Bulleh Shah, Master of Paradox by Raj Ayyar

A great master of paradox, of both..and, as well as neither/nor logic, Bulleh Shah is one of the outstanding mystical voices in Indian Sufi Islam, inviting comparison with Rumi, Hafiz and Kabir.
I love the fact that his complex neither-nor logic includes atheism as an option–not typical in the Sufi or other mystical traditions.

‘The day before, Bulleh Shah was an atheist.
He worshipped idols yesterday.
Bulleh loves the Muslim and salutes the Hindu.
I know not who I am.
I am neither a believer going to the mosque,
nor a non-believer.
I am neither among sinners, nor among saints.
I belong neither to water, fire, nor air.
I know not who I am.
Nor am I born of Adam and Eve,
I have given myself no name.
–Bulleh Shah: The Mystic Muse tr. K.S. Duggal

Bulleh Shah belongs to that great company of world mystics (circa 17th cent.), who deconstruct and mock all culturally programmed labels, all modes of separatist naming, that bestow a clear-cut religious or non-religious identity. He lived in the state of Punjab, centuries before the Partition, often near present day Lahore in Pakistan. He had a great respect for Sikhism, and embraced Sikhism, Islam and Hinduism, while at the same time refusing to be identified as any of that, or even as a ‘theist’. As he frankly claims in the quoted passage, he has his atheistic as well as his theistic days!


Raj Ayyar

Raj Ayyar

Raj Ayyar Email: raj@iiitd.ac.in Ph.: 9871239613 A Brief Bio • Over 20 years of collegiate teaching experience in the US and India. Taught full time at East Florida State and part time (adjunct faculty) at different colleges in the SF bay area. • Currently a full time Visiting Professor, Humanities and Social Sciences, IIIT-Delhi (since 2014). Courses include: Critical and Creative Thinking, Perspectives on Knowledge, Philosophy of Religion, Theory and Practice of Engineering Ethics, and other philosophy courses. • Created course content and syllabi for Philosophy of Religion and Philosophy of Literature; revamped existing syllabi and course outlines for Theory and Practice of Engineering Ethics, Perspectives on Knowledge, Critical Thinking. Current Areas of Research Interest • The Meta-Ethics of Facebook and Other Social Media. • Virtual Performativity—Toward a Typology of Virtual Speech Acts. Recent Conference Papers and Presentations • ICPR National Conference (Tier 1) on Plato’s Republic. Presenter and Moderator. Presented on ‘Plato and Nietzsche: Predictable Disjunctions and Unexpected Conjunctures’. Panel Discussion Moderator and Synthesizer. Lucknow, March 2017. • ICPR National Conference (Tier 1) Presenter on Perspectives in Philosophy and Literature. Delhi University, April 2016. • ICPR Panel Discussion on Mrinal Miri’s ‘Philosophy and Education’. August 2015. • Presenter and Moderator: Aletheia Conference on Heidegger. Lady Shri Ram College, March 2015. • Presenter and Moderator: International Conference (Tier 1), on Schopenhauer and Indian Philosophy. JNU, February 2015. • Presenter: UGC National Conference on Fact and Value in Higher Education. Jesus and Mary College, January 2015. Co-Curricular Activities at IIIT-D • Founder and Faculty Coordinator, Student Mentoring Program. Handpicked third and fourth year students are coached and trained to mentor first year B.Tech students on academic and personal issues and problems. We are in the process of appointing ad hoc mentors for M.Tech and Ph.D. students who are facing severe problems, and of expanding the program to meet growing student needs. • Founder and Faculty Coordinator: The Lunchbox Philosophers, a ‘Socrates Café’ concept developed at IIIT-D since 2014. Interested students, faculty and administrators meet regularly on a weekly basis, to discuss a philosophical or HSS-related issue. • Faculty Coordinator: DASA student mentoring for international and NRI students. Other Areas of Work Experience • Corporate Behavioral Skills Consultant: Working with IT companies in Bangalore and throughout South India. Areas of expertise include: Cross-Cultural Diversity, Personality Development, Gender Sensitivity Training (including sexual harassment issues), Stress Management and Work-Life Balance, Time Management. • Guest Faculty: St. Joseph’s College and Christ University, Bangalore. 2008-13.

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