Baba Sheikh Farid Shakkar Ganj ji
Principal teachings : Have a forgiving nature, never be discontented and dissatisfied, do good even to a person who is evil, live a simple life, never beg from any body, always do simran and beg for meditation of naam from Almighty God. Baba Sheikh Farid ji was a great Ascetic, a most sublime intellectual, profound meditator, deeply content, true believer and a great saint of highest spiritual degree. He was born in the village Khetwal, Distt. Multan(Pakistan) in the year 1173 A.D. His father was Sheikh Jalal Din Suleiman and mother Miriam (Kursam). His parents were very noble and religious, especially his mother, who was an enlightened soul. She had an intense desire to see her son as a True devotee of Allah(God). There are few mothers in this world that can be compared with Baba Farid ji’s mother. She always considered spiritual achievements much higher than worldly materialistic positions. She contributed a lot in the life of Baba Farid ji to achieve spiritual heights and powers. In early childhood, Baba Farid ji was inspired by his mother to meditate and recite the name of Allah by receiving an incentive of small packet of Shakkar(lumped brown sugar) daily. She used to keep this packet of brown sugar under his Musallah (a mat used by Muslims to spread over the ground before praying). With the passage of time, this packet of brown sugar took the form of real nectar of naam which surpassed all the taste of sweet things like honey, refined sugar and milk. He enjoyed this nectar of God and openly declared as mentioned on page 1379 :
Fareed: sugar cane, candy, sugar, molasses, honey and buffalo's milk all these things are sweet, but they are not equal to You
He was a gifted child of extraordinary intelligence. He learned the whole of Quran (Holy Book of Muslims) by heart at the early age of 12. He got religious instructions from Khawaja Qutab Din Bakhtiar Kaki to achieve a higher degree of spirituality what is called the stage of Marfat (spiritual state of detachment and longing for god) and Haqiqat( spiritual state of unity with god). Khwaja Sahib was a strict follower of Sufi-ism.
Note: Sufi-ism : The concept of “Khudah in Sufi-ism is something far higher then the fanaticism of “Sharah and Shariat” in Muslims. It teaches worship one God who is not confined to the walls of a mosque. According to Sufi-ism, God(Allah) is omnipresent. The holy persons who are in the embrace of Sufi-ism, live a very simple life. Their basis of life is the love of Allah and to live in his will. They think it is best to please their Murshid(spiritual teacher) and to live as he wishes. They live their lives in contentment, eat little, and wear simple clothes, give thanks to Allah every time and remain in deep remembrance of Almighty God. The Sufi saints had been very close to Gurughar(Sikhism). The foundation stone of Sri Har-Mander Sahib was laid by fifth Guru Arjun Dev ji through the hands of Sa-ee Mia Meer ji(Sufi saint). Sa-ee Bhikhan Shah of village Ghurham bowed in the direction of East instead of West(Muslims tradition) on the eve of Birth of tenth Guru Gobind Singh ji. A Sufi saint Faqir Budhu Shah offered his four sons and 500 disciples in the battle of Bhangani to Guru Gobind Singh ji and was accepted in the court of true Guru. A Sufi saint undergoes four different stages ot achieve unison with God Almighty(Allah). These are Shariat, Taraqiat, Marfat, Haqiqat.
Shariat : A Sufi fakir(Saint) considers Shariat is performing different actions. These are to keep Rozas(fast form dawn to dusk) in the month of Ramadan, to serve his Murshid(Spiritual Teacher)in every way, to recite Namaz(Muslim prayer), to do noble deeds, and to shun fanaticism, to love all and adopt open-mindedness. to have compassion, and lead a simple life, to remain thankful to God and abide by above principles
Tariqat : A curious learner of Sufi-ism stays with the Murshid and remains in his order, shuns evil desires, meditates and recites Allah’s name, reforms and moulds his mind in a better way, gives thanks to Allah and thus remains Taraqiat.
Marfat : This is the third stage. Remaining in Shariat and abiding by the rules o Sufi-ism. This world seems to be a show. During this stage the person becomes an introvert He leaves worldly attachment and desires all the time to meet Allah. He is totally lost in penance and prays in privacy. He wants to attain next stage of Haqiqat.
