My beloved has left the neighbourhood. Oh lord, what shall I do?
Now he has gone, he does not stay. His company is ready to depart.
The fire in my heart blazes up. The flames of separation crackle.
Without the dear lord, Bullha is neither on this bank nor on the far side.
Get up, wake up, and do not snore. This sleeping is no good for you.
One day you must leave the world and go to be interred in the grave. The worms will eat your flesh. Be aware and do not forget death.
The day appointed for your wedding has drawn near; have you had any of the clothes for your dowry dyed?
Why have you ruined yourself? Heedless one, have you no awareness?
You have wasted your life in sleep; now your moment has come. You have not even started spinning thread on the wheel. You have no dowry prepared, so what will you do?
On the day you were intoxicated by your youth, you were completely taken up with your girlfriends. Carelessly you roamed the streets, without the least awareness.
From the start you were completely undomesticated, you were the most shameless of the shameless. You kept eating and filling yourself with food, and still you have no sense.
Soon it will be time for you to be taken away. Why are you asleep and full of pretense? You must meet strangers you have never seen. This bustling market will not be here in the morning.
You will depart from this world, and will not set foot here again. You will lose your youth and beauty. You are not going to remain in the world.
Your destination lies far away. You must wander through jungles and deserts. It will be difficult to get there on foot, and you do not look like a rider.
You will be on your own, and will travel completely alone. You will wander lost in jungles and deserts. You will leave here with your own supplies. You will not be able to borrow anything there.
That desolate mansion is empty, and you will live there all by yourself. There will be no one to be your friend.
There will be no one to rely upon for company.
Those who were kings of countries, and who had bands playing for them, have departed without their thrones and crowns. There is no trusting in this world.
Where is the emperor Sikandar? Death has not spared saints or prophets. All have left their pomp and show behind. No one is here permanently.
Where is Yusuf, the moon of Canaan? Zulaikha has taken her youthful beauty away with her. In the end, death made her perish. Her finery will not be restored.
Where is the throne of Sulaiman,8 which used to fly high in the air? It too has been taken care of by the almighty. There is no trusting in life.
Where are those princes, kings, and emperors? All have quit their royal residences. Those whose armies were uncountable cannot capture a mere police station now.
All the flowers, like the jasmine, the tulip, the lily, the iris, the hyacinth, and the wonderful cypress, have been reduced to a sorry state by the autumn wind.
The intoxication of the narcissus10 does not last forever.
As you perform, so you will receive. Otherwise you will be sorry. You will lament like the desolate crane.
Without wings there is no flying.
You will make your camp in places where lions, leopards, and terrors dwell. Your palaces and caravanserais will remain empty. You will have no hereditary claim on them.
In the citadel of knowledge we are helpless. It is he who brought us under his authority. Without the word I am no use, without the word there is no deliverance.
Bullha, there is no one besides the lord, here or there, in either world. So tread with great care, for there is no coming back a second time.
Make the Ganges flow backward, yogis, and you will gain a vision of God.
Take the cotton roll of love in your hand. Twist the axle, do not let it fall.
With the spindle of knowledge and the spinning wheel of meditation, make things spin backward.
When Kumbhakaran goes back the way he came, the mystery of Lanka is created.
Now that Ravan the ten-headed is destroyed and Lachhman remains, the unstruck music sounds.
It is when this ecstatic state is attained through association with the guru that one is called the guru’s servant.
Plunge into the circle of nectar so as to become God.
Different, topsy-turvy times have come, so I have discovered the beloved’s secrets.
Crows have started killing hawks, sparrows have brought down falcons.
Horses graze on rubbish heaps, donkeys are fed fine meal.
There is no affection among kinsfolk, or among senior and junior uncles.
There is no harmony at all between fathers and sons, or mothers and daughters.
The true get shoved aside, while the false are given seats of honour.
Former leaders sit in destitution, while carpets are spread for those who were at the back.
Those who wore rough blankets have been made kings, while former kings beg for alms.
Bullha, the order came from the divine presence. Who can turn it aside?
Excerpted with permission from Sufi Lyrics, Bullhe Shah, translated from the Punjabi by Christopher Shackle, Murty Classical Library of India and Harvard University Press.