is pious and bereft of all human love and its ideals.
Bahu’s language is Panjabi, as it is spoken in Jhang and the districts
around it. It has sweetness and simplicity but is not rustic or vulgar.
The poetry of Bahu is not much known, and if it has attained
popularity anywhere it is in the circle of his adherents, though it
deservedly demands a better consideration from the general public of
The following poems are extracted from Bahu’s siharfi. This is
Bahu’s ideal of a faqir:
Jim jiudia mar rahna hove, ta ves fakira kariye hu
je koi suttee guddar kura vang arurhi sahiye hu
je koi kadde gala mehna us nu ji ji kahiye hu
gila-ulahmbha bhandi khavari yar de paro sahiye hu.30
Jim: if dead while living we want to remain, then the robe of faqirs we
should wear, O He; if any one throws at us worn-out rags and
rubbish,31 Like a dunghill we should bear them, O He; he who abuses
and taunts, to him, we should say sir, air, O He; complaint and taunts,
scandal and troubles we should bear for the Beloved’s sake, O He.
In the following he relates the condition of him who has attained
Jim jinha shau alif thi paya, oh fer kur’an na parh de hu
oh maran dam muhabbat vala, dur hoyo ne parde hu
Dozakh bihisht Gulam tinhade, ca kitto ne barde hu
Mai kurban tinha to bahu, jehre vahdat de vice varde hu.32
Jim: those who have found the Lord alif, 33 they again do not read the
Qur’an , O He; they respire the breath of love and their veils 34 have
gone afar, O He; hell and heaven their slaves become, their faults
they have forsaken, O He; I am a sacrifice for those, Bahu, who in the
unity enter, O He.
Bahu speaks of his beloved:
Ce carh canna tu kar roshanai te jikkar karede tare hu
Tere jahe cann kai sai carhde, sanu sajjana bajh hanera hu
Jitthe cann hai sada carhda kadar nahi kujh teri hu
Jis de karan asa janam gavaya bahu yar milsi ikk veri hu.35
Ce: rise moon spread your light and the stars will talk of it.36 O He;
many hundred moons like you might rise, without the Friend for me is
dark, O He; where that moon of mine rises, there no regard for you is
felt, O He; for whom, Bahu, I have lost my life, once that Friend will
meet me, O He.
Here is Bahu’s definition of real lovers (seekers):
Nun na oh hindu na oh moman na sijda den masiti hu
dam dam de vicc vekhan maula, jinha jan kaza na kitti hu
ae dane te bane divane jinha zat sahi vanjh kitti hu
mai kurban tinha to bahu jinha ishk bazi cun litti hu.37
Num: neither Hindus are they, nor are they Muslims nor in the
mosques they in obeisance bow, O He; In each and every breath38 they
behold God, who have not distorted their live, O He; they came wise,
and became mad, who traded in the real substance, O He; I am a
sacrifice for them, Bahu, who have selected their profession, love, O
The following expresses the philosophic concept of Sufi thought. Here
he forgets his orthodoxy:
He hu da jama paih ghar aya, ism kamavan zati hu
na otthe kufar islam di manzil na otthe maut hayati hu
shah rag thi nazdik langhesi pa andure jhati hu
oh asa vicc asi uhua vicc dur hui kurbati hu.39
He: dressed in God I come home, to earn the Name is my profession,
O He; neither are there stages of paganism and Islam, nor is there
death and life, O He, He will pass nearer than the jugular vein; do
throw a glance inside you, O He: He is in us and we in Him, falsity
has gone away, 40 O He.
Nun nahi jogi nahi jattgam na mai cila kamaya hu
na mai bhajj masiti variya na tasba kharkaya hu
jo dam gafil so dam kafir sanu murshid eh pharmaya hu
murshid sanu sohni kitti bahu ikko pal vicc ca bakhshaya hu. 41
Nun: neither a yogi nor a jattgam,42 nor have I observed forty days’
fast, O He; neither have I rushed into a mosque nor with rosary43
noise have I made, O He; ‘That breath when one is forgetful, that
breath is false’ to me (this) the teacher has ordained, O He; teacher
has treated me hand. somely,44 Bahu, in one moment he procured me
grace, O He.
Mim mazhaba vale darvaze ucce, rah rabbani mori hu
pandta te mulvania kolo chap chap lange de cori hu
addia maran karn bakhere dardmanda dia ghori hu
Bahu cal utthai vasiai jitthe dava na kisse hori hu. 45
Mim: religion’s46 gates are high and the path of God is like a hole,47 O
He; from the pundits and the maulvis, It passes hidden and
concealed,48 O He; they kick with their heels and create trouble (but
this) for the sufferers is a ghori49 O He; Bahu, let us go there and live
where no one else’s claims exist,50 O He.
The following may account for Bahu’s indifference towards the
Emperor. How could a man with such ideas appear in the king’s
presence without running a great risk of being put to death?
Ain ashik hove te ishk kamave dil rakkhe vang pahara hu
lakh lakh badia hazar ulahme, kar jane bag bahara hu
mansur jahe cukk suli ditte vakif kul asrara hu
sijjdiya sar dil na cahe bahu tore kafir kahn hazara hu. 51
Ain: if one is a lover and professes love ho should keep his heart like
a mountain, O He; many millions of bad turns and thousands of taunts
he should feel as pleasures of garden, O He; one like Mansur was
hanged on the cross, who was acquainted with all the secrets, O Ho; to
bow head in obeisance52 heart wants not, Bahu, though thousands
might proclaim me heathen, O He.
