DMPQ- Discuss the major characteristics of Punjabi literature during medieval period.

. Punjabi is a language with several shades. It is being written in two scripts, Gurmukhi and Persian. The Gurmukhi script till the end of the nineteenth century was almost limited to the Adi Granth, the holy book of the Sikhs. Only a small number of people tried to learn the script except the granthis, who recited the holy Granth in the gurdwaras. However, the language did not lack literature.

Guru Nanak was the first poet in Punjabi. Some other contemporary poets, mostly Sufi saints, used to sing in this language. These Sufis or their followers used the Persian script if they wanted to commit their poetry to writing. In this list, the first name is that of Farid. His poetry has found a place in the Adi Granth. The Adi Granth also contains poetry of the next four gurus. All this literature belongs to the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. Amongst the later gurus, the poetry of the ninth guru, Guru Tegh Bahadur has also contributed to the Adi Granth. Guru Gobind Singh, the tenth guru, was educated in Patna (Bihar), where he learnt Persian and Sanskrit. He has composed two savaiyyas in Punjabi but these are not a part of the Adi Granth.

But it was the love stories of Heer and Ranjha, Sasi and Punnu and Sohni and Mahiwal, which gave this language its theme in the early days. Even the story of Puran Bhagat found favour with some poets. Beautiful poems written by some known and some unknown poets have come down to us. These are being sung by local singers for the last two or three hundred years. There are several other poetic stories which have been composed by the locals. This folklore has been preserved. The most important of these is Heer of Waris Shah. It is the most popular of the early works. It is a landmark in Punjabi poetry. Similar is the popularity of Bulley Shah who was a Sufi saint. He has left a large number of songs. One of his popular forms of compositions was called kafi; it was sung in a classical musical form. Kafis are sung by people with great fervour.

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