July / August  2006





August/September Contents 

Sufis - wisdom against

 Sufi poet saints

 50 years of mountain

 Interviews with:
 Ajaz Anwar
Iqbal Hussain
Kamil Mumtaz

 Heritage cities:
 Taxila Dharmrajika
 Bhera - Part I
Bhera - Part II


Cotton - the fibre of

Cotton textiles of
 South Asia

 Handlooms & Dyes

 Hiran Minar


 Lahore Gymkhana

 B2B - Part I

B2B - Part II

Optical Networks I
Optical Networks II

Role of Internet in
 S Asian development

Technology and
 investment in US
 stock markets

Security & Trust in
 Internet banking

 Telecom & software
 - trends & future in
 South Asia

China & India - major
 players by 2025

Pakistan - IT Markets
Part I
Part II
Part III
Part IV








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Sufis - Wisdom against Violence



Salman Minhas

First published April 2001

Madho Lal Shah Hussain [1538 - 1599]

The story goes that Madho Lal [a Hindu Brahmin] and Shah Hussain [a Muslim Sufi] were great friends and to immortalise the friendship between the two, Shah Hussain decided to call himself Madho Lal Hussain.

Shalamar Garden, Lahore, Pakistan

Outside the walls of the Shalamar Gardens in Lahore, there is held an annual festival at the time of Spring harvest called "Mela Chiraghan" or the Festival of Lights, close to the grave of Lal Hussain. In the songs of the village minstrels and the dancers' movements, the myth of Lal Hussain once again is reborn. Grandson of a convert weaver, Lal Hussain embarrassed everyone by aspiring to the privilege of learning.

Hussainís poetry consists entirely of short poems known as "Kafis", usually 4 to ten lines, designed for musical compositions, to be interpreted by the singing voices. The rhythm and the refrain are so balanced as to bring about a varying, evolving musical pattern... folk songs that draw on the emotional experience of the community.... record the reactions to the cycle of birth and the play of desire against the rhythms of hope , despair, exultation and nostalgia.

Today most of these Kafis are sung, by well know singers and some have even been used as songs in the Indian Film Industry.

Madho Lal Hussain's  Kafis

All translations are from Najam Hosainís book quoted above.

Lifeís Journey - limits & boundaries

Main wi janan dhok Ranjhan di, naal mare koi challey
Pairan paindi, mintan kardi, jaanan tan peya ukkaley
Neen wi dhoonghi, tilla purana, sheehan ney pattan malley
Ranjhan yaar tabeeb sadhendha, main tan dard awalley
Kahe Husain faqeer namana, sain senhurray ghalley

Travelers, I too have to go; I have to go to the solitary hut of Ranjha. Is there any one who will go with me? I have begged many to accompany me and now I set out alone. Travelers, is there no one who could go with me?

The River is deep and the shaky bridge creaks as people step on it. And the ferry is a known haunt of tigers. Will no one go with me to the lonely hut of Ranjha?

During long nights I have been tortured by my raw wounds. I have heard he in his lonely hut knows the sure remedy. Will no one come with me, travelers?



On separation

Sujjen bin raatan hoiyan wadyan
Ranjha jogi, main jogiani, kamli kar kar sadian
Maas jhurey jhur pinjer hoyya, karkan lagiyan hadiyan
Main ayani niyoonh ki janan, birhoon tannawan gadiyan
Kahe Husain faqeer sain da, larr tairay main lagiyaan

Nights swell and merge into each other as I stand await for him.
Since the day Ranjha became jogi, I have scarcely been my old self and people every where call me crazy. My young flesh crept into creases leaving my young bones a creaking skeleton. I was too young to know the ways of love; and now as the nights swell and merge into each other, I play host to that unkind guest - separation.


Female freedom

Ni Mai menoon Kherian di gal naa aakh
Ranjhan mera, main Ranjhan di, Kherian noon koori jhak
Lok janey Heer kamli hoi, Heeray da wer chak

Do not talk of the Kheras* to me,

Oh mother do not .
I belong to Ranjha and he belongs to me.
And the Kheras dream idle dreams.
Let the people say, "Heer is crazy; she has given her-self to the cowherd." He alone knows what it all means.
O mother, he alone knows.
Please mother, do not talk to me of Kheras.

*The Kheras were a wealthy family.

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 Bullehís 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,
Vaah vaah maati de gulzaar;
Maati ghora maati jora, maati daa aswaar,
Maati maati nu (n) dorave, maati daa chankaar.

Maati maati nu(n) maaran lag-gee, maati de hathiyaar.
Jis maati par bahutee maati, so maati hankaar;
Maati baagh bagheechaa maati, maati dee gulzaar.
Maati maati nu (n) vekhan aayee, maati dee a bahar;

Hus khed phir maati hove, paindee pau pasaar.
Bullah ja(n) eh bujhaarat buj-jhe,
Taa(n) lah bhau siro(n) maar."


"The soil is in ferment, O friend
Behold the diversity.
The soil is the horse, so is the rider
The soil chases the soil, and we hear the clanging of soil
The soil kills the soil, with weapons of the soil.
That soil with more on it, is arrogance
The soil is the garden so is its beauty
The soil admires the soil in all its wondrous forms
After the circle of life is done it returns to the soil
Answer the riddle O Bulleh, and take this burden off my head."

[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,
Hun asaan bhed sajjan de paaye.
kaa(n) laggad nun maaran lagge,
chiriyan jurre khaaye
iraqiyan nun chabuk paunde,
gade khood khavaye
aapneyan vich ulfat naahee,
ke-he chaachche taaye
piyo puttran ittfaak naa kaahee,
dheeyan naal naa maaye
sachcheyan nun hun milde dhakke,
jhoothe kol bahaaye
agle jaaye bankaale baithe,
pichliyan farash vichaye
Bullah jina hukam hazooron andaa,
tina nun kaun hataaye."

"Perverse times have come,
I know the mystery of the beloved
crows have begun to hunt hawks,
and sparrows feed on falcons
horses bear the whipping,
while donkeys graze on lush green
no love is lost between relatives,
be they younger or elder uncles
There is no accord between fathers and sons,
Nor any between mothers and daughters
The truthful ones are being pushed about,
the tricksters are seated close by
The front liners have become wretched,
the back benchers sit on carpets
Those in tatters have turned into kings,
the kings have taken to begging
O Bulleh, that which is His command
who can alter His decree."


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 poet.




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