Bahu expresses his sentiments for his murshid in the fol1owing:
Mim murshid makka talib haji kaba ishk banaya hu
vicc hazur sada har vele kariai hajj savaya hu
hikk dam maitho juda jo hove dil milane te aya hu
murshid ain hayati bahu mere lu lu vicc samaya hu. 53
Mim: the murshid is Makka, seeker the pilgrim, and love is the
Ka’aba, O He; in his presence ever and at all times54 let us do that
better hajj, O He; if for one moment he parts from me, the heart
craves to meet, O He; Bahu, the murshid is the life, he is present in
my every pore, O He.
Bahu, like the orthodox Qadiris, compose a few poems in praise of
Abdul-Qadir Jilani, the founder of the Qadiriya sect. Here is one of
Sin sun faryad pira diya pira, mai akkh sunava kehnu hu
tere jeha mainu hor na koij, mai jehe lakh tainu hu
phol na kagaz badia vale dar to dhak na mainu hu
mai vicc aid gunah na honed bahu tu bakhshido kahnu hu. 55
Sin: listen to (my) complaint O pir of the pirs,56 to whom else should I
tell it? O He; like you there is no one else for me, but like me you
have millions, O He; do not open the papers of bad deeds,57 do not
push me away from the door, O He; if I were not filled with such
great sins then, says Bahu, why would you have pardoned me?
This is the condition of a real lover:
Ain ishk di bhah hadda da balan ashak baih sakede hu
ghat ke jan jigar vicc ara, vekkh kabab talede hu
sar garden phiran har vele khun jigar da pide hu
hoge hazara ashak bahu par ishk nasib kide hu.58
Ain: love is fire, bones59 the fuel and sitting in front the lovers warm
themselves,60 O He; putting the saw in the heart behold like the kabab
they are being fried, O He; the mad ones, (lovers) ever roam about
drinking their (own) heart’s blood, O He; thousands have become
lovers, Bahu, but in whose destiny is love?61 O He.
What the Beloved expects of the lover is a white (pure) heart and not a
white (beautiful) face. This idea is very finely expressed in the lines
Dal dil kale kolo muh kala canga je koi us nu jane hu
muh kala dil accha hove ta dil yar pachane hu
eh dil yar de picche hove, mata yar vi kade sanjhane hu
Bahu sai alam chor masita natthe, jab lage ne dil taikane hu.62
Dal: than a black heart a black face is better, each one is aware of
that, O He; if face is black and heart is white then the Beloved
recognizes that, O He; such heart should ever follow63 the beloved,
might be that He recognizes64 him, O He; Bahu, hundreds of learned
men have left the mosques and run (to their pirs) when their heart has
attained its mark,65 O He.
The pure and the elect are described in this couplet:
Jim jo paki bin pak mahi de, so paki jan paliti hu
hikk butt-khanne ja vasal hoai ijk khali rahe masiti hu.66
Jim: those who are pure, without the purity of the Beloved,67 consider
their purity to be impurity, O He; some in the idol-house have reached
Union, others have failed in mosques, O He.68
Bahu disapproves of faqiri without knowledge. He says:
Ain ilam bajhe koi fukar kamave kafir mare divana hu
sai varia di kare ibadat rah allah kannu bagana hu
gafalat kannu na khulsan parde dil zahil butt khanna hu
mai kurban tinha de bahu jinha miliya yar yagana hu.69
Ain: he who without knowledge professes renunciation let that false
one (kafir) die insane, O He; he might worship for a hundred years,
yet to God’s path will he be a stranger, O He; because of carelessness
his curtains of ignorance will not be removed and his foolish heart
will be an idol-house, O He; I am a sacrifice, Bahu, for them who
have met the Beloved Unique, O He.
Now we shall quote a few examples expressing Bahu’s orthodox
ideas. The following is in praise of the love of Hasan, Husain, and
their father, Ali:
Ain ashak soi hakiki jehra katal mashuk de manne hu
ishk na chore muh na more tore sai talvara khanne hu
jitt val dekkhe raz mahi da laga udahi vanjhe hu
sacca ishk hasnain70 Ali da bahu sar deve raz na bhanne hu.71
Ain: he is a real lover who considers himself a victim of the Beloved,
O He; who does not renounce love and turns not away his faces, even
if a hundred swords cut him, O He; in whatever direction he sees the
rule of his Beloved, there he continues to walk, O He, Bahu, the true
love is of Hasan, Husain and Ali who gave their heads but did not
break the rule, O He.
The following describes the horrors of the grave suggests that they
could be avoided if the corpse bowed the Divine Will:
Jim jiude ki janan sar moya di so jane jo marda hu
kabara de vicc ann na pani utthe khare tureda gharda hu
ikk vichora ma pyo bhaiya duja azab kabarda hu
iman salamat tis da bahu jehra rabb agge sir dharda hu. 72
Jim: what do the living know of the condition of the dead, he alone
knows who dies, O He; in graves there is neither food nor water and
spending is of one’s own house, O Ho73; first there is the separation of
parents and brothers,74 second is the trouble of the grave, O He; Bahu,
his faith alone there rests safe, who surrenders his head before God, O
This extract illustrates well his regard for the kalma:75
He hor dava na dil di kari, kalma dil di kari hu
kalma dur jangal kareda kalme mail uttari hu
kalma hire lal jawahar, kalme hat pasari hu
itthe utthe dovi jahani bahu kalma daulat sari hu.76
He: other profession for heart is not efficient, the kalma of the heart is
efficient, O He; the kalma takes the rust away and the kalma scrapes
off the dirt, O He; the kalma is diamond, ruby and precious stones, the
kalma has extended its shop,77 O He; Bahu, here and there in both the
worlds the kalma is all the wealth,78 O He.
