Bhajj Danabad Challiye

A masculine (to an extent of macho) lover; an apparently fragile yet strong at the core beauty, as the beloved; an aide or a distraction: a character essentially not from human species growing stronger as the plot develops; all the sweetness of love shrouded in the obvious tragic ending; of all the love’s ills, death, simultaneous for both our lovers as they are compelled to part ways; and a folk tale is born. At the face of it a folk tale appears to be a tragic saga quite depressing in its contents. What makes folk stories special is the setting, principally rural in which these get developed, their accounts remembered by heart and passed onto generations and the way these are celebrated as integral part of our folk culture. Mirza Sahiban is one folk tale like many others, yet it’s different in many accounts.
It’s different as Mirza Jatt infiltrates into the very den of Sahiban’s Household and fliches away his love setting course for Danabad…

بھج دانابادچلئیے، مرزیا چڑھیاں اوہدیاں واراں

ਭਜ ਦਾਨਾਬਾਦ ਚੱਲੀਏ ਮਿਰਜ਼ਿਆ ਚੜ੍ਹੀਆਂ ਓਹਦਿਆਂ ਵਾਰਾਂ

It’s different as right in the heat of the chase by Sahiban’s brothers, she put Mirza at disadvantage hoping a compromise between her lover and her brothers…

اک پاسے ماں جائے دوجی طرف دلاں دا جانی

ਇਕ ਪਾਸੇ ਮਾਂ ਜਾਏ ਦੂਜੀ ਤਰਫ਼ ਦਿਲਾਂ ਦਾ ਜਾਨੀ

It’s different as it sets up in my very own Apna Punjab (Danabad and Kheewa – the lands of Faisalabad and Jhang). On one of the domestic visits to the place of my origin, I just extended a few miles to explore Danabad (village of our hero – Mirza Jatt) and Khewa (village of our lead female – Sahiban).

Danabad and Khewa – A Picture Gallery

The Iconic Jandd Tree
Compound hosting the graves of our characters
(recently it has been replaced with a full fledged shrine with a dome on top)
Graves (left to right) : Wanjhal Khan (Mirza’s father), Mirza Jatt, Sahibaan
Grave of Bakki (Mirza’s mare)
Kheewa, Sahiban’s village : On Chiniot Road

Rhythmic Renditions on Mirza Sahiban

… and here I present two of the old school melodies (and my favorites, of course) on the folk genre of Mirza Sahiban. Chamkaur Singh Sekhon is traditional and pure desi in “Bhaj Danabad Challieye“(also the inspiration behind the title of the current post). Alam Lohar with Charanjit Kaur has done justice in rhyming the dialogue between Mirza Jatt and Sahiban under the iconic Jand Tree …

Mirza Sahiban: selected excerpts from Punjabi Transcripts

Selected excerpts from various Mirza Sahiban’s versions transcribed by Peelu, Hafiz Barkhurdar and Sain Maula Shah Majethvi covering some salients of the folk tale are presented below:

Origins: A Story is Born

گھر کھیوے دے صاحباں، جمی منگل وار
رج دعائیں دتیاں، سوھنئیں پر وار
رل تدبیراں بدھیاں، چھیل ہوئی مٹیار

In a household of Kheewa, Sahiban was born, the day was Tuesday; Such was the charm of her beauty that everyone bequeathed scores of prayers on her; Nature crafted its own procedures in blessing her with all the bounties of the youth

گھر ونجھل دے مرزا، جمیاں کرڑے بار
جنم دتے مائی باپ نے، روپ دتا کرتار
ایسا مرزا سورماں، کھرلاں دا سردار

In the family of Wanjhal Khan, Mirza Jatt was born; Born of his parents, Mirza was blessed with a persona by the Lord; Daring by birth, Mirza Jatt grew up to be the leader of the Kharals (of Danabad)

Love sets in; with all its Might and Miseries

Love was in the air as Mirza (sent to his relatives at Kheewa) and Sahiban became childhood companions in the local Mosque school. The companionship grew into affection that eventually turned into unassailable love for each other.

