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The original Heer was written by a Sikh

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Anyone know more about this? I knew that the original writer of Heer/Ranjha was a Hindu but had no idea that he became a Sikh? Damodar Gulati Arora wrote the original Heer and apparently converted to Sikhi?  Waris Shah was not the original writer of Heers sakhi, his version just happens to be the most famous.

Many think Heer Ranjha is a love story, its not!  Heer is about mans relationship and quest for God. Not sure if the original Heer exists or if its been lost, but it would be interesting to see if it has any Sikh influence. Are the characters still Muslim or are they Hindu ...

The story of Heer Ranhja is also in Charitropakhyan. 


Anyone know more about Domodar Gulati?  apparently he is mentioned in Bhai Gurdas Jis vaarans aswell .... 


The Real Story of Heer Ranjha



We all are familiar with Waris Shah (Urdu: السيد وارث علي شاه النقوي الرضوي البهكري البدراني‎) , ਵਾਰਿਸ ਸ਼ਾਹ (Gurmukhi); 1722–1798) who was a Punjabi Sufi poet of Chishti order, renowned for his contribution to Punjabi literature by immortalizing the love story of Heer Ranjha.  His poetic verse is a treasure-trove of Punjabi phrases, idioms and sayings. His minute and realistic depiction of the details of Punjabi life and political situation in the 18th century, remains unique and the entire poem is an album of colorful and enchanting pictures of life in the Punjab, deeply absorbing.

Waris Shah was deeply learned in Sufi and domestic cultural lore. His depiction of story of romantic love is a poetic expression of the mystical love of the human soul towards God – the quintessential subject in Sufism and a recurring theme in both Sufi and Sikh mysticism.

The Legend

Heer is an extremely beautiful woman, born into a wealthy family of the Sial clan in Jhang, West Punjab. Sials are Rajputs clan who inhabit Jhang region of West Punjab and founded the city of Sialkot. Ranjha (whose first name is Dheedo; Ranjha is the surname), was a Jatt of the Ranjha tribe. The Ranjha are found in Sargodha, Gujrat, Jhelum and Gujranwala  districts of West Punjab.

Dheedo Ranjha was the youngest of four brothers and lives in the village of Takht Hazara by the river Chenab. Being the baby of the family, he led a life of ease, playing Wanjhli (flute). After being told off by his brothers, Ranjha leaves home and arrives in Jhang. Heer's father Chaudhary Chuchak offers Ranjha a job herding his cattle. Here he falls in love with Heer. She is also mesmerized by the way he plays his flute and falls in love with him. They meet each other secretly for many years until they are caught by Heer's uncle, Kaido, and her mother Malki. Heer is forced by her family and the local priest to marry another man named Saida Khera, a Jatt of Khaira clan.

Ranjha is heartbroken. He wanders the countryside alone, until eventually he meets Jogi (ascetic). Gorakhnath at Tilla Jogian (the 'Hill of Ascetics', located 50 miles north of the historic town of Bhera, Sargodha District, Punjab), Ranjha becomes a jogi himself, piercing his ears and renouncing the material world. Reciting the name of the Lord (Rabb) he wanders all over Punjab, eventually finding Rangpur, the village where Heer now lives as married woman.

Heer elopes with Ranjha with the help of Saida's sister Sehti who also elopes with her Balochi lover. The Khaira riders catch the eloping couple and beat Ranjha mercilessly. The couple are brought before Raja Adali of Qubala, demanding that Ranjha be put to death. Heer’s uncle Kaidu also came to testify against Ranjha but Chaudhary Chuchak testifies in favour of the lovers. On the advise of elders, Raja Adali orders Saida to divorce Heer so she can marry Ranjha.

The two return to Heer's village, where Heer's parents agree to their marriage. However, on the wedding day, Kaido poisons her. Hearing this news, Ranjha rushes to aid Heer, but is too late, as she has already eaten the poison and has died. Brokenhearted once again, Ranjha eats the remaining poisoned Laddu (sweet) which Heer has eaten and dies by her side.


Damodar Gulati

Damodar Gulati also known as Damodar Das Arora of Jhang was the greatest classical story teller of Punjab. He was the first to compose the legend of Heer Ranjha that captured the imagination of Punjabis. “Damodar is my name, Gulati is my caste. I came to the fiefdom of the Sial my heart using its discretion led me to spend my days there,” is what he says in the opening lines of his story.