Islam is the only true path, says our poet:
eh dil hijar firako sarda eh dam mare na jive hu
Sacca rah Muhammad vala bahu jai vicc rabb labhive hu.79
This heart is burning with separation, it neither dies nor lives, O He;
the true path is the path of Muhammad, along which God is found, O
Sources of Information
Manaqab-i-Sultani 80 (in Urdu). This is a translation of the Persian
work of the same name. The author of this work was Sultan Hamid, a
relative and descendant of the poet Sultan Bahu. The work, though it
gives much real information, contains legends of a fabulous character.
Tarikh makhzan-i-Panjab 81 by Ghulam Sarvar, in Urdu, also contains
some important information about the saint.
Tawarikh Sultan Bahu in Persian. This MS. pamphlet on the life of
Sultan Bahu was written by Sultan Bakhsh Qadiri in 1920 and is the
property of the Panjab Public Library, Oriental Section.
Many other biographies of saints contain brief de scri ptions of the life
of Bahu, but they are mere extracts from the above-mentioned books.
Of the Panjabi works of Bahu only one book has been published. This
is a collection of his verses, the authenticity of which has been well
established. The title is Majmu’a Abyat Sultan Bahu Panjabi.82 It is in
Urdu characters and contains a very lengthy siharfi.
Another source of information, both on the life-history and the poetry
of Bahu, are the kavvalis. Though we have not depended on this
source for the account of Bahu, yet we cannot help stating that if
someone collected material from this source it would be of great
1. Manaqab-i-sultani, p. 125.
3. ibid., p.4.
4. Sons of Ali and grandsons of the prophet.
5. Manaqab-i-Sultani, p.7.
6. She was known as Bibi Rasti Quds Sara, cf. ibid., p.8.
7. Manaqab-i-sultani, p. 40
8. ibid., p. 126
9. Manaqab-i-sultani, p. 34.
10. ibid., p. 35. Who this Habib-ullah was we do not know. There were so many of this
name at the time. Beale in his Oriental Biographical Dictionary mentions two, one a
celebrated poet of Agra and another ‘the author of an Arabic work called Bahr-ul-Mantiq
or the Sea of Logic’.
11. This Baghdad is different from the famous city of Iraq. Most probably it was a village
on the banks of the Ravi.
12. Manaqab-i-Sultani, pp. 36-7.
13. ibid., p. 37.
14. ibid., p. 37. This Abdul Rahman could not be any other than the son of Abdul Aziz
Naqshbandi. Sulaiman Shikoh, son of Dara Shikoh, married his daughter in A.H. 1062
(A.D. 1651). See Beale, Oriental Biographical Dictionary, p. 13.
15. Tawarikh Sultan Bahu, pp. 8-9. We see no other reason for Bahu’s indifference
towards Aurangzeb except that either he doubted his attentions or that he disapproved of
his treatment of the Sufi saints and friends of the late prince Dara Shikoh whom the Sufi,
and especially the Qadiris, loved and counted as one of themselves.
16. Manaqab-i-Sultani, pp. 41-2.
17. These Sikh chiefs made this raid in 1766, and it surely must have lasted for at least a
year. See Griffith’s Panjab Chiefs, Vol. I, p. 478
18. Manaqab-i-Sultani, p. 130.
19. It must be stated to the credit of the Shikh Sardars that they never hurt the religious
feelings of the Mussulmans by despoiling or by pulling down their sacred buildings and
other places of worship.
20. Manaqab-i-Sultani, p. 130.
21. This unknown person, according to tradition, was Sultan Bahu himself.
22. With due respect to the sentiment of the faithful, we rather if the present tomb
contains the ashes of the saint.
23. Manaqab-i-Sultani, p. 131.
24. ibid., p. 8.
25. ibid., p. 239.
26. This opinion is confirmed by the place allotted and the indifference shown to valuable
Panjabi manu scri pt, in the private MS. Collections in the Panjab.
27. As mentioned below, some of it has been published by Mia Fazal Din of Lahore.
28. p. 8. Yahu, it is said in the Panjab, is an important efficacious a name of God as Om in
29. As mentioned above, Aurangzeb, the emperor, watched his movements attentively.
For this very reason, as we have said below, Inayat Shah, the great Qadiri saint, turned
away his beloved disciple Bullhe Shah.
30. Majmu’a Sultan Bahu, p.9.
31. Guddar is worn-out cloth.
32. Majmua Sultan Bahu, p. 9.
33. Alif here means God.
34. Meaning, their ignorance has vanished and they have seen the truth.
35. Majmu’a Sultan Bahu, p. 10.
36. Will discuss of its light being so strong as compared to their own light.
37. Majmu’a Sultan Bahu, p. 22.
38. In each creature or in the breath of each creature that breathes.
39. Majmu’a Sultan Bahu, p. 24.
40. Has disappeared or has left the soul.
41. Majmu’a Sultan Bahu, p. 23.
42. Sadhus and dervishes with long, braided hair.
43. By fervently counting the beads.
44. Meaning, has done me a great favour by teaching me the secret, i.e. ‘the breath when
one is forgetful of God, that breath is false.’
45. Majmu’a Sultan Bahu, p. 22.
46. Religion here stands for any established church.
47. Holo signifies humility.
48. It passes low and concealed, i.e. the mystic lover being afraid of the clergy keeps
himself hidden from them and is humble.
49. They try to crush the mystics underfoot and create trouble for them, but to the lover
these kicks and troubles appear like that auspicious song which is sung at marriage
celebrations indicating the approaching union?
