Chapter XII

Bireh – Intense Longing

Bireh has various stages. The first is the recollection of one’s Beloved, accompanied by longing and contemplation. This condition of recollection and contemplation becomes so strong that a devotee’s attention is completely diverted to the form of his Beloved, which always remains fixed in his mind’s eye. The Beloved becomes the sustainer of his life, and he will not leave Him.

The two are merged into one, and a state of complete calmness and tranquillity is achieved. In this state the devotee loses his own self and sees his Beloved everywhere. A heart that has true love for the Beloved is naturally happy and feels a current of ecstasy when he sees or meets Him.

Bireh is the name of the active state of love. A lover who possesses Bireh does not wish to lose sight of the Beloved even for a moment. Whenever he is not able to see Him or happens to be separated from Him, a feeling of pain stabs his heart and he feels an inner anguish. But the taste of this pain of separation is in no way less sweet than that of being with the Beloved. This is called Bireh.

Why is intense longing created? Simply because our soul has not been able to succeed in getting what it actually longs for. Just as the chatrak (rain bird) becomes restless when it does not get the nectar-like rain drops; just as the chakor (moon bird) is disappointed when it is not able to see the full moon; just as a mother becomes restless at the time of separation from her son, or a wife from her husband; just as a fish is in anguish without water – in a similar manner our soul is intensely restless because of its separation from the Lord.

This intense longing always surges up like a wave or current in the heart and refreshes the mind with remembrance of Him. As a result, the heart’s agony is assuaged by continuous remembrance and contemplation of the Lord. This creates a feeling of happiness. It is a stepping-stone, over which a seeker has to tread to attain communion with the Lord.

In order to meet the Beloved, intense longing comes first, in the same manner as flowers bud and bloom on a fruit tree before it can bear fruit. Where there are no flowers, there can be no fruit. Similarly, where there is no bireh (intense longing), there can be no meeting with the Beloved. In other words, this longing is a pre-requisite for meeting the Lord.

In the state of intense longing, every cell of the body becomes restless with the memory of the Beloved, and without meeting Him or seeing Him the heart is not appeased. We seek out those whom we call saints and Sadhus because they have achieved communion with the Lord, and we beseech them to help us in meeting the Lord. Inside of us there is an urge to meet Him and we cannot live without Him.

Oh my Master, help me to meet my Hari (God). My mind and body are hungry to meet Him. I cannot live without seeing my Lord, and there is an intense and restless longing in me.

Adi Granth

The history of the lives of all the Saints reveals the intensity of their desire and longing for the Lord. The people of the world eat, drink and are happy with the worldly pleasures, and sleep soundly at night. But a lover weeps and sighs, and is wide awake the whole night long in his longing to meet the Beloved. 

Such a soul pines to meet the Lord and cries out: „Oh, will it ever be possible for these eyes to see Him!“ When separated from Him, ornaments for the body, tasty food or fine clothes have no attraction. 

Guru Nanak very beautifully draws the picture of the soul in such a state:

A wife, separated from her lord, cannot sleep at night. She becomes feeble while sighing for her beloved, and she weeps in longing for him. Adornments for her body, sweet and palatable food, and other pleasures do not interest her.

Adi Granth

The Lord is not with me and it is a dark night, with lightning bringing fear to my mind. My bed is lonely. I am without my Lord. The pain is so intense that death is preferable to it.

Adi Granth

A wife cannot live without her husband. The night appears to be like poison, sleep does not lull her and she cries out: Oh my beloved, listen to my prayers and come to me!

Adi Granth

Without my Beloved I have no comfort and I am weeping all alone. Oh Nanak, a wife who does not meet her husband is miserable.

Adi Granth

Again, Guru Nanak says:

On seeing my condition, a physician was called. He felt my pulse and found nothing. And how could he find anything because, my heart was suffering the agony of separation!

Adi Granth

Guru Nanak further writes:

Oh God, on hearing me cry, the whole world has begun to weep. The trees and birds are crying, but the sense of separateness in me has not wept, on account of which I have been separated from Thee.

