Sunday, June 8, 2014

Bulleh Shah: Sajna

Bulleh Shah (Punjabi: بلہے شاہ , ਬੁੱਲ੍ਹੇ ਸ਼ਾਹ, 1680–1757), born Syed Abdullah Shah Qadri, was a Punjabi Sufi poet. His writings reveal a thinker alive to contemporary sociological problems of the Punjab; his poems highlight his quest through the four stages of Sufism: Shariat (Path), Tariqat (Observance), Haqiqat (Truth) and Marfat (Union). Bulleh Shah’s work never overtly questioned the Islamic religious orthodoxy of his day, but his metaphors often express frustration towards clerical Islam.

Here is a rendering.

Ghunghat orhley na, luk sajna; main mushtaq deedar de haan.

Wrap not the veil, hidden Beloved, I long to have a glimpse of you.

Terey bajhon deewani hoye, tokaan kardey log sabhoye
Je ker yaar karey diljoi, taan faryaad pukaar de haan.

Without you I go insane, people around poke fun at me.
Friend come heal my heart, that alone remains my plea.

Muft bikaindi jandi bandi, mil mahi jind aweien jandi
Ek dam hijr nahi seh pandi, bulbul main gulzar de haan.

Your slave-girl is being sold free, come, Beloved, rescue me.
Not moment's parting can withstand, I Bulbul of your garden be.

[Bulleh woh kaun tera yaar, ows dey hath Quran owsey janaar?]

[Who's this Bulleh your friend, in one hand Quran, in t'other (Sacred)Thread?]

In contemporary performance, the crispest, most crowd-pleasing verses are often juxtaposed from poems composed at different times; keeping that in mind, note how the point of gender changes during the course of the song, from a man entreating a woman to part her veil, to a slave-girl asking her master deliverance from being sold.

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