Sheikh Farid

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There are 134 hymns of Sheik Farid incorporated in the Guru Granth Sahib. Many Sikh scholars ascribe them to Farid Shakarganj (1173 – 1265AD or 569-664 AH) of Pak Pattan, a disciple of the Sufi Qutbuddin Bakhtiyar Kaki. The tenth in succession to his post was Sheikh Brahm (Ibrahim), also known as "Farid Sani" or "Farid the 2nd", and it is this Farid who Guru Nanak Dev met on two occasions.

Max Arthur Macauliffe who has been described as a 'Matchless Scholar of Sikh Lore' states that hymns ascribed to Farid are compositions by the latter Farid, whereas others have ascribed them to Farid Shakarganj.

There are still other scholars who believe that the hymns were composed by different Sufis of the Pak Pattan centre, all using the poetic name Farid because the custom in those days was to choose the leader’s most suitable devotee to take his place shortly before his death.


As a result, no account would be complete without details of both of the Farid’s lives.

Shakar Ganj / Sheikh Farid (1173-1265 A.D)

Devotees going through the doorway to the tomb of Farid Shakar Ganj. Photograph : Carl Ernst, 1986

At birth his parents named him Farid-ud-Din Masaud, but he is mostly revered as Baba Farid of Pak Pattan. When Farid was a few years old his mother taught him his prayers. The boy asked what was gained by his prayers. His mother replied 'sugar'. She used to hide some sugar crystals under his prayer-carpet, and, when he had finished his prayers, she would draw it forth and give it to Farid as a reward for his devotion.

On one occasion, when his mother was absent, he prayed a great deal, and, it is said, he found a correspondingly greater supply of sugar under his carpet. Pleased with the size of his 'reward' he ate some himself and shared the the rest with his playfellows. He related the circumstance to his mother on her return and as she had forgot to place his usual reward under his prayer mat she realized it wa a miraculous gift from God, so she gave him the surname Shakar Ganj, meaning a "treasury of sugar".

Great deal written about Farid the 1st

There is a great deal known or written regarding the original Shaikh Farid. Two genealogies of Shaikh Farid, subsequently called Farid Shakar Ganj, are given in the Jawahir-i-Faridi - one spiritual, the other temporal.

He received his spiritual position from his priest Khwaja Qutub-ul-din Bakhtiyar Ushi of Dihli, whose spiritual predecessors derive in an unbroken line from the Prophet of Makka. Farid's temporal (family genealogy) has been traced back through princes and kings to Hazrat Amir-ul-Mumanin Umr-bin-ul Khitab Qureshi Makki Faruqi, the second Khalifa of the Muslims.

The robber becomes blind

Nizam-ul-Din Auliya, a disciple of Farid, relates a legend of a robber who went to Farid's mother's house to steal. On beginning his operations he lost his sight. He then cried out that there must be some saint or miracle-worker present. He vowed that, if his sight was restored, he would renounce thieving and become a good Muhammadan.

On hearing his vow Miriam prayed for him, and his sight was restored. He went home, and returned to her the following morning with an offering of milk. Accompanied by his wife and children, he expressed a desire that they should all become Muhammadans.

Miriam caused his wishes in this respect to be gratified, with the result that they all became holy. In reply to her, he said his name was Chawa. His shrine among others in that locality has subsequently become a place of devout pilgrimage.

Farid ji's birth

When Farid was conceived, his mother used to spend her days and nights in prayer. He was born at Kothiwal on the first day of the month of Ramzan, the Muslim religion's most sacred month, A.H. 569 (1173). The sky that night was dark and cloudy, and the moon, whose appearance as the “pehli ka chained” (the new moon) when the moon is seen in the western sky as a faint and delicate white curve, which marks the beginning of Ramzan, the Muslim period of daylight fasting. Because the moon could not be seen the devotees did not know when to begin their fast. (Ramzan begins only after the new moon has been sighted.)

Then a holy man arrived reporting that a wonderful son had been born to Jamal-ul-Sulaiman and if the infant suckled, the time for fasting had not yet begun, but if, on the contrary he refused the breast, then all good Muhammadans must fast. Farid did not suckle, and so it was apparent the fast had begun. During the whole month of Ramzan, it is said, the infant only took milk by night in the Muhammadan fashion and fasted by day.

