Madho Lal Hussain

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Madho Lal Hussain
مادھو لال حسین
The Shrine of Madho Lal Hussain in Lahore
The Shrine of Madho Lal Hussain in Lahore
Lahore, Mughal Empire, now Punjab, Pakistan
near Ravi River, Lahore, Mughal Empire, now Punjab, Pakistan
Resting placeDurbar Madho Lal Hussain, Baghbanpura, Lahore, Punjab, Pakistan
OccupationSufi poet

Shah Hussain (Urdu: شاہ حسین‎) was a 16th century Punjabi Sufi poet who is regarded as a pioneer of the Kafi form of Punjabi poetry. Hussain's love for a Hindu boy named "Madho" has resulted in them being referred to as a single person with the composite name of "Madho Lal Hussain" (Urdu: مادھو لال حسین‎).[1]


Shah Hussain is also often known as Shah Hussain Faqir - Faqir meaning Dervish ( mendicant ) and Shah means King. So due to his extremely humble Sufi personality, people called him The Dervish King, a person who was a King and a Dervish at the same time.


He was the son of Sheikh Usman, and belonged to the Dhudhi clan of Rajputs. He was born in Lahore in 1538, and also died there in 1599.[2][1]


His tomb and shrine is located at the Baghbanpura precincts, adjacent to the Shalimar Gardens Lahore, Pakistan. His Urs (annual death anniversary) is celebrated at his shrine every year during the "Mela Chiraghan" ("Festival of Lights").[2] Madho's tomb lies next to Hussain's in the shrine.[3]

Kafis of Shah Hussain[edit]

Hussain's poetry consists entirely of short poems known as Kafis.[4] A typical 'Hussain Kafi' contains a refrain and some rhymed lines. The number of rhymed lines is usually between four and ten. Only occasionally is a longer form adopted. Hussain's Kafis are also composed for, and the singing of them have been set to music based on Punjabi folk music. Many of his Kafis are part of the traditional Qawwali repertoire. His poems have been performed as songs by Kaavish, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Abida Parveen, Ghulam Ali, Hamid Ali Bela, Amjad Parvez, Junoon and Noor Jehan, among others.[5] "It may be asserted that poetry is often written to be sung. And all poetry carries, through manipulation of sound effects, some suggestion of music".[6]

Here are three examples, which draw on the famous love story of Heer Ranjha:

Ni Mai menoon Khedeyan di gal naa aakh
Ranjhan mera, main Ranjhan di,
Khedeyan noon koodi jhak
Lok janey Heer kamli hoi,
Heeray da var chak

Do not talk of the Khedas to me, mother.
I belong to Ranjha and he belongs to me.
And the Khedas dream idle dreams.
Let the people say, "Heer is crazy;
she has given herself to a cowherd."

Another Kafi:

Sajjan bin raatan hoiyan whadiyaan
Ranjha jogi, main jogiani, kamli kar kar sadiyaan
Maas jhurey jhur pinjer hoya, kadken lagiyaan haddiyaan
Main ayani niyoonh ki janan, birhon tannawan gadiyaan
Kahe Husain faqeer sain da, larr tere main lagiyaan

Main vi jaanaan jhok Ranjhan di, naal mere koi challey
Pairan paindi, mintaan kardi, jaanaan tan peya ukkaley
Neen vi dhoonghi, tilla purana, sheehan ney pattan malley
Ranjhan yaar tabeeb sadhendha, main tan dard awalley
Kahe Hussain faqeer namana, sain sunedha ghalley

The nights are long without my beloved.
Since Ranjha became a jogi, I have scarcely been my old self; people everywhere call me crazy.
My young flesh is all wrinkled, my bones are a creaking skeleton.
I was too young to understand love; and now as the nights swell and merge into each other,
I play host to that unkind guest – separation.

I have to go to Ranjha's hut, will someone go with me?
I have begged many to accompany me, but I had to set out alone.
The river is deep, and the shaky bridge creaks.
I am tortured by my wounds, but Ranjha my beloved is the doctor who can cure them.
Only my beloved can bring me comfort.

Two Kafis that are addressed to his Hindu disciple Madho Lal Hussain[7] need a special mention:

Madho Lal! Piyaare ki parwaasa dam da?
Udeyaa bhor theyaa pardesi aggey raah agam da!
Jinhaan saada shauh rijhaaya tinha nu bhow jam da?
Aakhey Hussain faqeer nimaana chhaddiye sareer bhasam da!

Ve Madho! Main wadda theyaa badnaam!
Raati pi ke dukh da piyaala tureyaa suwairon shaam!
Ki aakhaan main ki si peeti? Loki dassan haraam!
Kaafar aakhan saarey mainoon laawan sabh ilzaam!
Mukh fairan sabh maidey wallon naal kaddan dushnaam!
Rowey Hussain maidey Saain nu Madho chheti pej salaam!

Madho Lal! My dear what is this trust on life?
You fly out in the morning and become a stranger, to take on an unknown road!
Those that have pleased our Master in this life do they have to fear death which is the hereafter?
Says Hussain the pride less mendicant, cast off this body of ashes!

O Madho! I have been greatly defamed!
After drinking last night from my cup of sorrows, I have wandered from morning till evening.
What can I say that I had drunk of? People say it was the forbidden wine!
All here call me an infidel and accuse me of transgression!
They turn back their faces from me and abuse me!
Wails Hussain O Madho fast send my prayer to my Master!

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Sufis - Wisdom against Violence (profile of Madho Lal Hussain on website) Retrieved 5 November 2018
  2. ^ a b Annual Mela Chiraghan (Festival of Lights) in Lahore, Pakistan Dawn (newspaper), Published 4 April 2016, Retrieved 5 November 2018
  3. ^ Lal, Mohan. (2006) Encyclopaedia of Indian literature. Vol. 5, Sahitya Akademi, Delhi, p. 3940. ISBN 81-260-1221-8.
  4. ^ Hussain, Shah (1987). Kafiyan Shah Hussain: Kalaam Aur Urdu Tarjumah.
  5. ^ "Hamid Ali Bela sings Shah Hussain poem". Retrieved 5 November 2018.
  6. ^ "Profile of 'Shah Hussain'". Retrieved 5 November 2018.
  7. ^ Amin Naqshbandy, Sheikh Parvaiz (2001). Hazrat Maadho Laal Hussain. the University of Michigan: Umar Publications. p. 120.

Further reading[edit]

  • Great Sufi Poets of The Punjab, by R. M. Chopra, Iran Society, Kolkata, 1999.
  • Verses of a Lowly Fakir poetry of Madho Lal Hussein translated by Naveed Alam 2016. ISBN 0670088277

External links[edit]