Jul 19 2013

Bulleh Shah – Repeating the name of the Beloved

Published by at 8:47 am under Poetry

Repeating the name of the Beloved
by Bulleh Shah

English version by J. R. Puri and T. R. Shangari

Repeating the name of the Beloved
I have become the Beloved myself.
Whom shall I call the Beloved now?

— from Bulleh Shah: The Love-Intoxicated Iconoclast (Mystics of the East series), by J. R. Puri / Tilaka Raja Puri


/ Photo by Matthew Staubmuller /

I last featured this poem a couple of years ago, but I felt I should share it again today in honor of all my Muslim friends who are observing the holy month of Ramadan…

Repeating the name of the Beloved
I have become the Beloved myself.

You’ll find variations of this notion in sacred poetry and mystic writings throughout the world. What does it mean? How does repeating the name of the Beloved make you become the Beloved?

Many Sufi traditions practice zikr, the remembrance of the name of God, often through all-night prayer circles that involve devoutly repeating the names and attributes of God. You’ll find similar practices in Hinduism and Buddhism with the recitations of divine names and word formulations through mantra and japa. In Catholicism, there is the repetition of the rosary. In Eastern Orthodox Christianity, there is the Jesus Prayer…

The purpose behind all of these practices is a gentle but persistent assault on the mind. By taking the name or words that most remind you of the Divine, and repeating it over and over again, with attention and devotion, a cleansing process starts to occur in the awareness. The mind, at first, likes the sense that it is ‘doing something good,’ focusing on sacred things; but it soon becomes impatient, wanting to return to its old fixations, its comfortable patterns and habitual ways of viewing the world. Continuing the practice of sacred repetition allows the mind no quarter, bringing it back again and again to focus on the Divine. Do this long enough, and the mind starts to see empty spaces in itself — a terrifying experience for the mind, since it normally expends great energy to hide its essentially empty nature behind constant activity and attachment. But continue the practice further still, deeply, and an amazing thing happens: The mind not only sees its emptiness, it sees THROUGH its emptiness to the radiance within. It recognizes that that shining presence was what was being named all along. And, since the mind has finally admitted that it has no solidity or boundary, that it has no essential reality in itself, it recognizes that there is no separation from that living radiance. The identity is finally understood to have always resided There, within the Beloved all along — you have “become the Beloved” yourself!

But, for the devotee, this leaves a dilemma of language: Recognizing the Beloved as one’s true self, the Self of all selves, who then shall you call the Beloved?

This is a verse worth… repeating.






Bulleh Shah, Bulleh Shah poetry, Muslim / Sufi poetry Bulleh Shah

Punjab (Pakistan/India) (1680 – 1758) Timeline
Muslim / Sufi

Mir Bulleh Shah Qadiri Shatari, often referred to simply as Bulleh Shah (a shortened form of Abdullah Shah) lived in what is today Pakistan. His family was very religious and had a long tradition of association with Sufis. Bulleh Shah’s father was especially known for his learning and devotion to God, raising both Bulleh Shah and his sister in a life of prayer and meditation.

Bulleh Shah himself became a respected scholar, but he longed for true inner realization. Against the objections of his peers, he became a disciple of Inayat Shah, a famous master of the Qadiri Sufi lineage, who ultimately guided his student to deep mystical awakening.

The nature of Bulleh Shah’s realization led to such a profound egolessness and non-concern for social convention that it has been the source of many popular comical stories — calling to mind stories of St. Francis or Ramakrishna. For example, one day Bulleh Shah saw a young woman eagerly waiting for her husband to return home. Seeing how, in her anticipation, she braided her hair, Bulleh Shah deeply identified with the devoted way she prepared herself for her beloved. So Bulleh Shah dressed himself as a woman and braided his own hair, before rushing to see his teacher, Inayat Shah.

Bulleh Shah is considered to be one of the greatest mystic poets of the Punjab region.

His tomb in the Qasur region of Pakistan is greatly revered today.

More poetry by Bulleh Shah

5 responses so far

5 Responses to “Bulleh Shah – Repeating the name of the Beloved”

  1. janon 20 Jul 2013 at 6:10 am

    Hi Ivan,
    Chaihane is a place where people go in Turkey for being togather,drinking the,,playing cards smoking nargiles.Chai meaning the chayhane meaning place to have it.Kind od tarbuck in the west only difference is that you wont find teens in chayhane but the meadle estern soul.Kind of place Bulleh Shah will gladely go.Not that teens dont have a soul,but they just wont go there.Go I quggest you put a picture of the glasses on plateau instead of Tibetain monastery picture up yhere,un less you want to change the name an call it OMMM hane.?

  2. Therese Monaghan O.P.on 20 Jul 2013 at 6:25 am

    What stays with me in your commentary, Ivan, about sacred repetition is: “the mind not only sees its emptiness–it sees through its emptiness to the radiance within.”
    thank you for my new appreciation of sacred repetition.
    Blessings!

  3. Gingeron 20 Jul 2013 at 7:56 am

    Thank you for your commentary, Ivan. I found it especially helpful to better understand what the poet was getting at.

    Warmest regards!

  4. Pegon 20 Jul 2013 at 8:42 am

    Sometimes my mind just doesn’t want to accept the responsibilities that go along with my being the beloved…making choices that follow the beloved, caring for my body in a way that shows how in love I am with the beloved. Floating in the cosmos with no feeling of the physical restraints we have in this world is so easy. However, the moment I move out of that space, there it is…the gravity and the rainbow.

    I love this poem and easily snuggle into its vibration and rhythm. Right now, I am at peace listening to the heady feel of fat rain as it slips to the earth in a vertical descent and vibrate with the storm’s pulse of thunder that comforts me in its strong steady thrum. Even in this storm there is a peace and quiet…the beloved.

    There are no “fixations” and no “patterns” to loosen or adjust.

    Much love!

  5. janon 21 Jul 2013 at 2:34 am

    Sorry guys,I found few errors in my comments up there so I correct.

    Hi Ivan,
    Chaihane is a place where people go in Turkey for being togather,drinking thee,,playing cards smoking nargiles.Chai meaning thee ,chayhane meaning place to have it.Kind of Starbuck in the west only difference is that you wont find teens in chayhane but the miidle eastern soul.Kind of place Bulleh Shah will gladely go.Not that teens dont have a soul,but they just won t go there.not their cup of tee.
    So I suggest you put a picture something like thee glasses on plateau instead of Tibetain monastery picture up there,unless you want to change the name an call it OMMM hane.? -

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