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Bulleh Shah is believed to have been born in 1680, in the small village of Uch, Bahawalpur, Punjab, now in Pakistan. His ancestors had migrated from Bukhara in modern Uzbekistan.
When he was six months old, his parents relocated to Malakwal. There his father, Shah Muhammad Darwaish, was a preacher in the village mosque and a teacher. His father later got a job in Pandoke, about 50 miles southeast of Kasur. Bulleh Shah received his early schooling in Pandoke, and moved to Kasur for higher education. He also received education from Maulana Mohiyuddin. His spiritual teacher was the eminent Sufi saint, Shah Inayat Qadiri.
Little is known about Bulleh Shah’s direct ancestors, except that they were migrants from Uzbekistan. However, Bulleh Shah’s family was directly descended from the Prophet Muhammad(PBUH).
A large amount of what is known about Bulleh Shah comes through legends, and is subjective; to the point that there isn’t even agreement among historians concerning his precise date and place of birth. Some “facts” about his life have been pieced together from his own writings. Other “facts” seem to have been passed down through oral traditions.
The verse form Bulleh Shah primarily employed is called the Kafi, a style of Punjabi, Sindhi and Siraiki poetry used not only by the Sufis of Sindh and Punjab, but also by Sikh gurus.
Bulleh Shah’s poetry and philosophy strongly criticizes Islamic religious orthodoxy of his day.
Bulleh Shah’s time was marked with communal strife between Muslims and Sikhs. But in that age Baba Bulleh Shah was a beacon of hope and peace for the citizens of Punjab. While Bulleh Shah was in Pandoke, Muslims killed a young Sikh man who was riding through their village in retaliation for murder of some Muslims by Sikhs. Baba Bulleh Shah denounced the murder of an innocent Sikh and was censured by the mullas and muftis of Pandoke. Bulleh Shah maintained that violence was not the answer to violence.Bulleh Shah also hailed Guru Tegh Bahadur as a ghazi (Islamic term for a religious warrior) and incurred the wrath of the fanatic muslims at the time.
Banda Singh Bairagi was a contemporary of Bulleh Shah. In retaliation for the murder of Guru Gobind Singh’s two sons by Aurangzeb, he sought revenge by killing common Muslims. Baba Bulleh Shah tried to convince Banda Singh Bairagi to renounce his campaign of revenge. Bulleh Shah told him that the same sword which fell upon Guru Gobind Singh’s sons and innocent Sikhs also fell upon innocent Muslims. Hence killing innocent Muslim was not the answer to Aurangzeb’s reign of oppression.