Hot water for his master

Another legend that has been passed along for centuries by disciples of Sheikh Farid, narrates an important episode during the time he was serving his spiritual mentor Khawaja Qutubudin Bakhtiyar Kaki. Sheikh Farid used to arrange hot water for his master's ablutions.

On a very wet and cold, stormy night, he realized he had no way to light a fire, as every thing around was either cold and humid or wet. So he left the sanctuary in search of fire. He kept walking through the dark rainy night, and had become quite wet and started to shiver, but he did not give up his search. Finally, he perceived a light at a distance and he started walking towards it. He finally arrived at the door of building. He knocked on it and a voice asked who it was.

After he revealed his name, a woman answered the door and asked why he had arrived at a brothel. Sheikh Farid answered, that he was led there by light of the lamp, and he was looking for a way to light a fire, to heat water for his master's ablutions. The woman unabashedly told him that she would not give him the fire for free, and asked him if he had any way to pay her. He replied that he did not have any money. The woman then said,"If you need fire, you must give me what I ask for."

Sheikh Farid asked for her price and she replied that she would like one of his 'eyeballs' as payment. Sheikh Farid then asked for a knife, and unhesitatingly pulled out his eyeball and gave it to the woman. She, then gave him some burning wood to take away.

He arrived back at the sanctuary and performed his duties, as before. In the morning, when his master was entertaining an audience with discourse, Sheikh Farid came in with a bandage covering his eye that had been bleeding. His master asked him why he had tied a bandage to his eye.

Sheikh Farid replied in Punjabi "Akh Aa Gayee Ay" that meant his eye was infected and was oozing. His master smiled at him and said, "You are right, open your bandage now, Akh Aa Gayee Ay, which also in Punjabi, means that 'the eye has come'.

When Sheikh Farid opened his bandage, he rubbed his eye and opened it and found that his eyeball was back. His master then said,"This new eyeball is a little smaller than the one the Lord gave you. I could not compete with Him, so I got you a smaller one."

It is said that whoever ascends to the spiritual throne of Sheikh Farid, from then on, has one eye that is smaller than the other.

Shaikh Brahm ( -1552 A.D)

Genealogy of Shaikh Brahm

Shaikh Brahm holds a distinguished place in the list of great saints, and bears several titles or appellations. He is called Farid Sani or Farid the Second, Salis Farid or the arbitrator Farid, Shaikh Brahm Kalan (Shaikh Brahm the elder), Bal Raja (the child king), Sahikh Brahm Sahib, and Shah Brahm.

He is said to have performed many miracles. Again the story of the thief is given as an one of Shaikh Brahm's miracles:

A thief once entered his house with criminal intent, but by God’s will was struck blind and could not find his way out. When Shaikh Brahm arose at night to pray, he told his servant to fetch water for his ablutions. The servant saw the blind thief standing helpless on the floor, and informed his master. The thief prayed for forgiveness, and promised that, if he recovered his sight, he would renounce his evil ways. Upon this Shaikh Brahm prayed for him; he recovered his sight, and became a devout Musalman. Another of Shaikh Brahm’s miracles is this: In a season of drought he took off his turban and began to whirl it about, upon which rain fell abundantly.

Family of Farid the 2nd

Two sons of Shaikh Brahm are mentioned – one Shaikh Taj-ul-Din Mahmud, a great saint, and another Shaikh Munawwar Shah Shahid. Shaikh Brahm had several disciples, such as Shaikh Salim Chishti Fatahpuri (the Holy man that foretold the birth of Akbar's son), Shaikh Ahmadi of Chunian, Baba Ahmad Lanak of Dipalpur, Maulvi Jalal-ul-Din of Shaikhbad, Shah Abdul Fatah of Ghazipur, Haji Niamat Ulla of Shaikhupur, among others

Shaikh Brahm died on the 21st of Rajab, A.H. 960 (A.D 1552), after a spiritual reign of 42 years. The Kaulasat-ul-Tawarikh states that he was buried at Sarhind.

Farid ji's Bani

Bhagat Farid Ji’s Bani from from the SGGS:

Love for God

SGGS Page 488 Full Shabad
They alone are true, whose love for God is deep and heart-felt.

