Shah Abdul Latif Bhitai and Shah jo Risalo – A Book Review

Shah Abdul Latif Bhitai and shah jo risalo

Hazrat Shah Abdul Latif Bhitai

Shah Abdul Latif Bhitai was born in the House of Shah Habib ( his father) on 18 November 1689 in the village of Hala Haveli, a few miles to the east of the present town of Bhit Shah (named after him). Shah Abdul Latif Bhitai was raised during the golden age of Sindhi culture. His first teacher was Akhund Noor Muhammad Bhatti, although he was largely self-educated.

Shah Abdul Latif Bhittai was a Sindhi Sufi Scholar, mystic, Saint, and a Poet. Shah Abdul Latif Bhitai is yet widely considered to be the greatest Muslim Poets of Sindh. The pieces of the poetry of Shah Abdul Latif Bhitai are assembled in the Compilation of Shah Jo Risalo. which exists in numerous versions and has been translated into English, Urdu, and many other languages. The great poet, mystic, Philosopher and Sufi scholar named Shah Abdul Latif Bhitai died on 1st January 1752. The  Shrine of Shah Abdul Latif Bhitai is in BhitShah.

Translations of the book, “Shah jo Risalo”

Shah jo Risalo was first translated into German scholar in 1866 named Earnest Trump. In the 1860s, Earnest Trump got awestruck by Sindhi language, culture, the Jogis, and singers who used to sang Shah Abdul Latif Bhitai’s poetry from Shah jo Risalo. With the help of Sindhi scholars, he compiled a selection of the original verses and called it “SHAH JO RISALO” (the message of shah).

It was later translated in the English language by Elsa Kazi, a german lady, the wife of Allama I.I Kazi, who translated selections of SHAH Jo RISALO in English prose. Later in 1940, Dr H.T Sorely, an English scholar learnt the Sindhi language, and published selections from the Shah jo Risalo through Oxford university press entitled “Shah Abdul Latif of Bhit – his poetry Life and times”.

The most recent work (1994) of translation of Shah jo Risalo into English is that of Amena Khamisani, a professor in English Literature at the University of Sindh. Shaikh Ayaz, the famous Sindhi poet, translated Risalo into Urdu language. Risalo is also translated in Punjabi language and more recently French translation was also undertaken by the Cultural Department of Sindh. Part of Risalo is also translated in the Arabic language. There is one more translation of Shah Abdul Latif by the name “Seeking The Beloved” translated by Hari Daryani ‘Dilgir’ a noted Sindhi poet and Anju Makhija. This book was honoured with the Sahitya Academy Award for translation in the year 2012.

Surs, the chapters of Shah jo Risalo

The oldest Publications of Shah Jo Risalo Contained 36 SURS, but later most of the linguists discarded 6 Surs, as their language and content did not match the Shah’s Style. Recently, Dr NABI BUX BALOUCH, a renowned linguist of the Sindhi language, has compiled and printed a new addition after 32 years of research into folk Culture, language and the history of Sindhi language. In which he has modified the Risalo and limited it to 30 Surs.

The Word “SUR” is from Sanskrit word Svara, which means a mode of singing. The Surs are sung as Ragas in Indian classical music. Its ” Ragas” and ” Ragins” are sung at different times of day and night. In Risalo the Surs are named according to their subject matter. The underlying theme is how the individual is to cultivate the godly attributes, negate his ego so as to evolve to a better human being.

The 30 Surs/Chapters included in Shah Jo Risalo are:

  1. Sur Kalyaan
  2. Sur Yaman Kalyaan
  3. Sur Khanbhaat
  4. Sur Suri Rang
  5. Sur Samundi
  6. Sur Sohni
  7. Sur Sassui Aburi
  8. Sur Maazuri
  9. Sur Desi
  10. Sur Kohyari
  11. Sur Hussaini
  12. Sur Lilan Chanesar
  13. Sur Momal Rano
  14. Sur Marui
  15. Sur Kaamod
  16. Sur Ghattu
  17. Sur Sorath
  18. Sur Kedaro
  19. Sur Sarang
  20. Sur Assa
  21. Sur Rippa
  22. Sur Khahori
  23. Sur Ramkali
  24. Sur Kapati
  25. Sur Purab
  26. Sur Karayal
  27. Sur Pirbhati
  28. Sur Dahar
  29. Sur Bilawal
  30. Sur Kamod