صاحباں پڑھدی پٹیاں، مرزا پڑھے قرآن
وچ مسیت دے لگیاں، جانے کل جہان

Sahiban was taught her tricks, Mirza was to learn Quran They got befriended in the mosque, so that the world came to know of their love

نہ مار قاضی چھمکاں، نہ دے تتی نوں تاء
پڑھنا ساڈا رہ گیا، لے آءے عشق لکھا

Don’t bring on us the punishments O Teacher! what the heat would do where the things are fired up already; Your tutoring has gone obsolete; we have the divinity of love prescribed for us

مرزے تھیں کھاون پیون مجلساں بھل گئی سب جا
جس ترنجن وچ صاحباں، کوئی اوتھے نقارا وجا
ایھہ کٹ کٹ کیتا کند لے برہوں دے کے تا
کون بجھائے حافظا جاں اگ لگے دریا

Having parted from Sahiban, Mirza lost all the appetite for life; Somebody to go to the gathering of Sahiban and shout out (the suffering of Mirza); The love tears life into bits of pain, putting tears to fire; O Hafiz Barkhurdar! How to put out the fire that lights up the waters?

صاحباں اتن کتن بھل گیا، عشق رچیا وانگ ہفیم
سکن سول فراق غم بنھ دھکی صفاں غنیم
پانی اندر لونگ وانگ گھل گھل پھہے سقیم
پیا وچھوڑا یار دا، کلوتر کرس دو نیم

Sahiban mystified by the love (of Mirza), became oblivious of her own routine;
The torments of (Mirza’s) departure pushed her to the hostile flank of life;
Just as you put clove into a pile of water and it gets dissolved overtime;
She was parted from her lover, and such a divide broke her being into two pieces

Characters – Bakki

Bakki, Mirza’s mare comes to play her part in the tale as the companion of Mirza whom he trusted while taking Sahiban from Khewa to Danabad being chased by brothers of Sahiban. Interestingly Sahiban puts forth her concerns on the physical appearance of Bakki:

ماڑی تیری ٹیرکی ، مرزا لیایاں کدھروں ٹور
سکا ایہدا چوکٹا، کاواں کھاہدی کنگروڑ
جے گھر نئیں سی تیرے باپ دے، منگ لیاؤندوں ہور
گھوڑے کھیوے خان دے، بڑے مراتب خور
بھجیاں نوں جان نہ دین گے، ادھل گئیاں دے چور

Your mare is weak Mirza, from where you have laid your hands onto her! So slim is her frame, as if crows have been feeding on her back; If there was no good animal in your household, should have borrowed one; The horses of Khewa (my brothers would be riding on), are the strong backs; They shall never let us flee, and we shall be caught like the fleeing thieves

Mirza defends Bakki

دس مہیناں دا گھیو دتا، بکی دے ڈھڈ پا
بکی توں ڈرن فرشتے، میتھوں ڈرے خدا
چڑھنا اپنے شوق نوں، بکی نوں لاج نہ لا

For ten months I have fed Bakki on pure feed; Once I am galloping on her, angels would fear Bakki and the Lord Himself would fear me; She is one favorite ride, don’t disgrace her with your words (O Sahiban)!

Characters  – The Jand tree of Sandal Bar

Sandal Bar is a fertile piece of land between Rivers Ravi and Chenab. Before the development of irrigation system the land was thickly forested and inhabited by a number of interrelated tribes. Of these tribes were Kharrals of Danabad and Sials of Jhang.
The Jand tree earned its place in Punjabi culture as Jandola of Sandal Bar through the folk tale of Mirza Sahiban. Eloping with Sahiban from the Sials of Kheewa on Bakki’s back, Mirza was tempted by the soothing shades of Jand Tree on the outskirts of Danabad. Sahiban, sensing the danger of her brothers on their trail, urged Mirza to rush up to Danabad. Here ensues a dialogue between Mirza and Sahiban that has been poetically retold by many and is the most celebrated part of the folklore whenever the tale of Mirza Sahiban is performed.

