Heer Ranjha

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Tilla Jogian, Pakistan where Ranjha came

Heer Ranjha (or Heer and Ranjha) is one of several popular tragic romances of Punjab, other important ones being "Sohni Mahiwal", "Mirza Sahiban" and "Sassi Punnhun". There are several poetic narrations of the story, the most famous being Heer by Waris Shah written in 1766. It tells the story of the love of Heer Sial and her lover Dheedo Ranjha.[1]


Heer Ranjha was written by Waris Shah. Some historians say that the story was the original work of Shah, written after he had fallen in love with a girl named Bhag Bhari.[2] Others say that Heer and Ranjha were real personalities who lived under the Lodi dynasty in India of the 15th and 16th century and that Waris Shah later utilised these personalities for his novel that he wrote in 1766. Waris Shah states that the story has a deeper meaning, referring to the unrelenting quest that man has towards God.[3]

Example from the epic poem[edit]

Rag Heer Ranjha. The invocation at the beginning,[4] in one version:

Awal-akhir naam Allah da lena, duja dos Muhammad Miran
Tija naun maat pita da lena, unha da chunga dudh sariran
Chautha naun unn paani da lena, jis khaave man banhe dhiran
Panjman naun Dharti Maata da lena, jis par kadam takiman
Chhewan naun Khwaja Pir da lena, jhul pilave thande niran
Satwan naun Guru Gorakhnath de lena, pataal puje bhojan
Athwan naun lalaanwale da lena, bande bande de tabaq zanjiran
First take the name of Allah and second the Great Muhammad, the prophet [of God]
Third, take the name of father and mother, on whose milk my body thrived
Fourth, take the name of bread and water, by eating which my heart is gladdened
Fifth, take the name of Mother Earth, on whom I place my feet
Sixth, take the name of Khwaja (Khizr, the Saint), who gives me cold water to drink
Seventh, take the name of Guru Gorakh Nath who is worshipped with a platter of milk and rice
Eighth, take the name of Lalanwala who breaks the bonds and the chains of captives

(The Legends of the Panjab by RC Temple, Rupa and Company, Volume two, page 606)

Summary of the love story[edit]

Luddan ferries Ranjha across the Chenab

Heer is an extremely beautiful woman, born into a wealthy Sial Jat family in Jhang, Punjab and Dheedo Ranjha of the Ranjha tribe of Jats, is the youngest of four brothers and lives in the village of Takht Hazara by the river Chenab.[5][6] Being his father's favorite son, unlike his brothers who had to toil in the lands, he led a life of ease, playing the flute ('Wanjhli'/'Bansuri'). After the death of Ranjha's father, Mauju Chaudhry, Ranjha has a quarrel with his brothers over land, Ranjha leaves home. In Waris Shah's version of the epic, it is said that Ranjha left his home because his brothers' wives refused to give and serve him food. Eventually he arrives in Heer's village and falls in love with her. Heer's father offers Ranjha a job herding his cattle. Heer becomes mesmerised by the way Ranjha plays his flute and eventually falls in love with him. They meet each other secretly for many years until they are caught by Heer's jealous uncle, Kaido, and her parents Chuchak and Malki. Heer is forced by her family and the local priest or 'Maulvi' to marry another man named Saida Khera.[1]

Ranjha is heartbroken. He wanders the countryside alone, until eventually he meets a Shaiva Jogi (ascetic). After meeting Gorakhnath, the founder of the "Kanphata" (pierced ear) sect of jogis at Tilla Jogian (the 'Hill of Ascetics', located 80 kilometres north of the historic town of Bhera, Sargodha District, Punjab), Ranjha becomes a jogi himself, piercing his ears and renouncing the material world. While reciting the name of the Lord, he wanders all over Punjab, eventually finding the village where Heer now lives.

