The Reflective Indian

India – History and Society – for those who wish to think and learn for themselves

Bulleh Shah of Punjab

Bulleh Shah was a Sufi mystic who lived in the Punjab during a fairly turbulent period of Indian history. His thoughts and words attempted to heal divisions in society, in particular between the Sikhs and Muslims of that time.


Bulleh Shah was born Abdullah Shah to a Muslim priest in the Punjab in 1680. He was educated in Pandoke before coming under the influence of Inayat Shah Qadiri, a Sufi mystic.

As a poet and Sufi, Bulleh Shah advocated the unity of man and the realisation of God through introspection and a search within oneself. His words were especially relevant as the crumbling of the Mughal empire after the death of Emperor Aurangzeb had led to bloodshed between increasingly militant Sikhs and Muslims who felt threatened. Also, caste tensions were apparent in the Hindus,

Bulleh Shah provoked ire among both Sikhs and Muslims, more amongst the leaders than the common people who did identify with his verse. His poems were recited widely by the common man who appreciated the simple Kafi style of verse, popular in the Punjab.

Bulleh Shah died in 1757 at Kasur in modern day Pakistani Punjab. His shrine attracts thousands of visitors each year. His words find resonance in followers of all the faiths,

More recently, Bulleh Shah’s words have been popularised by artists such as the Pakistani rock band Junoon as well as other musicians like the Indian fusion singer Rabbi Shergill (Bullah ki jaana main kaun).

Another verse “Tere Ishq Nachaya Thaiyya Thaiyya” was adapted by the Indian poet Gulzar to the Bollywood song Chaiyya Chaiyya of the film Dil Se. Picturised on the roof of a moving train on the world heritage site Nilgiri Mountain Railways, the song is perhaps the iconic emblem of Bollywood in most parts of the globe


The picture was obtained from Wikipedia – Creative Commons


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This entry was posted on January 1, 2013 by in North India and tagged , , , , , , , .

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