ŚLOKAS OF SHAIKH FARĪD. Bābā Shaikh Farīd Gañj-i-Shakar (1173-1264), the famous Sūfī saint born in the Punjab, some of whose compositions are included in the Gurū Granth Sāhib, was a poet whose Punjabi verses form the first recorded poetry in the Punjabi language. Gurū Nānak himself seems to have brought to light these verses when he visited Pāk Paṭṭan, that venerable old seat of Chishtī Sūfīes where he met with Shaikh Ibrāhīm, in twelfth place from himself. Gurū Nānak 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 Gurū Arjan, Nānak V, compiled. Shaikh Farīd's verses included in the Gurū Granth Sāhib are hymns in rāgas Āsā, Sūhī and Gauṛī and 120 ślokas covering pages 1377 to 1384. Some of the ślokas have added to them ślokas from the Gurūs which are meant to harmonize the import and clarify or supplement the idea contained in the original śloka. The ślokas of Farīd, though not linked 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 forthright conduct and moral awareness. The attitude towards the Divine is, throughout Farīd's compositions, that of loving wife towards her spouse.

        Farīd 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 Jīva is derived the social Ideal of universal brotherhood of man. Concerning human social behaviour, Farīd'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 (129-30). Man must endeavour to become a worthy object of his grace because it has the power to transform a crow (manmukh) into a swan (gurmukh) (124). Since God permeates through the creation, His concern for it never ceases even though man becomes forgetful of Him (107). Farīd as 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 Farīd's intensity of yearning for union with the Divine and need not be read in their literal sense : in the Sikh view, torture of body is not necessary and the Divine can be realized within the heart (120). Farīd laughs at the ignorance of the peasant who seeks grapes of Bijavar while sowing thistle, and seeks to wear silk while carding and spinning coarse wool (23). In still more unequivocal terms, Farīd declares that only our good deeds in this world will stand by us in the next (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. Farīd 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. Farīd 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 which we, while living, trample upon but which covers us when we are dead (17). At another place, Farīd says : strike not back 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 where 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 led 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). Human body is subject to kāl, i.e, time and death. It decays with the passage of time and becomes rather rail before death finally overcomes it. Talking of old age, Farīd says that 'these rail legs of mine once scoured over desert and hill, today the prayer-jug 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 (25-26).


  1. Śabadārth Srī Gurū Granth Sāhib. Arnritsar, 1959
  2. Sāhib Siṅgh, Srī Gurū Granth Sāhib Darpan. Jalandhar, 1962-64
  3. Padam, Piārā Siṅgh, Bolai Sheikh Farīd. Patiala, 1978
  4. Kohli, Surindar Siṅgh, ed., Bābā Farīd : Jīvan, Samā ate Rachnā. Chandigarh, 1978

Sant Siṅgh Sekhoṅ