Tuesday, May 10, 2005

fakiri legends -1

All fakirs, sufis, pirs have at least one special legend associated with their name, that makes them the pride of the deraa, where they're buried and revered.

Lately, I've heard a lot about the sufi legends. Most of them are myths, and not rooted in fact, but the symbolic value is tremendous, revealing the guiding principles of the saints. Here are some:

The story of Bulle Shah and Inayat Shah's ears
Inayat Shah was Bulle Shah's murshid (master or guru). Now, one of the founding principles of Sufism is that there is no caste, no clan, no heirarchy. Therefore, when you came to a pir, you lost your caste.

Baba Bulla was born a Syed (amongst Muslims, that's like being a Brahmin), and perhaps, some vestige of pride at being Syed-born had remained in his heart. One day, when he knocked at the door of his murshid's house, the latter called out 'Who's there?'

Bulle Shah replied, "It's me, Syed Bulla".

This incensed Inayat Shah so much that he banished his disciple from sight, ordering him never to show his face again.

Bulla, like most sufi disciples, loved his murshid so much that he felt he couldn't live without him. He longed to win back favour, but failed in each attempt. Once, when he could no longer bear it, the poor man decided that if he couldn't look at his murshid, he should be able to touch something, even if it was just the master's bath-water.

So, when Inayat Shah was taking a bath, Bulle Shah stood outside the house, and put his head in the drain, to receive the master's blessings in this way. He didn't realise that the drain, unfortunately, was blocked by his head. And Inayat Shah, thinking that a stone was clogging up his drain, took up a big stick and thrust it through the drain-hole. The stick met with Bulle Shah's head, who promptly collapsed.

However, the murshid was not one to forgive so easily. Bandaged and cleaned up (I'm assuming), the penitent Bulle Shah was banished again.

This time, Bulla was determined to succeed. He went to the colony of the Kanjaris (dancing girls), who were renowned for their dance, song and musical talent. Here, he began to take lessons in singing and music. Day and night, he would practice.

One day, Inayat Shah sent one of his serving boys out on an errand. The boy happened to pass by the Kanjari colony, atthe time when Bulle Shah was singing. Transfixed by the magic and unbearable pain in the voice, the boy came close to the source, and then he found himself glued to the wall.

Inayat Shah, meanwhile, waited and waited. When the boy didn't return, he plucked off his left ear (so goes the legend), and sent it to find the boy. The left ear found the boy, but was equally transfixed by the voice. So, the ear found itself glued to the wall of this house.

When the left ear failed to return, Inayat Shah sent his right ear on the same errand. And though the right ear also found the left ear, and the boy, it was just as helpless against the power of Bulle Shah's voice. So, the right ear, the left ear, and the boy, stayed glued to the wall.

The day passed and night set in. Finally, Bulla stopped singing and the spell broke. Sheepishly, the boy, the left ear and the right ear, returned to the master.

That is not the end of the story, though.

Bulla was training as a kanjari because there used to be a tradition: each year, at the Urs festival, a great durbar would be set up. The sufi saint of the time would sit on a high chair and a new dancing girl, who had not yet performed in public, would stand before the master. Her nose-ring (symbolic of both honour and virginity) would be tied to a thread, one end of which would be held by the saint.

The new kanjari would sing, and if she was any good, the master would give the thread a tug, and the nose-ring would come off. If not, he would let go of the thread, and this was treated as a rejection of her skills.

So, Bulla dressed himself up as a new dancing girl at the Urs. Then he struck up a song, which said something like, "My lord (the Punjabi word used was 'khasam' which could mean a master, a husband or the lord), the thread of my life is in your hands; do not let it go."

Finally, Inayat Shah's heart melted and he accepted Bulle Shah once again, and passed on his own mantle on him.


1conoclast said...

WOW!!! Where did you get all this information from???

Annie Zaidi said...

its legend, not information.
hearsay, of course. and i got it through listening :)

Murali said...

inspiring story. no wonder bullah became a sufi

Anonymous said...

this is all rubbish pointless things enjoy life eat, drink and party hard. the bulle shah's etc. had nothing to do in those days so they used to sing and dance to keep themselves preoccupied.enjoy life upto high........

Unknown said...

fakiri and sufi are not same , may be they have similarity.
while both perhaps came from Parashya
sufi is more influential in pakistan and wester side of India, where as Fakiri is having more influence in east India and Bangaldash. both are in the Morphati ways of believe.
hope you will go more deep into books of Sudhir Chkraborty, famous researcher on Baul and fakiri sects

Anonymous said...


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