Pappu Sain: The Ethereal Dhol Player

Many of us must have seen on television the whirling Dervishes of Turkey. This whirling is said to be form of meditation and the Dervishes are called Sufis. Sufism also flourished in the India and there had been great Sufi saints like Kabir, Guru Nanak, Baba Bulleh Shah and Baba Farid in the subcontinent. They were not bound by the narrow walls erected by the religious bigots who preach that their faith is on;y true one and rest others are fake. One thing about Sufism is that a devotee treats himself as a woman separated from her Husband or Khasam the God. All the efforts are directed towards meeting the supreme husband and end the painful pining.

Music is said to bring the humans near to the God because it is the most aesthetic feeling experienced by them. In one form or the another, even nature creates music, be it the dulcet sound of a falling water from a fall, or the wind rustling through the dry grasses, or the waves from sea lapping on to the shore. As the great Gurudeb Rabindra Nath described the carefree laughter of the young maidens akin to the passing of wind through the jungle.

I don’t know where in the Islam the music is barred as some zealots say and protest or even in extreme cases kill. The world of music is full of great persons belonging to the Muslim fraternity. Who does not know Mohammed Rafi, Bade Ghulam Ali, Ghulam Ali, the tabla maestro Alla Rakha and his son, Ustad Amjad Ali Khan and his forefathers who introduced the Sarod in this country. The list is inexhaustible.

In Lahore, there is a shrine of Sufi saint Baba Shah Jamal who had preached love, brotherhood and peace like all the other saints in the Punjab. At his shrine, thousands of people visit for prayers and eating famous food in the nearby shops.Baba Shah Jamal is known to have used drums and dancing to preach his beliefs and following the tradition. Pappu Saeen has performed in Germany, Switzerland, Britain and a number of Muslim countries, but is at his best only when he plays at the shrine. This year too, Pappu Saeen began the grand event with a spectacular performance as several devotees whirled to his dhol, and left the charas-smoking audience spellbound There is a one Dhol performer who is known by the name of Pappu Sain, who performs with his companion every Thursday and people are bewitched by the sound and beat. He plays the drum for hours without pausing. You will be susprised to see him spinning along with his Drums but still the beat is same. Beads of perspiration materialise on his forehead and soon coalesce and flow down the body. The fans dance and whirl uncontrolled to the beat as if some unseen power has seized them and gyrating them like toys.

I saw some of his videos which are available on the Youtube. Although quality of videos is not good but you still can enjoy the Dhol immensely. As far Pappu Sain, he seems to be very modest when he tells that he is duty bound because it was a tradition that runs in their family and he owes a duty towards his elders. He says he does not know anything or do anything by himself. As soon as the Dhol is in his neck, someone else takes charge and does all the playing.

Shah Jamal was born in 1559 to renowned religious scholar Maulana Abdul Wahid from Qazi Jamaluddin Budshahi’s noble Kashmiri family. Shah Jamal belonged to the Qadri Soharwardi school and came to Lahore in 1588, during the time of Mogul emperor Jalaluddin Akbar, and began to live in eastern Ichhra. Shah Jamal disagreed with the emperor’s ‘Deen-e-Elahi’ and converted people back to Islam. He died in 1649.

Ranjit Singh

I am working as a scientist in the India's premium E&P oil company. Besides the commitment to my job, I read lot of literature especially good fiction, history and science. I belong to Chandigarh and did my Masters in Chemistry from Panjab University Chandigarh specializing in physical chemistry. I am fond of surfing the internet for good articles, social networking and giving vent to writing for which I have aptly chosen the blog in Wordpress. Thanks

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2 Responses

  1. Aicha says:

    For a great interview with Papu Saien’s colleagues Mithu and Gonga who also play at Shah Jamal every thursday, go to

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