An artistic depiction of Bulleh Shah
Uch, Punjab, Mughal Empire
(Modern day Pakistan)
Kasur, Punjab, Mughal Empire
(Modern day Pakistan)
|Honored in||Islam, Sikhism|
|Influences||Shah Hussain, Sultan Bahu, Shah Sharaf and Sikh Gurus|
|Influenced||Countless Sufi poets|
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A large amount of what is believed to be known about Bulleh Shah comes through legends, and is subjective; to the point that there isn’t even agreement among historians concerning his precise date and place of birth. Some information about his life has been pieced together from his own writings. Other "facts" seem to have been passed down through oral traditions.
Bulleh Shah is believed to have been born in 1680 in the small village of Uch, Punjab, in present-day Pakistan. His father, Shah Muhammad Darwaish, was a teacher and preacher in a village mosque. Bulleh Shah's ancestry except that his family claimed direct descent from the tribe Banu Hashim, the tribe of Islamic Prophet Muhammad.
When he was six months old, his parents relocated to Malakwal. His father later got a job in Pandoke[disambiguation needed], about 50 miles south-east of Kasur. Bulleh Shah received his early schooling in Pandoke and moved to Kasur for higher education. He also received education from Maulana Mohiyuddin. His spiritual teacher was the Qadiri Sufi Shah Inayat Qadiri, who was a member of the Arain tribe of Lahore.
Bulleh Shah's time was marked with communal strife between Muslims and Sikhs. But in that age Baba Bulleh Shah was a saint of hope and peace for the citizens of Punjab. While Bulleh Shah was in Pandoke, Muslims killed a young Sikh man who was riding through their village in retaliation for murder of some Muslims by Sikhs. Baba Bulleh Shah denounced the murder of an innocent Sikh and was censured by the mullas and muftis of Pandoke. Bulleh Shah maintained that violence was not the answer to violence.
Bulleh Shah died in 1757 in Kasur. Tradition has it that Islamic scholars of the time forbade local imams to carry out Bulleh Shah's funeral, considering him an infidel. However, after he was buried outside of the city, his tomb started attracting thousands of pilgrims from the region, and soon the center of Kasur moved to that place. Today, a large festival (urs) is celebrated at the tomb every year.
Bulleh Shah lived in the same period as the Sindhi Sufi poet Shah Abdul Latif Bhatai (1689–1752). His lifespan also overlapped with the Punjabi poet Waris Shah (1722–1798), of Heer Ranjha fame, and the Sindhi Sufi poet Abdul Wahab (1739–1829), better known by his pen name Sachal Sarmast. Amongst Urdu poets, Bulleh Shah lived 400 miles away from Mir Taqi Mir (1723–1810) of Agra.
Bulleh Shah’s writings represent him as a humanist, someone providing solutions to the sociological problems of the world around him as he lives through it, describing the turbulence his motherland of Punjab is passing through, while concurrently searching for God. His poetry highlights his mystical spiritual voyage through the four stages of Sufism: Shariat (Path), Tariqat (Observance), Haqiqat (Truth) and Marfat (Union). The simplicity with which Bulleh Shah has been able to address the complex fundamental issues of life and humanity is a large part of his appeal. Thus, many people have put his kafis to music, from humble street-singers to renowned Sufi singers like Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Pathanay Khan, Abida Parveen, the Waddali Brothers and Sain Zahoor, from the synthesized techno qawwali remixes of UK-based Asian artists to the Pakistani rock band Junoon.
In the 1990s Junoon, a rock band from Pakistan, rendered his poems Bullah Ki Jaana and Aleph (Ilmon Bas Kareen O Yaar). In 2004, Rabbi Shergill turned the abstruse metaphysical poem Bullah Ki Jaana into a rock/fusion song that gained popularity in India and Pakistan. The Wadali Bandhu, a Punjabi Sufi group from India, have also released a version of Bullah Ki Jaana in their album Aa Mil Yaar... Call of the Beloved. Another version was performed by Lakhwinder Wadali and entitled Bullah. Dama Dam Mast Qalandar, a qawwali composed in honour of Shahbaz Qalandar, has been one of Bulleh Shah's most popular poems and has been frequently rendered by many Indian, Pakistani and Bangladeshi singers including Noor Jehan, Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Abida Parveen, Sabri Brothers, Wadali brothers, Reshman, Runa Laila, and Arieb Azhar. Other qawwali song by Shah, include Sade Vehre Aya Kar and Mera Piya Ghar Aaya.
Bulleh Shah's verses like Tere Ishq Nachaya have also been adapted and used in Bollywood film songs including Chaiyya Chaiyya and Thayya Thayya in the 1998 film Dil Se.., and "Ranjha Ranjha" in the 2010 film Raavan. Released in 2004, Rabbi Shergill's debut album Rabbi featured Bulla Ki Jana; the song was a chart-topper in 2005, helping the album to eventually sell over 100,00 copies. The 2007 Pakistani movie Khuda Kay Liye includes Bulleh Shah's poetry in the song Bandeya Ho. The 2008 film A Wednesday, included a song titled Bulle Shah, O Yaar Mere. In 2009, the first episode of the second season of Pakistan's Coke Studio featured Aik Alif performed by Sain Zahoor and Noori, while a year later, the first episode of the third season featured Na Raindee Hai and Makke Gayaan Gal Mukdi Nahi performed by Arieb Azhar. In 2013, Rabbi Shergill performed his composition of Bulla Ki Jana (originally released on his debut album in 2004) at the Hum TV Awards in Karachi, Pakistan.
Bulleh Shah's verses have been an inspiration to painters as well, as in the two series of paintings (Jogia Dhoop and Shah Shabad) by an Indian painter Geeta Vadhera inspired by the poetry of Bulleh Shah and other Sufi poets and saints.
- Bulleh Shah: the love-intoxicated iconoclast, by J. R. Puri, Tilaka Raj Shangri. Radha Soami Satsang Beas, 1986
- Great Sufi Poets of The Punjab, by R. M. Chopra, Iran Society, Kolkata, 1999.
- Bulleh Shah poetry
- Articles on Bulleh Shah's life and poetry (apna.org)
- Bulleh Shah: Poems (English translations) and Biography (poetry-chaikhana.com)
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Bulleh Shah.|
- Short biography of Bulleh Shah
- Biography of Bulleh Shah
- Littérateurs of the Punjabi language
- Complete poetry of Bulleh Shah in Shahmukhi
|Sufism and Tariqa|