Those who have one thing in their heart, and something else in their mouth, are judged to be false. ((1))

Those who are imbued with love for the Lord, are delighted by His Vision.

Those who forget the Naam, the Name of the Lord, are a burden on the earth. ((1)(Pause))

Those whom the Lord attaches to the hem of His robe, are the true dervishes at His Door.

Blessed are the mothers who gave birth to them, and fruitful is their coming into the world. ((2))

O Lord, Sustainer and Cherisher, You are infinite, unfathomable and endless.

Those who recognize the True Lord - I kiss their feet. ((3))

I seek Your Protection - You are the Forgiving Lord.

Please, bless Shaykh Fareed with the bounty of Your meditative worship. ((4)(1))

Messenger of Death

SGGS Page 1377 Full Shabad
The day of the bride’s wedding is pre-ordained.

On that day, the Messenger of Death, of whom she had only heard, comes and shows its face.

It breaks the bones of the body and pulls the helpless soul out.

That pre-ordained time of marriage cannot be avoided. Explain this to your soul.

The soul is the bride, and death is the groom. He will marry her and take her away.

After the body sends her away with its own hands, whose neck will it embrace?

The bridge to hell is narrower than a hair; haven’t you heard of it with your ears?

Fareed, the call has come; be careful now - don’t let you be robbed. ((1))

Behold the Beloved in your own heart

SGGS Page 1384 Full Shabad
Separated from God, my body burns like an oven,

My bones burn like firewood.

To meet the Beloved I would walk until my feet were tired,

I would walk on my head.

[ Guru Nanak comments:] You need not burn yourself like an oven,

need not inflame your bones.

Why torture your poor limbs?

Behold the Beloved in your own heart.

Do not break anyone's heart

SGGS Page 1384 Full Shabad
Do not utter even a single harsh word; your True Lord and Master abides in all.

Do not break anyone's heart; these are all priceless jewels. (129)

The minds of all are like precious jewels; to harm them is not good at all.

If you desire your Beloved, then do not break anyone`s heart. (130)

Thoughts on Farid's Bani

O Raven, you have searched my skeleton, and eaten all my flesh. But please do not touch these eyes as I hope to behold my Beloved. (91) (sggs 1382)

  • Farid ji has refered to desires as a bird, ie: "You can meet the Lord today, O Shaykh Fareed, if you restrain your bird-like desires which keep your mind in turmoil. ||1||Pause||" And so the reference to a Raven or Crow in the above tuk (line of Bani) is a reference to desires of the mind.


Dargah Hazrat Baba Farid Ganjshakar at Pakpattan


Baba Farid was born on the first day of the month of Ramzan in 1173 CE in the Punjab town of Kothiwal. His parents named him Farid-ud-Din Masaud, while “Shakar Ganj” got tagged to his name at a later stage, but he is mostly revered as Baba Farid of Pak Pattan. Baba Sheikh Farid was born at a time when Punjab was going through very tough times. Tamarlane (Taimur, the Lame), Halaku (son of Chengez Khan), Mohammed Ghouri, Mahmud Ghazanvi,etc. had or were ravaging Punjab when Farid was born.

Violent rulers in India

The official language of India was Turkish and Persian. The Slave Dynasty of Qutb-Ud-Din Aibak was at that time being headed by Sultan Balban. 200-300 years earlier to the West of the Indian subcontinent, sword of Islam had swept through the countries like Iran, Afghanistan, and Central Asia.

In India too, Qutb-ud-din Aibak succeeded in establishing a line of rulers, which ruled for some decades from Delhi, over quite a lot of territory. Then came the sufi saints from Arabia and other places to spread their message of love for Allah. Sufi saints like Khwaja Qutub-Ud-Din Bakhtiar Kaki, who was a Syed of Jaffri Hussaini tribe, were very famous.

Baba Farid's meeting

Khwaja Bakhtiar Kaki was Born around 1150 CE and studied under Abu Hafiz, a celebrated doctor of Ush, he went to Ajmer and became a disciple of Khwaja Moin-ud-Din Chishti. In due time he proceeded to Delhi where Baba Farid met him and became his disciple. Emperor Sultan Shams-ud-Din Iltutmish was also his disciple. He died in CE 1235 and was buried in Delhi, where his tomb is held in devout reverence by pious Hindus and Muslims. His descendants are called Chishtis from the tribe of his priest. - Makhazan-ul-Tawarikh.

