Shah Abdul Latif Bhittai and his work on music

Shah Abdul Latif Bhittai and his work on music

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A Brief Life Sketch of Shah Abdul Latif Bhittai

Shah Abdul Latif Bhittai was born in 1689. Sayed Habib Shah was his father. Moreover, Habib Shah had two sons: Jamal Shah and Shah Abdul Latif. Akhund Noor Muhammad Bhatti was his teacher. So, he got a basic education from Akhund Sahib. As he got religious education and from the same teacher. Moreover, Habib Shah himself was a Sufi. According to folk narration, Shah Latif was born with the prayer of a mystic Jogi Hashim Shah.

Shah Abdul Latif Bhitai lived for 63 years on this planet. He departed on 1165 Hijra, 1752 A.D . Every year people gather to commemorate him on 14th Safar. Consequently, people gather in Bhit Shah to hold his urs. He lived there for the last years of his life. His mausoleum stands there. The Urs lasts for three days. Pakistan is a land of festivals. Therefore, it is unique in its color.

The notes of music in Sindh

In Sindhi culture, Surs or notes represent folk stories. There is a particular tune in this music. Moomal Rano is a particular form of music. Then, it has been established as Sur Moomal Rano. Shah Abdul Latif Bhittai is a dominant figure in the music of the Sindhi tradition. So, he has a special place among the musician of Sindh. Sindh culture day is celebrated every year where the music of Bhittai is necessary. The next culture day of Sindh will be on first December 2021.

As he identified 30 modes of music. So, he named these modes surs. Similarly, these modes made the theoretical backbone of music in Sindh. Furthermore, some of these modes have formed the musical structure of the various melodies. Consequently, the various folk tales of the area are rendered. Moreover, it is a practice that is followed in other parts of the subcontinent. Similarly, Heer, in Punjab is rendered in Raag Bhairveen.

Shah Abdul Latif Bhitai reworked seven folk tales, which are a part of history. And then he composed them. All the tunes are in particular melodic mode. The modes are named after the heroines of the tales. Moreover, in the tale Sassi Pannu the melodic mode is Sur Sassi. These seven modes start from Leela to  Sohni

Shah Abdul Lateef Bhitai, urs

Shah Abdul Lateef Bhitai, on his urs, is remembered for multiple legacies he left behind, the maximum important being tune. At some stage in the period of the urs, the vocalists chant the wai on the primary door of the shrine, the melodic compositions of his poetry at the dhamboori, which is stated to be modified by means of him to fit his musical necessities. Apart from the once-a-year amassing, musical performances also take vicinity each week or every day.

Amir Khusro, usually seen as one that made a first-rate contribution to making track vital to the ritual of the shrine in and around Delhi, is said to be credited with the introduction of sure forms: raags, taals, and bandishes. But, he did no longer on an entire system because the later song sages did who thought that the musical expression turned into additionally vital to their sensibility.

It needs to be said, with a few reservations, that when musical or different expressions become essential to religion, one is continually in a dilemma whether to evaluate and take into account those rituals. In this instance, is a tune of gurbaniart, or simply a spiritual ritual? Ought to anything is being accomplished considered a part of the non-secular ritual and be left by itself for the fear of intruding into any other faith or must it additionally be seen for its artistic benefit and assessed as such?

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Example of Sikh

Possibly some other example is the Sikh codification of tune that can be referred to where the local sensibility conditioned its categorization. One of the important rituals of Sikh religion gurbani – the singing of the sacred textual content that consists of shabads and kirtans is usually sung at Darbar Sahib in Amritsar, which factors to the significance of musictune, or incantation as being fundamental to their spiritual ritual, or probably to their faith in its maximum religious experience as nicely. These singers were commonly divided through the spiritual establishment into raagis and rababis. The previous are Sikhs, while the latter are Muslims and stated to be the descendants of Bhai Mardana.

The contribution of Shah Abdul Lateef Bhitai to the song also can be seen inside the context of the relationship among an excessive classical culture and its local resources. He became the pioneer at codifying a system of songs that become extra particular to the vicinity. Shah Abdul Lateef’s music changed into the expression of his sensibility, that’s obviously conditioned by means of the ethos of the land. The musical modes that he’s credited with are very specific to the region and yet again improve the argument that the neighborhood traditions went into making the mainstream of tuneeach contributing due share.