Adi Granth

Guru Amar Das also described the condition of a devotee’s soul in the Adi Granth:

How can I live without my Beloved, and what is my life worth without Him? I cannot sleep without Him and I find no attraction even in putting fine clothes on my body.

Oh my Lord, come and meet me! Without Thee I am helpless. Sleep will not come to my eyes nor can I take any interest in food or drink. How can I find any happiness without my Lord, and how can eating and drinking give me any solace! I therefore beseech my Master, in all humility, that if it pleases him, he should permit me to meet my Lord.

Guru Ram Das says:

I cannot live without my Beloved even for a moment. Just as a person addicted to drugs and intoxicants dies if they are withheld, similarly I am dying without Thee. Oh my Lord, those who are thirsty for Thy Darshan (to behold Thee), want nothing else.

Adi Granth

Guru Ram Das further says:

Without the Lord every cell of my mind and body is in a state of anguish, and there is no sleep in my eyes. I am suffering in mind and body from the pain of separation. The poor doctors cannot diagnose my malady. Like one addicted to intoxicants and drugs, I cannot live without my Beloved even for a single moment. Those who have an intense desire to meet Thee are not interested in anything else.

Adi Granth

The Tenth Sikh Guru also described very beautifully the state of intense longing. 

He says:

Please convey the feelings of all of the disciples to our dear Master, and say that without Him even living in comfort is like living with the snakes. That we are drinking pain and anguish out of cups covered with thorns, and are suffering blows like those from a butcher’s axe. Oh, our Beloved, it is better for us to lie on our death beds in bireh (intense longing) than to live in worldly comfort which (without Thee) is as painful as a burning oven.

Kabir Sahib also described this condition in the same vein.

He says:

No one has been united to his Beloved through mirth. Whoever has attained communion with Him has done so after shedding many tears. If it were possible to meet the Beloved while laughing and in a state of comfort, why should one suffer the anguish of separation? The people of the world are happy. They eat and sleep. Kabir alone is unhappy. He is awake and is crying.

Oh Kabir, keep away from the life of pleasure and attach yourself to crying, for without it how can you find your Beloved!

Kabir Sahib further describes, as follows, the feelings of pain, anguish and restlessness suffered by a devotee separated from the Lord:

Oh my Beloved, please listen to my message. How can a fish live without water, for its very life depends on water! The fire of separation is burning my body and my whole being is restless. The soul has left the body and is completely merged in her Lord. The angel of death comes, but does not find the soul and goes away. Oh Kabir, the lover cries out:

Oh my Lord, listen to my message. Come at once and meet me, otherwise I shall give up my life! Either bring death to my body if it is to be separated from Thee, or give me your Darshan (show Thyself to me). I am unable to bear this pain of separation any longer. My two eyes have become cups, waiting for the Elixir of your Darshan (a sight of Thee).

Your devotees who yearn for You are detached from this world, and the hope of meeting You is the sustenance of their life. These eyes weep in agony without ceasing in remembrance of You. By this crying there is some little solace, but these eyes are yearning for the sweetness of Your Darshan. We have made a lamp of this body and a wick of this life, in which blood is being burned instead of oil. Oh my Lord, will it ever be possible to see Thee!

Kabir continues:

My eyes, like those of a mad man, are searching for you every minute. You do not meet me. I am not happy, and am ever in a state of pain and tension. My body is emaciated. Now I am only a skeleton of bones. It is my misfortune that even now my Lord has not come to me. This separation has eaten up all my bones and my body, and has made me dead while still living. Like a powerful army, this separation has surrounded me. It does not permit me to die nor does it allow me to live, and my life is slowly ebbing away in anguish. I am suffering bireh (intense longing) in the absence of my Lord, and separation is troubling me every minute. Day and night I have no rest, and my breath is gradually growing less and less.

Sheikh Farid asked a question of a nightingale:

Oh nightingale, why are you black?

Then he himself replied:

I know the reason why. You have burned yourself in longing for the Lord. That is why you are so black.

