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‘Throw Away the Books’ – Bulleh Shah

Bulleh Shah (1680-1758) of Kasur in Central Punjab is an extraordinary voice that provided a mystical message beyond caste, institutionalized religion and ideologies of power. Born in 1860 and named Abdullah Shah in a Syed family, he found a Murshid (spiritual master) in Shah Inayat who was an Arain

Chal Way Bullehya Chal O’thay Chaliyay – Let’s go where everyone is blind

Chal Way Bullehya Chal O’thay Chaliyay
Jithay Saaray Annay
Na Koi Saadee Zaat PichHanay
Tay Na Koi Saanu Mannay
O’ Bulleh Shah let’s go there
Where everyone is blind
Where no one recognizes our caste (or race, or family name)
And where no one believes in us
Ab to jaag Musaffir pyare
Raeen gayi latke taare
Kar le aj karni da weera
Mod na ho si aawen tera
Awake, dear traveller, you’ve got to move on.
Trailing its stars, the night is gone.
Do what you have to do, do it today.
You will never be back this way.
Your companions are calling.
Let us go.
Awake, dear traveller, you’ve got to move on.
Trailing its stars, the night is gone.
A pearl, a ruby, the touchstone and dice
With all that you thirst by the waterside.
Awake, dear traveller, you’ve got to move on.
Trailing its stars, the night is gone.
Below a modern rendition of these verses by the inimitable Meekal Hasan Band. They have been instrumental in reintroducing Sufi poetry among the youth of our country. […]
February 7th, 2010|Poetry, Sufi poetry, Sufism, World Literature|7 Comments

Bulleh Shah’s admission

Bulleh-a aashiq hoyiyon Rabb da, Hoai Malamat Lakh Tenon Kafir Kafir aakhdey, toon aaho aaho aakh (Bulleh Shah) Bulleh lover of G-d, a million blames occur Your title is apostate, answer yes, yes, so it is. (translation by JH)

January 6th, 2010|Arts & Culture|2 Comments

Four poems by Bulleh Shah (new translations)

Who I am

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 nor Pharaoh.
I know not who I am.

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

Neither do I know the secret of religion,
Nor am I born of Adam and Eve.
I have given myself no name,
I belong neither to those who squat and pray,
Nor to those who have gone astray.
I know not who I am.

I was in the beginning; I’d be there in the end.
I know not any one other than the One.
Who could be wiser than Bulleh Shah
Whose Master is ever there to tend?
I know not who I am.

Come my Love, take care of me

Come my Love, take care of me,
I am in great agony.
Ever separated, my dreams are dreary,
Looking for you, my eyes are weary.
All alone I am robbed in a desert,
Waylaid by a bunch of waywards.

The Mulla and Qazi show me the way,
Their maze of dharma that is in sway.
They are the confirmed thieves of time.
They spread their net of saintly crime.

Their time-worn norms are seldom right,
With these they chain my feet so tight!
My love cares not for caste or creed.
To the ritual faith I pay no head.

My Master lives on yonder bank
While I am caught in the gale of greed.
With his boat at anchor, He stands in wait,
I must hasten I can’t be late.

Bulleh Shah must find his love,
He needn’t have the least fright.
His Love is around, yet he looks for him
Misled in the broad daylight.

Come my love take care of me,
I am in great agony.


Strange are the times!

Crows swoop 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 them from the ring.
Strange are the times!

Its not without reason or rhyme,
Strange are the times

Says Bulleh, kill your ego
And throw away your pride.
You need to forget yourself
To find Him by your side.

It’s 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 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 Kalma 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 half alive, half dead.
Emaciated in the ascetic postures feigned,
it’s all in One contained,

Seek your 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 all the truth that Bulleh has gained.
It’s all in One contained.

Bulleh Shah, a renowned Muslim spiritual leader of the sub continent of Indo-Pakistan, was a Punjabi Sufi poet. His spiritual master was Shah Inayat Qadiri of Lahore and because of this Bulleh was referred to as a saint or spiritual leader. Bulleh’s real name was Abdullah Shah, but he was known as Bulleh to his family and that was the name he chose to use as a poet. […]

Bulleh Shah – a few poems

Bulleh Shah ‘s poetry addresses most maladies that we face in this day and age.

Recently, I was asked to help a friend with the original text of Bulleh Shah ‘s Hindu na Na heen Musalmaan. I found the original Punjabi and also found two other pieces that I am posting here.


HiNdu na naheeN musalmaan,
Baheeye tiranjan taj abhimaan.
Sunni na naheeN ham sheeya
Sulha kuhl ka maarag leeya.
Bhookhe na naheeN ham rahje,
NaNge na naheeN ham kahje.
RoNde na naheeN ham hasde
UjaRe na naheeN ham vasde.
Paapi na sudharmi na,
Paap pun ki raah na jaanaaN.
Bulhe Shah jo hari chit laage,
Hindu turak doojan tiyaage

Neither Hindu nor Muslim,
Sacrificing pride, let us sit together.
Neither Sunni nor Shia,
Let us walk the road of peace.
We are neither hungry nor replete,
Neither naked nor covered up.
Neither weeping nor laughing,
Neither ruined nor settled,
We are not sinners or pure and virtuous,
What is sin and what is virtue, this I do not know.
Says Bulhe Shah, one who attaches his self with the lord.
Gives up both hindu and muslim.

January 29th, 2008|Poetry, Sufi poetry, Sufism, World Literature|264 Comments

Enough of learning, my friend! – Bulleh Shah

Enough of learning, my friend!

Enough of learning, my friend!

To it there is never an end

An alphabet should do for you,

It’s enough to help you fend.

You’ve amassed much learning around,

The Quran and its commentaries profound.

There is darkness amidst lighted ground.

Without the guide you remain unsound.

Learning makes you a Sheikh or his minion,

And thus you create problems trillion.

You exploit others who know not what,

Misleading them with wild opinion.

You meditate and you say your prayers

You go and shout at the top of the stairs.

Your cry reaching the high skies,

Its your avarice which ever belies.

The day I learnt love’s lesson,

I plunged into the river of divine passion;

An overwhelming gale, I was confounded and lost

When Shah Inayat cruised me across.

Source: here

More on Bulleh Shah here and here

Punjabi version is below […]

Abida Parveen sings Bulleh Shah’s teray ishq nachaya..

Bullhe Shah, I sit at Inayat's door, He clothed me in robes of green and red. When I stamped my heel, I found him. Compelled by love I dance, I dance