Friday, 30 November 2012

Bulle Shah

Shri Nathji was fond of the Punjabi Sufi saint Bulle Shah and used to narrate how Bulle’s guru once visited the grand darbaar of Bulle, in which Bulle was revered as a great saint himself. Bulle’s guru, Pir Inayat Khan, deliberately carried a vegetable breakfast on his head because he belonged to the lower caste–an ‘Aaraayin’. Bulle belonged to the higher caste amongst the Muslims, the Sayyad sect.
When Bulle Shah saw his guru enter his darbaar carrying a vegetable basket on his head, he was perplexed. How could he bow down before his guru now? What would the assembled gathering think? Bulle was lost in the illusions of his own grandeur.
The thought had barely crossed Bulle Shah’s mind when Pir Inayat Khan understood what Bulle Shah was thinking, and said with great anger:
“Jaa, Bulle daa Bullaa hee reyaa! You were one who was ignorant, and have remained ignorant!”
All at once Bulle’s spiritual light vanished. He felt empty and forsaken. In the days that followed, his followers began to desert him, one by one. An agony of repentance tore at his soul for having annoyed his own Spiritual Master. Bulle tried various ways to please his guru but they failed.
Bulle Shah discovered that his guru was very fond of watching certain types of dances from the Maraasis, and so he went to join the dance troupe and learned to dance from them. Later he came in the guise of a Maraasi dancer and danced before his guru singing out loud:
“Tere ishq ne nachaayaa thhayyaa thhayi
Bas kar ji hun bas kar ji,
Gal kar hans kar ji, hun hans kar ji!
“Thy love has made me dance this dance,
Enough of thy wrath, now, O Sire, enough!”
As Shri Nathji narrates the dance of Bulle Shah, tears stream from Shri Nathji's eyes, so touched is he with the story, in the manner that he himself is narrating.
The guru at once recognises Bulle Shah in the dancer’s dress and cries out:
“Bulla hai? Is it Bulla?”
“Nayin, Bhullaa!”
“No sir, it is Bhullaa,” says Bulle, “No Sir it is one who has lost his way!”
“No, Master, Bhullaa!”
And the guru and Bulle Shah repeat the question and answer a number of times, even as the guru rushes up to Bulle and embraces him with love!
No one could narrate the story in such a touching manner as Shri Nathji, whose stories came from a plane that was divine.
Bulle Shah (1680–1757)  was a Punjabi Sufi poet, humanist and philosopher. His full name was Abdullah Shah. Bulleh Shah is believed to have been born in 1680, in the small village of Uch, Bahawalpur, Punjab, in present day Pakistan. His father, Shah Muhammad Darwaish, was a teacher and preacher in a village mosque. Little is known about Bulle Shah's ancestry except that some of his forebears were migrants from Uzbekistan, and that his family claimed direct descent from Muhammad.
When he was six months old, his parents relocated to Malakwal. His father later got a job in Pandoke. Bulleh Shah received his early schooling in Pandoke and moved to Kasur for higher education. He also received education from Maulana Mohiyuddin. His spiritual teacher was the Qadiri Sufi Shah Inayat Qadiri, who was a member of the Arain tribe of Lahore. Bulleh Shah practiced the Sufi tradition of Punjabi poetry established by poets like Shah Hussain (1538–1599), Sultan Bahu (1629–1691), and Shah Sharaf (1640–1724).
Bulle Shah lived in the same period as the Sindhi Sufi poet, Shah Abdul Latif Bhatai (1689–1752). His lifespan also overlapped with the Punjabi poet Waris Shah (1722–1798), of Heer Ranjha fame, and the Sindhi Sufi poet Abdul Wahab (1739–1829), better known by his pen-name, Sachal Sarmast (“truth seeking leader of the intoxicated ones”).
The verse form Bulle Shah primarily employed is called the Kafi, a style of Punjabi, Sindhi and Saraiki poetry used not only by the Sufis of Sindh and Punjab, but also by Sikh gurus. Bulle Shah's time was marked with communal strife between Muslims and Sikhs. But in that age Baba Bulle Shah was a beacon of hope and peace for the citizens of Punjab. While Bulle 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. Baba Bulle Shah denounced the murder of an innocent Sikh and was censured by the mullas and muftis of Pandoke. Bulle Shah maintained that violence was not the answer to violence. Bulleh Shah also hailed the ninth Sikh Guru, Guru Tegh Bahadur as a Ghazi, or "religious warrior", which caused controversy among Muslims of that time.
 His poetry highlights his mystical spiritual voyage through the four stages of Sufism: Shariat (Path), Tariqat (Observance), Haqiqat (Truth) and Marfat (Union). The simplicity with which Bulle Shah has been able to address the complex fundamental issues of life and humanity is a large part of his appeal.  Bulle Shah died in 1757. His tomb is located in Kasur, not far from Lahore in present day Pakistan. It is known a popular place of Sufi Pilgrimage. Above are the photos of his tomb from the outside and the inside.

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