50. Where no one professes anything i.e. where there are seekers but no professors of
51. Majmu’a Sultan Bahu, p. 16.
52. This obeisance is made during the five daily prayers of the Muhammadans.
53. Majmu’a Sultan Bahu, p.21.
54. Waiting upon him at each minute of the day and night is like Pilgrimage to the
55. Majmu’a Sultan Bahu, p. 14.
56. A name of Abdul Qadir Jilani.
57. The papers containing the account of my bad deeds.
58. Majmu’a Sultan Bahu, p. 16
59. The different parts of the lover’s body burn in the fire of love, hence they are fuel.
60. The warmth or suffering is experienced by the lovers, i.e. their souls.
61. Meaning, those who attain love (i.e. the Beloved’s love) are rare though thousands try
to have it.
62. Majmu’a Sultan Bahu, p. 11.
63. Should constantly seek the Beloved.
64. So that he, recognizing the search, will accept the lover.
65. When the lovers hearts have become pure and follow the Beloved (i.e. when they see
Him in all and love Him in all) then they have attained light. And so they leave the
66. Majmu’a Sultan Bahu, p. 8.
67. Purity without God is uncleanliness is not by professing the so-called pure religions
that one attains salvation, but by loving God.
68. ‘Some’, says Bahu, ‘attained Union remaining in the idol-house or in a religion that
prescribes idolatry and is therefore considered to be impure by Islam, while many
mosque-going people believed to be pure could no attain it’, because they were attached
to the letter and not to the Spirit.
We now proceed to examine the chief characteristics of Panjabi Sufi
poetry. Foreign invasions and political changes retarded its growth in
towns and cities.1 Its torch consequently was kept burning in the
villages. Having been evolved in the villages, it lacks that point of
extreme elaboration to which Sufi poets carried other languages, such
as Persian and Urdu. Mysticism being more predominant than
materialism in Panjabi Sufi poets’ temperaments, all complexity of
expression, the artificial and ornate style, the jingle of words and
bombastic language is missing from it. The chief effort of the poets
was to give direct expression to their pious feelings in as brief a
manner as possible. The vocabulary, similes and technical terms were
confined to home trades, cottage industries, and the prevalent
mythological ideas 2 and social customs. This should not, however,
indicate that the language is crude and vulgar. No, the great anxiety to
convey the devotional emotions correctly often imparted a sort of
beauty and sweetness rare to the artificial Urdu poetry. Similes were
taken from everyday life and were used with skilful restraint and
preceded in order. The result was that though this poetry lacked
dazzling brilliancy and poetic conceit, it always maintained dignity,
order, and sincerity. To sum up, it can be stated here that, as the
guiding principle of Panjabi Sufi poetry was the subordination of the
parts to the whole, its chief merit lies exclusively in its beauty of
fundamentals and not in its details.
The principal forms of Panjabi Sufi verse are the following:
Kafi. This name is borrowed from the Persian kafiya (meaning
rhyme), and is applied to Panjabi Sufi poetry generally. Usually it is a
poem on the divine attributes and sometimes on different Sufi beliefs.
Kafia are found in different chandas, mostly prakrit, and in the ragas
of the Panjabi musical system.3
Bara mah is an account of the twelve months of the Panjabi year. The
poet describes the pangs of divine separation in each of these months.
At the end of the twelfth month he relates the ultimate union with the
Almighty. Almost all Sufi poets have composed a bara rnah.
Athvara or a description of eight days. For seven days the seeker
waits anxiously for God. Then when the last hope is fading he finds
himself in the divine embrace on the eighth day.
Siharfi is an acrostic on the alphabet. It is not found in any other
Indian language. As it is not of Persian or Arabic origin we conclude
that it is a Panjabi form. The oldest verse of this kind is found in the
Adi Granth of the Sikhs and was composed by Arjuna Dev.4 Later on
it appears to have become a popular verse-form of the Sufis. Some of
them wrote more than two or three siharfis.5 Siharfi precisely, is not a
short poem but is a collection of short poems. The letters of the
alphabet are taken consecutively, and words whose initials they form
are employed to give metrical expression to the poet’s ideas. Here is
Alif Allah chambe di buti murshid man mere vich Lai hu
Nafi asbat da pani mali si rahe rage har jai hu
Andar buti mushk machaya jaNphullan pai ai hu
Jive murshid kamil bahu jai eh buti Lai hu 6
Alif: Allah is like the plant of chamba 7which the preceptor planted in
my heart, O He, by water and gardener of negative and positive
(respectively) it remained near the rag 8and everywhere, O He, it
spread fragrance inside when it approached blossoming, O He, may
the efficient preceptor live (long) says Bahu, who planted this plant, O
There do not seem to have been any hard and fast rules about siharfi
Generally a letter has four lines, each consisting of two tukks but
sometimes a letter may have five, six or more such lines.9 Some poets
wrote a number of such poems for each letter. For example, if the
Letter is alif the first line of each such poem will begin with alif.
As a rule a siharfi is written in praise of the Beloved (God) and his
attributes, but sometimes it is written to relate some legend, historical
or imaginary.10 In Sufi literature, however, we have found only one
The siharfis of the Muhammadans are on Arabic or Persian alphabets.
They did not compose any on the nagari or Panjabi alphabets, though
Hindus of different sects have written siharfis on the Arabic and
Qissa is another form of Sufi verse. It is generally a tragic story of
two young people who Love each other madly. They are separated by
parents and cruel social conventions to which they pay little attention
and disregarding them try to meet each other. This disregard brings
misfortune and so they die, ultimately to be united in death for
eternity. Some qissas are composed on the siharfi principle; others are
composed of baits, sometimes called slokas.
