Mian Mohammad Bakhsh (1830 - 1907) is one of the great Punjabi Sufi poets in the Perso-Arabic tradition. He was born in a small village Chak Thakra, close to district Mirpur, Azad Kashmir. His forefathers belong to Chak Behram of Gujrat, Punjab. He wrote 18 books, all in the Punjabi language except one in Persian. His major work is Saif-ul-Malook which he wrote in the age of just 33 (Hijra years). The real name of the book is Safar-ul-Ishq (THE JOURNEY OF 'DIVINE' LOVE) but it is publically known as Saif-ul-Malook. The book is equally popular in all parts of the world where Punjabi is understood.
In the book, he writes about himself:
umar masannaf dee tad aahee tin daahey tin yakkey
bheyN* waDDee farmaaNdey eyho patey rabbey nooN pakkey
The age of the writer was thirty three years when he (Mian Mohammad Bakhsh) completed the book "Saif-ul-Malook". My elder sister told me. God knows better.
The prince Saif-ul-Malook, the main character of the story, is a symbol of bravery, courage, honesty and commitment. He left his royal life style and started his journey of the Divine Love from the land of Egypt. His principal aim was to reach Bagh-e-Irum, Sharistan and win the princess Badi-ul-Jamal. It is a seeker’s journey to find the ultimate truth. The story tells us a lesson that one can find the truth but one has to sacrifice the excessive worldly desires by getting rid of impurities. One must purify ones in and outer worlds to find truth. Simply performing religious rituals are not sufficient to seek the Divine Love. He says in Saiful Malook:
qatarah waNj peyaa daryaaway, taaN oh koaN* kahaaway
jis tey apN*aa aap gavaavey, aap oho baN* jaavey
“When a droplet dissolves in the river, what will it be called? It becomes that for whom it has lost itself.”
It is the journey of a seeker (Salik), who eliminates his existence as a separate self, and attains everlasting life by entering the River of Union. One individual (juzv) is a part of the Whole (kul). Feeling the sufferings and pains of the whole humanity is a message hidden in the above lines.
Punjab, the land of five rivers of sweet waters has a wonderful galaxy of large number of great spiritual poets, including Baba Farid Ganj-e-shakar, Baba Guru Nanak, Shah Hussain, Sultan Bahu, Bulhey Shah, Waris Shah, Hasham Shah, Mian Mohammad Bakhsh, Khawaja Ghulam Farid Mithankoti, Shah Murad, Hazrat Pir Mehr Ali Shah of GolRa Sharif etc. This region is certainly a very unique place on the earth where huge number of Sufi Saints expressed their purified spiritual views in the form of poetry and it is also a great honour for the Punjabi language which got such blessed souls after regular intervals during last nine centuries. They came in different times but gave the same message of peace, tolerance, cosmic fraternity and Divine Love. Unfortunately, we could not build a society on the values which were propagated in the poetry of these Sufi saints.
People of the Punjab and Kashmir respect these saints a lot and love their poetry (arfana kalaam) from the core of their hearts.
Mian Mohammad Bakhsh parted from the worldly life on 22nd January, 1907 and his tomb is in the courtyard of Darbar Hazrat Pir Peera Shah Ghazi Qalandar, KhaRi Sharif, Mirpur.
How nicely Mian Sahib writes his address in the Saif-ul-Malook. He was such a great poet of the Punjabi language that he used to write even letters to his friends in the form of poetry. He invites people by telling them his address in a simple poetic form.
Jhelum ghaaToN parbat paasey, Mirpurey theeN daKhaN*
KhaRee mulak wich loRaN* jehRey talab baNdey dee raKhaN*
“Those who wish to seek me will find me at KhaRee (Sharif), from the Jhelum bank, towards the hillside, and in the southern side of Mirpur (Azad Kashmir).”
During British rule over the Subcontinent, Mirpur was a part of the Punjab. All the handwritten scripts of Mian Mohammad Bakhsh's books which are available today witness the location of Khari Sharif as part of the Punjab.
Today, millions of his admirers and hundreds of readers of the Saif-ul-Malook visit his tomb to pay homage to this great Sufi poet. Though his Murshid (spiritual guide) was Pira Shah Ghazi, as mentioned in the Saif al-Malook but he himself was also a true saint. Mian Mohammad writes about his Murshid in the following words.
peer meyraa oh damRee waalaa, peeraa shaah qalaNdar
har mushkal wich madad kardaa, dohaaN jahaanaaN aNdar
“My spiritual guide is DamRee waalaa Peeraa Shah QalaNdar who helps me in each and every trouble in the both worlds (in this world and as well as in the next world).”
Hazrat Mian Mohammad Bakhsh was such a great and God gifted soul to this region who did not indulge in worldly affairs for the sake of noble cause. He passed a celibate life. He devoted his whole life writing such powerful spiritual thoughts in a versified form whose beauty now must be admired in a sincere and honest way. Governments of the Punjab and Kashmir can do a lot in this regard as the works of Mian Mohammad Bakhsh are a common spiritual and literary heritage of the people from both regions.
Hazrat Mian Mohammad Bakhsh’s poetry is very relevant for present day Pakistan which is unfortunately in the grip of various internal and external conflicts. Mian Mohammad Bakhsh not only talks about the various social evil diseases such as greed, lust, violence, arrogance and negative trends in the society but also gives solutions for the ailments.
dunyaa naal na gaee kisey dey Tur Tur gaey akalley
oh bhaley jehnaaN chhaND rakhey is dhooRoN hath paley
“Worldly wealth (possessions) does not accompany any one to the world to come. Those who get rid of this dust and keep their hands and clothes clean are better than others.”
I firmly believe that if Mian Mohammad Bakhsh's language had been Persian, he would have been recognized all over the world as a great Mystic poet, not less than Rumi. The deliberate policies adopted by provincial and federal governments of the Punjab and Pakistan have pushed out the Punjabi language from the linguistic geography of Pakistan. Instead of it they wish and drill to promote Urdu in each and every house of the Punjab and Kashmir. In such a blind and unjust atmosphere he could not receive a high accolade from the governments of the Punjab and Kashmir though he is commonly loved by Punjabis and Kashmiris.
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