Haqiqat : When a Sufi fakir reaches the stage of Haqiqat, a divine light of Allah visions through him. A person becomes thoughtless. One light of God becomes visible inside and outside. There remains no difference between the Creator and the creation. The whole world seems to be one form of Allah. After Reaching this stage, a person becomes utmost polite and humble, self-sacrificing, rises above ego-ism, behaves and acts as a care free person. This is called the fourth stage of Haqiqat in Sufi-ism. Sheikh Farid ji was a family man. In some books it is written that he had four wives. First was Hazbara(daughter of Sultan Giansudin Balvan), Second was Sharda, third was Shakkar and fourth was a widow, whom he married. Bibi Hazbara stayed with him in the uniform of a fakir throughout her life. According to S. Shamsher Singh Ashok(Sikh Scholar) he had 8 sons and 9 daughters. From the age of 25 to 50 years of his life, he did very hard work, strict penance and meditation. He ate very little food and wore only essential clothes. Sometimes he only had half a hyigt.iutglass of syrup, half piece of corn loaf and some pieces of Raisins in twenty four hours. He used to wear a beggar’s blanket and often said ,” Any person who is a slave of his desires to eat, drink and wearing clothes cannot meditate, because his mind is not under his control. A person is great who keeps his balance in joys and sorrows, is content and remains stable. The person who is dissatisfied becomes dependent on everybody.” Farid ji didn’t preach the principle of detachment in theory only, but he practiced it in his personal life. When he left for his heavenly abode, there was not a single piece of cloth for his funeral ceremony found in his house. Even the bricks needed for his tomb had to be obtained by dismantling the wall of his house. For some time, he went out in a jungle for penance and meditation. He did penance by starving himself and hanging himself upside down. He only ate leaves of the trees to satisfy his hunger. One day he was meditating in solitude of the jungle when he realized that the noise of the sparrows was an obstacle in his meditation. Spontaneously and in an angry voice he said,” Die”. As soon as he said that, all the sparrows died. He became very sad after seeing the dead sparrows. He then remarked,” Sparrows come to life”. Again, as soon as he uttered these words, the sparrows came back to life and flew away. Farid ji was happy to see that his meditation had been accepted in the court of God and Allah had made his words come true. After getting his power, a little ego over whelmed him but Allah Almighty God never wants that his devotee should fall victim to false pride. One day, Sheikh Farid ji felt thirsty. So in order to quench his thirst he went to the village from the jungle. He saw a well there. There was a young lady drawing water out of the well, but she kept withdrawing the water and throwing it on the ground. He asked the young lady for some water but she didn’t pay any attention and went on doing what she was doing.
He again requested water but the young lady deliberately ignored him and finally answered in an angry tone,” Baba ! Wait a while; I am doing very urgent work. These are not the sparrows of the jungle that you can say die and come back to life and show your power”. After listening to these words, Farid ji felt very bad but at the same time he wondered about how did that lady know about the sparrow incident that happened in the jungle. When the lady stopped throwing water on the ground, She addressed Farid ji and said,” Baba ji now you can have water.” He drank the water and politely asked the lady about her insight about sparrows and also about the reason for throwing water on the ground. The young lady replied,” My sister’s house is at a far distance from here. Her whole family has gone out of town. Her house had caught fire in her absence. So I was extinguishing the fire of her house by throwing water on the ground. Now about sparrow incident, my husband is a true devotee of Almighty God and I am a faithful wife to my husband. I got this power of insight spontaneously, just by keeping myself in my husband’s will. I have never done any penance or any sort of meditation. Baba ji, power of Miracles is God’s gift. We should not try to use and show it. We should live in God’s will and tolerate the intolerable.” The ego in Sheikh Farid ji’s mind vanished after listening to the tone and powerful words of the young lady. He cursed his mind and scolded himself for not becoming a true servant of Allah (God) yet. To become a truthful and humble servant of Allah, he had to adopt the boldness of a tree. He says so in Sri Guru Granth Sahib on page1381 :
Fareed, work for your Lord and Master; dispel the doubts of your heart. The dervishes, the humble devotees, have the patient endurance of trees.
