May 22, 2024


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Baba Bulleh Shah RA’s Concept of Khudi (Self)

9 min read

The concept of “Self” holds a few basic things that enroll eradicating oneself and understanding the real-self that is: genuinely perceiving one’s inner and being in contact with what exists deep inside one without having to do anything with the materialistic or worldly pursuits. Then comes “Self-realization”, the stage of moving from darkness to light; from ignorance to knowledge; from this to that; from here to there and finding an answer to the statement:
نہ جانے کون ہوں اور کس کے اختیار میں ہوں
Having understood what one is and who one is, comes the point of being well-acquainted and fully absorbed in the realization of God. It is widely accepted and a celebrated fact that once one understands himself, it is then one begins understanding the one who is all-encompassing – GOD! And when one begins falling into place and gets going with the synchronization of one’s mind, body and soul, it is then that he starts seeing God in all that he sees; it is then that he begins feeling God in all that he feels and it is then that he begins to come into close contact with God when he deems of being into contact with anyone.
If I may see, I wish to see you
If I may feel, I wish to feel you
For your exuberantly supreme presence,
It is, that I sense where it is that I go and
what is it that my eyes fall upon.
It basically is the philosophy of “Waḥdat al-WujÅ«d”, which one starts to believe in or seem to be having an understanding of, which literally means the “Unity of Existence” or “Unity of Being”. It is widely accepted that this philosophy was put forth by Imam Hussain ibn e Ali (AS) in his book Mirat ul Arifeen which he wrote in response to the question of his son about the explanation of Surah Al-Fatiha. He interpreted the ideology of Wahdat al-wujud for the first time in the most comprehensive way.
The self is sometimes understood as a unified being essentially connected to consciousness, awareness and understanding. Many Philosophers with wonderful mindsets have set off elucidating “Self” according to their intelligibility. While he was detained in a castle, Avicenna composed his acclaimed “Floating Man” thought experiment to show human mindfulness and the significance of the spirit. (Ibn Sina, Kitab Al-Shifa, On the Soul, 1027) His “Floating Man” thought experiment advises its perusers to envision themselves suspended noticeable all around, secluded from all sensations, which incorporates no tactile contact with even their own bodies. He contends that, in this situation, one would, in any case, have self-consciousness. He accordingly infers that the possibility of the self is not logically reliant on any physical thing and that the spirit ought not to be found in relative terms, but as an essential given, a substance. This contention was later refined and streamlined by René Descartes in epistemic terms when he expressed: “I can abstract from the supposition of all external things, but not from the supposition of my own consciousness.”
Rene Descartes further talks of “The Solitary Self”; John Locke presents to us “The Theory of Personal Identity” and others emerge with all their understanding to decipher the reality of “self”. When we talk about the concept of “Self” in Eastern Traditions, we see how in the deep sense of being, and particularly nondual, supernatural and eastern reflective customs, the person is frequently considered as being in the figment of individual presence, and separateness from different parts of creation. This feeling of individual presence is that part which trusts that it is the person who is ignorant and unaware of his own actual nature. The spiritual objective of numerous customs includes the dissolving of the sense of self, permitting self-information of one’s own actual nature to end up noticeably experienced and sanctioned on the planet. This is generally known as illumination.
When we winnow the History, we see how great people with great minds repeatedly told to be well-known to one’s self; to shun oneself and roll on being self-less. Our very own religion, Islam teaches us to be selfless. Itahr, or selflessness, is one of the honorable qualities underlined in Islam. One who is magnanimous spots worries for others above worry for himself. The magnanimous individual is liberal with his time and unreservedly loans help and support to others. When we, who are well-acquainted with the Literature presented by Muslim writers, hear of the term “Khudi” what instantly pops up in our mind is the concept of Khudi that got presented by “Allama Iqbal”. How well he has put his thoughts, which are as deep as an ocean, down to convey to us the idea of getting the “self” polished. He says:
خودی کو کر بلند اتنا کہ ہر تقدیر سے پہلے
خدا بندے سے خود پوچھے بتا تیری رضا کیا ہے
Develop the self so that before every decree
God will ascertain from you: “What is your wish?”
In his accordance, the idea of self is the realization of man’s own self by the man himself, the understanding of one’s relation to the creation and the creator. The feeling of self is heightened as man’s spiritual journey progresses to the extent that man is able to explore his true power and understand his purpose in the world and his communion with God.
The entire web is replete with this concept in the light of what Iqbal has said but little is known to the youth of this time that someone other than Allama Iqbal took up this “self” as a subject, willy-nilly, and presented it having brought newness in all that he had to offer. Iqbal talked of Self in 1915 while that someone talked of “Self” between the 1600s and 1700s and practiced the Sufi tradition of Punjabi poetry established by poets like Shah Hussain (1538 – 1599), Sultan Bahu (1629 – 1691), and Shah Sharaf (1640 – 1724). That “someone” is none other than Syed Abdullah Shah who, widely and globally, is known as “Baba Bulleh Shah RA”.
Baba Bulleh Shah (1680-1758), is a sparkling star of Punjabi Sufi Poetry. His verse is an awesome satire on any kind of religious orthodoxy. Bulleh Shah’s chance was set apart with common strife amongst Muslims and Sikhs. Be that as it may, in that age Baba Bulleh Shah was an encouraging sign and peace for the nationals of Punjab. Strange is the turn of time. The man who had been rejected by Mullahs to be covered after his death in the community graveyard in light of his irregular perspectives, today receives overall adoration and acknowledgment. Bulleh Shah is all around confessed having been the best of the Punjabi spiritualists. His verse has increased the colossal prominence and attracts because he received symbols and metaphors from his environment. Baba Bulleh Shah has demonstrated extraordinary courage and secularism while composing against the religious fanaticism and oppression of the leaders of his circumstances. The verse frame he fundamentally utilized is known as the Ka’afi, a style of Punjabi, Sindhi, and Siraiki verse utilized not just by the Sufis of Sindh and Punjab, additionally by Sikh masters.
Born in one of the elevated-most families, having in his veins the royal blood, he proved to be a ray of hope for people around him and wrote well, contributing to spirituality and all that came before him. His concept of “self” or “self-eradication” gets seen in his works, in one way or the other. Poets and philosophers have questioned:
“Where have we come from and where do we have to go?”
But Baba Bulleh Shah answers to the question:
“Who are we?”
He says that he does not belong to any group and is not tied to any class. He is neither good nor evil, he does not follow any book and everything has to come to a dead end except God. He says he does not even know himself. Self-eradication is what basically he talks about and says that he merely knows God.

