Your body quivers, O wise Farid, now you’re hoary and old
To dust you are surely bound even if you live years untold
See Farid, your flowing beard has turned drab and grey
What lies ahead is approaching quick, what’s behind now far away
Your houses, your palaces and your gold, on these don’t rely
All will crumble to ash and dust, no solace will they buy
Your beautiful form will rot and crumble, the thread of life will break
Who knows when grim Azrael will his path to your house make?
For how long can a tree, O Farid, rooted in a river stay?
For how long will water keep in a vessel of soft clay?
The cranes play on the river banks, until a hawk descends
When the hawk of god swoops, all play and plans must end
Such are the ways of god, Farid, that no mind can comprehend
Buddha hoya sheikh Farid, Kamban laggi dayh
Je so varya jeevna, Bheetan hosi khayh
Dekh Farida jo thea darhi hoi bhoor
Aggu neda aaya, pichaa rahya door
Farida kothe mandap mariaa, ayt na laaye chit
Mitti payii atolave koay na hosi mit
Farida bhanni gharhi savanni, tutti naagar lajj
Azraeel farishta kai ghar nathi ajj
Kandi utay rukh-ra kichrak bannay dheer
Farida kachay bhanday rakhiye kichar taai neer
Farida daryave kanne baggla betha kayl karay
Kayl karainde hanj nu, achintay baaj paaye
Baaj paye tis rab de kaylaañ visriyañ
Jo mann chit na chayte san so gaale rub ki-aa
Khwaja Faridudin Ganjshakar (c.1170-c.1275), known as Baba Farid, was a Sufi saint from the Punjab region in India. He belonged to the illustrious Chisti order of Muslim Sufism, and remains one of its greatest proponents.
He is one of the first and greatest poets in the Punjabi language, helping set the foundations for it to be perfected as a literary medium.
Baba Farid’s poetry is deeply pious and spiritual, it address eternal and essential problems of humanity. Such is the power of his poetic teachings that they are incorporated into the sacred text of the Sikhs, called the Guru Granth Sahib, and as such are considered holy by them.
To translate such profound poetry is a fool’s quest, but in this case I am willing to be the fool if it arouses interest in even one person to seek out and learn about the amazing poetic treasures that this part of the world offers.