There is an enduring ritual at the tombs of the Sufis which is known as ‘Langar’ (free meal). Travelers, visitors and itinerant that come to these shrines or tombs relish this free meal where no body looks down on them. Some regard this Langar as a cure to their malady or ailment. One evening a Darwaish (pastor) ordered his young disciple to distribute the LANGAR. Young pupil asked what should be his way of distribution. The Darwaish replied ‘The way Allah dispenses provisions to his men’. The young apprentice paused after hearing the words that just uttered from his mentors mouth and then went on with the orders.
But to everyone’s astonishment he carried out a very odd way of delivery; He gave a different amount of Langer to various people. Some of the visitors got beyond expectations while others got very little. Some even complained of getting nothing at all. There were even those that were happy of what they got but wanted more. So every soul had something to object about. His peers that disliked him the most were un happiest of all and complained to the Darwaish.
They told the Darwaish that ‘Bullah has gone mad!’ The Darwaish asked the reason of his favorite pupil’s behavior. Bulleh Shah replied; didn’t you ask me to give, as the Divine power distributes among his men. What wrong have I done? There was uproar on this answer. Bulleh shah was puzzled on the behavior of the people. But the question that was eating him out was a confusion. Bulleh Shah wanted to know who is he; is he believer or not? a favorite man of God like Moses or a tyrant like Pharo? He asked himself these question? There was no reply. He dived in the river of puzzlement and produce the greatest piece of art of all times.
I am neither a believer going to the mosque
Nor given to non-believing ways
Neither clean, nor unclean
Neither Moses not Pharaoh
I know not who I am
I am neither among sinners nor among saints
Neither happy, nor unhappy
I belong neither to water not to earth
I am neither fire, not air
I know not who I am
Neither do I know the secret of religion
Nor am I born of Adam and Eve
I have given myself no name
I belong neither to those who squat and pray
Nor to those who have gone astray
I know not who I am
I was in the beginning; I’d be there in the end
I know not any one other than the One
Who could be wiser than Bulleh Shah?
Whose Master is ever there to tend?
I know not who I am/.
Hazrat Ali once said:
Half of the answer is hidden inside a question.
Abdullah Shah aka Baba Bulleh Shah belonged to a religious family that came from Bukhara; Uzbekistan to present day Punjab, Pakistan. Bulleh Shah who is believed to be born in a small village in Bahawalpur was not only a man of God but was very well acquainted with the spiritual world. Considered to be the finest spiritual poet of all times Bulleh Shah preferred Saraiki, Punjabi and Sindhi on Persian and Urdu as a medium of his poems. The verse form Bulleh Shah primarily employed is called the Kafi (Refrain), a traditional style of Punjabi poetry used by Punjabi Sufis and Sikh gurus.
Bulleh Shah started to pass his time in a state of strange ecstasy. In the company of his Master and with the practice of the path he had been shown, Bulleh Shah’s spiritual condition started changing day by day. His kafi, “Whatever color I am dyed in” makes it clear how great the effect of his Master on him was. In it he mentions that his inner eye had been opened, all his doubts had been removed, and he had been blessed with the light of Realization. Through the grace of his Master he had the vision of the Lord within and that for him no difference existed between his Master and the Lord.
His unorthodox way was highly unpopular among the mullah of his times and some historians believe that his family was not allowed to bury him in the community graveyard. This ordeal is also reflected from few of his verses like;
To admonish Bullah came his sisters and sisters-in-law,
“Why have you brought disgrace to the Prophet
And to the progeny of Ali?
Listen to our advice, 0 Bullah, and leave the hem of the Arain’s skirt.
If you talk about me I am quite unfamiliar with the language he used in his verses of poetry but it contains a certain mysterious magnetism that draws my attention and million others that listen to his words in any form or genre of music. What relates us to Baba Bulleh Shah was his unending journey on the path of self discovery. We are the passengers of the same trail and we wander day in day out to find the very purpose of our existence.