Tilla Jogian, Pakistan where Ranjha came

Heer Ranjha is one of several popular tragic romances of Punjab, other important ones being "Sohni Mahiwal" and "Sassi Punnhun". There are several poetic narrations of the story, the most famous being 'Heer' by Waris Shah written in 1766. It tells the story of the love of Heer and her lover Ranjha.[1]


Heer Ranjha was written by Waris Shah. Some historians say that the story was the original work of Shah, written after he had fallen in love with a girl named Bhag Bhari.[2] Others say that Heer and Ranjha were real personalities who lived under the Lodi dynasty and that Waris Shah later utilised these personalities for his story. Shah states that the story has a deeper meaning, referring to the unrelenting quest that man has towards God.[3]

One of the popular origin stories for the tale is that it was a story from the times of Emperor Akbar. About six centuries old now, it was first narrated in verse by one Damodar Arora during the reign of Emperor Akbar. Damodar was a native of Jhang where the story is broadly based and he had heard it from one Raja Ram Khatri who is supposed to be an eyewitness to all that happened. Since then it has been narrated variously and in various languages, both in verse and prose.[4]

Example from the epic poemEdit

Rag Heer Ranjha. The invocation at the beginning,[5] in one version:

Awal-akhir naam Allah da lena, duja dos Muhammad Miran
Tija naun maat pita da lena, unha da chunga dudh sariran
Chautha naun unn paani da lena, jis khaave man banhe dhiran
Panjman naun Dharti Maata da lena, jis par kadam takiman
Chhewan naun Khwaja Pir da lena, jhul pilave thande niran
Satwan naun Guru Gorakhnath de lena, pataal puje bhojan
Athwan naun lalaanwale da lena, bande bande de tabaq zanjiran
First take the name of Allah and second the Great Muhammad, the prophet [of God]
Third, take the name of father and mother, on whose milk my body thrived
Fourth, take the name of bread and water, by eating which my heart is gladdened
Fifth, take the name of Mother Earth, on whom I place my feet.
Sixth, take the name of Khwaja (Khizr, the Saint), who gives me cold water to drink
Seventh, take the name of Guru Gorakh Nath who is worshipped with a platter of milk and rice
Eighth, take the name of Lalanwala who breaks the bonds and the chains of captives

(The Legends of the Panjab by RC Temple, Rupa and Company, Volume two, page 606)

Summary of the love storyEdit

Luddan ferries Ranjha across the Chenab

Heer is an extremely beautiful woman, born into a wealthy family of the Sial tribe in Jhang which is now Punjab, Pakistan. Ranjha (whose first name is Dheedo; Ranjha is the surname, his caste is Ranjha), a Jat of the Ranjha tribe, is the youngest of four brothers and lives in the village of Takht Hazara by the river Chenab. Being his father's favorite son, unlike his brothers who had to toil in the lands, he led a life of ease, playing the flute ('Wanjhli'/'Bansuri'). After a quarrel with his brothers over land, Ranjha leaves home. In Waris Shah's version of the epic, it is said that Ranjha left his home because his brothers' wives refused to give him food. Eventually he arrives in Heer's village and falls in love with her. Heer's father offers Ranjha a job herding his cattle. Heer becomes mesmerised by the way Ranjha plays his flute and eventually falls in love with him. They meet each other secretly for many years until they are caught by Heer's jealous uncle, Kaido, and her parents Chuchak and Malki. Heer is forced by her family and the local priest or 'Maulvi' to marry another man named Saida Khera.

Ranjha is heartbroken. He wanders the countryside alone, until eventually he meets a Shaiva Jogi (ascetic). After meeting Gorakhnath, the founder of the "Kanphata" (pierced ear) sect of jogis at Tilla Jogian (the 'Hill of Ascetics', located 50 miles north of the historic town of Bhera, Sargodha District, Punjab), Ranjha becomes a jogi himself, piercing his ears and renouncing the material world. While reciting the name of the Lord, he wanders all over Punjab, eventually finding the village where Heer now lives.

The two return to Heer's village, where Heer's parents agree to their marriage - though some versions of the story state that the parent's agreement is only a deception. On the wedding day, Kaido poisons her food so that the wedding will not take place, in order to punish the girl for her behaviour. Hearing this news, Ranjha rushes to aid Heer, but is too late, as she has already eaten the poison and has died. Brokenhearted once again, Ranjha eats the remaining poisoned Laddu (sweet) which Heer has eaten and dies by her side.