His work of Ragas

In all, he selected 36 raginis. Thirty had been earmarked for the exceptional making a song of Shah’s very own poetry. Whilst six were used for singing different compositions. The raags of classical track which are stated in his works are: Kalyan, Khambhat, Siri, Suhni, Sarang, Kedara, Desi, Baruva Hindi, Sorath, Baruva Sindhi, Ramkali, Bilawal, Asa, Dhanasari, Purbi, Kamod, Yaman, Husaini and Basant.

Shah’s raags suggest that he retained Kalyan, Khambhat, and Bilawal in their shudh (originalnation because those constitute the 3 fundamental thaats to which also belong a few different melodies of the organization. The 14 other melodies of the classical way of life have been retained within the shape wherein they had been being sung by the humans. The purposeful compositions of each of those melodies do now not necessarily conform precisely to their classical prototypes. the following 17 had been decided on from Sindhi people music Samundi, Abri, Madhoor, Kohiyaree, Rana, Khahoree, Rip, Lilan, Dahar, Kapaitee, Pirbhati, Ghatu, Seenh Kadaro, Marui, Dhol Maru, Hir, and Karayal.

Bhai Mardana

Mardana, called Bhai Mardana, inside a way of appreciating that the Sikhs have enough money and is explicitone of the closest buddies of Nanak become a Muslim. It is stated that Mardana used to play the rabab and sing. His descendants known as rababis have been entrusted with the undertaking of composing the textual content of Nanak to tune, and possibly also the other liturgical texts of the later experts. Very little is known approximately the precise info of the lifestyles of Bhai Mardana.  However that he changed into a very near accomplice and additionally observed him to the numerous epic trips that Nanak undertook to elements of the civilized international.

Bhai Mardana, due to the fact he becomes a musician, should have set the poetry of Nanak to a song. And his descendants endured to achieve this and have become the official minstrels to the Sikhs. Another,  Bhai Farinda as being very near to Nanak and additionally being a minstrel and additionally answerable for placing the text to tune or chanting the shabads and kirtans.

The classical way of life within the place was always seen as the extension of the cultural hegemony of the vital empire that ruled the areas from its capitals and consequentlytool to facilitate an imperial design. On the one facet had been the minstrels who sang the pristine folks, roaming from village to village and congregating at the urs the various pirs and soofia which are determined in abundance within the sub-continent. On the opposite side have been the court musicians who upheld along their ‘naiks’ the prevalence of the classical tradition.

Sindhi musicians

In Sindh, the classical musicians have been non-Sindhis, having migrated to Sindh as numerous courts granted them patronage, the maximum critical being that of Khairpur. These musicians and vocalists then married the local musical patterns to their extra formally dependent musical structures and created something that turned into particular. To many Sindhis, this became tantamount to spoiling the pristine beauty of an artwork form by using making it a victim to virtuosity.

A few Shabads and Kirtans.

Within the sacred texts of the Sikhs, many raags are prescribed for the singing and chanting of the shabads and kirtans. Some were greater particular for particular compositions of the text even as others aren’t so formalized in their description. Soohi, Bilaaval, Gaund, Sri, Maajh, Gauri, Asa, Gujri, Devgandhari, Bihaagra, Sorath, Dhanasari, Jaitsree, Todi, Bhairaagi, Tilang, Raamkali, Nat Narayan, Maali Gaura, Maaru, Tukhari, Kedara, Bhairav, Basant, Sarang, Malaar Jaijawanti, Kalyaan, Vadhans, Parbhati and Kaanra, these kind of 31 in number are the particular raags.

The descendants of Mardana were outstanding musicians but the statistics have not been maintained to mention with the truth which ones were honestly amazing. But, if the twentieth century is any indication to go by means of, then many became top stars like Ghulam Haider, Bhai Deesa, Bai Lal Muhammed, Rashed Attre, Wajahat Attre, Sain Akhter Hussain, Tufail Niazi, Ustad Ghulam Hassan Shaggan, Wazir Afzal, Hamid Ali Bela, and Munir Hussain. Almost all the rababis migrated to Pakistan at the time of partition, in the main from the Punjab and some from Bombay and Calcutta where the theatre/film world had attracted them.