The source of the following quotation is not mentioned:

This decorating of the body and these pretty clothes are useless as long as we do not meet our Lord. If my Lord were to see me in these beautiful clothes, they would be worth wearing. Otherwise, I should remove them and burn them. I will throw away by bangles, the sign of my union, and will break them into pieces by striking them against my very bed if it is not in my fortune to meet my Beloved, for without that they are useless to me.

In this intensity of love the soul forgets the entire world. It cannot learn to stop thinking of the Lord even for a single second.

The Tenth Guru says:

The thatched hut of the Lord of my heart is like heaven to me, but without Him even a palace is like a burning oven.

A soul that is filled with love for the Lord does not, without Him, care for the finest silk or satin, but when she is in communion with Him, she is prepared to sleep even in the dust. In the Sikh Scriptures (the Adi Granth) there is a similar description which says that if a wife be separated from her husband, she would break her very arms as well as the bangles which adorn them. All these adornments are meaningless without the beloved.

A lover always wishes to go to the place of his beloved. Kabir says:

My mind is being powerfully attracted to the home of my Beloved. This world has no attraction for me. I wish to fly from here and go to the country of my Lord, which is so beautiful. There no one comes and goes (there is no birth and death), and to it even the sun and the moon, water and the air can never reach. Oh, is there anyone who would carry this, my message of longing, to my Beloved!

Kabir also says:

The ailment of bireh (feeling of separation) is chronic and has now gone deep into my bones. It is not possible to get rid of it. It is a pain of love which is even smothering my heart. The feeling of longing caused by separation troubles me at all times, and as a result my entire body is burning. Only one who has caused this pain or who undergoes it can understand this.

This longing and its accompanying pain have overpowered me like a serpent and have produced an abscess over my heart, but I do not try to save myself. I tell the serpent of intense longing to devour me in any manner it pleases.

The whole day is spent in looking towards the path from which my Beloved is to come, and the night is spent in the same manner. Unable to meet the Beloved, I am restless and my heart is troubled. That day will be an auspicious one when my Master will take me by the arm and make me His own. And I shall sit in the shade of His Lotus Feet.

Farid also describes the pain of separation from the Lord in his own poignant language:

Oh Farid, because of the fire of separation from the Lord, my body has dwindled to mere bone, that even crows come and peck at me, and I tell them ‘Oh crows, you may eat my body but not my eyes, which are still longing hopefully to behold my Beloved.’ On the day of my birth, when my navel cord was cut by the midwife, it would have been better if she had also cut my throat, because then I would have been saved the pain of this separation.

Another Saint, Charan Das, says:

My voice is choked in my throat, the tears are flowing from my eyes, and I am restless in the intense longing for my Beloved, day and night. I am crying:

When shall I meet my Lord? My chest is being torn. When will the day come when I will have the opportunity of meeting Him?

Mira Bai describes this state in the following words:

I have grown pale like a betel leaf. People think that I am ailing. I even fasted secretly in this separation from You. My father called a doctor who felt my pulse. But the poor doctor cannot diagnose my malady. My trouble is in my heart. Oh doctor, go back to your home and do not talk about me. I am burning on account of separation. What medicine can you give me! My body has become only bones and my throat is choked with sighs. The ring on my finger can now fit over my wrist, I have grown so emaciated.

Oh Papiha (rain bird), please be silent. Do not talk of Piv (Beloved), for if any devotee suffering from bireh (intense longing of separation) for the Beloved were to hear the name of Piv, he would immediately renounce his life.

I am in one place now, and the next minute in another. I have no rest. I am like a person who has been stabbed, and no one can understand my condition of restlessness. Oh crow, I am prepared to take out my heart and place it before you. Please take it to the place where my Beloved abides and eat it in His presence and before His eyes. My only attachment is to Naam. I have no other connections. Oh Mira, I am restless in separation from my Beloved. Oh God, give me Thy Darshan. My heart is full of the sweet picture of my Lord, and it has become entangled in it. Standing on the roof of my house I am looking at the path along which You will come. How can I remain alive without my Beloved, because He is the healing herb that can save my life. Mira has sold herself to her Lord and people call her mad.

