Bulleh Shah

Syed Abdullah Shah Qadri[2] (Punjabi: سید عبداللہ شاہ قادری (Shahmukhi); ਸੱਈਦ ਅਬਦੁੱਲਾਹ ਸ਼ਾਹ ਕ਼ਾਦਰੀ (Gurmukhi); 1680–1757), known popularly as Bulleh Shah (Punjabi: بُلّھے شاہ (Shahmukhi); ਬੁੱਲ੍ਹੇ ਸ਼ਾਹ (Gurmukhi)) and Bulleya, was a Punjabi philosopher and Sufi poet during 17th-century Punjab. His first spiritual teacher was Shah Inayat Qadiri, a Sufi murshid of Lahore. He was a mystic poet and is universally regarded as "The father of Punjabi enlightenment". He lived and was buried in Kasur.

Syed Abdullah Shah Qadri
"Bulleh Shah"
سید عبداللہ شاہ قادری
Bornc. 1680 CE
Diedc. 1757 CE (aged 77)
Kasur, Bhangi Misl, Sikh Confederacy
(present-day Punjab, Pakistan)
Resting placeKasur, Punjab
ReligionIslam, also acknowledged by many Sikhs


Early lifeEdit

He was born in 1680 in Uch, Mughal Empire (present day Pakistan). After his early education, he went to Lahore where he met Inayat Arian, and became his disciple.[2]

Later years and deathEdit

He died in 1757, at the age of 77. He was buried in Kasur, and a dargah was built over his grave. He was declared non-Muslim by a few literalist "Mullah" of Kasur and they had claimed it was prohibited to offer the funeral prayer of Bulleh Shah. His funeral prayer was led by Qazi Hafiz Syed Zahid Hamdani, a great religious personality of Kasur.[3]


He was buried in Kasur when he died in 1757.[4] There is a clean and very huge veranda which leads to the Tomb of Baba Bulleh Shah as you enter the shrine. The ceiling of shrine is decorated with the verses of Bulleh Shah in elegant calligraphy.


Bulleh Shah lived after the Pashto Sufi poet and saint Rahman Baba (1632–1706) and lived in the same period as Sindhi Sufi poet Shah Abdul Latif Bhittai (1689–1752). His lifespan also overlapped with the Punjabi poet Waris Shah (1722–1799), of Heer Ranjha fame, and the Sindhi Sufi poet Abdul Wahab (1739–1829), better known by his pen name Sachal Sarmast. Amongst Urdu poets, Bulleh Shah lived 400 miles away from Mir Taqi Mir (1723–1810) of Delhi.[3]

Bulleh Shah practised the Sufi tradition of Punjabi poetry established by poets like Shah Hussain (1538–1599), Sultan Bahu (1629–1691), and Shah Sharaf (1640–1724).[3]

The verse form Bulleh Shah primarily employed is the Kafi, popular in Punjabi and Sindhi poetry.[2]

Many people have put his Kafis to music, from humble street-singers to renowned Sufi singers like Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Fareed Ayaz, Pathanay Khan, Abida Parveen, the Waddali Brothers and Sain Zahoor, from the synthesised techno qawwali remixes of UK-based Asian artists to the Pakistani rock band Junoon.[4]

Modern renderingsEdit

Bands and albumsEdit

In the 1990s, Junoon, a rock band from Pakistan, rendered his poems "Bullah Ki Jaana" and "Aleph" ("Ilmon Bas Kareen O Yaar"). In 2004, Indian musician Rabbi Shergill turned the abstruse metaphysical poem "Bullah Ki Jaana" into a rock/fusion song in his debut album Rabbi; the song was a chart-topper in 2005, helping the album to eventually sell over 10,000 copies and became immensely popular in India and Pakistan.[5][6]

The Wadali Bandhu, a Punjabi Sufi group from India, have also released a version of "Bullah Ki Jaana" in their album Aa Mil Yaar... Call of the Beloved. Another version was performed by Lakhwinder Wadali and entitled "Bullah".[citation needed] Dama Dam Mast Qalandar, a qawwali composed in honour of Shahbaz Qalandar, has been one of Bulleh Shah's most popular poems and has been frequently rendered by many Indian, Pakistani and Bangladeshi singers including Noor Jehan, Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Abida Parveen, Sabri Brothers, Wadali brothers, Reshman and Runa Laila. Other qawwali songs by Bulleh Shah, include "Sade Vehre Aya Kar" and "Mera Piya Ghar Aaya".[4]

Also in 2016, a collaboration between two EDM artists (Headhunterz and Skytech) named "Kundalini" used words created by Bulleh Shah, as well as having the words Bulleh Shah in the lyrics.[7] Bulleh Shah's verses have been an inspiration to painters as well, as in the two series of paintings (Jogia Dhoop and Shah Shabad) by an Indian painter Geeta Vadhera inspired by the poetry of Bulleh Shah and other Sufi poets and saints. In 2017, British Pakistani singer Yasir Akhtar used Bulleh Shah's poetry in his song "Araam Naal Kar – Take it Easy".[8][9] In 2019, Sona Mohapatra used a Kalam of Bulleh Shah in her song "R.A.T Mashup".[10]


