SOAS Research Online

A Free Database of the Latest Research by SOAS Academics and PhD Students

[skip to content]

Deol, Jeevan Singh (1996) Love and mysticism in the Punjabi qissas of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. MPhil thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI:

[img] Text - Submitted Version
Download (13MB)


This thesis examines the tension between mystical (haqiqi) and romantic (majazi) conceptions of love in the Punjabi qissa tradition before the end of the eighteenth century. All the texts under consideration date from before the third quarter of the eighteenth century and, therefore, both predate and inform the classical qissa tradition of the nineteenth century. The texts narrate three of the most commonly represented love stories in pre-twentieth century Punjab, two of them versions of local folk legends and one an episode from the Quran. A total of six texts are considered in the thesis: Hafiz Barkhurdar's Mirza Sahiba, Siddiq Lali's Yusuf Zulaikha, and the versions of Hir by Ahmad, Muqbil and Varis Shah. The thesis begins with a chapter on the qissa tradition which seeks to situate the qissa in the Punjabi literary tradition and to define the classical qissa based on its formal generic features. The body of the thesis argues that most of the early texts under consideration attempt to subvert the transgressive potential of the love stories they narrate: where Ahmad contains the love story of Hir and Ranjha through narrative compression, for example, Muqbil subtly recasts the story as a mystical allegory. The thesis argues that the image of the slaughter of the Imam Husain underlies the structure of the Mirza Sahiban of Hafiz (as well as the versions of his successors) and that the entire poetic of Siddiq Lali's Yusuf Zulaikha figures the narrative universe as an intersection of the mystical with the worldly. Finally, the thesis argues that Varis Shah's Hir recasts the narrative by introducing a certain sexual component at the same time as it downplays the social and religious transgressiveness present in earlier poems.

Item Type: Theses (MPhil)
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses > Proquest
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 16 Oct 2018 15:13

Altmetric Data


Download activity - last 12 monthsShow export options
Downloads since deposit
6 month trend
6 month trend
Accesses by country - last 12 monthsShow export options
Accesses by referrer - last 12 monthsShow export options

Repository staff only

Edit Item Edit Item