Existentialism & The Search – A Sufi Song

Who am I, who are you, who are we? A subcontinental classic re-rendered with so much soul by Rabbi Shergill. Enjoy, with the below translation to the Punjabi lyrics.

Bulla Ki Jaana, a kafi written by Saint Bulleh Shah (1680 to 1758), from Kasur, (now in Pakistan), is a great aesthetic, spiritual and metaphysical composition, which indulges a quest for enlightenment. It is all about us not knowing who we are, of thinking of life in terms of boxes, until you realise how meaninglessly you’ve compartmentalised life.

The very first verse (missing from this particular version) is:

Chal Bhulleya, chal oathay chaliay, jithay saaray annaiy 
Na koi saadi zaat pachaanay, te naa koi saanu mannay 
[I want to go where people are seemingly blind to my social status. No one cares what my creed is, and people will not bow to me just because I come from a privileged background]

Bulla ki jaana main kaun
[Bulla! I know not who I am]
Bulla ki jaana main kaun
[Bulla! To me, I am not known]
Na main moman vich maseetan
[Not am I a believer in the mosque]
Na main vich kufar dian reetan
[Nor am I a disciple of pagan rites]
Na main pakan vich paleetan
[Not am I the pure in the impure]
Na main andar Bed kitaban
[Nor am I inherent in the Vedas]
Na main rehnda phaang sharaban
[Not am I in intoxicants]
Na main rehnda mast kharaban
[Nor have I lost my way among the corrupt]
Na main shadi na ghamnaki
[In neither union nor in grief am I]
Na main vich paleetan pakeen
[Neither clean nor in a filthy mire]
Na main aabi na main khaki
[Not am I of the water nor of the land]
Na main aatish na main paun
[Not fire nor water am I]
Bulla ki jaana main kaun
[Bulla! I know not what I am]
Na main Arabi na Lahori
[Not am I Arabic nor from Lahore]
Na main Hindi shehar Nagaori
[Nor am I the from the city of Nagaur]
Na Hindu na Turk Pashauri
[Not a Hindu nor a Peshawari Turk]
Na main bhet mazhab de paya
[Neither did I get the gift of religion]
Na main Aadam Hawwa jaya
[Nor from Adam & Eve was I born]
Na koi apna naam dharaya
[I am not the name I assume]
Avval aakhar aap nu jana
[Neither the beginning or the end, I know just the self]
Na koi dooja hor pacchana
[I do not acknowledge duality]
Mai ton na koi hor syana
[There’s none wiser than I]
Bulle Shah kharha hai kaun
[Bulla Shah, who is this standing before you]
Bulla ki jaana main kaun
[Bulla! I know not who I am]
Bulla ki jaana main kaun
[Bulla! To me, I am unknown]
Na main Moosa na Pharoan
[Not am I Moses nor the Pharoah]
Na main jaagan na vich saun
[Neither awake nor in a sleeping daze]
Na main aatish na main paun
[Not am I fire nor the wind]
Na main rahnda vich Nadaun
[I do not stay in Nadaun (the city of innocents)]
Na main baitthan na vich bhaun
[Not in stillness, nor on the move]
Bulle Shah kharha hai kaun
[Bulla Shah, I who stand before you, am I alone?]
Bulla ki jaana main kaun
[Bulla! I know not who I am]
Bulla ki jaana main kaun
[Bulla! To me, I am not known]
Oh ho ho
Oh ho ho
Oh ho ho

NB – the translation is not original, but an amalgamation from the net.


  1. AWESOME!!!! The music and the visuals in the video – are mind-blowing and love, love, love your translation. Reminds me of the shloka “mano buddhi ahamkaaram…..” Everything is so varied in the video and then underneath it all – what is? Nothing? Silent emptiness. Thank YOU for sharing this Kunal. Loved every bit – totally! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people


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