The tradition of Sama in Sindhi culture

The tradition of Sama in Sindh started from Shaikh Abdul Jaleel. He was the son in law of Ghaus Bahauddin Zakria. Shaikh Ali Bari was his nephew.  He is associated with Sindhi chanting. Moreover, it was different from the Sama tradition of Chishti Sufi. Usually,  Chishtia tradition is the promoter of Qawali, which includes instrumental music. Furthermore, the music has rhythmic as a compliment by hand clapping and the expansion of the text according to the melodic structure. In Sindh, no instrument played, neither did any clapping accompanied the chant.

Similarly, this corresponded with another tradition of chanting Zikr-e- Jalee that was in praise of God, the Prophet as a mentor. Shah Abdul Latif Bhitai was a great musician of his time. Furthermore, he was also a poet. His sama was unique in its nature. Furthermore, the Sama of Shah Abdul Latif Bhittai was without dance. It was a necessary culmination of ecstatic abandonment.

shah abdul latif music

Read this: Bulleh Shah- a poet who did not surrender to untruth

Shah abdul latif poetry in sindhi

His poetry was the voice of his inner nature. One of his poetry with translation is below.

Read letter A, (Alif) forget all other pages,

cleanse your heart, how long you read pages after pages.


As Vaaee is the call and cry of separation. Therefore, there is a big confusion between Vaaee and Kaafi. Some scholars have claimed that both; Vaaee and Kaafi are the same. The same form of poetry is called Kaafi in Upper Sindh.  While it is called Vaaee in lower Sindh. It is wrong to claim as both are different in their forms. In vaaee there is repetition for every verse. While the Kaafi is not a repetition. Kafi expresses itself in the Ghazal or in the Geet form. Similarly, Kafi diverse.

Mode of composition

In the mode of composition, the Vaaee includes a large part of the poetry. The main body is Vaaee in the composition of Shah Abdul Latif Bhittai; while Bait is the first part of the Vaaees. Similarly, in total his poetry witnesses the universal temporal at a large scale. That’s why his poetry seems new in all ages and stages.

In this regard, different scholars, Music composers, Vocalists, and Producers have contributed. Mr. Zulfiqar Ali Qureshi has written a book. He discussed different modes of the Vaaees of Shah Latif. No doubt it is worth full contribution towards the poetry and music of Shah Latif the great. The work of Qureshi is good news for the connoisseur of music. Furthermore, he is the first qualified musicologist. As it is unique work on Musicology, so we hope the students, scholars, and the Lovers of Lateef will take this with open arms.

Zulfiqar Qureshi has made a great effort to explore Vaaee, a form of Sindhi music. Qureshi is a hereditary musician. Consequently, Zulfiqar has also graduated from the Department of Musicology, National College of Arts in Lahore. He focused on vaaee. So, he explored the virgin field of music in our country. Furthermore, his work is focusing on vaaee. Moreover, he has written this very valuable book on a musical form of Sindhi culture.

Book of Zulfiqar Ali on Shah Abdul Latif Bhittai

Vaaee of Shah Abdul Latif Bhittai
Prof. Dr. Zulfiqar Ali Qureshi
Culture and Tourism Department – Government of Sindh
Pages 342
Price Rs 600

Book of Zulfiqar Ali Vaaee of Shah Abdul Latif Bhittai

Vaaee singing has different styles. Similarly, we have eleven Vaaee singings up to date given bellow:-

1- Shah jo Raag

2-Classical Style

3- Vaaee sung by Allan Faqir

4-Lok style of Vaaee

5-Vaaee in Sung

6-Vaaee in Film

7-Vaaee as presented by Mosiqar Naiz Hussain

8-Bhagat style of Vaaee

9-Dastan goee style of Vaaee

10-Vaaee in Qawali Style

11-Bada Khayal Vaaee


The Vaaee is a musical form. The music is without percussion sung at Shah Abdul Latif Bhitai’s shrine. Shah Abdul Latif is the inventor of Vaaee. It is a devotional form. Shah Abdul Latif Bhitai’s verses are rendered in many musical forms. The different feelings are expressed in different styles.

