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A note on Bulleh Shah

August 9th, 2012

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Last Sunday, August 5, 2012, I was invited to speak on Bulleh Shah at the occasion of showing of Ajoka’s play Bullah. Most of the things are summarized in one of my piece written for The Friday Times (http://wichaar.com/news/319/ARTICLE/27761/2011-10-01.html )

However, I want to add two points.

1. About half of Bulleh Shah’s printed text and sung poetry is very much polluted because of two reasons:

a. Popular stanzas of other classical poets like Shah Hussain, Sultan Bahu or Mian Muhammad are sung in Bulleh Shah’s name. Most of anti-Mullah poetry sung in Bulleh Shah’s name is of Sultan Bahu or popular verses like “Masjid dha de mandar dha de, dhah de ju kujh dhanda” belong to Mian Muhammad Bakhash.

b. Publishers have been employing mediocre poets to add kafis to make their version bigger. After the printing press came to Punjab texts of Punjabi poetry was widely published and was sold in millions in village fairs: Every maila in Punjab used to have Punjabi book stalls till 1960s. Publishing of Punjabi poetry was big business centered around Kashmiri Bazar, Lahore. Competing with each other publishers kept on adding concocted kafis etc. to distinguish their product. This way Waris Shah’s “Asli te Wadhi Heer” contained hundreds of stanzas of employed mediocre poets. In the last four decades Waris Shah’s original text has been rehabilitated. However, publishers took much more liberty with Bulleh Shah but its editing has not been done yet.

One of the reason Bulleh Shah’s poetry was not preserved because he had no mureeds like Baba Farid, Shah Hussain, Sultan Bahu or Khawaja Farid who took upon themselves to maintain the original text.

2. Ajoka’s play is based on popular myths and fictitious characters. It is a good effort to convey Bulleh Shah’s general message but it is not true portrayal of his real life.

 

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