Bulleh Shah and Rumi 3/5

Sufi poet Bullah ShahIn this milieu, the iconoclasm of Bulleh Shah is a fascinating polarity – bringing out the ‘other’ discourse in full public view. Ajoka theatre’s landmark production, “Bullah” is another cultural milestone that continues to reinvent and reintroduce Bulleh Shah within and beyond Pakistan. In particular, the revival of Bulleh in India is a direct result of Ajoka’s various performances in the different Punjabi speaking states and other parts of India. Ajoka’s handiwork was a seminal attempt to trace the life and progression of Bulleh Shah in a truly subaltern format. Almost in quick succession we heard Rabbi, the new pop sensation in India, launching his video Bullah ki jana mein kaun. Rabbi’s voice has a timeless quality and its transportation into a rock mode  made the song an instant hit. The video director weaved in modern translation of the lyrics into the images thereby making the poetry comprehensible to millions worldwide. The translations appeared quite terrific in the caste-ridden, geography-obsessed and conflict laden South Asia. Clubs across India play Bullah with a fervor that may have surprised Bulleh Shah himself!Bulleh’s revival, admittedly on a limited scale, is comparable to the fascinating ascendancy of the 13th century poet-mystic Jalauldin Rumi in the West particularly the United States. According to the Christian Science Monitor, Rumi ranked as America’s best-selling poet in 1997. True that the likes of Deepak Chopra have transformed Rumi into a love-therapy icon, but his popularity has led to a full scale launch of Rumi in the academia and journalism. In fact, one of the antidotes to Islamophobia in the US has been Rumi’s songs of love – a glimmer of discernment in the largely ignorant and MacArthian world of mainstream Western media. Internet hosts thousands of sites that translate, sell, offer and package Rumi for all kinds.Rabbi - popularizing Sufi poetry

It is not a mere coincidence that this Bulleh-Rumi resurgence is taking place in two very different contexts. At a fundamental level, albeit for different reasons, the resistance to formalism and packaged consent is finding a voice:

Bulleh! to me,

I am not known
Not a believer inside the mosque, am I
Nor a pagan disciple of false rites
Not the pure amongst the impure
Neither Moses, nor the Pharoah
Bulleh! to me, I am not known
And the desire to be free of all trappings of identity, convention and routine:In happiness nor in sorrow, am I
Neither clean, nor a filthy mire
Not from water, nor from earth
Neither fire, nor from air, is my birth
Bulleh! to me, I am not known

Not an Arab, nor Lahori
Neither Hindi, nor Nagauri
Hindu, Turk (Muslim), nor Peshawari
Nor do I live in Nadaun
Bulleh! to me, I am not known

Translation: Umair Raja – available at www.chowk.com

Cont [1] [2] [3] [4] [5]

Published on July 25, 2006 at 8:13 pm  Comments (1)  

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One CommentLeave a comment

  1. Your blog is like abreath of frsh air in todays world where computers, XBoxes, PSPs and TV have taken a predominant precedence over literature andsoul searching. For years I would google sites having literary and spiritual content but could never find one like your blog. Well done and I am sure there must be a lot of people who like me yearn to read good content.


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