Sung karey Seen Seehn, Kandh Mapherij Kedahen,

Ramij Raney puth Me, Nirtaoon Manjha Neenh,

Aen Ma Waseejh Aam Tee, jean Moomal! Meenhn,

Sandey Hasher Deenhn Sadho, Soreedaen Ghanoo.

Translation: As you have associated yourself with loin so do not move backward.

Follow him with love and sincerity

never shower your charms on commoners, O Mommal

The life hereafter, you will remember sodho a great deal.

Shah Latif Bhittai expressed in Bait and Vaaees. Shah Latif adopted and sometimes invented the new meters of Bait and Vaaee. In the poetry of ShahLatif, the Bait and the Vaaee; touches the popular sentiments of the people.

Vaaee is an ancient form of music and poetry in Sindhi. Similarly, the people throughout the world like the Poetry of Shah Abdul Latif. Furthermore, the media is promoting his poetry.

Time discipline of singing at Shah Abdul Latif Bhittai shrine (Dargah).

Similarly, the singing schedule of Vaaee and Bait in Sama’s are as follows

a. The first part of the round from Sur Bilawal 6 to 8 Baits.

b. Second part of the round from Sur Sri Raga 6 to 8 Bait.

c. Third part of the round from Sur Samoondi 6 to 8 Bait.

d. Fourth part of the round from Sur Soorath 6 to 8 Bait.

The contemporary trend for Eid day

After the prayer of Eid three Surs are sung. Sur Bilawal, Sur Moomal Rano, and Sur Hussaini only.

shah abdul latif dargah

Rites observed at the shrine of Shah Abdul Latif Bhittai SAMA(Mystic Music)

The meaning of Sama-o’ is referred to as the (recitation) in the name of God. Al-Sama-oMairaj-ulAoliya is the recitation of mystic music. Moreover, it is the spiritual journey of saints.

Vaaee has been classified into different categories. Moreover, electronic media has made a marvelous role in spreading the message of Shah Abdul Latif Bhitai’s Vaaee among the masses. Furthermore,  people have created and rendered in Vaaee singing. Consequently, Music composers, Vocalists, and Producers have to make a name and fame in this genera. Moreover, media is populating itself day by day through new experiments and ideas. If we look at the geography of Pakistan then we find out Sindh is the land of the saints.  At Shah Abdul Latif’s shrine “Shah Jo Raag” is performed. Different artists and people gathered here to touch the mystical dimension of Sufism. Moreover, artists performed in the month of Ramadan and Muharram too.

The genre of Vaaee is soul-soothing and pleasing that it can be fixed in any other form of music. Consequently, it is the positive aspect of Vaaee. As it touches upon any theme; therefore, it becomes widely popular. Similarly, the alliteration and rhyme can be easily sung and there is much connectivity. The Vaaee is a form of Poetry that can be easily composed in music. Therefore, singers produce and compose Shah’s poetry in their own styles and formats. Furthermore, it is proven that a few artists and singers have taken Shah Jo Raag (Vaaee) in their respective styles. Moreover, they have given those poems with their own execution of craft.

Shah abdul latif bhittai quotes

Shah Abdul Latif quotes are mostly related to Islamic laws. One of his best quote is: whenever I see I find the clear manifestation of truth.


1. It is very essential to ascertain the authenticity of Shah`s Vaaee before singing and telecast on media. Furthermore, it is very important to confirm whether Vaaee sung ascribed to Shah Lat is actually by Shah or somebody else. Media can preserve the authenticity of Shah`s Vaaee and can save the declining culture of music.  Similarly, the Vaaee could promote standard music among the masses. Similarly, we can preserve our true culture in this computerized age.

2. The students of Mass Communication and Media Studies should know about the basics of literacy and musical genres. They are the real ambassadors to represent our true culture. Furthermore, they can save culture from mixing with other foreign elements.

3. Moreover, we should work in the virgin field of music and culture. In this regard, we have to promote folk literature through singing. It is achieved when we struggle for media development so that we can save and preserve our culture from decay which is facing great challenges in contemporary times.

4. We cannot define the limits of media rather it should experiment to compose Vaaee of Shah in new styles so that the new generation may also take interest and keep connected to the poetry of Shah.  Media can spread the message of Shah Abdul Latif Bhittai and preserve the Sindhi culture. As it is dying day by day. A great effort is needed in this regard.

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