Baba Sheikh Farid was a great intellectual, perfect ascetic and committed devotee of the Timeless Lord. He revealed the divine message through the medium of sweet, soothing Punjabi language. Farid lived a family life with contentment and perseverance. The unique humanitarian values of compassion, love, sympathy, mutual understanding and appreciation are conveyed through the hymns of Farid. Due to his sweet words, sweet ideals and sweet behavior, Farid became popular as an epitome of Sweetness (Shakarganj). His full name was Sheikh Farid ud-din Masaud (Ganj-I-Shakar). When Farid was conceived, his mother used to spend most of her time in prayers. He was born at Kothewal (now known as Chawli Mashaikh, a village in the Multan district of Pakistan) on the first day of the month of Ramzan (the Muslim religions most sacred month) in A.H. 569 (1173). He was a descendant of the Farrūkhzād, known as Jamāl-ud-Dawlah, a Persian (Tajik) king of eastern Khorasan.
When Farid was a few years old, his mother taught him prayers. He asked her that what he would gain after performing his prayers. As Farid was fond of eating sugar, His mother replied that he would get sugar as reward for prayers. She used to hide some sugar under his prayer carpet. On finishing his prayers, she would draw it for Farid as a reward for his devotion. On one occasion, when his mother was absent, he prayed a great deal. He found comparatively greater quantity of sugar under his carpet. Pleased with the reward, he ate some of it and shared the rest with his friends. On the return of his mother, he narrated the incident to her. His mother knew that she had forgotten to place his usual reward under his prayer mat. She realized that it was a miraculous gift from the God. Therefore, she gave him the surname Shakar Ganj (treasury of sugar).
When Baba Farid was 16 years old, he went to Hajj and stayed in the house of Abdul Rahim Ansari. The faqir predicted that he would become a great man.
After some time, he was sent to Khwaja Qutub-ul-Din Bakhtiar Kaki at Delhi to learn theology. Qutub-ul-din subsequently sent him to the shrine of Abdul Shakur of Sarsa, near Delhi for education. On that occasion Baba Farid recited the following shalok:-
O Farid, thou hast not walked in God’s way;
therefore He hath no appeared unto thee
Who is there who hath knocked at God’s door
for whom it hath not been opened
Lost thy life on the way of the Friend
if thou desire to be even as those holy men.
Due to the popularity of Baba Farid, he did not want to go back to Delhi. Therefore, he shifted to Hansi for some time.
Meanwhile, Khwaja Qutub-ul- Bakhtiar Kaki died at Dihli and Baba Farid paid his second visit to the city and assumed the mantle of his late spiritual guide.
He ultimately proceeded to Ajodhan, the present Pak Pattan. The place then became known as Baba Sahib ji da Pak Pattan, (Farid’s cleansing ferry). Sheikh Farid made Pak Pattan a great center of Sufi Thoughts. People from all over India and Middle East came to see him. His all couplets are written in Punjabi. He rejected offerings of money, but accepted food for the public kitchen. Baba Farid once again went to Delhi. He was given a warm welcome by Emperor Nasir-ul-Din Balban. Baba Farid married Hazabra, the daughter of Emperor. Baba ji distributed all her jewels to Faqirs.
On the way back to Pak Pattan, Baba Farid visited a city called Mokhalpur, it was renamed to Faridkot, in honor of the Baba Farid.
Baba Farid died of Pneumonia on the fifth day of Month of Muharrim in 1266. Baba Farid was buried outside the town of Pak pattan at a place called martyrs grave.
Guru Nanak Dev was greatly influenced by the hymns of Baba Sheikh Farid shakarganj. Guru Nanak Dev’s contemporary was a Baba Sheikh Farid Sani (the second Sheikh Farid), 6th in succession of Baba Farid Shaikh Shakarganj. Sheikh Farid Shakarganj is truly the founder of Punjabi literature. Following the footsteps of Baba Farid, the following Bhagats of Bhagti Lehar (spiritual movement) used the common language of people of India:-
Mira Bai and many other Bhagats