Mirza addresses Sahiban …

نی توں ویکھ جنڈولہ بار دا، ایہدی کیسی چھاں وی بنٹریں
جنیاں کوراں نال زمین دے، ایتھے پیندی نئیں نہ کنڑیں
گھوڑی کیوں دوپہریں مارئیے، کیہڑی سر تے ساڑ بنڑیں
تینوں لے چلاں دن ڈیگرے، نی توں دانا باد وڑیں

Just see the Jand (tree) of (Sandal) Bar, how shady are its comforts! So thick are the branches that even the rain drops can’t find a route to the ground; What’s the hurry at our end? Why to kill our mare (Bakki) under the scorching sun; I shall take you by daybreak, and you shall enter Danabad

Sahiban replies Mirza …

رات چنے دی چاننی وت چوراں وٹ لئی چپ
ہن تیرے میرے عشق دی کوئی نہ رہ گئی لک
چھاویں بہیئے اوسدی جیہڑا ہتھیں لائیے رکھ
لے چل دانا با د نوں مرزیا جاہن تکاوے مک

Just as it’s true that on a moonlit night the thieves manoeuvre quietly; It’s also true that my love with you now is left with nothing hidden; It’s also true that the shade of only that tree is reliable that you grow by your own hands; Take me Danabad O Mirza! Only then we shall be shedding our fatigue

Mirza in his own might preferred to rest under the Jand Tree and eventually was reached by Sahiban’s brothers. Sensing the danger to her brothers against the superior archery of Mirza and hoping for a compromise, Sahiban slung all of Mirza’s arches on the Jand Tree putting him at a dire disadvantage. Mirza was eventually killed under the Jand Tree by Sahiban’s brothers and seeing the dreadful end to her love, Sahiban killed herself with Mirza’s sword. The Jand Tree bears witness to the tragic climax of Mirza Sahiban.

مرزے وچ بڑے گمان سی، پھیر سوں گیا جنڈورے پاس
میں ول ول وڈھ دیاں گا سورمیں، دئیوں پور کھپا
میں جھٹ کو ٹھوںکا لا لین دے، ستے نوں نہ جگا
دن چڑھدے نوں چلاں گے، تینوں لے چلاں داناباد
ہونی مرزے دی کد پئی، رلی سیالاں دے نال
چھٹی کانی غضب دی، لے گئی مرزے نوں نال
روح مرزے دی نکل گئی، لگی جنڈورے نال

Mirza muddled in his own strength, went on to sleep under the Jand Tree; I shall slay every soul once they reach here, and shall finish their count; Let me doze off for a while, just don’t rouse me from my sleep; We shall resume our journey on daybreak, and I shall take you to Danabad; Hence, fate came across Mirza, as Sahiban switched sides with Sials; The ferocious events ensued, and swayed Mirza with it; His soul evaded Mirza, his body left stranded by the Jand Tree

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author bio

Imran Saeed

I am a teller of old tales. History, folklore, military, and more. Mostly covering Pakistan, my homeland, but also the Great White North, where I am currently settled.
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Noor Rauf Rathore

Dear sir,
I love to travel and in that pursuit, I was surfing the internet to look for places which would be be suitable for a day trip. I kept looking, and it brought me here. I’m glad I found this. I’m blown away. Hardly, if ever, I find someone who, like me, loves to travel and explore (but sadly, I don’t get to do that a lot, but given the chance I would jump on it, head first). Not only did I enjoy the photographs immensely, but I also loved the way you have with words. The combination is a rare commodity. I hope you keep it all going, and I will keep waiting for more bits of Pakistan that are as yet unexplored by me.

Before I close this, I would like to tell you about this super awesome place I visited about two weeks ago (but the way you’re going, I think you might have seen it already). It’s called Katas Raj and it’s about 160 kilometres from Islamabad. I would gladly send you photos of my expedition, if you wish. It’s a true gem and (I’m so happy about this bit) it’s pretty garbage-free. An amazing place to visit when the weather allows.

Best wishes,

Noor Rauf Rathore

Thank you!