اول آخر آپ نوں جاناں
نہ کوئ دوجا ہور پچھاناں

In his accordance, God resides in the hearts of people and they need to shun themselves and look inside. In many verses of his, we see how his ideas somehow and in some ways do resemble the ideas put forth by others in shunning oneself and going on being ONE, either with one’s master or God, body and soul, in love.

Sultan Bahu writes:
اندر توں ہی باہر توں ہی روم روم وچ توں
توں ہی تانا توں ہی بانا سب کجھ میرا توں

Whereas Baba Bulleh Shah writes:

توہیوں ہیں میں ناہی سجنا
توہیوں ہیں میں ناہیں

He believes one can break open the ties of oneself and emerge as a free bird if he drops his “self” and gets himself rendered “self-less”.

Oh thee that no less be,
heard or unheard
break open and add up,
selflessness to thyself

We find the work of his impregnated by ideas of dropping any thought that includes one’s ego or self, in any way. The way he exterminated the “caste” thing has no match. It is believed that his Master was of a caste lower than that of his and people of his caste held the view that he should not have a person of a lower caste as a Master and that he should suppress his adoration for him and halt mortifying his people. This is something which he wholly stood against and then wrote the following lines:

بلھےنوں سمجھاون آئیاں بھیناں تے بھرجھائیاں
من لے بلھیا ساڈا کہنا، چھڈ دے پلاں رائیاں
آل نبی (ص) اولاد علی (رض) نوں، توں کیوں لیکاں لائیاں ؟
جیہڑا سانوں سید سدے، دوزخ ملن سزائیاں
جو کوئ سانوں رائیں آکھے، بہشتی پینگھاں پائیاں

To me, he is no less than a warrior who is all set to cut the self into pieces and be absorbed in the love of God and the Truth. This “Self-destruction” and “selfless” thing gets seen here and there in his work. At another place, he jots:

رانجھا رانجھا! کردی ہن میں آپے رانجھا ہوئ
سدو مینوں “دھید و رانجھا” ہیر نہ آکھو کوئ
رانجھا میں وچ “میں رانجھے وچ” غیر خیال نہ کوئ

In another “Ka’afi” of his he deciphers the idea of oneness yet again. He writes:

میں تے رانجھا اکو کوئ، لوکاں نوں ازمائیں
جس بیلے وچ بیلی وسے، اس دیاں لواں بلائیں

The elaboration of which is that Bulleh Shah has made us to consider two people who quarrel just to show to people that they are at cross purposes with one another though they are not. They are one and the same, and wholly unified. The place where the beloved resides is where the lover gives up himself to feel the oneness that he and his beloved enjoy. In love, a lover eliminates his own identity and gets absorbed in all that the beloved presents. He loses himself and attains beloved’s favor and affection.

پیا پیا کرتے ہمیں پیا ہوے
اب پیا کس نو کہیے

Baba Bulleh Shah never seemed to have supported the idea of this world. We would always find him, obviously through his writings, to be telling that this world is not a permanent place to be in and that everybody has to, sooner or later, leave.

پیارے بن مصلحت اٹھ جانا
توں کدی تے ہو سیانا

He says we all are going to kick the bucket and so, it is better to understand things. Understanding is one thing and believing in what one understands, is another. According to him, “Self” diminishes only when the duality ends and shrinks to oneness and when the duality exists, we cannot say that “self” has diminished. He says:

جہیڑا من وچ لگا دو آرے، ایہ کون کہے میں مو آرے

He believes that things start to hold grounds when one loses “Khudi” and begins to perceive the realities present deep inside him.

کھوئ خودی اپنا پد چتیا
تب ہوئ گل خیر

Bulleh Shah has happened to be an evolved soul, a perfect faqir and a true lover. Through the love of his master, he got to know the Lord. His life and writings are replete with subtle secrets of the path. They not only strengthen the love of a true lover but also encourage him to undergo the hardships for reaching the spiritual goal. Bulleh Shah entirely shunned himself and his only soothing element and rhythm of life remained God. He writes at one point:

بلھے شاہ دا اکو ای منکا
مولا ای مولا کردا بس

He held the standpoint that a person has to willy-nilly drop his ego and be out of all that includes his self. He believed that things get set when one loses “I” that is, “Self”.

بلھے شاہ گل تائیوں مکدی
جے میں نوں منوں گنوائیے

People may never dive into the detail and fetch one subject matter out of all that someone has ever written. People may only hover onto that which most of the people pay heed to and write about. Not only has Baba Bulleh Shah RA brought to us, through his poetry, the idea of self-eradication but also the idea of selflessly being in affection and attaining all that is beyond this material world. It was years before anyone else that through “Sufism” came into existence the idea of “self” – Understanding oneself and shunning oneself, out and out, wholly and completely.

مٹا دے اپنی ہستی کو اگر کچھ مرتبہ چاہے
کہ دانا خاک میں مل کرگل گلزار ہوتا ہے۔

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