Bait is the corrupted form of the Arabic word bait 13 It is a sort of
couplet poem, has very few rules and therefore has a good deal of
variety. It is very popular with the Panjabis of all classes.
Dohra is another form of Sufi verse. It is not the Hindi doha but
resembles closely the chand. It has four tukks, all rhyming in the same
manner. This was the favorite verse form of Hashim.
There is another form of verse common to all Panjabi religious poetry,
called var. Originally var meant a dirge (var) for the brave slain in
battle. But then it began to be employed in songs composed in praise
of the Almighty God or some great religious personage.14 It is
composed of various stanzas called pauris, literally ‘steps’, which are
sung by minstrels at religious shrines.
1. Aurangzeb considered the Sufi as heretic, and was extremely harsh to them. Provincial
governors and princes of the royal blood often followed his example during his reign, and
afterwards foreign invasions by Nadir Shah and Ahmad Shah were also responsible, in
great measure, for inflicting cruelties on them.
2. This in no way signifies that the poets believed in them. They made use of them to
bring home to the people their deeply mystic
thought in a simple manner.
3. Though, the basic principles of the Panjabi musical system are the same as those of the
Indian system, yet it differs, a good deal in details.
4. It is known as Bavan Akhri on account of the 52 letters of the Nagri alphabet.
5. Hashim and Ali Haidar each wrote about half a dozen siharfis.
6. Majmua Abyat Sultan Bahu.
8.Shah rag or rag is the great vein found in the neck and considered by the Panjabi Sufi
to be nearest his mind.
9. Haidar’s Siharfis are noted for this.
10. Panjabi poets other than Sufis, both Hindus and Muhammadans have written many
11. This siharfi, written at Gujrat by Muhammad Din, describes the life of a Sufi Murid.
It cannot be more than fifty years old.
12. See Siharfis of Ganga Ram and that of Sai Das, both on the Arabic alphabet.
13. Maiya Singh’s Panjabi Dictionary
14. For example, the famous Vars of Bhai Gurdas in praise of the Sikh Gurus.
THE SUFIS IN INDIA:
After the Muslim conquest of northern India, the Sufis began to pour
into the country. This was the only peaceful, friendly and tolerant
element of Islam. The Islam promulgated by the sword 1 and by
aggressive ‘ulama and qazis could not impress the Hindus who
abhorred it. But the Islam represented by the Sufis appealed to them.
Almost all the willing conversions were no doubt the result of Sufi
Development of Sufiism in the Panjab
In the beginning, the Sufis In northern India were preachers and often
joined hands with the rulers to establish their power and to convert the
people to Islam.2 Their patience, tolerance and friendly spirit brought
them followers from the lower grades of the Hindus, unfortunately
neglected by the higher classes. To this class of Sufis belonged
Faridu’ddin Ganj-i-Shakar, ‘All Makhdum Hujwiri, and many others.
But, later on, many Sufis gave up missionary work 3 and devoted
themselves to the study of different religious systems and
philosophies of the country. Mia Mir, Prince Dara Shikoh and Abu’l-
Fazl and Fayzi belonged to this category of Sufis; they began to
question the superiority of their own religion or to deny its authority.4
Mia Mir is said to have helped Guru Har Govind many a time and to
have sent him a woman, related to the Qazi of Lahore, who liked the
Guru’s doctrines and had wanted to become a Sikh.5
Sufiism underwent another considerable change towards the end of
the seventeenth century. The intolerance of Aurangzeb and of his
adherents had so much affected the spiritually and the intellectually
minded amongst the Sufis that they were driven towards Hinduism
more than before.6 Hindu Vedantic thought overpowered their beliefs.
Bhagvatism influenced their ideas, and it was a surprising fact that in
the Panjab, the stronghold of Islam, Mussulman mystics held the view
that save God there was no reality; all else, therefore, became illusion
or the Hindu maya.7
The doctrine of transmigration and reincarnation was soon adopted
and was afterwards supplemented by the theory of karma.8Again
Muhammad, who remained the perfect model of Man for the Sufis of
other countries, was not necessarily the ideal of the Panjabi Sufis. The
philosophically-minded sometimes ignored him, at other times
allotted to him the same place as they gave to the prophets of other
religions.9 For the orthodox and popular Sufis he nevertheless
remained somewhat higher than the other prophets, but not in the
same way as before. He became the hero of their poetry as Krishna is
the hero of the Bhagavata-lore.10 The condemnation of idols, which
had not been very vehement even in the sixteenth century, ceased
altogether now. Muhammadan mystics accepted them as another way
of adoring the Universal Lord 11 The Sufis often abstained from eating
meat and practiced the doctrine of ahimsa by loving all life, animal
The Qur’an, which could not be dispensed with and was held in great
veneration by the early Sufis, was now placed on the same level with
the Vedas and the Puranas.13
Last but not the least, it should be mentioned here that the principle of
religious tolerance was advocated by many mystics who denounced
fanaticism and admitted freedom of religious beliefs.14
The above were the new developments in Sufiism on Panjabi soil.
They were, however not the chief characteristics of every Sufi’s
teachings. These newdevelopments, on the other hand, helped in the
classification of the Sufis. The Sufis of the Panjab may be classed into
three schools of thought:
I. The Orthodox School—The Sufis of this school believed in
conversion from one religion to another. They held that the Qur’an
was the best book revealed and that Muhammad was God’s greatest
prophet on earth. Though they tolerated different religions, yet they
believed Islam to be the only true creed. To this class of Sufis
belonged Farid Sani and Ali Haidar.