One person suffering from separation sits in a palace and is happy making garlands of pearls. But there is another one, a brihan (one suffering from separation), who is making garlands of her tears.

I have been counting the stars and passing the whole night in wakefulness. When will the time of happiness come, Oh God! My Lord, meet me and be never again separated from me. Oh Lord, since you have been separated from me, I have been restless. If I listen to hymns in your praise, my mind becomes restless, for I find solace only in songs of intense longing for You. With my eyes open wide I am looking at the path (whence You will be coming) and the night has become as long as half a year. To whom should I tell my story of separation? Oh my friend, to whom should I relate the story of my separation and intense longing? It is cutting through my heart like a saw. When will Mira’s Lord meet her and give her joy by removing her anguish.

Shah Hussein describes the state of a person suffering from the pangs of separation in the following words:

Without my Beloved the nights are very long, the flesh is falling away from my body, and all my bones are exposed. This love could not be concealed even if I wished to do so, for the intense longing due to separation is firmly established in me. My Beloved is concealed in the garb of a mendicant, and I have also become a mendicant. The world calls me mad. Hussein, the disciple of the Lord, says:

I am attached to Thy Feet.

Bulleh Shah spent many years of his life in separation from his Master and in intense longing for Him. He describes his condition in the following manner:

Now I am feeling restless because of intense longing for my Lord. What should I do? I cannot live - I do not die. Please listen to my sighs. There is no rest for me, either day or night. Without my Beloved, my eyes do not close even for a single second. I am in such a state of intense longing. What should I do? Is there anyone who can burn away this state of longing and remove my pain? How can I cross the ocean of life without His Darshan (beholding Him), for I have that longing and do not know what to do. Oh Bulleh, I am in great distress. Come and help me. How am I to remove this pain? I am in a state of intense longing. What should I do?

Hafiz also describes this state. He says:

Oh my friends, I wish that no one should be a victim of such a state of agony as is mine because of intense longing due to separation. If it were possible to take hold of this feeling of intense longing, I would have covered my Lord with it so that He should also know what intense longing is, and His eyes would also shed tears of blood and fire in the pangs of separation. But alas! This is not possible. I am full of pain and the feeling of intense longing is too much for me. Perhaps my mother gave birth to me so that I should suffer this intense longing. Oh my God, in my love for You, I am like a nightingale singing songs of lamentation, which bring tears of blood to my eyes.

My pen does not have the ability to describe my condition of intense longing due to separation. The waves rising out of the fathomless ocean of intense longing have swept over the heads of people who were anxious to meet the Lord, but the voyage of their boat of life was finished in this manner. When fate found that my mind and heart were captured by the love of my Lord, it tied the rope of anguish of intense longing round my neck, by which it is neither possible to live nor to die. Oh God, by whom were separation and intense longing brought into this world? The face of this separation should be blackened, and the intense longing should be broken.

Because of longing in separation, sleep, rest and passions all die out.

In my mind the pain of separation is so intense that my tongue would be burned if I wished to talk about it. And if I remain silent, I fear that my bones will be consumed by this fire.

Buddha sought refuge in the jungles in search of the Truth, and his body became extremely emaciated. Likewise, we may study the life of any other Saint and we will find the same account of intense longing due to separation. Whoever has travelled the path of God-Realization had to cross the river of sighs before he could meet Him. It is indeed true that one has to tread that path through tears.

Maulana Rumi says:

Oh man, if you wish to reach the Home of God, you should go by way of the ocean of tears, for it is only in that way that you will be able to reach Him. Dry prayers, dry counting of beads, dry reading of scriptures, and dry eyes as well as dry heart – all these are like going along a barren path towards God. But if you had gone through water (tears), you would have reached without any difficulty. What does the rabab (a kind of violin) say? It tells of the burning of the heart and the tears of the eyes.

Shamas-i-Tabriz says:

Those eyes which are weeping for the Darshan (sight) of the Beloved will one day surely behold Him. In love, weeping acts as a ladder. When you make a ladder of your eyes, then you will automatically be speeding towards the sky. The ocean of the Beloved’s Grace reaches from one end to the other, and no place is without it. But this fire of intense longing due to separation is for the purpose of ripening the faith of the followers on this path.

