" Alif -He who meditates on Allah
His face is pale, his eyes bloodshot.
He who suffers pangs of separation,
No longer he longs his life ~ last.
Say -Soulful is my love for you,
Whom shall I go and tell?
In the swelling waters of a river at midnight
A wailing swallow fell. "
The Life of Bulleh Shah
Mysterious is the turn of time. The man who had been refused by the mullahs to be buried after his death in the community graveyard because of his unorthodox views, today enjoys worldwide reverence and recognition. The tomb of Bulleh Shah in Qasur and the area around it is today the only place free of collective refuse, and the privileged of the city pay handsomely to be buried in the proximity of the man they had once rejected. "This radical change has been possible because people have been impressed in the course of time by the holy way of Bullah's life and the efficacy of his teachings.
"The greatest Sufi poet of the Punjab was Mir Bulleh Shah Qadiri Shatari. " Because of his pure life and high spiritual attainments, he is equally popular among all communities. Scholars and dervishes have called him "The Sheikh of Both the Worlds," "The man of God," "The Knower of Spiritual Grace" and by other equally edifying titles. Considered as the greatest mystic poet of the Punjab, his compositions have been regarded as "the pinnacle of Sufi literature." His admirers compare his writings and philosophy to those of Rumi and Shams-i-Tabriz. At present, he is held in equally great esteem in Northern India and Pakistan.
Bulleh Shah's real name was Abdullah Shah. From Abdullah Shah it changed to Bullah Shah or Bul1 Shah. "Out of affection some call him Baba Bulleh Shah, Sain Bulleh Shah and some others mer Bullah. "The 40th Knot" gives evidence of his t] name. "Invoking the name of God, now pray to Hi the Lord pervades everywhere Abdullah exists more."
There is some difference of opinion among research scholars about the time of his birth and death. Majority, however, believes that he lived from 1680
1758. Even about his birthplace there is some controversy. Some researchers hold the view that he was born in the village Uch Gilaniyan in Bahawalpur St (Pakistan). They believe that Bulleh Shah remained in this village up to the age of six months, when parents were residing here, but who shifted to village Malakwal (Tehsil Sahiwal, Dist. Multan) for sc reason. They had not been in Malakwal for a long time when the owner of village Pandoke felt the need (preacher for the village mosque. On the recommendations of the people of Malakwal, he approached Bu Shah's father, Shah Mohammed Dervish, took to Pandoke where he performed the duties not only of the preacher but also of the village teacher for children.
All researchers agree on the point that the ancestors' village of Bulleh Shah's parents was Uch Gilaniyan, it is from there that they shifted first to Malakwal
later to Pandoke. However, some researchers hold view that Bulleh Shah's birth took place after his parents had shifted to Pandoke. Today it is known as Pandoke Bhatian. It is about 14 miles southeast of Qasur and is quite well-known. In fact, Bulleh Shah's contribution to make it famous is considerable. It is said that from among the ancestors of Bulleh Shah, Sayeed Jallalluddin Bukhari came to Multan from Surakh-Bukhara three hundred years earlier. Here he got initiated from Hazarat Sheikh Ghaus Bahauddin Zakriya of Multan, and here eventually he settled down. Bulleh Shah's grandfather, Sayyiad Abdur Razzaq, descended from the same line. Thus Bulleh Shah's family, being of Sayyiad caste, was related to prophet Mohammed on the one hand and on the other hand with Sufi thought and mystic traditions, for centuries.
Bulleh Shah's father, Shah Mohammed Dervish, was well-versed in Arabic, Persian and the holy Qura'n. He was a noble soul with spiritual leanings. It is said that out of the whole family, Bulleh Shah's sister had the greatest love for him, who, like her brother, remained celibate all her life, and spent much of her time in meditation. Both, brother and sister, had been greatly influenced by the high moral character of their father who, out of respect for him, had been given the title "Dervish. " The tomb of Bulleh Shah's father still exists in Pandoke Bhatian. Every year an urs is performed at the tomb and Bulleh Shah's kafis are sung there. In this way a tribute is paid to both, father and son, and it has assumed the form of a tradition to perpetuate theirmemory.
Bulleh Shah's childhood was spent under the care of his father at Pandoke. He received his early education, like that of other children, from his father. Later, for higher education he was sent to Qasur, which was a well-known educational center those days. In Qasur there were eminent teachers such as Hazarat Ghulam Murtaza and Maulana Mohiyuddin. Their fame had spread far and wide. Bulleh Shah too became a pupil of Hazarat Ghulam Murtaza. With his native intelligence and moral inclination, he gained much from his contact with his teacher.
There is a strong historical evidence to show that Bulleh Shah was an eminent scholar of Arabic and Persian. From his own compositions we can find many references to Islamic thought and mystic literature. Later, when he attained mystic realization, his erudition and learning acquired a new significance. But Bulleh Shah had to pass through a hard struggle before he could attain the inner knowledge. This attainment was possible only through his contact with his Murshid or Master, Inayat Shah. The study of scriptures and other holy books had only aroused his interest and curiosity about spiritual realization. His longing for union with the Lord reached its consummation only after he met a perfect Master in the person of Shah Inayat Qadiri.
Inayat Shah was a well-known Qadiri Sufi of his time. From the historical point of view the Qadiri Sufis can be traced back to the Sufi Saint Abdul Qadri Jilani of Bagdad. Jilani is also known by the names Pir Dastgir and Piran-i-Pir. Bulleh Shah himself has also given a hint that his "Master of Masters" was born in Bagdad but his own Master belonged to Lahore:
My Master of Masters hailed from Bagdad,
but my Master belongs to the throne of Lahore.
It is all the same. For He himself is the kite
and He himself is the string.