I am free, my mind is free,
I can be imprisoned nowhere.

Today Bulleh Shah’s Urs (death anniversary) celebrations have commenced in Qasoor, Pakistan. Bulleh Shah was an iconoclastic Sufi poet from the Punjab who rejected convention, orthodox religion and conventions. His message of peace and individuality continues. In all respects he was ahead of his times. This time delegates from India will also attend the ceremonies and his timeless verse shall be sung.

Centuries before we knew existentialist thought, this was uttered by a small town Sufi poet:

I know not who I am

I am neither a believer going to the mosque
Nor given to non-believing ways
Neither clean, nor unclean
Neither Moses not Pharaoh
I know not who I am

I am neither among sinners nor among saints
Neither happy, nor unhappy
I belong neither to water not to earth
I am neither fire, not air
I know not who I am

(Translation by K S Duggal)

Another poem berates the classes and hierarchies that divide people:

Let us go O Bullah
let us go then you and I
to the kingdom of the blind;
where none debates our caste or creed
none respect us thus.

This transient world
is neither thine nor mine;
all is finite
why then this quarrel
this contest
for all is ephemeral there in.

Mullah and the torch bearer
are both alike,
professing to light the path for others
themselves dwell in darkness.

(from Kalaam Bulleh Shah printed by Pakistan International Printers, Lahore )

On the futility of ritual and uttering that Reality is about unity of all existence – Ik Nukte vich Gal Mukdi Eh (Its all in One contained):

Understand the one and forget the rest.
Shake off your ways of an apostate pest
Leading to the grave to hell and to torture.
Rid your mind of dreams of disaster.
This is how is the argument maintained.
It’s all in One contained.

What use is it bowing one’s head?
To what avail has prostrating led?
Reading kalam you make them laugh.
Absorbing not a word while the Quran you quaff.
The truth must be here and there sustained.
It’s all in One contained.

Some retire to the jungles in vain.
Others restrict their meals to a grain.
Misled they waste away unfed .
And come back home
Emaciated in the ascetic postures feigned.
It’s all in One contained.

Seek you master, say your prayers and surrender to God

It will lead you to mystic abandon
And help you to get attuned to the Lord.
It’s the truth that Bulleh has gained.
It’s all in One contained.

(Translation by K S Duggal)

What an inspiring corpus of verse Bulleh Shah has left for us.
Wish I was in Qasoor, too.

Please do watch Abida Parveen singing here and here.

Jahane Rumi Links: On the rejection of meaningless formal learning here and on freedom of the mind here; and on love sickness here.