Baba Farid was born on the first day of the month of Ramzan in 1173 CE in the Punjab town of Kothiwal. His parents named him Farid-ud-Din Masaud, while ďShakar GanjĒ got tagged to his name at a later stage, but he is mostly revered as Baba Farid of Pak Pattan. Baba Sheikh Farid was born at a time when Punjab was going through very tough times. Tamarlane (Taimur, the Lame), Halaku (son of Chengez Khan), Mohammed Ghouri, Mahmud Ghazanvi,etc. had or were ravaging Punjab when Farid was born. The official language of India was Turkish and Persian. The Slave Dynasty of Qutb-Ud-Din Aibak was at that time being headed by Sultan Balban. 200-300 years earlier to the West of the Indian subcontinent, sword of Islam had swept through the countries like Iran, Afghanistan, and Central Asia. In India too, Qutb-ud-din Aibak succeeded in establishing a line of rulers, which ruled for some decades from Delhi, over quite a lot of territory. Then came the sufi saints from Arabia and other places to spread their message of love for Allah. Sufi saints like Khwaja Qutub-Ud-Din Bakhtiar Kaki, who was a Syed of Jaffri Hussaini tribe, were very famous.
Khwaja Bakhtiar Kaki was Born around 1150 CE and studied under Abu Hafiz, a celebrated doctor of Ush, he went to Ajmer and became a disciple of Khwaja Moin-ud-Din Chishti. In due time he proceeded to Delhi where Baba Farid met him and became his disciple. Emperor Sultan Shams-ud-Din Iltutmish was also his disciple. He died in CE 1235 and was buried in Delhi, where his tomb is held in devout reverence by pious Hindus and Muslims. His descendants are called Chishtis from the tribe of his priest. - Makhazan-ul-Tawarikh.
Genealogy of Baba Sheikh Farid ji is given in the Jawahir-e-Faridi (The gems of Farid), preserved at the shrine of Pak Pattan, by Ali Asghar of Bahadal, a town near Sirhind. Baba Sheikh Farid ji descended from Farrukh Shah, who was king of Kabul and kings of Ghazni and other states were subject to him. Baba Farid ji's Great Grandfather was son of Farrukh Shah, the emperor of Kabul. During that time, Baba Faridís Great Grandfather was killed when Halaku, the grandson of Chengez Khan invaded Kabul. He killed several princes and learned men, including several of Baba Faridís ancestors. Baba Faridís Grandfather Shaikh Shaib abandoned their country and took refuge in the Punjab in CE 1125. The Qazi of Kasur who was acquainted with the high position Shaikh Shaib had held there, treated him and his relatives with great respect and hospitality. After some time Shaikh Shaib proceeded to Multan where he deemed he should be less exposed to worldly influences or the temptings of ambition. He took his abode in Kothiwal, now known as Chawali Mushaikh, close to Dipalpur. He established in Kothiwal, a private college for religious instruction and attracted much attention. His eldest son Jamal-ud-din married Bibi Miriam, daughter of Syed Muhammad Abdula Shah - a descendant of Ali. Bibi Miriam had three sons, Khwaja Aziz-ud-din, Farid-ud- Din Masaud (Baba Farid) and Khwaja Najib-ud-din, and one daughter Khatun Jamila.
When Baba Farid was 16 years old, he went to Hajj and stayed in the house of Abdul Rahim Ansari. Since Baba Farid ji use to talk in Punjabi, an unkempt faqir on hearing Faridís language foretold the Boyís subsequent greatness. After Farid came back to Punjab, he was sent to Khwaja Qutub-ud-Din Bakhtiar Kaki at Delhi to learn theology. Qutub-ud-din, on finding Baba Farid deficient in scholarship sent him to the shrine of Abdul Shakur of Sarsa, near Delhi to finish his education. On that occasion Baba Farid repeated the following:
O Farid, thou hast not walked in Godís way; therefore He hath no appeared unto thee Who is there who hath knocked at Godís door for whom it hath not been opened Lost thy life on the way of the Friend if thou desire to be even as those holy men.