So Baba Farid ji tried to extinguish his pride by meditating on Allah’s name in such a love stricken manner and pleading requests to meet Allah that even listeners are touched within to hear his yearning for Allah. The Bani uttered by him shows the intensity of separation in his mind for God. As mentioned on page 1382 :
Fareed, my withered body has become a skeleton; the crows are pecking at my palms. Even now, God has not come to help me; behold, this is the fate of all mortal beings. The crows have searched my skeleton, and eaten all my flesh. But please do not touch these eyes; I hope to see my Lord. O crow, do not peck at my skeleton; if you have landed on it, fly away. Do not eat the flesh from that skeleton, within which my Husband Lord abides.
Baba Farid ji’s true yearning request was accepted in the court of Almighty Allah. He crossed Marfat(last stage of spiritual development for Muslims). He became enlightened that God, the Almighty already resides in his heart. On the contrary he was looking for Him in the jungles uselessly. As mentioned on page 1378 :
Fareed, why do you wander from jungle to jungle, crashing through the thorny trees ? The Lord abides in the heart; why are you looking for Him in the jungle ?
His level of politeness and humility increased proportionally to his level of spirituality. People worshipped him as a saint of highest level. He had a vast and deep experience of life. He knew that when, with the grace of God, a person is gifted with Holy merits , at the same time, wealth as an evil influence also enters the human mind secretly, in the form of pride and degrades him in the eyes of Allah(God). To solve this situation, Sheikh Farid ji always remained humble as mentioned on page 1384 :
Humility is the word, forgiveness is the virtue, and sweet speech is the magic mantra.
Also on page 1381 it states
Fareed, my clothes are black, and my outfit is black. I wander around full of sins,
and yet people call me a dervish - a holy man.
Farid ji went on molding his mind to unconditional surrender from time to time so that he could be accepted in the house of Lord. As mentioned on page 1378 :
Fareed, become the grass on the path, if you long for the Lord of all. One will cut you down, and another will trample you underfoot; then, you shall enter the Court of the Lord
Only once Farid ji was over whelmed by ego and he suffered a great loss. He always tried to keep himself away from egoistic pride and preached others to do so. As stated on page 1383 :
Fareed, those who are very proud of their greatness, wealth and youth, shall return empty-handed from their Lord, like sandhills after the rain.
Farid ji had immense faith in his Allah Tallah(God). He never took shelter of any body except God. This can be understood from one of the incidents in his life. Once due to his old age, he was unable to walk on his legs. His follower offered him a beautiful wooden stick to walk with. After hardly taking three or four steps he threw the stick away saying,” Farid did not take shelter of anybody but Allah throughout his life then why should I use this lifeless stick in old age for help?” An example of His deep faith in Almighty God probably can’t be found anywhere else. He states this in Guru Granth Sahib ji on page 1379 :
Cursed are the lives of those who place their hopes in others.
After achieving unison with Almighty Allah(God), he now saw His Light. He never thought evil about anyone and doing harm to someone never came to his mind. As stated on page 1381 :
Fareed, the Creator is in the Creation, and the Creation abides in God. Whom can we call bad? There is none without Him.
Also on page 1381 he states :
Fareed, those deeds which do not bring merit - forget about those deeds. Otherwise, you shall be put to shame, in the Court of the Lord.
He stated furthermore on page 488 :
I seek Your Protection - You are the Forgiving Lord. Please, bless Shaykh Fareed with the bounty of Your meditative worship.
He left for his heavenly abode on the year1266 A.D. at Pakpatan(Pakistan) and proved his uttered words. As mentioned on page 488 :
Those whom the Lord attaches to the hem of His robe, are the true dervishes at His Door. Blessed are the mothers who gave birth to them, and fruitful is their coming into the world.
And as stated on page 687 :
My Yatra, my life pilgrimage, has become fruitful, fruitful, fruitful. My comings and goings have ended, since I met the Holy Saint.
Farid ji became immortal after getting the above mentioned blessings from God and left foot prints for us to follow in Sri Guru Granth Sahib ji. He will continue inspiring us to become true lovers of God. As he stated on page 488 :
They alone are true, whose love for God is deep and heart-felt Those who have one thing in their heart, and something else in their mouth, are judged to be false. Those who are imbued with love for the Lord, are delighted by His Vision. Those who forget the Naam, the Name of the Lord, are a burden on the earth.