butaa;N ke ((ishq ne be-i;xtiyaar kar ;Daalaa
vuh dil kih jis kaa ;xudaa))ii me;N i;xtiyaar rahaa

1) the passion of/for idols [abruptly] made uncontrolled/uncontrollable/uncontrolling
2) that heart of which, in divinity/power/creation, the control remained



i;xtiyaar : 'Choice, election; preference; option, will, pleasure, discretion; disposal, management, control, power, authority; right; privilege; liberty; office, official position or power, jurisdiction; rule, sway'. (Platts p.30)


;xudaa))ii : 'God-ship, godhead, divinity, providence; almighty power, omnipotence; —creation, nature, the world'. (Platts p.487)

S. R. Faruqi:

These verses-- {64,6}, {64,7}, {64,10}, {64,11}-- are part of a verse-set. In the original verse-set there were more verses. I have taken out the weak ones; but that has not changed the connectedness. In this whole verse-set there's a superb example of the mood of story-telling.

In the first verse there's a mention of the heart's becoming be-i;xtiyaar -- that heart that was full entirely of ;xudaa))ii . Ghalib has, in his special style, presented it like this:


The truth is that compared to the elegance of Ghalib's verse, Mir's verse is pallid. Although the opposition of 'idols' and 'divinity' is in Mir's style, and be-i;xtiyaar too has two meanings. One is 'out of control', and the other is 'not possessing control'.

Then there's also the point that there's a story here-- the first verse of the verse-set is the beginning of story-telling, and the goodness or badness of the verse-set can't be decided on the basis of this verse.

[See also his concluding discussion of the verse-set in {64,11}.]

[See also {1779,5}.]



This verse is the beginning of a verse-set that consists of six verses, from {64,6} through {64,11}. The ones not selected for SSA appear on the ghazal index page, {64}.

The similarity that SRF points to between the present verse and G{97,11} is structural rather than thematic: something cannot achieve X, although it can achieve Y. To my mind, that structural similarity is secondary, since Ghalib's verse appeals through the vigor and astonishingness of its central image (the slash across the sun), while the present verse has an entirely different appeal.

And we shouldn't sell the present verse short, for its pleasure rests on a beautifully complex kind of wordplay that Ghalib's verse doesn't even try to achieve. SRF points out two senses of be-i;xtiyaar , but as we slice them up in English there are actually three: contingently 'uncontrolled' (like a runaway horse), inherently 'uncontrollable' (like a major hurricane), or 'uncontrolling' in the sense of having lost the power to control other entities (and/or the self). These three kinds of un-control set up three possible kinds of 'control' that the heart did formerly have (or did formerly submit to), as reported in the second line.

Then the second line adds its own fillip, by locating the (apparently) former state of 'control' in ;xudaa))ii , and thus offering a superb supporting example for SRF's claim that word-play is also meaning-play. For what kind of 'divinity' would this be? One possibility is that Divine power used to control the heart-- as indeed, in the case of a Muslim, it should-- and has now been replaced by idol-worship. But there's also namruud kii ;xudaa))ii , the (false) 'divinity' of Nimrod (for an illustration see G{26,6}). And this kind of self-deification would work beautifully with the 'idols' of the first line (the speaker used to think of himself as a god, but now he worships idols). Alternatively, ;xudaa))ii can refer to 'creation, the world', so that God is relegated to the margins, and the opposition becomes that of worldly power and control (over self and others), versus the infinite madness and/or submissiveness of passion.

Note for grammar fans: In the first line, the compound verb kar ;Daalaa (as opposed to simply kiyaa ) suggests suddenness and abruptness. It's hard to convey this kind of thing in English without adding extra words.