Hazrat Inayat: Wine

We have been posting short texts by Hazrat Inayat Khan discussing the meaning of various symbols, such as the sun and the cross.  Here is his teaching on wine.  It is a symbol widely used among Sufis; many of the poems posted here have touched on this metaphor, including these by Saadi, Al Farid and Shabistari.


Wine is held sacred, not only in the Christian faith but in many other religions also. In the ancient religion of the Zoroastrians yima Jamsheid, the bowl of wine “of which Jamsheid drank deep”, is a historical fact. Among the Hindus Shiva held wine sacred. And in Islam, though wine is forbidden on earth, yet in heaven it is allowed. Hauz-e-kauthar, the sacred fountain of heaven, is a fountain of wine. Although the bowl that was offered to the Prophet in the meraj, according to what the authorities of Islam say, was filled with milk, yet I doubt it. I should not be surprised if that were not an invention of the authorities to keep the faithful followers away from wine, for it is natural that the wine the Prophet drank in heaven, the followers should begin drinking already on earth.

Wine symbolizes the soul’s evolution. Wine comes from the annihilation of grapes, immortality comes from the annihilation of self. The bowl of poison which is known in many mystical cults also suggests the idea of wine – not of a sweet wine, but of a bitter wine. When the self turns into something different from what it was before, it is as if the soul were born again. This is seen in the grape turning into wine. The grape by turning into wine lives; as a grape it would have vanished in time. Only, by turning into wine the grape loses its individuality, and yet it does not lose its life. The self-same grape lives on as wine, and the longer it lives the better the wine becomes.

For a Sufi therefore the true sacrament is the turning of one’s grape-like personality which has a limited span of life to live into wine, that nothing of one’s self may be lost, but on the contrary may be amplified, even perfected. This is the essence of all philosophy and the secret of mysticism.

One Reply to “Hazrat Inayat: Wine”

  1. Nuria Daly

    This gives a wonderful understanding for the symbolism of wine, and so for understanding the mystery of Dionysius (the ‘God’ of wine) and also of Siduri the wine bearer. This presents something new and wonderful for me. Thank you.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.