Hazrat Baba Bulleh Shah (1680 – 1757) whose real name was Abdullah Shah, was a Punjabi Sufi poet. Baba Bulleh Shah himself became a respected scholar, but he longed for true inner realization. Against the objections of his peers, he became a disciple of Inayat Shah, a famous master of the Qadiri Sufi lineage, who ultimately guided his student to deep mystical awakening.
Baba Bulleh Shah is believed to have been born in 1680, in the small village of Uch, Bahawalpur, Punjab, now in Pakistan. His ancestors had migrated from Bukhara in modern Uzbekistan .
At the age of six months, his parents relocated to Malakwal. There his father, Shah Muhammad Darwaish, was a preacher in the village mosque and a teacher. His father later got a job in Pandoke, about 50 miles southeast of Kasur. Baba Bulleh Shah received his early schooling in Pandoke, and moved to Kasur for higher education, to become a student of the prominent professor, Ghulam Murtaza. He also received education from Maulana Mohiyuddin. His spiritual teacher was the eminent Sufi saint, Shah Inayat Qadri.
Baba Bulleh Shah was a direct descendant of Muhammad (Peace be upon Him) (S.A.W), through the progeny of Shaikh Abdul Qadir Gillani of Baghdad.
A large amount of what is known about Baba Bulleh Shah comes through legends, and is subjective; to the point that there isn’t even agreement among historians concerning his precise date and place of birth. Some “facts” about his life have been pieced together from his own writings. Other “facts” seem to have been passed down through oral traditions.
Baba Bulleh Shah practiced the Sufi tradition of Punjabi poetry established by poets like Shah Hussain (1538 – 1599), Sultan Bahu (1629 – 1691), and Shah Sharaf (1640 – 1724).
Baba Bulleh Shah lived in the same period as the famous Sindhi Sufi poet, Shah Abdul Latif Bhatai (1689 – 1752). His lifespan also overlapped with the legendary Punjabi poet Waris Shah (1722 – 1798), of Heer Ranjha fame, and the famous Sindhi Sufi poet Abdul Wahad (1739 – 1829), better known by his pen-name, Sachal Sarmast (“truth seeking leader of the intoxicated ones”). Amongst Urdu poets, Baba Bulleh Shah lived 400 miles away from Mir Taqi Mir (1723 – 1810) of Agra.