Waris Shah

Syed Waris Shah was one of the most leading and prominent poets of the 18th Century. He was born to Syed Gul Sher in 1722 and died in 1790 at the same village. He received his early education in a mosque at Jandiala Sher Khan. The mosque still exists in the north-west of the tomb. He completed formal education of Dars-e-Nizami in Kasur under the guidance of Maulvi Ghulam Murtaza Kasuri. Bulleh Shah also received his early education at the Madrassa.

Later on, he went to Pakpatan for receiving spiritual education and stayed there for two years. He also stayed at the shrine of Baba Farid for some time. Later on, he became an Imam (prayer leader) at a mosque at Malka Hans, Sahiwal. There is a controversy over his love affair with Bhag Bhari who belonged to a gypsy tribe. According to some researchers, they also had some meetings but when it came into the knowledge of the tribe and left the place. As the Pir Sahib was highly educated and belonged to a Syed family he refrained from chasing the girl but pangs of love arose the eternal element of agony in him which incited him to rewrite the legendry folk tale Heer Ranjha in the perspective of his own grief. He completed his masterpiece in 1766.

He had a great vocabulary and made unique arrangement of ideas. The Punjabi culture is present with full vigour in this great work. He also used Arabic, Persian, Turkish and Sanskrit words besides Quranic verses at various places. He wrote Tasneef Nama, Miraj Nama, Chohery Nama, Dohray and Mahia but Heer received an unprecedented fame. According to some historians, Waris Shah wrote Heer after being encouraged by a pretty girl Bhag Bhari at Malka Hans.

Indian famous Punjabi female poet Amarta Preetam was immensely impressed by Heer and its creator. She wrote a famous poem on Waris Shah “Eik roi see dhee pnujab the.”

Over 76 writers have written Heer but the work of Waris Shah was rare among them all. Another famous Punjabi poet Mian Muhammad Bakhsh also paid rich tribute to him in his poetry. Waris Shah o sadaee jewende nain jinah keetian naik kamaian nain.

A study of Heer shows that he had an excellent observation about contemporary politics and predicted the decay of political power of the Mughals. He also painted the daily life of the Punjabis so vividly and thoroughly that a reader is impressed by his power of narration. Many of his sentences have become proverbs.


The News, July 22, 2004