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SOCIETY & CULTURE
societies - Wisdom and Challenges
SOUTH ASIAN FEATURE
and origin of Modern Art
Bengal's last roar?
Page 3 of 7
Bulleh Shah [1680-1758]
The ancestral village of Bulleh Shah was Uch Gilaniyan in Bahawalpur, Pakistan.
From there his family first shifted to Malakwal (District Multan, Pakistan) and then to Pandoke, which is about 14 miles southeast of Qasur (Pakistan). Bulleh's earlier name was Abdullah Shah, later on it changed to Bulleh. His family background was religious, his father being a highly religious person. Bulleh Shah was the disciple of a Qadiri Sufi.
Bulleh composed a lot of poetry in Saraiki, the local spoken language. His style of poetry is called Qafi, which was already an established style with Sufis who preceded him. The tomb of Bulleh Shah is in Qasur (Pakistan) and he is held in reverence by all Sufis of Sindh and Punjab.
The poem below is typical of Bulleh’s view of the world. He sees the common underlying reality that lies beneath the mundane, and rejoices in its all pervasiveness. This concept is similar to the monotheistic, omnipresent concept of God that we come across in Sikhism and the Upanishads.
"Maati kudam karendee yaar,
"The soil is in ferment, O friend
[Translation reference: book by J. R. Puri and T. R. Shangari of the Radha Swamis, titled Bulleh Shah].
According to the authors this kafi of Bulleh Shah reflects a tumultuous time in the history of Punjab. The poet perceives radical changes taking place in society around him. This was the middle of 18th century when the Sikh power was in the ascendancy and the Mughal power was waning. It was a time of chaos as there was no law and order. Bulleh Shah sees rampant corruption and societal decay. The general tone of the poem is pessimistic, as is obvious.
"Ulte hor zamane aaye,
"Perverse times have come,
Dohra - Bulleh Shah
" Pi sharaab tey kha kabab, heth baal haddaan di ag,
Bulleha bhan ghar rab da, ais thuggan de thug noo thug."
Drench yourself in wine and feast on roasted flesh, roasting in the fires flaming out of the bones. O Bulleha, break into the house of God and swindle the cheat of cheats.
Note the commonalties found between Bulleh Shah and Shah Lateef who were
contemporaries. They had almost the same experiences of the turbulent period
in which they lived. Shah Lateef (1690-1752) and Bulleh Shah (1680-1758) had
witnessed the death of Aurangzeb, the last of the great Mughals who was
responsible for the murder of his brother Dara Shikoh and Sarmad, the Sufi
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