Heer and Ranjha are buried in Heer's hometown, Jhang. Love-smitten couples and others often pay visits to their mausoleum.[6]

Legacy and influenceEdit

Because its plot involves a romance opposed by family members and ends with the two lovers dying, the story is often compared to the Shakespeare play Romeo and Juliet.[7][8]

In popular cultureEdit

The epic poem has been made into several feature films between 1928 and 2013.[9]

Film and release year Actors Producer and director Film songs lyricist and music composer
Heer Ranjha (1928) Zubeida as Heer, Shehzadi, Jani Babu Fatma Begum, Victoria Fatma Co./FCo
Heer Ranjha (Hoor-e-Punjab) (1929) Salochna as Heer, Dinshaw Bilimoria as Ranjha, Jamshedji, Neelum, M. Ismail as Kaidu, Abdul Rashid Kardar as Syeda Kherra Hakim Ram Parashad (Producer), Pesi Karani & R. S. Chaudhry (Directors), Imperial Film Company Bombay
Heer Ranjha (1931) Master Faqira as Ranjha, Shanta Kumari as Heer J. P. Advani, Karishna Tone
Heer Ranjha (1932) Rafiq Ghaznavi as Ranjha, Anwari Bai as Heer Abdul Rashid Kardar, Hakim Ram Parashad at Lahore Rafiq Ghaznavi
Heer Ranjha (1948) Mumtaz Shanti as Heer, Ghulam Mohammed as Ranjha Wali Sahib Aziz Khan
Heer (1955) Swaran Lata as Heer, Inayat Hussain Bhatti as Ranjha Nazeer Ahmed Khan at Lahore Hazin Qadri, Safdar Hussain
Heer (1956) Nutan as Heer, Pradeep Kumar as Ranjha Hameed Butt Kaifi Azmi
Heer Sial (1962) Bahar Begum as Heer, Sudhir as Ranjha
Heer Sial (1965) Firdaus as Heer, Akmal Khan as Ranjha Jafar Bukhari at Lahore Tanvir Naqvi, Bakhshi Wazir
Heer Ranjha (1970 film) Firdaus as Heer, Ejaz Durrani as Ranjha Masood Pervez at Lahore Ahmad Rahi, Khurshid Anwar
Heer Raanjha (1970) Priya Rajvansh as Heer, Raaj Kumar as Ranjha Chetan Anand Kaifi Azmi, Madan Mohan
Heer Ranjha (1992 film) Sridevi as Heer, Anil Kapoor as Ranjha Harmesh Malhotra Anand Bakshi, Laxmikant Pyarelal
Heer Ranjha (2009) Neeru Bajwa as Heer, Harbhajan Mann as Ranjha Harjit Singh Babu Singh Mann, Gurmeet Singh

In 2013, the television serial Heer Ranjha, directed by Shahid Zahoor and produced by Yousuf Salahuddin, aired on PTV Home.[citation needed]

In musicEdit

The British musician Panjabi MC references the tale of Heer and Ranjha in his 2003 song Jogi.[10] It has been sung by various Pakistani singers, including the classical/traditional artist Ghulam Ali.

The tale is mentioned in popular Bollywood songs such as "Ranjha" by Rupesh Kumar Ram from the movie Queen ,"Ranjha Ranjha" by Rekha Bhardwaj and Javed Ali from the movie Raavan and "Dariya" from the movie Baar Baar Dekho.[citation needed]

The names of Heer and Ranjha have been referred in the song lyrics of "One Love: The Taj Anthem" by A.R.Rahman.[citation needed]

Alam Lohar is renowned for reciting Heer in various styles and one of the first international folk singers to bring this story in a song format.[citation needed]

One of the songs of 2012 Hindi film Jab Tak Hai Jaan has been named "Heer".[11]

Also, the 2018 Hindi film Race 3 has a song named "Heeriye" which refers to Heer and Ranjha.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ http://apnaorg.com/research-papers/english/paper-9/page-1.shtml, Heer Ranjha, research paper on epic poem written by Waris Shah in 1766 on Academy of the Punjab in North America website, Retrieved 1 March 2016
  2. ^ N. Hanif (2000), Biographical Encyclopaedia of Sufis: South Asia, p. 387
  3. ^ Waqar Pirzada (2014), Chasing Love Up against the Sun, p. 12
  4. ^ "Rekhta Blog - Qissa-Kahaani Banaam Heer Ranjha". Rekhta. 4 October 2019.
  5. ^ In Waris Shah's version there is an added invocation to the famous Panj peer or five saints
  6. ^ Tomb of Heer Ranjha in Jhang.Pakistan Geotagging website link:http://pakgeotagging.blogspot.com/2014/05/tomb-of-heer-ranjha-in-jhang-takht.html, Retrieved 1 March 2016
  7. ^ Sirhandi, Marcella C. (1 September 1999). "Manipulating Cultural Idioms". Art Journal. 58 (3): 40–47. doi:10.1080/00043249.1999.10791952. ISSN 0004-3249.
  8. ^ http://calhoun.nps.edu/bitstream/handle/10945/27353/689057.pdf?sequence=1
  9. ^ http://www.citwf.com/listFilms.asp?filmName=Heer+Ranjha Archived 8 October 2018 at the Wayback Machine, List of many films made on the love story of Heer Ranjha on Complete Index To World Film website, Retrieved 1 March 2016
  10. ^ "jogi lyrics + English translation". lyricstranslate.com. Retrieved 27 October 2016.
  11. ^ "Jab Tak Hai Jaan: Watch the new song 'Heer'". News18. 6 November 2012. Retrieved 9 October 2018.

External linksEdit