The Punjabi Sufi mystic of the Indian subcontinent — Bulleh Shah — lived from 1680 to 1757 in what is now Pakistan. Significantly, his beautiful poetic exhortations of unconditional love and harmony are more relevant today in every conflict-ridden country and communally vitiated atmosphere.
He believed that only in wahdat-ul-wujud (unity of all beings in the divine) and that too at an experiential and not just theoretical level, one can go beyond the man-made boundaries. His Punjabi poetry shows us a clear trajectory towards this ultimate reality.
In this regard, there is an excellent book, Bulleh Shah: Sufi Lyrics, translated by Christopher Shackle that I recently had the good fortune to go through. This is a striking modern English version of the beautiful Punjabi lyrics presented alongside the Punjabi text in the Gurmukhi script.
Because of his lucid poetic style through popular musical genres, Bulleh Shah is still endeared to Muslims, Hindus and Sikhs both in India and Pakistan as well as in the international Punjabi diaspora.
Sadly, Bulleh Shah suffered the fanatic persecution even when after his demise. The local clergy did not allow the burial of his dead body in the graveyard.
Three days passed after his death, but he was not buried. His body was taken outside for burial. But his divine union found resonance across the world:
I have been pierced by the arrow of love, what shall I do?
I can neither live, nor can I die.
I have peace neither by night, nor by day.
The fire of separation is unceasing!
Let someone take care of my love.