This thesis is a humble attempt to discuss in a brief but comprehensive manner the Sufi poets who wrote in the Punjabi language. The evidence on which I have based my research was of four kinds:
1. Manu scri pts found in public and private libraries.
2. Printed and lithographed books in English, Punjabi, Urdu, and Persian.
3. Accounts furnished by the gaddi-nisheens.
4. Recitals of the kavvalis1and oral traditions.
The last-mentioned source, though very rich, is full of accretions and abounds in legendary narratives. I have utilized the information furnished by it with great care. It has served rather to verify facts than otherwise.
This is the first work on Panjabi Sufi poets in English or inany other language. Though, as I have mentioned below, a few articles and booklets have been written on some of the poets treated in this thesis, yet no book or article has been written on the Sufi poets collectively. My attempt has been to appreciate Sufi beliefs and interpret Sufi poetry as they are understood by the Sufis and the Punjabis. I have tried to discuss them as methodically as possible.
The sources for the life-history and poetry of each Writer have been given at the end of each chapter. In the case of those poets for whose life and poetry the sources are meager, the information has been given in the footnotes.
Punjabi is a language written in three different scri pts, i.e. Persian, Hindi and Gurmukhi. The Muhammadans who employ the Persian scri pt give a Persian or Arabic character to the language, and the Hindus who employ Hindi somewhat sanskritize it. The Sikhs, though they sometimes insert Sanskrit words and phrases, on the whole try to write the language as it is spoken by the masses.
In the midst of this diversity, the work of transliteration has not been easy. The originals from which I have quoted were written in different scri pts, often full of miss-spellings, and it has been extremely difficult to decide on the appropriate roman spelling. The same word has frequently occurred in different connexions; therefore it has not been possible to keep always to the same spelling.
For technical non-Punjabi Sufi terms and names I have generally followed the Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics and for old Sufi and Islamic names the Urdu system of transliteration. These names, after all, are not Punjabi and are written as in Urdu. The names of living people I have spelt as they do when writing in English, believing that every person has the right to spell his name as he likes.
The names of books in Indian languages have been spelt according to the system of transliteration, of the language in which each book is written.
For geographical names I have followed the current English system in India with a few rare exceptions. For example ‘Punjab’ has three different forms and in order to maintain a uniform character I have throughout this work spelt it as ‘Punjab’.
For the transliteration of the Panjabi verse I have employed Dr T. Grahame Bailey’s dictionary, except for a. few regional words.
For oriental words in the English translations of the original text, I have mostly followed the Punjabi pronunciation of the educated classes.
Before I close, I should say that I am highly indebted to my teacher, Dr T. Grahame Bailey, for his very kind suggestions and valuable advice throughout the work, but especially in the translation of the quotations from Punjabi poetry.
The following is the complete list of the order followed in rendering the vowels and consonants for transliteration of the Punjabi poems:
1- Hereditary singers or musicians often attached to the tombs of the Sufi saints, who recite compositions of the mystics and their own poems p ease of the saints.