Maulana Rumi again mentions the need for intense longing in separation in the following words:

Look at the nurses who feed babies with their milk. They give the infant scarcely any milk unless it cries for it, because the milk in the breasts of the nurse does not flow out unless the child attracts it by its cries. In the same manner, so long as a devotee does not cry while praying to Him, the ocean of the Lord’s Grace does not surge out.

Maulana Rumi further says:

Weeping is like the clouds, and longing is like the heat of the sun. Just as the sun’s heat is the cause of bringing rains from the clouds, by which this world remains in existence; similarly, separation, longing for Him and restlessness – all these are like fires which make the currents of Grace and mercy of God burst out, as the rain does from the clouds, and pacify the hearts of devotees. Tears in the eyes and pain in the heart are the two pillars between which we pass to go within.

Weeping over separation and anguish of the heart are two signs of meeting God. When Rabia Basri was asked whether she said her prayers before or after meeting God, she replied: „God comes first, and then I pray to Him.“ The people then asked: „How are you aware that He is coming?“

Her answer was:

When through His remembrance and attraction a current of restlessness is awakened in me, the tears flow from my eyes. He thus touches my soul with love and constantly pulls me towards Him. These are the indications of His coming. Then I bow in prayer before Him.

True prayer is one by which a feeling of ecstasy is created in the soul. Such a counting of just one bead has the effect of thousands of bead countings, because the rosary is being rotated by the longing and anguish of the mind. You need remember Him only once, but it should be with so much real love that every cell of your body speaks out through your tongue, and whatever you think or speak or pray comes from the heart. The body and the mind should be numb. When those who are extremely devoted to the Beloved bow in reverence to Him, that is true prayer. A true heart and a current of intense anguish are the true scriptures which they study daily. The language of lovers is entirely different from that of other people. They consider it to be a work of thieves to pray and worship merely for show and as a formal duty. Such people are far removed from God and are entangled in physical pleasures.

The truth is:

A preacher is only anxious about his prayer, but the lover longs for the sight of his Beloved.

God is in every cell of the lover, and when he bows his head before Him in this state, it is impossible for him to lift his head, for the Beloved is in every nerve of his body.

Those who have lost themselves in Him are numb in mind and body. Those who have given their love to someone are filled with longing in their mind.

Through longing caused by separation a devotee washes away his bad thoughts with his hot tears, and remembrance of the Lord takes their place. But this longing can be awakened only by true love and not by crocodile tears.

Such a noble and rewarding longing is awakened only in the hearts of those who have pure and unadulterated love for the physical manifestation of God –namely, the Living Master. A disciple must have true spiritual love for the physical form of his Master. And when he sees the resplendent form of the Master inside by means of the spiritual practice performed with love, he is then attached to that unique form also and to the Shabd (Sound Current, Word) emanating from it. He would never wish to be separated from this. By separation from the physical form of the Master, longing is produced to meet Him inside. And when a devotee does not see the form inside, the absence of the form produces a great restlessness and anguish in the mind.

I have fixed my love and longing on meeting Hari (God). I shall be happy only when I meet my friend and Lord Hari.

Adi Granth

Last night, throughout the night, I could not sleep with my Beloved (He did not come to me), and every part of my body is aching. If this is my condition after His absence for one night, what is the state of those who never meet Him, and how do they pass their nights?

Sheikh Farid, Adi Granth

Just as the heat of the sun helps in ripening sweet fruit, and the heat of the fire in the hearth enables one to prepare delicious food, in the same way the heat of longing plays a vital role in helping the devotee on the path of spiritual attainment. It is actually a touchstone or test of love, and at the same time it purifies the devotee’s love and devotion, as a goldsmith purifies a piece of gold by putting it in the fire. 

Hafiz says:

You should shed tears of pearls from your moist eyes. Perhaps He, in the form of a swan, may be caught by you when this swan1 is tempted to come to you to eat these pearls.