The 1973 movie Bobby song by Narendra Chanchal starts with the verse Beshaq mandir masjid todo, Bulleh Shah ye kahta. Some of Bulleh Shah's verses, including "Tere Ishq Nachaya", have been adapted and used in Bollywood film songs including "Chaiyya Chaiyya" and "Thayya Thayya" in the 1998 film Dil Se.., "Tere Ishq Nachaya" in the 2002 film Shaheed-E-Azam and "Ranjha Ranjha" in the 2010 film Raavan.[4] The 2007 Pakistani movie Khuda Kay Liye includes Bulleh Shah's poetry in the song "Bandeya Ho". The 2008 Bollywood film, A Wednesday, included a song titled "Bulle Shah, O Yaar Mere". In 2014, Ali Zafar sung some of his verses as "Chal Buleya" for Bollywood soundtrack album Total Siyapaa, and the song was reprised by Zafar same year in Pakistan Idol.[11] The 2016 Bollywood films "Sultan" and Ae Dil Hai Mushkil feature the song "Bulleya", sung by Papon and Amit Mishra respectively, which is short for Bulleh Shah.[citation needed] A song "Hun Kis Theen" based on his poetry was also featured in Punjabi animated film Chaar Sahibzaade: Rise of Banda Singh Bahadur.[12] Poetry of Bulleh Shah was also used in 2015 film Wedding Pullav composed by Salim–Sulaiman.[4]

Coke Studio (Pakistan)Edit

In 2009, the season 2 of Coke Studio featured "Aik Alif" performed by Sain Zahoor and Noori. Ali Zafar also used some of Bulleh Shah and Shah Hussain's verses in his "Dastan-e-Ishq".[13] In 2010, the season 3 featured "Na Raindee Hai" and "Makke Gayaan Gal Mukdi Nahi" performed by Arieb Azhar. In 2012, Shah's poetry was featured with Hadiqa Kiani performing "Kamlee".[14] In 2016, Ahmed Jahanzeb and Umair Jaswal performed "Khaki Banda";[15] and Rizwan Butt and Sara Haider performed "Meri Meri",[16] In third episode of season 11 Fareed Ayaz, Abu Muhammad Qawal & Brothers performed a Qawwali based on Kalam by Bulleh Shah.[17] In season 12 Hadiqa Kiani used verses of Bulleh Shah in the song "Daachi Waaleya".[18]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "The mystic and Sufi behind the rise and rise of Bulleh Shah". www.dawn.com.
  2. ^ a b c J.R. Puri and T.R. Shangari. "The Life of Bulleh Shah". Academy of the Punjab in North America (APNA) website. Retrieved 18 May 2020.
  3. ^ a b c Zia, Sidra (17 June 2019). "My visit to Bulleh Shah's tomb made me feel an otherworldly sense of peace". Dawn. Pakistan. Retrieved 20 May 2020.
  4. ^ a b c d e "Bulleh Shah's poetry in present day". Times Of India. 13 June 2012. Retrieved 20 May 2020.
  5. ^ Zeeshan Jawed (4 June 2005). "Soundscape for the soul". The Telegraph (Kolkata newspaper). Calcutta. Retrieved 20 May 2020.
  6. ^ Bageshree S. (11 April 2005). "Urban balladeer". The Hindu. Archived from the original on 5 November 2012. Retrieved 20 May 2020.
  7. ^ "Headhunterz & Skytech – Kundalini (Official Music Video)". 10 May 2016. Retrieved 17 January 2020 – via YouTube.
  8. ^ "Yasir Akhtar | Araam Naal Kar – Take it Easy ft.Martay M'Kenzy (Official Video)". Yasir Akhtar. 3 February 2017. Retrieved 16 February 2017 – via YouTube.
  9. ^ "Yasir Akhtar, the singing sensation, is back with 'Aram Nal Kar'". Tanveer Khatana. 11 February 2017. Retrieved 16 February 2017 – via Geo News.
  10. ^ "Sona Mohapatra pays EDM-style tribute to India's diversity with her new track R.A.T Mashup". Republic World. 21 December 2019. Retrieved 17 January 2020.
  11. ^ "Lady Dada's Nightmare – I | Instep". The News International. 15 June 2014. Retrieved 17 January 2020.
  12. ^ "Sikh history hasn't been documented well and some of the versions available are inaccurate | Cities News,The Indian Express". The Indian Express. 9 November 2016. Retrieved 17 January 2020.
  13. ^ "Dastaan-e-ishq, Ali Zafar – BTS, Coke Studio Pakistan, Season 2". Rohail Hyatt. 23 June 2009 – via YouTube.
  14. ^ Ata ur Rehman. "Hadiqa Kiani Kamlee, Coke Studio Season 5 Episode 1". Pakium.com. Retrieved 17 January 2020.
  15. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 9 October 2016. Retrieved 20 May 2020.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  16. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 27 September 2016. Retrieved 4 November 2016.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  17. ^ "Coke Studio releases third episode of Season 11". The Nation. Pakistan. 25 August 2018. Retrieved 17 January 2020.
  18. ^ "Coke Studio brings love ballads and Sufi poetry from top stars | Pakistani Cinema". Gulf News. 25 November 2019. Retrieved 20 May 2020.

Further readingEdit

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