Saloks of Sheikh Farid

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Saloks of Sheikh Farid

Baba Shaikh Farid Ganji Shakar (1173-1264), the famous Sufi saint born in the Punjab, some of whose compositions are included in the Guru Granth Sahib, was a poet whose Punjabi verses are the first recorded poetry in the Punjabi language. Guru Nanak himself seems to have brought to light these verses when he visited Pak Pattan, that venerable old seat of Chishtl Sufis where he met with Shaikh Ibrahim, the twelfth Caliph of the order after Shaikh Farid. Guru Nanak found these lines pregnant with high moral purpose and with deep spiritual insight. He may have recorded these in his book from where they were transferred to the Volume which Guru ARJAN, Nanak V, compiled.

Shaikh Farid`s verses included in the Guru Granth Sahib are hymns in ragas Asa, Suhi and Gaurl ; and 120 slokas covering pages 1377 to 1384. Some of the slokas have added to them slokas from the Gurus which are meant to harmonize the import and clarify or supplement the idea contained in the original sloka. The slokas of Farid, though not linked thematically with one another, describe in general the transient nature of the world and exhort man to remain detached from its false allurements and to reflect upon the name of God which is the only lasting reality. They also lay stress on the need for the right conduct and moral awareness. The attitude towards the Divine is, throughout Farid`s compositions, that of a loving wife towards her spouse. Farid teaches man not to seek God in lonely wastes as He abides in the heart (19). Creator in the creation abides, and the creation in Him (75). From this metaphysical thought of essential oneness between the Creator Lord and the jiva is derived the social Ideal of universal brotherhood of man.

Concerning human social behaviour, Farid`s advice is: speak never a rude word to anyone the Lord Eternal in all abides; break no heart; know each being is a priceless jewel; each heart is a jewel, evil it is to break any; shouldst thou seek to find the Beloved, break no one`s heart (12930). Man must endeavour to become a worthy object of his grace because it has the power to transform a crow (ma2`imu.kh) into a swan (Gurmukh) (124). Since God permeates through His creation. His concern for it never ceases even though man becomes forgetful of Him (107). Farid has an intense longing to realize such an Omniscient and loving God: in separation from God my body burns like an oven ; my bones flame like firewood ; to find union with the Beloved, could I walk till my feet be tired when I would walk on my head (119). These lines are only symbolic of Farid`s intensity of yearning for union with the Divine and need not be read in their literal sense. In the Sikh view, torturing ones body is not necessary and the Divine can be realized within the heart (120). Farid laughs at the ignorance of the peasant who expects grapes of Bijavar though he sows seeds of thistle and expects to wear silk while carding and spinning coarse wool (23). In still more unequivocal terms, Farid declares that only our good deeds in this world will stand by us in the next world. (100).

Apart from the cultivation of moral qualities which help man on his way to God realization, man should also develop deep and selfless love. Love of God and greed go not together: with greed is love polluted. Farid calls such love frail, as frail as a leaking straw roof against rain (18). Love for the Divine can best be expressed through loving actions for mankind. Farid says: return thou good for evil, in thy heart bear no revenge; thus will thy body be free of maladies and thy life have all blessings (78). Man is asked to imbibe humility, like the earth on which we, while living, trample upon but which covers us when we are dead. (17) At another place, Farid says, strike not hack those that strike thee blows; in utter humility and forgiveness turn towards thy home. (7) Human life is transitory, and death is certain for all. Man knows when his predecessors have gone, yet he knows not of his own impending end.(73) Though life`s span be a hundred years, in the end it will turn to dust.(41) Death is also a great leveller, prince and pauper are treated alike, Those who commanded drums to be beaten for them, umbrellas to rise over their heads, trumpets to proclain their glory ultimately have they been laid to rest in the graveyard, buried under the earth, helpless.(45) Death does not spare even the most revered and the great, and they also, must depart when time comes.(47) The human body is subject to kal ( time the destroyer of all). Our body decays with the passage of time and becomes rather frail before death finally overcomes it. Talking of old age, Farid says, "these frail legs of mine once scoured over desert and hill, today the prayer rug at hand seems a hundred miles removed'.(20) Life being so transient, man must never depart from the path of loving devotion to God, whatever the handicaps. (2526)

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References

  • 1. Sabadarth Sri Guru Granth Sahib.Ainritsar, 1959
  • 2. Sahib SINGH, Sn Guru Granth Sahib Darpan. Jalandhar, 1962-64
  • 3. Padam, Piara Singh, Bolai Sheikh Fand. PATIALA, 1978
  • 4. Kohli, Surindar Singh, ed., Baba Farid : Jivan, Sama ate Rachna. Chandigarh, 1978