Waris Shah


A Punjabi poet of Heer-Ranjha fame. The story of 'Heer-Ranjha', appreciated in northern India, actually happened during the period of Behlol Lodhi, in 1484. It was much before the birth of Waris Shah. At least three versions of 'Heer' were written in Persian starting from Akbar's period. Another five versions were written before Waris Shah completed his writing. The first available version written in Punjabi was by Damodar Das, who belonged to Jhang, the hometown of Heer Sial, and it was during Akbar's period. Waris Shah composed his 'Heer' at the age of 60 and treated the story in the perspective of politic, economy and cultural values loved and lived by the people of his period. He had a deep knowledge of the psyche of the people suffering under the local and the foreign forces. He witnessed and condemned the devastating invasions of India by Nadir Shah and Ahmad Shah Abdali who played havoc with the life of the Punjabis. His unqualified censure was welcomed by the suffering Punjabis, and symbolically represented by tormented 'Heer'. He defined the culture and traditions of the Punjab. Waris made his bitter criticism of the poor governance, institutional corruption, religious exploitation and the arrogance of the elite class. He declared to 'leave the company of the millionaires and choose your leader among the noble but poor men'. 'Imraaniyat-I-Waris Shah' by Dr Shaaista Nuzhat is available at Jumhoori Publication, Lahore, Pakistan.

Compiler: M. Nauman Khan

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