Biography of Bulleh Shah
Bulleh Shah Qadiri Shatari, often referred to simply as Bulleh Shah (Punjabi: بلہے شاہ, ਬੁੱਲ੍ਹੇ ਸ਼ਾਹ, Hindi: बुल्ले शाह) whose real name was Abdullah Shah, was a Punjabi Sufi poet, a humanist and philosopher.
Bulleh Shah is believed to have been born in 1680, in the small village of Uch, Bahawalpur, Punjab, now in Pakistan.
When he was six months old, his parents relocated to Malakwal. There his father, Shah Muhammad Darwaish, was a preacher in the village mosque and a teacher. 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 eminent Sufi saint, Shah Inayat Qadiri, from Arain tribe of Lahore Punjab.
Little is known about Bulleh Shah's direct ancestors, except that they were migrants from Uzbekistan. However, Bulleh Shah's family was directly descended from the Prophet Muhammad.
A large amount of what is 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, Sultan Bahu, and Shah Sharaf.
Bulleh Shah lived in the same period as the Sindhi Sufi poet, Shah Abdul Latif Bhatai. His lifespan also overlapped with the Punjabi poet Waris Sha, of Heer Ranjha fame, and the Sindhi Sufi poet Abdul Wahab, 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 of Agra.
The verse form Bulleh Shah primarily employed is called the Kafi, a style of Punjabi, Sindhi and Siraiki poetry used not only by the Sufis of Sindh and Punjab, but also by Sikh gurus.
Bulleh Shah’s poetry and philosophy strongly criticizes 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.
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 the Waddali Brothers, Abida Parveen and Pathanay Khan, from the synthesized techno qawwali remixes of UK-based Asian artists to the rock band Junoon.
Bulleh Shah’s popularity stretches uniformly across Hindus, Sikhs and Muslims, to the point that much of the written material about this philosopher is from Hindu and Sikh authors.
In the 1990s Junoon, a rock band from Pakistan, rendered such poems as Aleph (Ilmon Bas Kareen O Yaar) and Bullah Ki Jaana. In 2004, Rabbi Shergill performed the unlikely feat of turning the abstruse metaphysical poem Bullah Ki Jaana into a Rock/Fusion song, which became hugely popular in India and Pakistan. The Wadali Bandhu, a Punjabi Sufi group from India, also released a version of Bullah Ki Jaana on their album Aa Mil Yaar...Call of the Beloved. Another version was performed by Lakhwinder Wadali titled Bullah. Bulleh Shah's verses have also been adapted and used in Bollywood film songs. Examples include the songs "Chaiyya Chaiyya" and "Thayya Thayya" in the 1998 film Dil Se. 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, Episode One of Pakistan's Coke Studio Season 2 featured a collaboration between Sain Zahoor and Noori, "Aik Alif". In June 2010 Coke Studio 3 Episode One featured "Na Raindee Hai" performed by Arieb Azhar. His tomb is located in Kasur, Pakistan.
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Bulleh Shah Poems
Going To Makkah Is Not The Ultimate
Going to Makkah is not the ultimate Even if hundreds of prayers are offered
Look Into Yourself
You have learnt so much And read a thousand books. Have you ever read your Self? You have gone to mosque and temple
Bulla! I Know Not Who I Am
Bulla! I know not who I am Nor am I a believer of the mosque, Nor am I in rituals of the infidel Nor am I the pure inside the impure.
You Alone Exist
You alone exist; I do not, O Beloved! You alone exist, I do not! Like the shadow of a house in ruins, I revolve in my own mind.
Neither Hindu Nor Muslim
Neither Hindu nor Muslim, Sacrificing pride, let us sit together. Neither Sunni nor Shia, Let us walk the road of peace.
Come My Love
Come my love take care of me, I am in great agony.
Enough Is Enough
Enough is enough Talk to me with smile
Enough Of Learning, My Friend!
Stay Silent To Survive
People cannot stand to hear the truth. They are at your throat if you speak it. They keep away from those who speak it. But truth is sweet to its lovers!
Why Should I Go To Kaaba
Why should I go to Kaaba, When I long for Takht Hazaara?
If The Divine Is Found Through Ablutions
If the divine is found through ablutions surely frogs and fish would find him first if the divine is hidden in jungles
I'M Going Together With Jogi
Going to Makkah is not the ultimate Even if hundreds of prayers are offered Going to River Ganges is not the ultimate Even if hundreds of cleansing (Baptisms) are done
At This One Point, All Talk Ends
At this one point,all talk ends. Hold tight to this point, forget your calculations, Leave the miserable state of unbelief, Do not torment yourself with the fear of death and hell,
Do Come To Me
You may not take notice of me But do come to me I am a sacrifice unto you Do come to me
You Alone Exist
You alone exist; I do not, O Beloved!
You alone exist, I do not!
Like the shadow of a house in ruins,
I revolve in my own mind.
If I speak, you speak with me:
If I am silent, you are in my mind.
If I sleep, you sleep with me:
If I walk, you are along my path.
Oh Bulleh, the spouse has come to my house: