Panju Shah: Legacy of the bard needs to be preserved | The Daily Star
11:00 PM, November 13, 2009 / LAST MODIFIED: 11:00 PM, November 13, 2009

Panju Shah: Legacy of the bard needs to be preserved


Panju Shah’s final resting place in Jhenaidah.

Mystic legendry bard Panju Shah was born in Shailkupa under Jhenidah sadar district in 1851, (Baishakh 1, 1258, according to the Bengali calendar).
Though he was strongly inclined towards the Baul ideology right from his younger days, he did not disclose this fact to his father, Khadem Ali Khandakar, who had a strong aversion to the Baul philosophy.
Upon his father's death, Panju was able to realise his dream of studying the mystical Baul songs taught by Hirajtullah Khandakar. In the course of that period, he composed 400 spiritual songs.
Two hundred songs have been collected from different sources but the rest have not yet been collected, said Keramot Ali, a descendant of Panju and lecturer in Meherpur Women's College. Panju composed a book of verses titled "Sohi Eski Sadeki Gauhor". This book is regarded as Panju's masterpiece.
Panju Shah composed a good number of spiritual songs but these have not been preserved properly. Though a tomb -- housing his grave and the graves of his two wives -- has been built here, no auditorium, library or memorial has been erected to keep Panju Shah's memories alive.
Panju had the fortune to meet and know Fakir Lalon Shai. Panju Shah erected an 'akhra' (den) frequented by Baul devotees Duddu Shah, Hatem Shah and Jahur Shah. He had a host of disciples: the most noteworthy being Matam Shah, Rais Shah and Fikir Shah.
Panju Shah devoted himself to composing songs, with the blessings of Lalon. His songs have a timeless appeal: a mixture of Baul tunes, Kirtan and other styles.
This legendary Baul passed away in 1914 (Sraban 28, 1321, according to the Bengali calendar).
Keramot Ali said that a resident of Harishpur village has been trying to grab the plot including the final resting place of Panju Shah. He has even erected a partition wall with scant regard for the tomb. He goes to the extent of losing his temper with Panju's devotees when they come to pay their tribute. Keramot strongly called upon the district administration to take necessary measures to preserve the Baul's legacy.
Khandakar Abdur Razzak, a devotee and one of Panju's descendants from Harishpur village, said that on the 16th of Bangla month Baishakh every year, a fair in honour of the mystic bard is held here where thousands of devotees and the general people congregate.

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