Mian Muhammad Bakhsh is one of those poets who enriched not only Punjabi language by contributing great pieces of literature, but also he added value to the world literature by writing Saif-ul-Mulook; an epic that has been inspiring millions since it was published for the first time.
In Punjab, he is sung with a peculiar folk style that complements his own idea ‘Dudh ander jay khhand ralaayay, mittha honda doona’. That is, his poetry is like sweet milk; and the sweetness is multiplied when stirred in the sugar of style.
Mian Muhammd Bakhsh, was born in 1830, in Kharri-sharif, situated near Mirpur, Azad Kashmir. It had been a hard task for researchers to find out his original date of birth. They do not find his date of birth in books, journals or in any hand written material of that period. However, most of the researchers agree that it must be sometime around 1830. The only resource for getting his right date of birth is in his few couplets from his ‘Mathnavi ‘Safar-ul-eshq’, famously known as
‘sunn muqadass Hijri dassan, baraaN tay satt dahaay,
Satt utay do hor Muhammad apar oss theeN aahay,
Umar musannaf dee tad-aahi, tinn daahay, tinn yakkay.
Pehn vaddi farmaandi eho, pattay Rabbay nooN pakkay’
‘It was the Islamic month of Hijrah and the year was 1279, my elder sister told me that I was 33 when I completed the epic ‘Saif-ul-Mulook’; however the realty rests with Allah’.
HIS EARLY EDUCATION:
Mian Shamas-ud-Din, father of Mian Muhammad Bakhsh, was a successor saint of Peera-Shah-Ghazi, known as Damrri Waalay. He was a Sufi and a scholar too. He sent his sons (Mian Bahawal Bakhsh, the elder brother of the poet and Mian Muhammad bakhsh to Sammawal Sharif at the ‘Dargaah’ of Hafiz Muhammad Ali for his early education. He studied religious sciences, Hadith, Fiqqah, Logic and Literature. It is said that from his childhood, he used to get inspired by nature, music and literature.
One day when he, along with his elder brother, was singing ‘Zulaykhaa’ by Jami, there was a Sufi saint Hafiz Nasir who was sitting around, upon listening to the captivating singing of the duo, he could not help appreciating. He called them in and asked to sing ‘Zulaykhaa’ again. They sang it for him and came back. After few days Hafiz Nasir called them in and requested to sing the same yet again, but this time Mian Muhammad Bakhsh put forth a condition; he said, we would sing it for you, but you would have to pray for us to attain the Knowledge.
Nasir said, guaranteed!
HIS POETIC BEING:
Mian Muhammad Bakhsh was a genuine artist. His soul was a poem. Poetry danced in his veins as blood. He used to write letters to his friends in couplets, poems, long poems in his childhood and in youth. His skills in language spanned from Persian to Urdu and from Punjabi to Arabic.
HIS PENNED WORKS:
Mian Muhammad bakhash penned a number of books. Tragically, most of them are not available to us anymore. However, we come to know of his works through the list Mian Muhammad Bakhsh provided at the end of his epic ‘Qissa-e-Mirza Saahiban’.
The list is:
- Qissa Sheikh Sinaan.
- Qissah Shah Mansoor.
- Sheereen Farhaad.
- Sakhi Khawas Khan.
- Mirza Saahibaan.
- Qissa Sassi-Punnhu.
- Heer Ranjha.
- Safar-ul-Ishq’ (Saif-ul-Mulook)
- A commentary on the Arabic classic Qaseeda Burda Shareef by Al-Busiri.
Mian Muhammad Bakhsh left extensive works but his Mathnavi ‘Safar-ul-Ishq’ guarantees him an ever-lasting fame.
Saif ul Mulook is sung by the folk singers and pop singers with zeal and zest. The captivating poetry of the epic enthralls the audience wherever and whenever it is recited. There is hardly any shrine in the Punjab where the epic is not sung to the visitors. Looking at the popularity of and the love of people for Saif ul Mulook, it seems that the Almighty has granted his plea: ‘Baal chiraagh ishaq da, mera roshan karday seena’ Dill day divaay dee rushnaaee, jaaway vich zameena’. That is, ‘O Lord! Kindle the lamp of Ishq (real love) and enlighten my heart, let the light of my heart spread all over the earth’.
On the 7th of zilhajj 1324AH (1907AD) our original and inspirational poet breathed his last. He was buried in Kharri Sharif, next to the mausoleum of his grandfather ‘Damrri wali Sarkar’.