2. Time Philosophic School — TheSufis of the philosophic school
were speculators and thinkers. They had absorbed the essence of
Vedanta so well that to them differences of religion, country, and sect
were immaterial. They abhorred regulations and the dry dogmas of all
religions. They displayed best the essence of pantheistic Sufiism.
They ignored conversion, and were chiefly responsible for
establishing unity between the faithful of various religions. Bullhe
Shah belonged to this school.
3. The Popular School— The adherents of this school were men of
little or no education. These people collected the beliefs and
superstitions of various creeds, and preached and practiced them.
Muhammad remained their only Prophet and the Qur’an their best
book, but they provided a place for all other prophets and teachers in
their long list of saints and angels. They were popular with the lower
classes of both Hindus and Muslims. To the Hindus they preached the
Qur’an and the superstitions of Islam, while to the .Muhammadans
they preached the popular beliefs and superstitions of both. As they
were apt to change with the times and conditions, they were
dangerous equally to Islam and to Hinduism. To this class belonged
Fard Faqir and many others.
Panjabi Sufi Poetry
The Sufis of the Panjab, like the Sufis of other parts of India, wrote
for centuries together in the Persian language.15 They copied the
phraseology, the similes, and, in fact, the whole system of Persian
prosody and rhetoric in its entirety. Later on, the Sufis began to write
in Urdu. But this Urdu looked for guidance to Persia and was so much
overlaid by Persian vocabulary, phraseology, and jeux de mots,16that
it was really Persian diluted by an Indian language. The national
culture was thus paralyzed, and national sentiments and thoughts were
allotted a secondary place in their compositions. It was only in the
middle of the fifteenth century that the initiative to write in the
language of the people, i.e. Panjabi, was taken by a saint of the Cishti
order of the Sufis.17 This initiator was Shaikh Ibrahim Farid, a
descendant of Faridu’ddin Ganj-i-Shakar of Pak Patan. His example
was followed by many, of whom Lal Husain, Sultan Bahu, Bullhe
Shah, Ali Haidar, and Hashim are the outstanding and well-known
figures. A considerable amount of fragmentary Panjabi Sufi poetry, of
various authorship, has also been found.18 A few of these poems
contain the names of the writers, but not much more. We will speak of
this poetry elsewhere.
The Ideal of the Sufi Poet
The ideal of the Panjabi mystic poet was to find God in all His
creation and thus attain union with Him. Thus union or annihilation
inGod wasto be fully achieved after death, but in some cases it was
gained while living.19 The Panjabi Sufi, like any other mystic in the
world, callsGod his Beloved. But the Beloved, who in Islamic
countries was both masculine and feminine,20here became masculine.
In Panjabi Sufi poetry, therefore, God isthe Beloved and the Sufi, or
the human soul, the woman separated from her lover by illusion or
maya. The Sufisoul at times wails, then cries and yearns for union
withthe Beloved. The Sufi poet in the Panjab generally refers to three
stories of perfect love in his poetry. They are the love tales of Hir
Ranjha, Sassi Punnu, and Sohni Mahival,21 These tales of perfect love
which end tragically are popular with all Panjabis.
In all the three, the heroines, Hir, Sassi and Sohni, who spent their
lives in sorrow, always yearning to meet their respective lovers, were
united with them in death. For a Sufi these tales 22 have a spiritual
significance. The heroines stand for the Sufi (the soul) and the heroes
for God (the Beloved sought), After the Sufi has attained union with
God he is no more Hir 23 but becomes Ranjha, because for him all
differences vanish away and he sees Ranjha (God) as much in his own
self as in the external world. The Sufi poetry consequently is full of
poems, songs, and hymns praising the Beloved, describing the pain
and sorrow inflicted by separation, and ultimately the joy, peace and
knowledge attained in the union.
1. The bold assertion of Professor Massignon that ‘ce n’est pas par les guerres que l’Islam
a diffuse dans l’Inde, c’est par les mystiques et par les grands ordres, Tshishtiyah
Kobrawiyah, Shattariyah et Naqshbandiyah’ (Lexique Technique, p. 68) shows his scanty
knowledge of Indian history.
2. Shaikh Ali Makhdum Hujwiri generally known as Data Ganj Bakhsh followed the
arms of Masa’ud, son and successor of Mahmud Ghaznavi to Lahore, where he settled
down to preach. (See Latif, History of Lahore, pp. 179-82.) There are many such
3. Mr. Zuhurud-Din Ahmad, in his Mystic Tendencies in Islam, p. 142, Out of the later
Sufis very few appear to have given any thought to this practica1 aspect (conversion) of
the doctrine of Islamic Sufism.
4. Emperor Akbar is another example; his faith in the superiority of Islam was so much
shattered that he founded a new religion. Din-i-Ilahi.
5. See Latif, History of the Panjab, p. 256.
6. No doubt the Sufis during the reign of Shah Jahan, under the patronage of Prince Dara
Shikoh, had absorbed a good deal of Hindu Vedantic though, but they remained, save for
a few rare exceptions, within the limits of their own religion. The intolerance of the
orthodox people and of the Emperor Aurangzeb, however, later on compelled them to
Islamic dogmas, etc., and to turnmore towards Hindu religion with real feeling then they
had done before. Both Inayat andBullhe Shah were born during this period.
7. Dabistan, Vol. III. p. 281.
8. Kanun.i-’Ishq. Vol. I, kafie 2 and 37. ‘The doctrine of karma which is alien to Sufism’
(The Mystics of Islam, p. 19) became now one of its doctrines.
