The blog entry titled 'Abode of Love' that I have linked to here, describes the rich cultural and architectural heritage of, as well as the present state of affairs at the town of Malka Hans in Pakistani Punjab, where Waris Shah (the legendary Sufi saint and Punjabi poet) is said to have composed his magnum opus i.e. his version of the immortal love tragedy Heer-Ranjha, in 1766.
His version is widely regarded as being the most popular, among some 76 known ones. As the poet Mohammad Ilyas has rightly said:
Khabar pal tey naa ik saah di ey
Ajab kheyD us beparwaah di ey
Heer Ranjhyaa teri naa ho saki,
Heer ho gayi Waris Shah di ey
(It is a strange, Divine play that no one is definite about the next moment in life. O Ranjha, instead of you, Heer has been named after Waris Shah.)
During the trip to Pakistan in April, I had the good fortune of being able to buy, at Hasan Abdal, a set of books containing selected verses by famous Sufi saints including Waris Shah, Bulleh Shah, Sultan Bahu, Mian Mohammad Baksh, Baba Farid and Shah Hussain.
Not only do I find Punjabi poetry by the Sufis to be a very engrossing read, but I am very often also able to connect it with my experiences in daily life.
The author of the books is Professor Saeed Ahmad Farani, who, I believe, also writes a regular column that is published at the website of the Academy of the Punjab in North America (a non-religious and non-political organisation that is making a highly commendable effort towards promoting Punjabi language, literature and culture.).
A remarkable coincidence was that the good professor was present at the book-stall at Hasan Abdal, while I was making the purchase and my father was able to exchange a few words with him. He came across as a very humble man who does not seek fame or fortune, but only to serve his mother tongue to the best of his abilities. May the Almighty bless him with a long life!
As Waris Shah has declared:
Waris Shah oh sadaa ee jewNdey neyN
JehnaaN keetiyaaN neyk kamaaiyaaN nee
(Waris Shah! Those who perform good deeds shall receive eternal life.)