Maulana Rumi says:

I wish that I had wept so much in my longing to meet the Lord that the tears from my eyes had swelled into a river, and every tear drop had turned into a spiritual pearl. Then I would have placed all those pearls before the altar of my Beloved.

He also says:

Man’s work in this world is nothing but to cry in intense longing due to separation from the Lord. Look at the infant. It cries as soon as it is born. It comes into the world crying. Therefore, just as a light burns throughout the night, in the same manner you should shed tears after midnight in longing for the Lord, and continue weeping and asking for His Light. Just as the wick of a lamp is trimmed, similarly you should trim the wick of your head (ego) so that the light in you increases. In other words, as soon as you learn to sigh while you are weeping, there will be a flood of light inside. God values the tears of His lovers as He does the blood of His martyrs.

Separation is extremely helpful in kindling the fire of restlessness and thereby obtaining the fruit of spirituality.

If the body burns like an oven the bones are ignited like wood, and the feet are blistered from walking, still a true devotee will not remain away from the Lord, even if he may have to continue his journey by walking on his head.

Farid

A lover of the Lord, who is separated from Him does not feel close to anyone or anything else. Even his life seems to be a burden to him and he feels as if he is dying.

Guru Angad Sahib says:

If we love someone, we should die before he dies, because it is a sin to live after the death of one’s beloved.

When Khwaja Mohammed came to the tomb of his Master, Hazrat Zarzari Zarbaksh, he fell lifeless upon the tomb overcome by sorrow and intense anguish because of separation from him. But before he died he recited the following couplet:

It is better to die than to live without one’s Beloved. It is a thousand times better to make a sacrifice of one’s self if deprived of the presence of the Beloved.

The pain of separation is like the poison of a cobra. Once it enters anyone’s heart, it is not possible to get rid of it by any means, unless one meets the Master. There is no other method.

It is true that life is impossible for one who has intense longing because of separation from Ram (God). If he does live, he wastes his life like a mad man in this world.

Kabir

If the Lord is not reached, then everything – food, clothing and all other comforts in this world are useless. Arjan says:

Without the Lord, everything is useless, just as silken dresses should be thrown into the fire by a bride after the death of her husband.

But if one is in communion with the Lord, he is praiseworthy in all conditions of life; just as a bride would be happy and would look beautiful even if she were lying in the dust.

The fact is that without having an intense longing for the Lord, this physical body is useless. If the object of our coming into this world is not achieved, what is the use of the body?

Guru Angad Sahib says:

A head which does not bow in reverence to the Lord should be cut into pieces. The body which has not entertained a desire to meet the Lord should be burned.

Farid says:

We all call, ‘Bireh, Bireh’ (intense longing due to separation); but Bireh is the king of all emotions. Oh Farid, a person who is without intense longing is like a graveyard.

Another lover of God says:

The head which does not bow at the feet of the Lord should be broken (is useless).

Intense longing has a very deep influence because of its powerful current of energy. Once it is established, no other impressions can enter the mind. Such a devotee completely forgets his body and his clothes, because he is being pulled by the magnet of the remembrance of his Lord, and his mind is completely absorbed in contemplation of the Lord. If we are being pulled towards something or somebody all the time, we will ultimately merge into that form.

There are innumerable people in the world who are longing for worldly objects, but in this longing they are interested only in material things. It is most difficult for people of this kind to follow the path of Sant Mat. There is no worldly method by which one can find release from this world. All longings are worthless with the exception of an intense longing for the Lord. All others lead to distraction.

Yet most of the people in the world are engrossed in the desire for material gains. They do not listen to discourses on the subjects of Spirituality and meeting the Lord, nor do they have any desire to meet Him, because their eyes are closed and they cannot see anything in its true perspective.

Manu was fully absorbed in the remembrance of his beloved Laila. His religion, his belief, was nothing but Laila. He would follow wherever she had walked and would bow his head over her footprints. Somebody once told Manu that God wanted to meet him. He replied: „If He wishes to meet me, let Him come in the form of Laila.

Guru Ram Das says:

All longing is useless so long as the longing for the Lord is not awakened.