9. See the poetry of Bullhe Shah, especially kafi90 of Sai Bullhe Shah.
10. See the Baramah of Karim Bakhsh, ch. ix.
11. Sahibjani. a celebrated Sufi of the seventeenth century, performed the puja in the
house of idols (Dabistan, Vol. III.p. 302). The Panjabi Sufi fortunately did not go to that
extreme but considered both temple and mosque the same. When he bad attained the
stage of understanding he even ceased to go to the mosque. His temple and mosque were
every where. See Bullhe Shah. Qanun-i-ishq. kafi 58.
12. Dabistan, Vol. III. p. 302.
13. Qanun-i-ishq. kafi 76.
14. See the work of Bahu and Bullhe Shah
15. Sarkar, History of Aurangzeb. Vol. 111, p. 387.
16. The grammatical system, however, was Indian.
17. With the exception of a few poems ascribed to Shakar Ganj, no trace of Sufi poetry is
found before Ibrahim Farid. The poems said to be of Shakar Ganj are, as we shall see
later on, not his.
18. From some neglected and worm-eaten and torn manu scri pts in private libraries, and
from some lithographed books, not varymuch real by the public.
19. Union gained while living was of two natures, partial and complete. A partial union
was possible when the Sufi was in a state of supreme ecstasy. The complete union was
attained (in very rare cases) when all consciousness of self was lost and the mystic lived
ever after in and with the Universal Self.
20. In Persian, poetry, for example, the Beloved is both Laila and Majnu.
21. Of these Hir and Ranjha and Sassi and Punnu in all probability were of Indo-Scythian
origin, but the poets have overlaid them with Muslim
colors and superstitions.
22. Of the three, the Hir, and Ranjha tale is the most important, and has been written by
many poets, the best written up to date being Hir of Vare Shah, or Waris Shah.
23. Hir has almost the same position In Panjabi literature as Radha has in Hindi literature.
No account of Punjabi Sufism, its poets and poetry, will be complete
without a short sketch of the origin and development of Sufism
outside India. Punjabi Sufism, evidently, is a branch of the great Sufi
movement which originated in Arabia, during the second century A.H.
(A.D. 800). It differs a good deal, however, in details, from the
original, being subjected to many modifications under the influence of
Hindu religious and philosophic thought. Before following up the
evolution and the final trend of Sufi thought in the Punjab, it is
necessary to review briefly the outstanding features of this Islamic
sect as it developed outside India.
Sufism was born soon after the death of the Prophet and ‘proceeded
on orthodox lines’. It’s adepts had ascetic tendencies, led hard lives,
practicing the tenets of the Qur’an to the very letter. But this
asceticism soon passed into mysticism, and before the end of the
second century A.H. (A.D. 815), these ascetics began to be known to
the people as Sufis. The name was given to them because they wore
woolen garments. The term, labisa’l-suf, which formerly meant ‘he
clad himself in wool’, and was applied to a person who renounced the
world and became an ascetic, henceforward signified that he became
The early mysticism was essentially a product of Islam, and
originated as a consequence of the Islamic conception of God which
failed to satisfy many persons possessing spiritual tendencies. The two
striking factors in the early mysticism, as Goldziher has stated, were
an exaggerated consciousness of sin and an overwhelming dread of
divine retribution. They feared God more than they loved Him and
submitted unreservedly to His Will. But in the beginning of the
second century A.H (A.D 815) the Sufi thought began to develop
under the influence of Greek philosophy of Ashrakian and
Dionysius. Christianity, itself enveloped by Neo-Platonist
speculations, exercised a great influence in monastic organizations
and discipline. Hebrew philology, to a certain extent, helped the
progress of the technical vocabulary. But the Greek influence seems
to have been the most powerful, because, besides philosophical ideas,
the Sufis borrowed from the Greeks the medical science which they
named yunani or the Greek system. Neo-Platonism developed
intellectual tendencies. The civil wars and dry dogmas of the ‘ulama
soon drove the intellectual Sufis to skepticism.They searched
elsewhere for truth and knowledge. The search was not in vain; and
soon a new school was established, different from the one already
existing. It was greatly influenced by Persian religion and Indian
thought, both Buddhist and Hindu.
The adherents of the new school were almost all of non-Semitic
origin, their national characters were formed by the climatic and
geographical position of their countries, and so, in spite of Semitic
masters, the psychology of their own race affected their new faith. To
them the doctrines of Islam seemed unphilosophic and non-gnostic,
and so they felt compelled to interpret them in the light of their old
faiths with which they had been in touch and which appealed to them
deeply. Thus later Sufism was also a psychological reaction of
different peoples, especially the Persians, against the dogmas of Islam.
The latest school of Sufiism which felt Persian and Indian influences
and incorporated different glosses of Buddhism with its creed came in
the forefront under Bayazid of Bistam, who was not attached to any
old Sufi school. Bistami’s system was based on fana or absolute
annihilation in the Divine.Bayazid was so captivated by the
Vedantic conception of God that he used to say: ‘Glory to me, how
my glory is great.’
This school developed still further under Mansur al-Hallaj, who
invented the formula Ana’1-Haqq. This Sufiism transformed the
Buddhist legends and panegyrics and introduced them into Islam, In
Central Asia, where Buddhist legends were congealed around the
saints, Sufiism evolved a cult of saints. Pilgrimage, another Buddhist
practice, was also introduced. Besides this, Sufism borrowed the
Tariqa or Tariqat from the same source. Before being fana, the Sufi
seeker must tread by slow stages the Tariqat or the path to reach
Haqiqa or Haqiqat, Reality, or the goal of Union. The path comprised
repentance, abstinence, renunciation, poverty, patience, trust in God,
The Sufis of the Bayazid School were tolerant towards all and
attached little importance to Islamic dogmas. They were, therefore,
considered heretics and were often hanged or exiled. This alarmed
the adherents of the new Sufi thought and induced them to retrace
their steps and reenter the fold of the old Sufi school The Sufis in
general were not popular with the powerful orthodox. To avoid the
fury of the orthodox and to save their lives, all the Sufis
thenceforward recognized Muhammad as their ideal and tried to
deduce their thought from the allegorical sayings of the Qur’an.