Genealogy of Baba ji

Genealogy of Baba Sheikh Farid ji is given in the Jawahir-e-Faridi (The gems of Farid), preserved at the shrine of Pak Pattan, by Ali Asghar of Bahadal, a town near Sirhind. Baba Sheikh Farid ji descended from Farrukh Shah, who was king of Kabul and kings of Ghazni and other states were subject to him.

Baba Farid ji's Great Grandfather was son of Farrukh Shah, the emperor of Kabul. During that time, Baba Farid’s Great Grandfather was killed when Halaku, the grandson of Chengez Khan invaded Kabul. He killed several princes and learned men, including several of Baba Farid’s ancestors. Baba Farid’s Grandfather Shaikh Shaib abandoned their country and took refuge in the Punjab in CE 1125.

Moved to Punjab

The Qazi of Kasur who was acquainted with the high position Shaikh Shaib had held there, treated him and his relatives with great respect and hospitality. After some time Shaikh Shaib proceeded to Multan where he deemed he should be less exposed to worldly influences or the temptings of ambition.

He took his abode in Kothiwal, now known as Chawali Mushaikh, close to Dipalpur. He established in Kothiwal, a private college for religious instruction and attracted much attention. His eldest son Jamal-ud-din married Bibi Miriam, daughter of Syed Muhammad Abdula Shah - a descendant of Ali. Bibi Miriam had three sons, Khwaja Aziz-ud-din, Farid-ud- Din Masaud (Baba Farid) and Khwaja Najib-ud-din, and one daughter Khatun Jamila.

Becomes Hajji and obtains scholarship

When Baba Farid was 16 years old, he went to Hajj and stayed in the house of Abdul Rahim Ansari. Since Baba Farid ji use to talk in Punjabi, an unkempt faqir on hearing Farid’s language foretold the Boy’s subsequent greatness.

After Farid came back to Punjab, he was sent to Khwaja Qutub-ud-Din Bakhtiar Kaki at Delhi to learn theology. Qutub-ud-din, on finding Baba Farid deficient in scholarship sent him to the shrine of Abdul Shakur of Sarsa, near Delhi to finish his education. On that occasion Baba Farid repeated the following:

O Farid, thou hast not walked in God’s way; therefore He hath no appeared unto thee Who is there who hath knocked at God’s door for whom it hath not been opened Lost thy life on the way of the Friend if thou desire to be even as those holy men.

The high reputation Farid acquired in Delhi soon became irksome to him. He therefore made his way to Hansi, where he remained for some time. Meanwhile Khwaja Qutub-ud- Bakhtiar Kaki died at Delhi and Baba Farid paid a second visit to that city, and assumed the mantle of his late spiritual guide.

Moved to Pak Pattan

He ultimately left it in the keeping of Jamal-ud-Din of Hansi and thence proceeded to Ajodhan, the present Pak Pattan. The manner in which the name of Ajodhan changed to Pak Pattan was that a canal, which derived its water from the Sutlej passed near the town. It was usual for all who visited Baba Farid to wash their hands and feet there. The place henceforth became known as Baba Sahib ji da Pak Pattan, or Farid’s cleansing ferry.

Sheikh Farid ji made Pak Pattan a great center of Sufi thoughts. People from all over India and Middle East would come to see him. He always used his language, that is, Punjabi spoken by common people, even though he was highly learned and educated in Arabic, Persian, etc.

All his couplets are written in Punjabi or Persian script. He generally rejected offerings of money, but would accept gifts of food, etc. for public kitchen. Baba Farid went to Delhi again and was received with a hospitable reception.

Emperor Nasir-ud-Din Balban introduced him to his family. Hazabra, the Emperor's daughter, was married to Baba Sheikh Farid, but only after Emperor Balban promised not to give any costly gifts. Baba ji distributed all her jewels, etc. to the poor.


