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Access Type

Open Access Thesis

Document Type


Degree Program

Comparative Literature

Degree Type

Master of Arts (M.A.)

Year Degree Awarded


Month Degree Awarded



Abdullah Shah (1680-1757) was the birth name of the boy who would later become one of the most eminent Sufi poets of South Asia, and the master of Sufi lyrics in Punjabi—Bulleh Shah. Living during times of strife and major conflict between the Sikhs and the crumbling Mughal Empire, Bulleh Shah wrote poetry with an underlying humanist and tolerant philosophy that challenged the turmoil of his times. Blind to the bounds of religion and caste in an increasingly divided India, Bullah’s spiritual philosophy and his message of equality found voice in his kafis—a genre of poetry indigenous to the Indian subcontinent that can be seen as a form of folk ballad.

This project offers translations of 15 kafis from his identifiable corpus, preceded by a substantial introductionFurthermore, the project is accompanied. Each kafi is presented in three translations—literal, functional, and oral. The selected kafis draw on the three dominant themes in his work—Ishq, rebellion, and freedom. Scans of the original kafis in Shahmuki script Punjabi have been provided. Furthermore, the project is accompanied by an interpretive composition of the translated kafi “What Times, What Strange Times,” which was a collaboration between the author of the thesis, Akshaya Tucker, and Jacob Scharfman.


First Advisor

Edwin Gentzler

Second Advisor

Joseph Black

Third Advisor

Nigar J. Khan

Fourth Advisor

Moira Inghilleri

Kafi scans originals with title page.pdf (10545 kB)
Shahmukhi Punjabi Kafi Scans

What Times What Strange Times.mp3 (2388 kB)
Original Musical Composition