Imagine there is no heaven
It’s easy if you try
No hell below us above us only sky
Imagine all the people living for today………
Imagine there is no country
It isn’t hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
No religion too
Imagine all the people, living there life in peace
You may say I am dreamer, but I am not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
Then the world is one……….
These are words of a visionary; words of revolutionary mind may be a delusional one but of a peace lover. These are words of John Lenon (Beatles). This is an illusion which have somewhat converged into a reality. It may not be how Mr. Lenon intended, but it has so. Day by day people, governments and countries understand the need to join, connect, come together and share their lives as one. The Question is, is it possible? Yes, it is, the only way people know, the ways of the Gengis Khan and Alexander, the way of Pharos and Rulers. By the balance of rich and poor, the weak and powerful. But the difference in this case is, not one man will be ruling many but one class ruling everyone else. What I am referring to is the phenomenon called globalization.
Globalization, the dictionary defines it process of making something worldwide. Well this definition alone gives me very ecstatic feelings. It sounds like we are all united but the truth is something else. What I am referring to is the incident economic globalization. We in fact are webbed in this occurrence and we have not realized this. The truth is economic globalization is the core cause of our failing economy. Not only Pakistan but also in numerous other developing countries is victim of this parasitic phenomenon.
The countries which receive economic assistance or aid from IMF, World Bank and other developed nations of the north are victims of a vicious cycle of burrowing and giving. These economic aids are in disguise are chains which are keeping us revolving in one place. This is a weight which is keeping us back and we just keep on taking and giving and in the end still have empty hands begging for more. Eastern Europe, Latin America, Africa and now Subcontinent is sinking in this puddle slowly.
The fact is in 1980 according to World Bank debt on developing countries was 580 billion dollars. By 2004 this debt had increased to 2800 bill dollars. A fourfold increase. The amount lent by World Bank was 705 bill dollars and they received back 922 billion dollars. Now there is a contradiction of 217 billion dollars. How is this? The problem is the transfer mechanism which is set up by these authorities (IMF, World Bank). Basically the interest rates applied on the underdeveloped countries are so high that burrowers must systematically increase their debt to meet the repayments. Meaning they have to borrow more money to get rid of the older debts.
How this is? How this cycle works? There are not just two parties involved in this circle, this cycle starts from the highest and goes to the lowest contenders. Let me explain. The capitalist of the peripheries (underdeveloped countries) borrow some amount at some interest rate from e.g. IMF, World Bank etc, and they transfer this amount in their country’s banks at some interest rate and then from these banks the small medium business owners, the salary earners and common people take loans. At each transition the interest rate increases. These steps are taken back the same way up in the returning process. Now including the external factors like corruption, state conditions, terrorism, trade etc, the money never fully recovers and in the end the most consequences are faced by the common man. The poor is poorer and rich is richer.
This is an unavoidable happening. Like many others we are also victim of this. The important thing is to understand this process and how to resist it. Resistance against globalization has started in many countries where people have become aware of this. Enormous protests and gathering s against globalization have occurred at G-8 Summits all over the world. First protest was held up by U.S air traffic control in 1982, then. In 1984 British Miners strike. The benchmark in resistance movement was set by people of Berlin when they attempted to derail IMF and World Bank’s annual meeting. After that at every G summit people turn up in unprecedented amounts to show the world their disagreement of this injustice. In 2002 at Washington 250,000 protester waved flags and fliers and showed their discontentment with economic policies of world’s leaders.
The recent turmoil in global economy is the product of this economic globalization. In America people are depressed and desolated because of huge credit card debts and loans. Dieses like depression, blood pressure have increased considerably and these have led to the point where people had lost hope and took their lives. “Suicide is permanent solution to all problems”. In Pakistan same situation is prevailing. Few years back when suddenly banks opened the markets and started leasing commodities like cars and houses, people became fanatical, and money was no longer a problem. But the consequences for countries like Pakistan are more severe. When chips went down so did the economy, banks raised their interests, money was not coming in, investments were gone and we had to go and sign more aid treaties.
The basic thing to understand is that when only hand full of organizations have control over many economies they have control over our lives. The more power is centralized more it can be manipulated. These are the reasons why we emphasize upon decentralization of power that is why we stress on breeding democracy. The people have the right to their own decisions.
These are not times of Genghis or Alexander. They are not coming to attack us with large armies and arms. They are already here. This system has been developed to devour us of our dignity and rid us of our shame, So that we can bend to their commands. They want to treat the weak like puppets. We work and they will eat. It is the new feudal system.
The question now is it too late? I don’t believe so. It’s never too late to do something right. There are ways in which we can turn the tables. We must join the world wide campaign against this evil. We must aware ourselves and all around us about the reality of this system. On a government scale if we could develop a community base system. Earnings of the people for the people. If we can manage to siphon the money among the community we would not need to take money from anywhere. I know it’s a farfetched idea but we need to try. On personal level if individually we make effort to save our money and don’t spend it before actually having it, we can make quite a difference. I know it sounds difficult and slow procedure, considering the current predicaments our country is in right now but we have to try. These small efforts will combine to become a large change and that might change our lives.
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