The mind is so much engrossed in worldly pursuits that it is not prepared to listen to anything else. The longing, of a physical nature, that existed between Manu and Laila, very rarely turns into a spiritual longing; but if it does, the people to whom this happens are indeed blessed. Actually, true and real longing is established only when we have a longing for the Lord or His embodiment, the Master. It is therefore essential that we find a Master who practises and preaches Naam, because without this it is impossible to achieve the highest goal of Spirituality. If we find such a Master, we should sacrifice everything at his feet.

Longing does not necessarily create only pain and sorrow. It is a unique intoxication of the mind, because one is not willing under any circumstances to banish it, even at the cost of innumerable hardships. We offer our hearty congratulations to anyone who has established within himself the feeling of intense longing for the Lord because such a one is a leader of souls in the Court of the Lord. What are the signs of Bireh – (intense longing)?

Kabir says:

One who is in such a state becomes extremely emaciated, even beyond recognition, and daily he grows pale, like the betel leaf.

Charan Das says:

The face is pale, the body is emaciated, the eyes are sad, and the sigh which is breathed out is full of grief. He sighs deeply with every breath.

Maulana Rumi says:

If you do not know me, then ask those who are crying because of separation. You should ask my pale face and my dry lips, then you would know my real condition.

Shamas-i-Tabriz told Maulana Rumi:

Oh my son, there are nine signs which distinguish the lovers of God:

They have cold sighs. The face is pale.

The devotee wishes to have communion with the Lord but it is not in his power. Every time he thinks of the Lord he cries out and the tear drops from his eyes are hardly able to extinguish the burning fire in his heart.

The eyes are always wet. He eats sparingly. He sleeps little. Deep sleep does not come to him. He sighs continually. He is restless (impatient to behold the Lord). He moans continually.

When the fire of separation kindles in the heart and the smoke from it is not visible, only he who has experienced it, or who has kindled it, knows it is there. Only one who has been wounded knows the pain. No one else does. This fire burns within, not outside, and it produces water in the form of tears which try to extinguish the fire.

Kabir

The remedy for one who is in this state of suffering lies in the hands of the Beloved. He alone can remove it by granting His Darshan (by meeting him).

Dadu says:

To whom shall I disclose my pain and by whom shall I send my message? Even my hair has become tangled by the constant movement of my head while searching for the path whence my Beloved may come. I cannot meet Him and I am not happy. How can one live in such a state? The remedy lies in Him who has given me this pain. I am prepared to sacrifice the world and everything else for a single second’s sight of my Lord. I am also prepared to cut my mind and my body into small pieces, and would sacrifice both heaven and hell for Him.

In the same connection Khusro states:

Oh ignorant doctor! Please leave my bedside for there is no remedy for separation except His Darshan (to see Him).

The longing due to separation from the Lord has a unique sweetness. Those who are blindly following the dictates of the mind and are fully entrenched in the worldly luxuries of „eat, drink and be merry“ cannot experience that sweet taste, just as a blind person cannot appreciate the fall of tears in weeping. Intense longing and crying for the Lord always turn into happiness. They are really blessed who are so fortunate as to be gifted with this condition. In the Sikh Scriptures (Adi Granth) we find references to the various fruits of longing due to separation.

Kabir says:

In the state of longing and its pain, the things of the world appear bitter. Only the Name of the Lord is sweet.

When this longing is produced in a person, he becomes eligible to merge in the Truth.

Longing produces love and veneration for the Beloved. God is love. Therefore, the devotee comes nearer to the Lord in proportion to the degree of his longing. He also realizes in greater degree the value of his Beloved, so much so that the pure and noble form of the Beloved is always fixed in his mind.

Sheikh Farid says:

Oh crow, do not eat my body with your beak. Fly away from here because in this body resides my beloved Lord, and you have no right to eat such flesh.

Kabir says:

In my longing for the Lord, all the flesh of my body is emaciated. But so long as I remember Him, this body will not be lost.

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Footnote: 1) According to Hindu legend, the swan is fond of pearls, and prefers to eat nothing else.