The two return to Heer's village, where Heer's parents agree to their marriage - though some versions of the story state that the parent's agreement is only a deception. On the wedding day, Kaido poisons her food so that the wedding will not take place, in order to punish the girl for her behaviour. Hearing this news, Ranjha rushes to aid Heer, but is too late, as she has already eaten the poison and has died. Brokenhearted once again, Ranjha eats the remaining poisoned Laddu (sweet) which Heer has eaten and dies by her side.

Heer and Ranjha are buried in Heer's hometown, Jhang. Love-smitten couples and others often pay visits to their mausoleum.[1][7]

Legacy and influence[edit]

Because its plot involves a romance opposed by family members and ends with the two lovers dying, the story is often compared to the Shakespeare play Romeo and Juliet.[8][9]

In popular culture[edit]

The epic poem has been made into several feature films between 1928 and 2013.[10]

Film and release year Actors Producer and director Film songs lyricist and music composer
Heer Ranjha (1928)[10] Zubeida as Heer, Shehzadi, Jani Babu Fatma Begum, Victoria Fatma Co./FCo
Heer Sundari (1928)[11] Janibabu, Nirasha, Master Vithal Anand Prasad Kapoor, Sharda Film Co.
Heer Ranjha (Hoor-e-Punjab) (1929)[10] Salochna as Heer, Dinshaw Bilimoria as Ranjha, Jamshedji, Neelum, M. Ismail as Kaidu, Abdul Rashid Kardar as Saeda Kherra Hakim Ram Parasad (Producer), Pesi Karani & R. S. Chaudhry (Directors), Imperial Film Company, Bombay
Heer Ranjha (1931)[11] Master Faqira as Ranjha, Shanta Kumari as Heer J. P. Advani, Karishna Tone
Heer Ranjha (1932)[11] Rafiq Ghaznavi as Ranjha, Anwari Bai as Heer Abdul Rashid Kardar, Hakim Ram Parasad at Lahore Rafiq Ghaznavi
Heer Syal (1938)[11] Eiden Bai, Haider Bandi, M. Ismail, Noor Jehan Krishna Dev Mehra
Heer Ranjha (1948)[11] Mumtaz Shanti as Heer, Ghulam Mohammed as Ranjha Wali Sahib Aziz Khan
Heer (1955) Swaran Lata as Heer, Inayat Hussain Bhatti as Ranjha Nazir at Lahore Hazin Qadri, Safdar Hussain
Heer (1956)[11] Nutan as Heer, Pradeep Kumar as Ranjha Hameed Butt Kaifi Azmi
Heer Syal (1960)[11] Shanti Prakash Bakshi
Heer Sial (1962) Bahar Begum as Heer, Sudhir as Ranjha
Heer Sial (1965) Firdaus as Heer, Akmal Khan as Ranjha Jafar Bukhari at Lahore Tanvir Naqvi, Bakhshi Wazir
Heer Ranjha (1970)[10] Firdaus as Heer, Ejaz Durrani as Ranjha Masood Pervez at Lahore Ahmad Rahi, Khurshid Anwar
Heer Raanjha (1970)[10] Priya Rajvansh as Heer, Raaj Kumar as Ranjha Chetan Anand Kaifi Azmi, Madan Mohan
Sayyed Waris Shah (1980)[11] Urmila Bhatt, Ajit Singh Deol, Koushalya Devi, Prema Kumari Ganpat Rao
Aaj Di Heer (1983)[11] Tina Ghai, Satish Kaul, Mehar Mittal, Om Shivpuri Raj Oberoi B. N. Bali
Heer Ranjha (1992)[10] Sridevi as Heer, Anil Kapoor as Ranjha Harmesh Malhotra Anand Bakshi, Laxmikant Pyarelal
Waris Shah: Ishq Daa Waaris (2006) Gurdas Maan, Juhi Chawla, Sushant Singh, Divya Dutta Manoj Punj, Manjeet Maan (Sai Productions) Jaidev Kumar
Heer Ranjha: A True Love Story (2009) Neeru Bajwa as Heer, Harbhajan Mann as Ranjha Ksshitij Chaudhary and Harjit Singh Babu Singh Mann, Gurmeet Singh

In 2013, the television serial Heer Ranjha, directed by Shahid Zahoor and produced by Yousuf Salahuddin, aired on PTV Home. Heer Ranjha is a 2020 Indian Punjabi-language period drama television series starring Amaninder Pal Singh and Sara Gurpal in the lead roles. It aired on Zee Punjabi and is based on the folktale of Heer and Ranjha.[12]

In music[edit]

Bally Jagpal British musician has a song dedicated to their story. ‘RANJHA’ (sad love song).