The high reputation Farid acquired in Delhi soon became irksome to him. He therefore made his way to Hansi, where he remained for some time. Meanwhile Khwaja Qutub-ud- Bakhtiar Kaki died at Delhi and Baba Farid paid a second visit to that city, and assumed the mantle of his late spiritual guide. He ultimately left it in the keeping of Jamal-ud-Din of Hansi and thence proceeded to Ajodhan, the present Pak Pattan. The manner in which the name of Ajodhan changed to Pak Pattan was that a canal, which derived its water from the Sutlej passed near the town. It was usual for all who visited Baba Farid to wash their hands and feet there. The place henceforth became known as Baba Sahib ji da Pak Pattan, or Faridís cleansing ferry.
Sheikh Farid ji made Pak Pattan a great center of Sufi thoughts. People from all over India and Middle East would come to see him. He always used his language, that is, Punjabi spoken by common people, even though he was highly learned and educated in Arabic, Persian, etc. All his couplets are written in Punjabi or Persian script. He generally rejected offerings of money, but would accept gifts of food, etc. for public kitchen. Baba Farid went to Delhi again and was received with a hospitable reception. Emperor Nasir-ud-Din Balban introduced him to his family. Hazabra, the Emperor's daughter, was married to Baba Sheikh Farid, but only after Emperor Balban promised not to give any costly gifts. Baba ji distributed all her jewels, etc. to the poor.
Once seven hundred holy men were sitting together. An inquirer put them four questions to which Baba Farid ji replied:
Q.1 Who is the wisest of men?
A.1 He who refraineth from Sin.
Q.2 Who is the most intelligent?
A.1 He who is not disconcerted at anything.
Q.3 Who is most independent?
A.3 He who practises contentment.
Q.4 Who is the most needy?
A.4 He who practise the it not.
A Student asked Baba Farid if singing was lawful and proper. He replied that, according to Islam, it was certainly unlawful, but its propriety was still a matter of discussion. Nizam-ud-Dauliya told Nasir-ud-din, a disciple of his, that one day when he went to visit Baba Farid he stood at his door, and saw him dancing as he sang the following :
I wish ever to live in Thy love, O God. If I become the dust under Thy feet, I shall live I thy slave desire none but Thee in both worlds; For Thee I will live and for Thee I will die.
The following couplet was a favorite of Baba Faridís:
Not every heart is capable of finding the secret of Godís love. There are not pearls in every sea; there is not gold in every mine.
Baba Farid visited a city called Mokhalpur, it is now called Faridkot in honor of Baba Farid; today it is in the Indian part of Punjab. He then turned his efforts towards the Punjabi mountains where he converted a whole tribe. Baba Farid remained there for six months and then he locked up the house in which he had dwelt, saying that his successor would open it, and then returned to Pak Pattan. As his successor, Diwan Taj-ud-Din, was returning from a pilgrimage to Mecca and Madina, he happened to visit that part of the country. He asked people the name of their tribe, they said they were descendents of Qutub-ul-Alam Baba Farid Shakarganj. And thus Taj-ud-din opened the door of Baba Faridís hut hundreds of years later.
Baba Farid died of Pneumonia on the fifth day of the month of Muharram, CE 1266. The date of Baba Farid's death is commemorated by chronograms (a) Farid Asari (b) Auliye Khudai. He was unique, a saint of God. Baba Farid was buried outside the town of Pak Pattan at a place called Martyr's Grave. Guru Nanakís contemporary was Baba Sheikh Farid Sani, or the second Sheikh Farid, 6th in succession of Baba Farid Shaikh Shakarganj.
--The father of Punjabi literature== Thus, Baba Sheikh Farid Shakarganj can be truly called the founder of the Punjabi literary tradition, making Punjabi literature older than that using Hindi, Urdu, etc. It was much later, after Baba Farid's use of Punjabi, that the writers Tulsidas, Mira Bai, and others started using Hindi as the language for writing religious literature.