Bulleh Shah

Bulleh Shah (1680–1757) (Punjabi: بلہے شاہ, ) was a Punjabi Sufi poet, humanist and philosopher. His full name was Abdullah Shah.

Early life

Bulleh Shah is believed to have been born in 1680, in the small village of Uch, Bahawalpur, Punjab, in present day Pakistan. His father, Shah Muhammad Darwaish, was a teacher and preacher in a village mosque. Little is known about Bulleh Shah's ancestry except that some of his forebears were migrants from Uzbekistan, and that his family claimed direct descent from Muhammad. When he was six months old, his parents relocated to Malakwal. His father later got a job in Pandoke, about 50 miles southeast 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. Life 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 "facts" about his life have been pieced together from his own writings. Other "facts" seem to have been passed down through oral traditions. Bulleh Shah practiced the Sufi tradition of Punjabi poetry established by poets like Shah Hussain (1538–1599), Sultan Bahu (1629–1691), and Shah Sharaf (1640–1724). 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 (“truth seeking leader of the intoxicated ones”). Amongst Urdu poets, Bulleh Shah lived 400 miles away from Mir Taqi Mir (1723–1810) of Agra.

Poetry Style

The verse form Bulleh Shah primarily employed is called the Kafi, a style of Punjabi, Sindhi and Saraiki poetry used not only by the Sufis of Sindh and Punjab, but also by Sikh gurus. Bulleh Shah’s poetry and philosophy strongly criticizes the Islamic religious orthodoxy of his day .

A Beacon of Peace

Bulleh Shah's time was marked with communal strife between Muslims and Sikhs. But in that age Baba Bulleh Shah was a beacon 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 also hailed the ninth Sikh Guru, Guru Tegh Bahadur as a Ghazi, or "religious warrior", which caused controversy among Muslims of that time.