Ruminations from Kasur

Remembering the mystic whose message transcended caste, religion and power in seventeenth century Punjab. Born in 1680 and named Abdullah Shah in a Syed family, he found a Murshid (spiritual master) in Shah Inayat, a man from a lower caste.

 

Na Raindee Hai, a Kalam by Bulleh Shah.

The world is a slippery place;     Tread carefully for ‘tis dark;

Go inside see who’s there;    Why do the people search outside;

What’s on the tongue must be said;     Bullah, the beloved is not separate from us;

Besides the beloved there is naught;   But the discerning eye is missing;

Therefore life endures separation;    What’s on the tongue must be said;

Learning through the rote of books you call yourself a scholar;

Grasping the sword in your hand you call yourself a warrior;

Having visited Mecca and Medina you call yourself a pilgrim;

Bullah, what have you accomplished if you have not remained true to your friend!

 

Photographs taken by Hoshyaar contributor Bushra Shehzad and packaged by Hosh media, a volunteer-based organization that aims to bring youth voices on to the mainstream media.

 

The central courtyard outside the shrine of the great Sufi poet Bulleh Shah (1680–1758) in Kasur, Punjab. A lot of what is known about Bulleh Shah comes from legends. Historians still debate the precise date and place of his birth, but it is believed that he was born around 1680, in the village of Uch, in Bahawalpur. It is also believed that he received his early schooling in Pandoke, a village in Gujranwala, before he moved 50 miles southwest to Kasur for his higher education.
The central courtyard outside the shrine of the great Sufi poet Bulleh Shah (1680–1758) in Kasur, Punjab. A lot of what is known about Bulleh Shah comes from legends. Historians still debate the precise date and place of his birth, but it is believed that he was born around 1680, in the village of Uch, in Bahawalpur. It is also believed that he received his early schooling in Pandoke, a village in Gujranwala, before he moved 50 miles southwest to Kasur for his higher education.
A malang sitting in the courtyard of the shrine. Malangs are disciples of saints who have given up worldly pleasures for inner spirituality. They often play music and dance outside shrines.
A malang sitting in the courtyard of the shrine. Malangs are disciples of saints who have given up worldly pleasures for inner spirituality. They often play music and dance outside shrines.
A stall in the outer courtyard of Bulleh Shah’s shrine with sacred ritual items like mannat ke karay (ritual wish bracelets) rings and pamplets with Bulleh Shah's poetry. Bulleh Shah practiced the Sufi tradition of Punjabi poetry established by poets like Shah Hussain, Sultan Bahu, and Shah Sharaf.
A stall in the outer courtyard of Bulleh Shah’s shrine with sacred ritual items like mannat ke karay (ritual wish bracelets) rings and pamplets with Bulleh Shah's poetry. Bulleh Shah practiced the Sufi tradition of Punjabi poetry established by poets like Shah Hussain, Sultan Bahu, and Shah Sharaf.
A sign by the Punjab Auqaf, Religious & Minority Affairs Department, posted outside the main building housing Bulleh Shah’s tomb, forbidding women from entering the tomb. Bulleh Shah’s poetry and philosophy strongly criticizes Islamic religious orthodoxy of his day. His poetry or kal?m always seeks theological knowledge through debate and argument.
A sign by the Punjab Auqaf, Religious & Minority Affairs Department, posted outside the main building housing Bulleh Shah’s tomb, forbidding women from entering the tomb. Bulleh Shah’s poetry and philosophy strongly criticizes Islamic religious orthodoxy of his day. His poetry or kal?m always seeks theological knowledge through debate and argument.
A woman is seen praying outside the tomb of Bulleh shah. She is tying a mannat ka dhaga (a ritual wish string)  to the wall, available outside the tomb.
A woman is seen praying outside the tomb of Bulleh shah. She is tying a mannat ka dhaga (a ritual wish string) to the wall, available outside the tomb.
A malang dancing to a Sufi kal?m being sung by other malangs at Bulleh Shah's shrine. Music and dance are acts of devotion to the patron saints and are representative of how the malangs have surrendered everything material to find inner peace.
A malang dancing to a Sufi kal?m being sung by other malangs at Bulleh Shah's shrine. Music and dance are acts of devotion to the patron saints and are representative of how the malangs have surrendered everything material to find inner peace.
Devotees at the resting place of Bulleh Shah. The appeal of Bulleh Shah’s verses has transcended generations and centuries because it breakdowns complex existential questions of life and society into simple solutions grounded in humanity.
Devotees at the resting place of Bulleh Shah. The appeal of Bulleh Shah’s verses has transcended generations and centuries because it breakdowns complex existential questions of life and society into simple solutions grounded in humanity.
Young boys at the shrine offer Fateha. The verse form Bulleh Shah primarily employed is called the Kafi, a style of Punjabi, Sindhi and Siraiki Sufi poetry, that is also used  by Sikh gurus.  Many musicians have drawn inspiration from his Kafis, including renowned  singers Abida Parveen, Arif Lohar, Arieb Azhar, and Sain Zahoor, and bands Junoon and Noori.
Young boys at the shrine offer Fateha. The verse form Bulleh Shah primarily employed is called the Kafi, a style of Punjabi, Sindhi and Siraiki Sufi poetry, that is also used by Sikh gurus. Many musicians have drawn inspiration from his Kafis, including renowned singers Abida Parveen, Arif Lohar, Arieb Azhar, and Sain Zahoor, and bands Junoon and Noori.
Dia's outside the tomb of Bulleh Shah. People come and light these dias after praying at the tomb. The oil is said to have healing powers and people smear it over their hair. Bulleh Shah lived in the same period as the Sindhi Sufi poet, Shah Abdul Latif Bhatai Punjabi poet Waris Shah 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”).
Dia's outside the tomb of Bulleh Shah. People come and light these dias after praying at the tomb. The oil is said to have healing powers and people smear it over their hair. Bulleh Shah lived in the same period as the Sindhi Sufi poet, Shah Abdul Latif Bhatai Punjabi poet Waris Shah 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”).
A Malang outside the shrine of Bulleh shah with his alms bowl. Bulleh Shah's time was marked with communal strife between Muslims and Sikhs. Legend says, 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.  Bulleh Shah denounced the murder of an innocent Sikh, maintaining that violence was not the answer to violence.  He was later censured by the Mullas and Muftis of Pandoke. He also hailed the ninth Sikh Guru, Gu
A Malang outside the shrine of Bulleh shah with his alms bowl. Bulleh Shah's time was marked with communal strife between Muslims and Sikhs. Legend says, 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. Bulleh Shah denounced the murder of an innocent Sikh, maintaining that violence was not the answer to violence. He was later censured by the Mullas and Muftis of Pandoke. He also hailed the ninth Sikh Guru, Gu
A beggar on the stairs of the shrine of Baba Kamal Chisti in Kasur.
A beggar on the stairs of the shrine of Baba Kamal Chisti in Kasur.
A view of the graveyard at the shrine of Baba Kamal Chisti. Kamal Chishti was a contemporary and a friend of Bulleh Shah and his shrine of is a couple of miles from Bulleh Shah's tomb.
A view of the graveyard at the shrine of Baba Kamal Chisti. Kamal Chishti was a contemporary and a friend of Bulleh Shah and his shrine of is a couple of miles from Bulleh Shah's tomb.

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