Once seven hundred holy men were sitting together. An inquirer put them four questions to which Baba Farid ji replied:

  • Q.1 Who is the wisest of men?
  • A.1 He who refraineth from Sin.
  • Q.2 Who is the most intelligent?
  • A.1 He who is not disconcerted at anything.
  • Q.3 Who is most independent?
  • A.3 He who practises contentment.
  • Q.4 Who is the most needy?
  • A.4 He who practise the it not.

Is singing lawful?

A student asked Baba Farid if singing was lawful and proper. He replied that, according to Islam, it was certainly unlawful, but its propriety was still a matter of discussion. Nizam-ud-Dauliya told Nasir-ud-din, a disciple of his, that one day when he went to visit Baba Farid he stood at his door, and saw him dancing as he sang the following :

I wish ever to live in Thy love, O God. If I become the dust under Thy feet, I shall live I thy slave desire none but Thee in both worlds; For Thee I will live and for Thee I will die.

The following couplet was a favorite of Baba Farid’s:

Not every heart is capable of finding the secret of God’s love. There are not pearls in every sea; there is not gold in every mine.

Mokhalpur renamed Fafidkot

Baba Farid visited a city called Mokhalpur, it is now called Faridkot in honor of Baba Farid; today it is in the Indian part of Punjab. He then turned his efforts towards the Punjabi mountains where he converted a whole tribe. Baba Farid remained there for six months and then he locked up the house in which he had dwelt, saying that his successor would open it, and then returned to Pak Pattan.

As his successor, Diwan Taj-ud-Din, was returning from a pilgrimage to Mecca and Madina, he happened to visit that part of the country. He asked people the name of their tribe, they said they were descendents of Qutub-ul-Alam Baba Farid Shakarganj. And thus Taj-ud-din opened the door of Baba Farid’s hut hundreds of years later.

Baba ji earthly demise

Baba Farid died of Pneumonia on the fifth day of the month of Muharram, CE 1266. The date of Baba Farid's death is commemorated by chronograms (a) Farid Asari (b) Auliye Khudai. He was unique, a saint of God. Baba Farid was buried outside the town of Pak Pattan at a place called Martyr's Grave. Guru Nanak’s contemporary was Baba Sheikh Farid Sani, or the second Sheikh Farid, 6th in succession of Baba Farid Shaikh Shakarganj.

The father of Punjabi literature

Thus, Baba Sheikh Farid Shakarganj can be truly called the founder of the Punjabi literary tradition, making Punjabi literature older than that using Hindi, Urdu, etc. It was much later, after Baba Farid's use of Punjabi, that the writers Tulsidas, Mira Bai, and others started using Hindi as the language for writing religious literature.

Bhagat Sheikh Farid's Bani

Bhagat Sheikh Farid's Bani can be found in the following ANGs (pages) of Guru Granth Sahib:

  • Sheikh Farid, pg. 488
  • Sheikh Farid, pg. 794
  • Guru Arjan Dev, Bhagat Kabir, Sheikh Farid, Ramkali Ki Var, pg. 957 to 966
  • Sheikh Farid, Guru Arjan Dev, Guru Amar Das, pg. 1377 to 1385

See also

External Links

Found a beautiful book on the life of Farid Ji and other books on Sikhism on this website :


1. Macauliffe, M.A (1909). The Sikh Religion: Its Gurus Sacred Writings and Authors. Low Price Publications. ISBN 8175361328.

2. Singh, Khushwant (1963). A History of the Sikhs: 1469-1839 Vol.1 (2nd ed.). Oxford University Press. ISBN 0195673085.

3. Baba Farid Jee - Dr. Inderjeet Singh Vasu Tract No. 515, 516

4. Baba Farid Jee - Gurbaksh Singh Pyasa Tract No. 517, 518

5. Baba Sheikh Farid Shakarganj Tract No. 386

6. Bhagatan di Bani Satik - Gyani Bishan Singh

These are the 15 Bhagats of Sikhism

Bhagat Beni | Bhagat Bhikhan | Bhagat Dhanna | Sheikh Farid | Bhagat Jaidev | Bhagat Kabir | Bhagat Namdev | Bhagat Parmanand | Bhagat Pipa | Bhagat Ramanand | Bhagat Ravidas | Bhagat Sadhna | Bhagat Sain | Bhagat Surdas | Bhagat Trilochan