Hadrat Sayyid Abdullah Shah Qadiri also known as
Hadrat Baba Bulleh Shah Alaihir raHma is
universally admitted to have been the greatest
of the Panjabi mystics. No Panjabi mystic poet
enjoys a wider celebrity and a greater
reputation. His kafis have gained unique
popularity. In truth he is one of the greatest
Sufis of the world and his thought equals that
of Jalal al-Din Rumi and Shams Tabriz of Persia.
As a poet Bulleh Shah is different from the
other Sufi poets of the Panjab, and represents
that strong and living pious nature of Panjabi
character which is more reasonable than
emotional or passionate. As he was an outcome of
the traditional mystic thought we can trace some
amount of mystic phraseology and sentiment in
his poetry but, in the main, intellectual
vedantic thought is its chief characteristic.
He was born in a Saiyyid family residing at, the village Pandoki of Kasur in the Lahore district, in the year A.D. 1680. This was during the twenty-first year of Emperor Aurangzeb’s reign. According to C. F. Usborne he passed away in A.H. 1171 or A.D. 1785 (i.e. in the short reign of Alamgir the Second) at the ripe old age of 78.
A large amount of what is known about Bulleh
Shah comes through legends, and is subjective;
to the point that there isn’t even agreement
among historians concerning his precise date and
place of birth. Some "facts" about his life have
been pieced together from his own writings.
Other "facts" seem to have been passed down
through oral traditions.
Baba 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) Alaihim ar-RaHmah.
Baba Bulleh Shah lived in the same period as the famous Sindhi Sufi poet , Shah Abdul Latif Bhittai (1689 – 1752). His life also overlapped with the legendary Punjabi poet Waris Shah (1722 – 1798), and the famous Sindhi Sufi poet Abdul Wahad (1739 – 1829), better known by his pen-name, Sachal Sarmast (“truth seeking leader of the intoxicated ones”).
After completing his education, it is said that
Baba Bulleh Shah went to Lahore. Of the two
traditions, one says that, as was customary in
those days, he came to Lahore in search of a
spiritual teacher, while the other relates that
he went there on a visit. Each of these two
contradictory traditions has a legend to support
it. The first relates that while he was busy
searching the intellectual circles of Lahore to
find out a competent master he heard of Shah
Inayat’s greatness and decided to make him his
Murshid. He turned his steps towards the house
of the Shah, and found him engrossed in his work
in the garden. Having introduced himself, Baba
Bulleh Shah requested that he might be accepted
a disciple and taught the secret of God.
Thereupon Hadrat Shah lnayat Alaihir raHmah
Bullhia rabb da pan ai
edharo puttan odharo lan hai.
O Bulleh! the secret of Almighty Allah is this; on this side He uproots, on the other side He creates.
‘This’, says the tradition. ‘so impressed Baba Bulleh Shah that, forgetting his family and its status, he became Inyat Shah’s disciple.’
The second tradition says that Shah Inayat was
the head gardener of the Shalimar gardens of
Lahore. When in Lahore, Baba Bulleh Shah visited
them, and as it was summer, he roamed in the
mango-groves. Desirous of tasting the fruit he
looked round for the guardian but, not finding
him there, he decided to help himself. To avoid
the sin of stealing, he looked at the ripe fruit
and said; ‘ALLAHu Ghani’. On the utterance of
these magic words a mango fell into his hands.
He repeated them several times, and thus
collected a few mangoes. Tying them up in his
scarf he moved on to find a comfortable place
where he could eat them. At this time he met the
head gardener, who accused him of stealing the
fruit from the royal gardens. Considering him to
be a man of low origin and desirous of
demonstrating to him his occult powers, Baba
Bulleh Shah said ironically: ‘I have not stolen
the mangoes but they have fallen into my hands
as you will presently see.’ He uttered ‘ALLAHu
Ghani’ and the fruit came into his hand. But to
his great surprise the young Saiyyid found that
Inayat Shah was not at all impressed but was
smiling innocently. The great embarrassment of
Bullhe Shah inspired pity in the gardener’s
heart and he said: ‘You do not know how to
pronounce properly the holy words and so you
reduce their power.’ So saying, he uttered
‘ALLAHu Ghani’, and all the fruits in the
gardens fell on the lovely lawns. Once again he
repeated the same and the fruit went back on to
the trees. This defeat inflicted by the
guardian, whom the young Saiyyid Bullhe Shah
considered ignorant and low, revolutionized his
whole thought. Falling at the feet of Inayat
Shah he asked to be classed as his disciple and
his request was immediately granted.
The above two traditions, though different in
detail, come to the same conclusion, that Baba
Bulleh Shah, impressed by the greatness of
Inayat, became his disciple. Bullhe Shah in his
verse often speaks of his master Inayat Shah and
thanks his good luck for having met such a
Bulleh Shah ve nic kamini
Shah inayat tari.
Says Bulleh Shah, O Almighty the Lord Inayat has saved me, low and mean.