These Surs contain Baits Which Shah Latif sang in state of ecstasy. These Baits in the Surs concerning the life stories of his heroines, including; Suhni, Sassui, Lila, Momal, Marui, Nuri and Sorath. They are not in chronological sequences, for the Sufi poet in his state of “Wajd” ecstasy, was concerned with the moments of denouncement in life stories. In which he used allegories to express his mystical experiences.

Heroines in Shah jo Risalo

The heroines of Shah Abdul Latif Bhittai’s Poetry are known as The Eight queen of Sindhi folklore. These eight heroines have been given the status of royalty in Shah Jo Risalo. These eight queens were celebrated throughout Sindh for their positive qualities, honesty, integrity, piety and loyalty towards their beloveds. They are also valued for their bravery and their willingness to risk their lives in the name of love.

The Eight queens mentioned in Shah Jo Risalo are as follows:

  1. Marui
  2. Momal
  3. Sassui
  4. Sadia
  5. Noori
  6. Sohni
  7. Sorath and
  8. Lila

In the poetry of Shah, he has alluded in an elaborate way to these characters of Sindhi folktales and used them as metaphors for high spiritual life.

The Message of Shah Abdul Latif Bhitai

Peace, Torrence, Love, and affection is the message of Shah Abdul Latif Bhitai.

Note: The author was supervised By Mr Farhan Ali Soomro (PhD Scholar) & Teaching Assistant Department of Public Administration, Faculty of Management Sciences, Shah Abdul Latif University, Khairpur.

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9 Thoughts to “Shah Abdul Latif Bhitai and Shah jo Risalo – A Book Review”

  1. Himath Ali

    This Is Who , Who priscribed the Whole History of Sindh And Saints and Sufisim

    1. Atteque Ahmed

      The great poet of Sindhi language over all world Shah Abdul Latif Bhittai (also referred to by the honorifics: Lakhino Latif, Latif Ghot, Bhittai, and Bhitt Jo Shah) (18 November 1689 – 1 January 1752) was a Sindhi Sufi scholar, mystic, saint, and poet, widely considered as to be the greatest Muslim poet is the Sindhi language.He is also known as the poet of Sindh.
      Shah Abdul Latif Bhitai is known throughout the length and breadth of Sindh, as well as, in places all over the world where Sindh is live. He was not just a adored for his poetry alone. People from far and near respected and loved this man as a saint. A sufi and a spiritual guide. Not much is known about the early life of this noble son of Sindh from written records. Most of the information that has come down to us has been collected from oral traditions. A renowned Sindhi scholar, educationist, and a foremost writer of the plays, dramas and stories, Mirza Kalich Beg, has rendered a yeoman service to Sindhi literature by collecting details about the early life of Shah Bhitai, from the dialogues that he has a constantly held with some of the old folks, still living at that time.

      1. Tariq Hussain Memon

        SHAHABDUL LATIFE BHITTAI
        This article is tells us about at the
        life history of Shah abdul latife bhittai.
        Shah abdul latife bhittaiwas born 18 november 1689, in sindh
        Shah abdul latife bhittai was a sufi ,scholar,saint and poet widely consider the great poet muslim poet
        Shah abdul latife is also known as the poet of sindh
        Shah andul latife is always remember for his goal poetry with loveshah abdul latife bhittai died 1 in janwary 1752.
        The shrine of shah abdul latife bhittai in bhit shah
        Buried bhit shah where his shrine shah abdul latife bhittai received his early education from madrsa he he was proficient is the knowledge of QURAN

  2. Shahroz Ali

    This article is also very good because it describe the life of Shah latif.And what gives the message shah latif to us,and how latif spent their life,he was the noble and gentle man,he is also famous for his poetry.
    He gives the message to all people ‘to love each other ‘do good deeds’ help poor people and obey the all orders of Almighty Allah,because Allah has created us to worship only one and true Allah,who is rehman and rahenm.
    Latif has no need of luxrious things to survive in this world. But latif has true spirituality to built good relationship with Allah.
    According to him we all are equal in this world and all possed the equal rights. Love is a source,love is a way,love is aim,and this is the best way to love Allah to love every one,good behave with people, to good behave with Allah.

