Waris Shah

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Not to be confused with Waris Ali Shah.
Waris Shah (وارث شاہ)
Born 1722
Jandiala Sher Khan, Sheikhupura, Punjab
Died 1798
Malka Hans, Pakpattan, Punjab
Occupation Poet
Genre Sufi poetry
Notable works Heer Ranjha-A Classic Book on their love story

Peer Syed Waris Shah (Punjabi: وارث شاہ, ਵਾਰਿਸ ਸ਼ਾਹ) (1722–1798) was a Punjabi Sufi poet of Chisti order, renowned for his contribution to Punjabi literature. He is best known for his seminal work Heer Ranjha, based on the traditional folk tale of Heer and her lover Ranjha. Heer is considered one of the quintessential works of classical Punjabi literature. The story of Heer was also told by several other writers, including notable versions by Damodar Das, Mukbal, and Ahmed Gujjar, but Waris Shah's version is by far the most popular today and is most widely quoted.


Waris Shah was born in Jandiala Sher Khan, Punjab,(present day Pakistan) into a reputed Sayyid family and was a descendant of Sayyid Muhammad Al-Makki through his son Sayyid Badruddin.[1] His father was Gulsher Shah. Although Waris spent years in search of the perfect spiritual guide,[2] Waris acknowledged himself as a disciple of Ustad of Kasur. Waris's parents are said to have died when he was young, and he probably received his education at the shrine of his preceptor. After completing his education in Kasur, he moved to Malka Hans, a village twelve kilometers north of Pakpattan. Here he resided in a small room, adjacent to a historic masjid, now called Masjid Waris Shah. His mausoleum is a place of pilgrimage today, especially for those in love. The mausoleum complex was completed in 1978 and is a mixture of the Lahore School Architecture and Tughlaq Architecture.

Shakespeare of Punjabi language[edit]

Waris Shah is also called Shakespeare of the Punjabi language because of his great poetic love story, Heer Ranjha. it is said that through this story of romantic love, he tried to portray the love of man for God (the quintessential subject of Sufi literature).

He was a consummate artiste, deeply learned in Sufi and domestic cultural lore. His verse is a treasure-trove of Punjabi phrases, idioms and sayings. His minute and realistic depiction of each detail of Punjabi life and the political situation in the 18th century, remains unique.Some people say that poet Waris Shah sublimated his own unrequited love in his own real life for a girl named 'Bhag Bhari' which later became the foundation for writing this book about romance between Heer & Ranjha.

Heer of Waris Shah[edit]

Waris Shah is considered one of the greatest Punjabi poet among others such as Sultan Bahoo, Hussain Shah and holds the same position in Punjabi which Shakespeare has in English and Kalidas in Sanskrit. Punjabi literature is ever indebted to him for giving an honourable status to the language, composite civilization and culture of the Punjab. The tale of Heer and Ranjha is the principal composition of the master-poet which is encyclopedic in its comprehension, above all religious, communal and parochial barriers; it is poetry of human heart, universal in its outlook, mystic in its appeal and Sufis have discovered in it gems of divine knowledge. In short, the story of Heer and Ranjha, as depicted by Waris Shah, is an album of colourful and enchanting pictures of life in the Punjab, of varied views but always deeply absorbing.[3] The story is based on a Sufi's transition from Ishq-e-Majazi(metaphorical love) to Ishq-e-Haqeeqi(divine love).[4]


Many verses of Waris Shah are widely used in Punjab in a moral context. Some are very popular:

"Waris Shah; Naa adataan jaandiyan ne, Bhavein katiye poriyan poriyan ji"
A man never abandons his habits, even if he is hacked to pieces.

"Waris rann, faqir, talwar, ghora; Chare thok eh kisse de yar nahin"
Waris says that woman, mendicant, sword and horse, All the four are never friends of anyone.

Again Waris Shah says: "Waris Shah faqir di aqal kithe; eh pattian ishq padhiyan hun"
It is beyond the wisdom of Faqeer Waris Shah (to write this qissa) (But) these lessons are taught by Love

"Eh rooh qalboot da zikr sara nal aqal de mel bulaya ee"
This entire reference is about Soul meeting with the Divine Beloved which has been contrived with great wisdom.

Portrayal in media[edit]

Waris Shah's life has been fictionalised in Punjabi films. In 1964 a Pakistani film titled Waris Shah featured Inayat Hussain Bhatti in the title role. In 2006, a Punjabi movie Waris Shah: Ishq Daa Waaris on the life of Waris Shah was released in India. Waris Shah was portrayed by Gurdas Mann.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Naqvi, Sayyid Maqsood, ed. (1991). Riaz Al-Ansab. Izhar Sons Printer. p. 684. 
  2. ^ Sakhi Sult̤ān Mohammad Najib-ur-Rehman. Perfect Spiritual Guide (Murshid-e-Kamil Akmal). Sultan-ul-Faqr Publications. 
  3. ^ Chopra, R M (1999). Great Sufi Poets of the Punjab. Calcutta: Iran Society. 
  4. ^ Mohammad Najib ur Rehman, Hazrat Sakhi Sultan. Ishq-e-Haqeeqi (Divine Love). Sultan ul Faqr Publications Regd. ISBN 9789699795183. 
  1. ^ From the book Heer Waris Shah (Chatur Singh Jeevan Singh) in Gurmukhi.
  2. "Great Sufi Poets of The Punjab", by R M Chopra, Iran Society, Calcutta, 1999 in English.

External links[edit]

Further reading[edit]

"Great Sufi Poets of The Punjab" by R. M. Chopra, 1999.