In 12th & 13th Century India, a great intellectual, unique renunciate, talented poet and committed devotee of the Timeless Lord communicated the divine message to the common folk in the sweet, melodious language of Punjabi. Known as “Shakarganj” (the epitome of sweetness), Farīd al-Dīn Masʿūd Ganj-i-Shakar’s sweet words and disposition have earned him a timeless place in history.
Known famously as Baba Farid, one of the greatest virtues of his life was his love and sympathy for mankind. His heart felt the intense pain of religious oppression by the Muslim rulers of India. He tried to soothe the damaged psyche of the collective people with uplifting words, to neutralise the image of Islam which had been extremised by the ruling tyrants. His mission was to revive the fraternal feeling among society and bring positivity back to the
populace. How did he do this? Through poetry.
Baba Farid advocated the Punjabi language, which was spoken by the illiterate common folk. Even though he was highly educated in the prevailing languages of the time (Arabic, Persian and Sanskrit), he preferred the simple, sincere tones of Punjabi. His life was coloured by his struggle to earn a respectable place for the Punjabi language in society. By using this language to write poetry, he raised its status to a sophisticated and respected level. So widespread was his linguistic influence that he became fondly known as the “Father of Punjabi”.
His interest grew in Sufi thought and philosophy, and he became a great mystic saint. He made Pak Pattan an important centre of Sufi thought. People from all over the continent travelled to seek his guidance. On many occasions, shrines were erected at places where he had visited, and cities were named in his honour. One such place was Mokhalpur, which was renamed Faridkot by its king, Raja Mokalsi.
Baba Farid fought for words with words. Through his powerful poetry, which touched the hearts of the masses, he brought about a much-needed social revolution. The universal values of compassion, love and acceptance are clothed in the words of Baba Farid, just as the sweet fragrance is clothed in the flowers. His verses revealed the nature of reality, inspiring all to wake up from their spiritual slumber and embrace life. His poetry has earned a place in the sacred Sri Guru Granth Sahib of the Sikhs. He is revered worldwide by his devotees and followers for his inclusive philosophy and profound spiritual insight.