Bulleh Shah was born in Syed’s family in 1680. His family was residing near Qusur of Punjab. It was the reign of the Mughal Empire Aurangzeb. However, he spent his early life in Multan. Moreover, his father was a religious teacher in Multan. Therefore, he taught the basics of Arabic and Persian from his father.
Inayat was his mentor
As Shah was a spiritual seeker since his childhood. Therefore, he became a disciple of Arian Shah Inayat. But, Bulleh Shah had to face strong opposition from his family. His family was not happy to be the disciple of Inayat. It is because Inyat belong to a poor family.
Shah also calls his Murshid Shah Enayat a Tabib:
Similarly, Bulleh Shah says:
Come soon oh Tabib, or I die
Your love has made me dance with excitement.
Bulleh Shah was an eminent scholar of Arabic and Persian. Similarly, the poetic compositions of Bulleh Shah have an influence on Islamic thought and Sufism. Moreover, the knowledge of religion and philosophy had helped him in acquiring greater spiritual realization. Consequently, he attained that spiritual realization under the guidance of his spiritual mentor Shah Inayat.
Similarly, Shah Hussain, Bulleh Shah, and Waris Shah belonged to the Mughal period. Babar became the first Mughal emperor in the 16th century. Moreover, Akbar (1556-1605) tried to establish a religious eclecticism. Then, the best elements of all religions known to him contained in a unified form. In addition to it, the mystical movement also aimed at the unification of Hindus and Muslims.
Them of love in his poetry.
Similarly, the theme of love plays an important role in Punjabi classical poetry. Furthermore, love is often the central concern of it. As Quran speaks of love in a number of key verses: “He loves them and they love him”
Moreover, treading the path of love, one must have control over his five senses
Shah says about love:
Now we are lost.
In the city of love.
We are renewing and reorganizing ourselves.
We are intoxicated with love and are not conscious of ourselves.
The symbol of love in Punjabi poetry is the lover, who is a traveler. And who is going on a journey of self-discovery?
In Punjabi poetry, the female lover is jubilant, anxious, pulsating, brimming with the possibilities of life. She is colored in the color of the beloved.
Bulleh Shah in the same way, becomes the female lover (Heer) and says:
I have strange pains of separation. Come Oh! Ranjha, forgive my shortcomings and faults.
It is you, have entangled me with the string and pulling me towards you.
After repeating his name again and again I have myself transformed into Ranjha.
Look at which position Heer Sial has reached. She has become Ranjha herself
Saints beyond religions.
The Qadri’s of Punjab were famous for their philosophic tendency. They were saint of beyond religion. Hindu spiritual doctrine has great impact upon their spiritual learning.
In the year 1575, Shah Hussain turned into an intoxicated poet. Shah Hussain lived in a time when the various Sufi movements were on the rise. They would have had to challenge the orthodox status quo. Mahdavi and Roshnai ements are the unquote examples of such movements.
There are structures of domination, fragmentation of prejudices in our society. They are internalized in the system. Similarly, the poets are sensitive to express them. Negating these attitudes Bulleh Shah says:
I am neither a Muslim in the mosque,
Nor am I a non-believer,
I am not a pure among the polluted,
I am neither Moses nor Pharaoh.
Similarly, Bulleh Shah lived in one of the most uncertain times. Moreover, the social fabric was destructed. The invasions, upheaval and lack of security are a few causes. As it is, Bulleh Shah chose pen to fight with the society. Therefore, his poems became the voice of the poor.
Kafi is a well-known genre of Punjabi poetry which Shah Hussain composed in his ragas. Furthermore, Bulleh Shah and Ghulam Farid carried Kafi to sublimity. There is a tradition that earlier its name was Kami (related to kam, sensuality, and Love, which later changed into Kafi. the majority believe that kafi means Kamil or perfect. Mian Muhammad Bakhsh another great Sufi poet of his time (1830-1907) has acknowledged the importance and divinity of Bulleh Shah’s Kafi in these words:
“Listening Bulleh Shah’s kafis
Rids one of blasphemy
He, indeed has swum
God’s ocean of eternity”.
According to Dr. Mohan Singh Diwana, there are only fifty kafis of Shah. They are genuinely attributed to him. The other work, which is attributed to Bulleh Shah, is unauthentic according to Diwana. The majority of Bulleh Shah’s poetic compositions are in this form of sufi poetry. This form of poetry was not new in Sufi traditions.
Guru Nanak had written three kafis. Furthermore, five kafis can be found in Holy Granth. Many other Sikh Gurus had also written in this form. At times kafis deals with social and political themes as well. Bulleh Shah says in one of his kafis:
“Strange are the times!
Crows Swoop down on Hawks.
Sparrows do Eagles Stalk.
Strange are the times!
The Iraqis are despised
While the donkeys are prized.
Strange are the times!
Those with Coarse blankets are Kings.
The erstwhile Kings watch from the ring.
Strange are the times!
It is not without rhyme or reason.
Strange are the times!”