Waris Shah (1722-1798)


Waheguru Waheguru
Waris Shah (1722-1798)
Syed Waris Shah was a Punjabi poet, best-known for his seminal work Heer Ranjha, based on the traditional folk tale of Heer and her lover Ranjha. Heer is considered one of the quintessential works of classical Punjabi literature. The story of Heer was also put to paper by several other writers, including Damodar Daas, Mukbal, and Ahmed Gujjar, but Waris Shah's version is by far the most popular today.

Syed Waris Shah was born into a reputed Syed family in the village of Jandiala Sher Khan, district of Sheikhupura, Punjab in or around 1706 A.D. His father's name was Gulshar Shah. Waris Shah acknowledged himself as a disciple of Pir Makhdum of Kasur. Waris Shah's parents are said to have died when he was in his early years and he probably received his education at the shrine of his preceptor. After completing his education in Kasur, he shifted his residence to Malkahans. Here, he resided in a small room, adjacent to a historic mosque. Waris Shah died in or around 1798 A.D. when he was around 92 years of age. His mausoleum is a place of pilgrimage today, especially for those in love.

He was a consummate artiste, deeply learned in Islamic and domestic cultural lore. His verse is a treasure-trove of Punjabi phrases, idioms and sayings. His minute and realistic depiction of each detail of Punjabi life and the political situation in the 1700s, remains unique. Waris Shah also sublimated his own unrequited love for a girl (Bhag Bhari) in writing romance. The amazing poetic mould that he worked within has not been bettered by any of his successors till date.

Excerpt from Heer Waris Shah:
The following is the opening line from Waris Shah's rendering of Heer :
Awal hamad khuda da vird karye
Ishq kita su jag da mool mian
Pehlan aap hi rabb ne ishq kita
Te mashooq he nabi rasool mian

Translation: "First of all let us acknowledge God (who is self-evident), who has made love the worth of the world Sir,
It was God Himself that first loved, and the prophet (Muhammad (SW)) is His beloved Sir."