Bullhe Shah di suno hakait
hadi pakria hog hadait
mera murshid Shah Inayat
Uh langhaai par.
Listen to the story of Bullhe Shah, he has got hold of the peer and shall have salvation. My teacher, Shah Inayat, he will take me across.
In an account of the Panjabi poets it would perhaps be out of place to speak at great length of Shah Inayat who wrote in Persian. But the influence exerted by him through his teachings and writings has linked him with Panjabi literature. Baba Bulleh Shah the Rumi of the Panjab, came most directly under his influence and, having learnt from him, was inspired to write his remarkable poetry. It will therefore, be proper to give a short account of this wonderful man.
Inayat Qadiri and his School
Hazrat Shaykh Muhammad Inayatullah, generally known as Shah Inayat Qadiri, was born at Kasur in the Lahore district, of Arais parents. The arias in the Panjab were gardeners or petty cultivators. They are known to be Hindu converts to Islam and are therefore considered inferior.
He was educated after the manner of his time and gained a good knowledge of Persian and Arabic. As he was born with a mystic disposition he became a disciple of the famous Sufi scholar and saint Muhammad Ali Raza Shattari. After he had finished his studies he was created a khalifa. Later on he received the khilafat of seven other sub-sects of the Sufi Qadiri. Soon after this event he left Kasur and migrated to Lahore .The author of Bagh-i-Awliya-e-Hind says that the great enmity of the Hakim Hussain Khan compelled him to migrate, but his descendants assert that it was the order of his teacher that brought him to Lahore. Here after having quelled the jealousy of his famous contemporaries, he established a college of his own. To this college came men of education for further studies in philosophy and other spiritual sciences of the time.
Inayat Shah was a well-known Qadiri Sufi of his time. From the historical point of view the Qadiri Sufis can be traced back to the Sufi Saint Abdul Qadri Jilani of Bagdad. Jilani is also known by the names Peer Dastgeer and Peeran-e-Peer. Bulleh Shah himself has also given a hint that his "Master of Masters" was born in Bagdad but his own Master belonged to Lahore:
My Master of Masters hailed from Baghdad,
but my Master belongs to the throne of Lahore.
It is all the same. For He himself is the kite
and He himself is the string.
Such was the man whom Baba Bulleh Shah made his
Murshid. This action of Baba Bulleh Shah,
however, was highly displeasing to his family.
His relatives tried to induce him to give up
Inayat and find another murshid. But Baba Bulleh
Shah was firm and paid no attention to them or
to their wailings. The following will
sufficiently demonstrate the indignation of the
Bulleh nu samjhawan aiyaan bhena te bharjhaiyaan
Aal nabi ullad Nabi nu tu kyun leekaan laaiyaan
Manlay Bulleya sada kehna chad de palla raiyaan
To Bulleh sisters and sisters-in-law came to explain (advise). Why, O Bulleh, have you blackened the family of the Prophet and the descendants of Ali? Listen to our advice, Bulleh, and leave the skirt of the aria.
To this reproach Baba Bulleh Shah firmly but indifferently replies:
Jehra sanu saiyad akkhe dozakh miln sazaiya
Jehra sanu rai akkhe bahishti piga paiya
Je tu lore bag bahara Bullhia Talib ho ja raiya.
He who calls me a Saiyyid, shall receive punishments in Hell, he who calls me an arai shall in heaven have swings; O Bulleh, if you want pleasures of the garden become a disciple of the aria.
Raeen saain sabhan thaain rab diyaan be parwaiyaan
Sohniyaan pare hataiyaan te khoojiyaan lay gall laiyaan
Arain and masters are born at every place, God does not discriminate against anyone.
Wise people don't care for such differences, only the ugly ones do
Je tu loorain baag baharaan chaakar hoo ja raiyaan
Bulleh Shah di zaat ki puchni shakar ho razaiyaan
If you seek to the gardens of heaven, become a servant to the ‘Arains’. Why ask about the caste of Bulleh Shah? Instead be grateful in the God's will.
Baba Bulleh Shah seems to have suffered at the
hands of his family, as he has once or twice
mentioned in his poetry. In the end, being
convinced of the sincere love and regard of
their child for Inayat Shah, the family left him
alone. It is said that one of his sisters, who
understood her brother, gave him her support and
encouraged him in his search for truth.
After the demise of Hadrat Shah Inayat, Baba Bullhe Shah returned to Kasur. He remained faithful to his Beloved and to himself by not marrying. The sister who understood him also remained single and kept him company in his last years. He died in A.D. 1758 and was buried in Kasur, where his tomb still exists.
May Allah SubHanuhu wa Ta'ala elevate his Status and bless with a part from the Divine Love of Hadrat Sayyid Abdullah Shah Qadiri that he had for HIM (Almighty) and accept our remembrance of the Great Wali and the Sufi Master and make it a medium for us to receive his divine mercy and blessings… Aameen!!