Remove duality and do away with all disputes;
The Hindus and Muslims are not other than He.
Deem everyone virtuous, there are no thieves.
For, within every body He himself resides.
How the Trickster has put on a mask!
Bulleh Shah, the 18th century mystic poet from the Punjab, was the most popular Sufi saint of his times. In fact, some eminent writers have called him "the greatest Sufi poet of the Punjab." His admirers have even compared his writings and philosophy to those of Rumi. At present he is held in equally great esteem in Northern India and Pakistan.
Bulleh Shah's poems are suffused with love for God and his Master or Murshid. The other dominant note in his poetry is on very strong denunciation of empty rituals and external observance of religion.
He does not believe in saying something in roundabout ways. Whatever he has to convey, he says it by hitting the nail on the head. His poems are marked, not only by plain speaking, but also by bluntness. This produces a poignancy of feeling together with a depth of insight, which puts all artifice to shame. His poetry rises spontaneously from the depth of his heart, even as a fountain spouts from the depths of the earth. It has a kind of abandon which produces an intoxicating effect on the reader. No wonder it has always been a favorite choice for the group of singer called qawwals.
About the Author: Prof. J. R. Puri was head of the Department of Philosophy at the Punjabi University, Patiala from 1969 to 1976. Earlier, he was head of the post-graduate Department of Philosophy, Mahendra College, Patiala for more than a decade. After his retirement as a teacher of philosophy for more than thirty-five years, his present interest centers mainly on the study and practice of mysticism.
Dr. T. R. Shangari is head of the post-graduate Department of Punjabi in D.A.V. College, Jullundur. Among other Sufi poets of the Punjab, he has been lecturing on Bulleh Shah for the last many years to his classes. He has also made a deep study of the major religions of the world.