Jump to content

The original Heer was written by a Sikh

Recommended Posts

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.


  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

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. 

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 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. 


  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

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. 

Link to post
Share on other sites
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.  


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • advertisement_alt
  • advertisement_alt
  • advertisement_alt

  • Topics

  • Posts

    • I think this type of attitude helps keep Panjab economically backwards.  
    • This history seems true. It's not a new discovery, and this Zorowar Singh palit has a history and legacy in Bassi Pathaan that people there still acknowledge.  Info has been out about Zorowar Singh Palit since the late 60s at least, when Ganda Singh put out Sri Gursobha. That people here haven't heard of him here says more about their own piss poor study of history than anything else.  Plus this figure being from a tarkhan background would have motivated the usual jut casteists to jealously try and bury his memory, so that probably played a big part in his occlusion and hence so much ignorance about him. I'm not too familiar with Uhdoke, what makes you say the above about him?    
    • Could Labour Party have not chosen a better female, Bangladeshi candidate to represent the constituency? She seems quite incompetent, more so than many MP's ? ! https://www.thetelegraphandargus.co.uk/news/national/19470166.labour-mp-trial-housing-fraud-weeps-describes-fleeing-family-home/ Labour MP on trial for housing fraud weeps as she describes fleeing family home By Press Association 2021      26th July Apsana Begum     A Labour MP accused of housing fraud wept in court as she described the “traumatic” moment she called police and fled her family home after an argument with her brother during which he claimed she was possessed. Apsana Begum, 31, who is on trial at Snaresbrook Crown Court, said she went to a police station on May 21 2013 out of fear she could become the victim of honour-based violence after her brother followed her to work. On the same day, the Poplar and Limehouse MP said an argument erupted at her family home in east London when her brother locked her in the living room. She said: “He told me he wanted me to see an imam because I wasn’t registering their concern about (her partner) Ehtashamul (Haque). “He thought I was possessed and said he wanted me to get checked. “I refused and said I’m not under a spell, this is my choice and I just wanted them to support me. But he started reciting the Koran. He had his hand over my head. “I started shouting for my mum but she wasn’t responding. I didn’t know what was going to happen next.   “I thought he might beat me up.” Begum said she managed to call 999 and when officers arrived she fled with only her handbag. A court clerk passed Begum tissues as she said she had to collect her belongings which her family had placed in black bin bags outside their house on Woodstock Terrace. Giving evidence on Monday wearing a white shirt and grey headscarf, Begum told the jury her Bangladeshi-heritage family disapproved of her relationship with Mr Haque, who is now a Tower Hamlets councillor. Begum met Mr Haque while doing a community leadership post-graduate diploma. He was seven years older and had been married twice before, and her family did not see him as a suitable match for her. She denies three counts of housing fraud for allegedly withholding information about her living circumstances to jump the queue for a council house between January 2013 and March 2016. Tower Hamlets Council, which is bringing the prosecution, alleged it cost the local authority £63,928. Begum is accused of not notifying the council that she was no longer living in overcrowded accommodation – as she claimed when she applied for social housing – after she moved in with Mr Haque. She claims she rang the council to notify it for council tax purposes and believed it would share the information. She said it was a period of “turmoil” due to the breakdown of her relationship with her family and having lost her father months before. Begum also claims Mr Haque was “controlling and coercive” and had taken over her “matters and affairs”. “We had started a new life together – it wasn’t easy but it’s what we had chosen. He said he would tell everyone,” she added. During an interview with the council’s fraud investigations team on January 21 2020, a transcript of which was read out in court, she said: “I was going through a lot of turmoil at the time, escaping from an abusive situation and later on realising he (Mr Haque) was very, very abusive. “He told me he was handling my matters and affairs. He had my details, bank details, he was making transfers and all that.” In response to evidence that her account had been making bids for houses while she was known to be living with Mr Haque, she denied making the bids and said: “I’m shocked to see these records.” Asked if the bids could have been made by Mr Haque, Begum said: “It must have been him. He had access to the accounts.” Last week, Begum’s defence lawyer Helen Law said investigators failed to “join the dots”, including that the complaint about her applications in 2019 was made by a relative of Mr Haque, Sayed Nahid Uddin. She said she split with Mr Haque after he cheated on her in mid-2016. She added that she had also become concerned that he had a drinking problem. In November 2016, Begum called police to report that Mr Haque had been following her from her workplace in his car, after constantly calling and texting her. The prosecution says Begum attempted to gain social housing at first by claiming she lived in an overcrowded three-bedroom house with her family and did not have a bedroom of her own, which made her a higher priority in the queue. However, according to a social housing application made in 2009 by Begum’s aunt, the house had four bedrooms. Begum insists there were only three when she lived there. Prosecutor James Marsland claimed she “must have had a good understanding of the social housing system and how it operated” because she worked for Tower Hamlets Homes (THH), a public organisation working with the council to arrange social housing, between October 28 2013 and August 3 2016. The MP, who sits on the Commons Education Committee, entered Parliament with a 28,904 majority in the 2019 election.
  • Create New...

Important Information

Terms of Use