Abdullah (Bulleh) Shah (1680-1758), was one of the most popular Punjabi folk poets. He was born in Bahawalpur, and his family moved to Qasur when he was six. Bulleh's early education was strictly orthodox. Strongly influenced by the great Persian poet Jallaluddin Rumi (1207-1273), Bulleh Shah moved in the mystic circles and, intoxicated by divine love, sang to all and sundry. He lived at a time when the Mughal empire was collapsing and the Punjab was hit by a number of calamities, both from within and from outside. His poetry remained in the form of oral tradition for over a hundred years. In 1882, some of his Kafis were compiled and published as 'Kafian Hazrat Bulleh Shah' from Lahore. Since then various scholars have compiled his poems and a number of books have been published about his life and poetry. [Adapted from 'Pakistani Literature' (1992), The Pakistan Academy of Letters, Islamabad.]

Bulleh Shah Hymns/Music via Real Audio: [1], [2], [3], [4].

Selections of the Poetry of Bulleh Shah

Enter Thine own Self* And know Thou art the support of the universe; When Thou shinest, the whole world is lit; The phantom that causes thee to tremble is Thine own projection. Says Bulleshah: Give up this illusion And break the net of individuality. (*Self with a capital 'S' refers to the Absolute, or God; with a small 's,' the individuality, or localized consciousness.)

My mind is fixed in the Indifferent One! My eyes seek His face, my heart loves Him alone. The ignorant deplore my conduct, They try to draw me from Him -- I only weep. The priests and theologians threaten me with perdition And instruct me in rituals, But what has my love to do with these? My Lord lives beyond the torrent And I must meet Him there; Who will tell me how to cross it? A lover follows his love whatever betide! Says Bulleshah: I go to meet my God.

They turn their faces from all else Who have seen the Beloved! Once only have they seen the Adorable One And their gaze is eternally fixed on Him. Day and night they wander lost in wonder, Without ever treading in the mud of 'I' and 'mine.' Bulleshah says: They have become the Beloved Himself; The relationship of lover and beloved is dissolved.

Having sacrificed the little self, I have found the Friend And lost all consciousness of the world! My anxieties are past forever; My mind is lost in bliss! I am merged in happiness And experience eternal peace; The spiritual fire has consumed duality. Bulleshah says: I have embraced the Friend.

Bulleh Shah, "Indian Mystic Verse", an anthology of Indian poetry translated Hari Prasad Shastri, Shanti Sadan Books.

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