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‘I belong to Ranjha’ – the syncreticism of Lahore’s Shah Hussain

Lahore, the ancient city of Loh, the age-old halt for invaders, is also the home to eclectic Sufis. Men and women who shed conventions and discovered newer planes of spirituality found a home in this city. The merging of centuries’ old Indus valley bastion – the Punjab and its primordial language – with core strands of Islamic Sufism was a unique moment in South Asia’s cultural evolution. And, no one can better represent the composite soul of Lahore than its poet and Sufi master Shah Hussain, whose identity has forever fused with his Hindu disciple Madhu Lal. Those who seek Lahore’s Mela Chiraghaan or Festival of Lights still frequent the 16th century shrine of Madhu Lal Hussain.

Shah Hussain’s father, Shaykh Usman, was a loom weaver, and his grandfather Kaljas Rai (Kalsarai) was a convert to Islam who gained the confidence of the state during the reign of Emperor Firoz Shah Tughlaq. Shah Hussain Lahori was born in 1538 AD near Taxali Gate, Lahore. His early religious education was followed by induction into the Qadiriya order by Hazrat Bahlul Daryavi at a very young age. As a devout Muslim in his early years, he gained a formal outward knowledge and imbibed the spiritual moorings of Lahore, including the blessings of Hazrat Usman Ali Hajvery, aka Data Saheb, whose shrine has guided scores of saints, fakirs and yogis for nearly a millennium.

Hussain’s grandfather Kaljas Rai (Kalsarai) was a convert to Islam who gained the confidence of the state during the reign of Emperor Firoz Shah Tughlaq

Mythological accounts suggest that at the age of thirty-six, while studying a commentary on the Quran, Shah Hussain was struck by a line which equated the ‘life of this world’ to ‘game and sport.’ He asked his instructor to explain the concept but his teacher’s response did not satisfy him. He is said to have interpreted this verse as a means to undertake sport and dance. It is said that Shah Hussain pursued dancing, sport and frolicking but his mentor Hazrat Bahlul Shah Daryavi was not alarmed as he thought his student was spiritually intact. […]

Sufi rock by an immensely talented band

This video is from the band Da Saaz. Dhruv Bilal Sangari is singing and Raoul Amaar Abbas has directed, produced and shot all the trippy light

December 19th, 2010|Arts & Culture, Music|8 Comments

‘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

Baba Najmi’s little poem

Iko Tera mera payu (You and I share the same father)

Iko teri meri maan (We share the same mother)

Iko saadi janam bhon (one is our birth place)

Tu Sardar tey mein kammi kiyon? (why are you the chief and I a slave)

February 11th, 2010|Poetry|10 Comments

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

Na mai Sussi

Na mai sussi
Na mai sohni
Na mai heer sayal
phair we sajna
dil kyouN mera
Ja lagayaa teray naal […]

December 10th, 2008|Arts & Culture, Poetry, Sufi poetry|5 Comments