Friday, December 2, 2016

A Poem by Bulleh Shah

My maternal family has a citrus farm in Punjab, where my grandmother would take me there sometimes during wheat harvest, and this wandering dervaish would come to our haunted haveli and sing this song. 

My grandmother had buried adult children in their prime( including my mother) and patronized a lot of dervishes and fakirs. 

So this rockstar would come and sing a very sad lament by Bulleh Shah.  I have tried to translate the poem from its original Punjabi to English.  

The blossoming of love is strange and wondrous
When I acquired the knowledge of love,
I dreaded the mosque.
I fled to my Lords dwelling,
Where a thousand sounds reverberate.

When love revealed its mystery to me,
The parroted words vanished.
Inside and out, I was cleansed.
I saw my Beloved wherever I looked.

Heer and Ranjha are already one.
But Heer, deluded, still searches the woods.
Here Ranjha is with her,
And she does not even know it.

I am tired of reading the Vedas and the Koran!
Obeisance has only abraded my forehead.
God was not in Mecca, nor any holy place.
But whoever finds Him becomes brightly illuminated.

Burn the prayer rug, break the clay pot,
Divest yourself of rosary, bowl and staff.
Those who love - proclaim repeatedly and loudly,
‘Eat the forbidden! Forsake halaal!’(a lawful diet)

You have spent your life in the mosque,
Yet your heart is filled with filth.
Not once did you discern that God is One!
What is your point in making this racket now?

Your devotion was loveless.
Now your protestations are worthless.
Bulleh says, I would have remained silent,
It is love that compels me to speak forcefully.

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