  3. Muhammad Saeed UJjan

    Shah Latif’s poetry, compiled as ‘Shah jo risalo’, is most celebrated of Sindhi works of poetry. Some scholars have mentioned an interesting event while recounting history of compilation of text of the ‘Shah jo risalo’. According to them, the disciples of Shah Latif would note down the verses that Shah sahib uttered in ecstasy. With the passage of time, the number of verses recorded increased and the disciples compiled them in three volumes. Once when Shah sahib was meditating beside famous Karar Lake, the disciples presented the three volumes before Shah sahib who threw them into the lake, as he was an unassuming sufi in the true spirit of Islamic mysticism. Disciples were greatly disappointed. Shah sahib, looking at their grievance, allowed them to note down and compile verses. The followers and dervishes began compiling poetry again. Among them was also a woman named Mai Niamat who knew a large number of Shah’s verses by heart.

  4. Faraz Ahmed indher

    Comment On Shah Jo Risalo
    I am satisfy regarding to this artical shah jo risalo because shah jo risalo is written pure And concise Sindhi verses for Muslim and also Hindus Shah abdul latif has hidden his ideas under layers or symbols taken from all sphers of life as well as from the classical suffi tardition and particularly
    Shah Abdul latif bhitai was one of the frist few poet of olden time who championed freedom of indvidual and Nation with desire to see
    You will find it carries the message of freedom for indvidual and Nation
    you wil find new meaning when you go deeper in latif verses

    1. Muhammad Yasir

      This article covers a wonderful history about sufi saint Shah Abdul latif Bhitai. I think no one in all over Pakistan who can not familiar with the name of this sufi scholor. This article gives us huge knowledge about him from which place he is or what are his works in which fields what was depth of his thinking and specially for his famous written book “shah jo Risalo”. I am really very interested to know how our great sindhi cultural philosopher’s master written piece shah jo risalo is translated to other language and through this article i am able to have a knowledge about this side. This article encourage me to get more information about Shah abdul latif and it’s poetry that what this sufi saint wants to convey through his poetry.

  5. Farhan Ali Lashari

    No One Can Completely Describe The Message Shah abdul LatiF Bhittai R.A THe Message OF Shah abdul laTiF Bhittai is Only Peace and Tolerance .He Rejected The Luxuries OF Family And Home to Spend His LIfe Searching For True spirtituality and Connection To GOD.He spend MosT of his Life in deep Soliditary mediation The questions that burned Through his mind revolved around man’s purpose for being on earth and his realtionship with his creator .iT was Through His Poetry that He preached To his disciples beliefs oF Tolerance and love .Bhittai wrote poetry on women oF sindh admiring their courage and loyalty ,Shah abdul latif,s mesaage was not limited to one Region,His philosophy of love and tolerance had no boundaries.we need The mesaage oF bhittai To spread ,we need To end These Wars ,stop the Shedding oF precious blood,and this is what shah abdul latiF’s bhittai philosophy of greater Harmony’s is All about The Best resoultion of all conflicts.

  6. Syed Usman Shah

    Good information about Shah abdul Latif bhittai and his Rasalo. The person who upload that article he is one of the best person who collect this information from everywhere. Article told us all about the life of Shah abdul latif and his life, also the info about latif’s rasalo chapters and Eight Queens which was mentioned by Latif in ancient time.
    The shrine complex was built in 1772 by Mian Ghulam Shah Kalhoro to house the tomb of the Shah Abdul Latif Bhittai.
    The shrine is considered to be one of the most important in Sindh, and its annual urs festival attracts up to 500,000 visitor

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