The British musician Panjabi MC references the tale of Heer and Ranjha in his 2003 song Jogi.[13] It has been sung by various Pakistani singers, including the classical/traditional artist Ghulam Ali.

The tale is mentioned in popular Bollywood songs such as "Ranjha" by Rupesh Kumar Ram from the movie Queen ,"Ranjha Ranjha" by Rekha Bhardwaj and Javed Ali from the movie Raavan and "Dariya" from the movie Baar Baar Dekho.[citation needed]

The names of Heer and Ranjha have been referred in the song lyrics of "One Love: The Taj Anthem" by A.R.Rahman.[citation needed]

Alam Lohar is renowned for reciting Heer in various styles and one of the first international folk singers to bring this story in a song format.[citation needed]

One of the songs of 2012 Hindi film Jab Tak Hai Jaan has been named "Heer".[14]

Also, the 2018 Hindi film Race 3 has a song named "Heeriye" which refers to Heer and Ranjha.

In 2020, popular Indian YouTuber Bhuvan Bam wrote and sang a song "Heer Ranjha" and it has garnered more than 10 millions as of now, which depicts the brutal customs of society.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c (Arif Jamshaid) The epic of Heer Ranjha, research paper on epic poem written by Waris Shah in 1766 on Academy of the Punjab in North America website Retrieved 14 November 2020
  2. ^ N. Hanif (2000), Biographical Encyclopaedia of Sufis: South Asia, p. 387
  3. ^ Waqar Pirzada (2014), Chasing Love Up against the Sun, p. 12
  4. ^ In Waris Shah's version there is an added invocation to the famous Panj peer or five saints
  5. ^ Re-Thinking Punjab: The Construction of Siraiki Identity. Lahore : Research and Publication Centre: Hussain Ahmed Khan. 2004. p. 130. ISBN 978-9-69862-309-8.
  6. ^ Transition and Transformation in Varis Shah's Hir. Snell, Rupert (eds.). The Indian Narrative: Perspectives and Patterns. Otto Harrassowitz Verlag.: Shackle, Christopher. 1992. p. 253. ISBN 978-3-44703-241-4.
  7. ^ Tomb Of Heer Ranjha In Jhang on Pakistan Geotagging website Retrieved 14 November 2020
  8. ^ Sirhandi, Marcella C. (1 September 1999). "Manipulating Cultural Idioms". Art Journal. 58 (3): 40–47. doi:10.1080/00043249.1999.10791952. ISSN 0004-3249.
  9. ^ Cultural Insights Punjab Can It Be a Bridge to Peace Between India and Pakistan? Calhoun website, Published 1 October 2011, Retrieved 14 November 2020
  10. ^ a b c d e f "List of many films made on the love story of Heer Ranjha on Complete Index To World Film (CITWF) website". 3 April 2016. Archived from the original on 8 October 2018. Retrieved 9 November 2020.
  11. ^ a b c d e f g h i Rajadhyaksha, Ashish; Willemen, Paul (1999). Encyclopaedia of Indian cinema. British Film Institute. Retrieved 12 August 2012.
  12. ^ "Heer Ranjha". ZEE5. Retrieved 5 May 2021.
  13. ^ "jogi lyrics + English translation". lyricstranslate.com website. Retrieved 14 November 2020.
  14. ^ "Jab Tak Hai Jaan: Watch the new song 'Heer'". News18 India website. 6 November 2012. Retrieved 14 November 2020.

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