Punjabis love and hate with extreme emotion. That fact is known to Punjabis who understand the psyche of Punjabis. Yet due to social and socio-cultural and religious barriers people who love beyond these barriers end up giving up and thus the course of nature is obstructed. Despite all the barriers there have been many people who lost it all in love and they even gave up their lives. We do not suggest anyone to do that in today’s fake,false and socially correct world but if you love someone be faithful and true to your love and your promises. Never break your vows and promises. Love is a spiritual union and not physical.
All these legends you read or hear became legends because of their spiritual purity. In today’s world that purity is not there anymore and if there is in some good souls, the social system bulldozes all hopes.
Waris Shah’s composition, the love story of Heer Ranjha is the story of the young man and a young women, which did not receive the sanction of society in the shape of marriage, a major theme of literature, music, dance and drama not only in Punjab, but everywhere in the world.
It is believed that the poem of Heer and Ranjha had a happy ending but Waris Shah gave it the sad ending described above, thereby giving it the legendary status it now enjoys. It is argued by Waris Shah in the beginning of his version that the story of Heer and Ranjha has a deeper connotation – the relentless quest of man (humans) for God.
The story prformed in the form of an opera as well as a ballet is very typical. Heer was the daughter of a feudal landlord Chuchak Sial from Jhang. Before her sacrifice for Ranjha, she proved herself to be a very courageous and daring young girl. It is said that Sardar (Chief) Noora from the Sambal community, had a really beautiful boat made and appointed a boatman called Luddan. Noora was very ruthless with his employees. Due to the ill treatment one day Luddan ran away with the boat and begged Heer for refuge. Heer gave him moral support as well as shelter.
Sardar Noora was enraged at this incident. He summoned his friends and set off to catch Luddan. Heer collected an army of her friends and confronted Sardar Noora and defeated him. When Heer’s brothers learnt of this incident they told her,”If a mishap had befallen you why didn’t you send for us?” To which Heer replied,” What was the need to send for all of you? Emperor Akbar had not attacked us.”
It is the same Heer who, when she is in love with Ranjha, sacrifices her life for him and says, ” Saying Ranjha, Ranjha all time I myself have become Ranjha.
No one should call me Heer, call me Dheedho Ranjha.”
When Heer’s parents arranged her marriage much against her wishes, with a member of the house of Khaidon, it is Heer who plucks up courage during the wedding ceremony and reprimands the Kazi (priest).” Kazi, I was married in the presence of Nabi (Prophet). When did God give you the authority to perform my marriage ceremony again and annul my first marriage? The tragedy is that people like you are easily bribed to sell their faith and religion. But I will keep my promise till I go to the grave.”
Heer is forcibly married to Khaidon but she cannot forget Ranjha. She sends a message to him. He comes in the garb of a jogi (ascetic) and takes her away. When Heer’s parents hear about the elopement they repent and send for both of them promising t get Heer married to Ranjha. But Heer’s uncle Khaidon betrays them and poisons Heer.
In this love tale Heer and Ranjha do not have the good fortune of making a home. But in the folklore sung by the ladies, Heer and Ranjha always enjoyed a happy married life.
It was Heer’s strong conviction, which has placed this tragic romantic tale on the prestigious pedestal along with Punjab’s religious poetry.
There are several poetic narrations of the story, the most famous being ‘Heer’ by Waris Shah written in 1766. It tells the story of the love of Heer and her lover Ranjha. Well-known poetic narrations have also been written by Damodar Das Arora, Mukbaz and Ahmed Gujjar, among others
(The Legends of the Panjab by RC Temple, Rupa and Company, Volume two, page 606) Rag Hir Ranjha
“ Awal-akhir naam Allah da lena, duja dos Muhammad Miran
Tija naun mat pita da lena, unha da chunga dudh sariran
Chautha naun an pani da lena, jis khave man banhe dhiran
Panjman naun Dharti Mata da lena, jis par kadam takiman
Chhewan naun Khwaja Pir da lena, jhul pilave thande niran
Satwan naun Guru Gorakhnath de lena , patal puje bhojan
Athwan naun lalanwale da lena, bande bande de tabaq janjiran
Firstly and lastly, take the name of God; secondly, of the Great Muhammad, the friend (of God)
Thirdly, take the name of father and mother, on whose milk my body throve
Fourthly, take the name of bread and water, from eating which my heart is gladdened
Fifthly, take the name of Mother Earth, on whom I place my feet.
Sixthly, take the name of Khwaja (Khazir, the Saint), that gives me cold water to drink
Seventhly, take the name of Guru Gorakh Nath whom is worshiped with a platter of milk and rice
Eighthly, take the name of Lalanwala that breaketh the bonds and the chains of the captives
Heer is an extremely beautiful woman, born into a wealthy Jat family of the Sayyal clan in Jhang, Punjab (Pakistan)). Ranjha (whose first name is Dheedo; Ranjha is the surname), also a Jat of the Ranjha clan, is the youngest of four brothers and lives in the village ‘Takht Hazara’ by the river Chenab. Being his father’s favorite son, unlike his brothers who had to toil in the lands, he led a life of ease playing the flute (‘Wanjhli’/'Bansuri’). After a quarrel with his brothers over land, Ranjha leaves home. In Waris Shah’s version of the epic, it is said that Ranjha left his home because his brothers’ wives refused to give him food. Eventually he arrives in Heer’s village and falls in love with her. Heer offers Ranjha a job as caretaker of her father’s cattle. She becomes mesmerised by the way Ranjha plays his flute and eventually falls in love with him. They meet each other secretly for many years until they are caught by Heer’s jealous uncle, Kaido, and her parents Chuchak and Malki. Heer is forced by her family and the local priest or ‘mullah’ to marry another man called Saida Khera.
Ranjha is heartbroken. He wanders the countrtyside alone, until eventually he meets a ‘jogi’ (ascetic). After meeting Baba Gorakhnath, the founder of the “Kanphata”(pierced ear) sect of jogis, 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, “Alakh Niranjan”, he wanders all over the Punjab, eventually finding the village where Heer now lives.
The two return to Heer’s village, where Heer’s parents agree to their marriage. However, on the wedding day, Heer’s jealous uncle Kaido poisons her food so that the wedding will not take place. Hearing this news, Ranjha rushes to aid Heer, but he is too late, as she has already eaten the poison and died. Brokenhearted once again, Ranjha takes the poisoned Laddu (sweet) which Heer has eaten and dies by her side.
Heer and Ranjha are buried in Heer’s hometown, Jhang. Lovers and others often pay visits to their mausoleum.
The epic poem has been made into several feature films. Bollywood versions include Heer Ranjha (1928) starring Zubeida, Heer Ranjha (1929), Heer Ranjha (1931),
Heer Ranjha (1948), Heer Raanjha (1970) directed by Chetan Anand and starring Raaj Kumar and Priya Rajvansh, and Heer Ranjha (1992).This movie’s songs became very popular all over South Asia.
Pakistani versions include Heer Raanjha (1970) directed by Masood Pervaiz and starring Firdous and Ejaz Durrani, Heer starring Sowarn Lata and Inayat Hussain Bhatti, and Heer Sial starring Sudhir and Bahar. In November 2009, “Heer Ranjha” was released in Punjabi starring singer & actor Harbhajan Mann.