Damodar is mentioned in the Adi Granth (compilation of sacred teachings of Guru Nanak). Bhai Guru Das (1551-1629), a celebrated Sikh religious writer, in one of his Vars (Epic) mentioned the names of some prominent early Sikh converts. One of them is Damodar the wise, resident of Sultanpur. The Sultanpur village is still there, on the road from Jhang to Shah Jewna where a number of Gulatis of Arora caste lived before the partition of India.

According to Prof Indu Banga of the Department of History, Panjab University, the earliest ‘kissa’ in Punjabi was that of Heer-Ranjha, written by Damodar Gulati in 1605 during Akbar’s reign. His work was rewritten by Ahmad Gujjar in the 1680s and then by Shahjahan Muqbil in the second quarter of the 18th century, she added. She said Waris Shah built upon Muqbil’s work and the status of a classic was accorded to his 1766 composition.


Damodar's Heer

Interestingly, the first character Damodar introduces is that of himself, all set to tell the tale with his eyewitness account, insisting that what he is going to narrate unfolded before his very eyes. The poet appears throughout the narrative at important occasions with his comments, creating a strong impression as if he is an integral part of the story.

After introducing his heroine Heer, Damodar prepares us to receive his other protagonist appearing on the stage. “Having done with this episode (introduction of Heer) let us bring Ranjha into the world.”

Luddan the sailor, feeling empathy for Ranjha who is tired and exhausted after his long travel, let him sleep on Heer’s couch on her river resort. Heer finding the privacy of her bed violated is furious. The beautiful and pampered daughter of a powerful clan chief, hurls a question at Ranjha: “What virtue do you possess that qualifies you to sleep in my bed?" Ranjha takes out a flute and plays it to mesmerize Heer.

Damodar composed the original Heer in 1605. Among the notable versions of the epic story were those of Ahmad Gujjar in the 1680s and then by Shahjahan Muqbil in the second quarter of the 18th century. Waris Shah built upon Muqbil’s work and the status of a classic was accorded to his 1766 composition.

Damodar is not just the foremost story teller of modern Punjab but also one of the most distinguished poets of the Punjabi language. Damodar is undoubtedly the first among the great story tellers of the Punjab, who with his holistic vision created characters that transcending the parochial came to embody the universal human predicament; individual versus repressive social structure. The unmistakable sign of his profound critical social consciousness is that he makes his protagonist, a woman, an eternal metaphor for defiance and resistance without which human love born of freedom would remain a hollow ideal.


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Guru Ji writes about Heer Ranjha in Dasam Granth Sahib, Guru ji would have written about the Heer of Damodar, as the Waris Shah version was written much later around the time of the Sikh empire. 

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  • 4 weeks later...

Katha of Heer Ranjha from Charitropakhyan. This bibi does great katha of Charitropakhyan and relates each story to Gurbani, and explains what we can learn from each story.

Heer was the apsara Maneka who was sent to earth for punishment, she had to be born into a Muslim family, which I think was part of the punishment. 


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I saw a vase dating around the 1300s, which depicted the Heer Ranjha in the V&A Islamic collection years ago (like 15), the vase was from Persia. I think the Heer Ranjha tale is much older than people think - and if the vase is anything to go by, might have originated in Persia (unless it went the other way round?) 

Never been able to find it online though. 

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1 hour ago, dallysingh101 said:

I saw a vase dating around the 1300s, which depicted the Heer Ranjha in the V&A Islamic collection years ago (like 15), the vase was from Persia. I think the Heer Ranjha tale is much older than people think - and if the vase is anything to go by, might have originated in Persia (unless it went the other way round?) 

Never been able to find it online though. 

That's interesting, I've been to the v&a several times but never paid attention to the Islamic gallery, I'll check it out the next time I go.

You sure it was Heer Ranjha though? Ranjha and Sial are Punjabi clans/names. There's some Sikhs with Ranjha surname, not sure about Sial though, and despite the islamization of the story it sill has a very strong dharmic/south asian influence. Like Ranjha becomes a shaivite yogi, matts his hair, rubs ash on his body, and wears wooden earings etc.

You could say it was a Punjabi story that ended up in Persia, but then that is very unlikely, it always was the the other way round, Persian stories coming into South Asia.

Shirin Farhad are Persian, Layla Majnun are either Persian or Arab in origin, both names are foreign as well, but they ended up becoming a part of South Asian folklore.  


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