Heer was an extremely beautiful woman, born into a wealthy Jat family of the Sayyal clan in Jhang, Punjab. Ranjha (whose first name is Dheedo; Ranjha is the surname), also a Jat of the Ranjha clan, is the youngest of four brothers and lives in the village ‘Takht Hazara’ by the river Chenab. 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 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 him food. Eventually he arrives in Heer’s village and falls in love with her. Heer offers Ranjha a job as caretaker of her father’s cattle. She 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 ‘mullah’ to marry another man called Saida Khera.
Peer Syed Waris Shah was a Punjabi Sufi poet of Chisti order, renowned for his contribution to Punjabi literature. He is best known for his seminal work Heer Ranjha, based on the traditional folk tale of Heer and her lover Ranjha. Heer is considered one of the quintessential works of classical Punjabi literature.
Waris Shah was born in Jandiala Sher Khan, Punjab,(Pakistan) into a reputed Sayyid family and was a descendant of Sayyid Muhammad Al-Makki through his son Sayyid Badruddin. His father was Gulsher Shah. Waris acknowledged himself as a disciple of Ustad of Kasur. Waris’s parents are said to have died when he was young, and he probably received his education at the shrine of his preceptor. After completing his education in Kasur, he moved to Malka Hans, a village twelve kilometers north of Pakpattan. Here he resided in a small room, adjacent to a historic masjid, now called Masjid Waris Shah. His mausoleum is a place of pilgrimage today, especially for those in love. The mausoleum complex was completed in 1978 and is a mixture of the Lahore School and Tughlaq Architecture.
Waris Shah is also called Shakespeare of the Punjabi language because of his great poetic love story, Heer Ranjha. it is said that through this story of romantic love, he tried to portray the love of man for God (the quintessential subject of Sufi literature).