gul-o-aa))iinah kyaa ;xvurshiid-o-mah kyaa
jidhar dekhaa tidhar teraa hii ruu thaa

1) rose and mirror-- what?! sun and moon-- what?!
2) whichever way I looked, that way was only/emphatically your face



S. R. Faruqi:

The verse has two interpretations. One is that rose, mirror, sun, and moon are all rays from your face, they have no status of their own; it's really you who are showing your glory/appearance in those manifestations. In this regard, the verse expresses the theme of 'unity of appearance' [va;hdat ul-shuhuud]. But the second interpretation is that the rose and mirror, etc., are nothing, they have no existence. Or even if they have existence, then for me in any case they aren't present, in every direction I see you and you alone. That is, apart from you nothing is visible to me.

On this theme this verse of Dard's has taken on Mir's verse, and to an extent it is a verse of 'unity of existence' [va;hdat ul-vujuud]:

na:zar mere dil par pa;Rii dard kis par
jidhar dekhtaa huu;N udhar tuu hii tuu hai

[the gaze on my heart fell, Dard, on whom?
whichever way I look, that way you alone are]

But the question is, for an example why has he selected only these four things? When he says that things have no status of their own, or says that things have no existence of their own, why did he use as an example those four things, when they don't even have any special affinity among themselves? We can say that the four share a common quality of radiance, because the rose is given the simile of a lamp, and the mirror too is said to be illumined. The radiance of the sun and moon is obvious. But this seems to be exposition rather than explanation. In reality, the answer to this question is present in the word ruu in the second line. That is, the affinity is that these four things are given as similes for the face of the beloved. 'Rose' is also a metaphor for the beloved, and the affinity of 'mirror', 'sun', and 'moon' with the beloved is clear.

Now one more aspect of the interpretation of this verse has come before us. Rose, mirror, sun, and moon in a way have the effect of the beloved's face itself. But our beloved (the Lord, or a human beloved) is separate from, and better than, them all. For us the rose and mirror, etc., have no existence; or we don't even see them, in every direction we see the glory/appearance of our beloved alone.

This interpretation is established through a verse by Mir himself from the first divan [{392,12}]:

gul ho mahtaab ho aa))iinah ho ;xvurshiid ho miir
apnaa ma;hbuub vuhii hai jo adaa rakhtaa ho

[whether it be a rose, the moon, a mirror, the sun, Mir
our beloved is only/emphatically that one who would have grace/beauty]

The enjoyable thing is that Mir himself has taken the second line almost entire from Hafiz. In fact, Dard too has taken advantage of Hafiz. Thus Dard's verse is:

dil bhalaa aise ko ay dard nah diije kyuu;Nkar
ek to yaar hai aur tis pah :tara;h-daar bhii hai

[for goodness sake, oh Dard, how would the heart not be given to such a one?
first, she's a friend/beloved; and on top of that, she's stylish too]

Now please listen to Hafiz [in Persian]:

'That one is not a beloved who would have only [long] hair and a [tiny] waist,
That one is a beloved who would have all this and a style, a grace, an individuality too.'

It's clear that in the present verse too, Mir has profited from Hafiz, because his purport seems to be that although rose, mirror, sun, moon are beloveds, they aren't the true Beloved, because they don't have that 'presence' that Hafiz has mentioned. On the contrary-- in our Beloved is such a quality that in every direction He alone is visible. There's no doubt that Hafiz has composed a devastating verse, but the truth is that Mir too has made worthy use of his verse. Hafiz's gaze went only as far as hair and waist, while Mir drew together the things of earth and heaven.



The first line is a 'list'-- four nouns, no verbs, and just a couple of extremely multivalent instances of kyaa . Almost all such 'lists' occur in the first line, so that the hearer is forced to wait and hope for further information in the second line.

And what an 'insha'iyah' paean to the versatility of kyaa is created in this first line! One reason there are so unusually many possibilities is that each half of the first line can have either the structure yih aur vuh kyaa hai or else the structure yih aur vuh kyaa falaa;N hai (where falaa;N is a colloquially omitted subject or predicate nominative that must be derived from the second line).

Here are (some of) the main possibilities:

= Is it a rose and a mirror? Is it the sun and the moon? (a yes-or-no question)
= What are the rose and the mirror? What are the sun and the moon? (a general question)
= What a rose and mirror it is! What a sun and moon it is! (an exclamation of praise)
= As if it's a rose and a mirror! As if it's the sun and the moon! (an exclamation of indignation)
= What are the rose and the mirror! What are the sun and the moon! (that is, they're nothing!)

And then, if we juxtapose the two halves of the line to each other:

= Are the rose and the mirror [actually] the sun and the moon?
= Are the sun and the moon [actually] the rose and the mirror?
= Is the rose to the mirror, as the sun is to the moon?

If they are all destined to be identified as (forms of) the same Divine face, then there could be any amount of confusion and conflation among them. The speaker could be in a state of rapture or self-lessness, 'beside himself' with mystical emotion; perhaps he hardly even knows what he's saying.

Moreover, since it's an 'A,B' verse, the two lines are semantically quite independent; it's left for us to decide how they are connected. Here are some possibilities:

= The first line is an exclamatory outburst, the second line an explanation for that outburst
= The second line is a description of an action, the first line reports an outburst that results from the action
= Both lines are parts of a prolonged meditation on the nature of beauty

Undoubtedly the various mystical readings proposed by SRF are fine and highly plausible ones, but they're far from exhausting the possibilities of this simple-looking little verse. These particular readings are surrounded by a penumbra of other readings of the first line (and thus re-readings of the second line) that may not be foregrounded but cannot entirely be erased. And why would we want to erase them? Aren't they the main thing that saves the verse from becoming merely a conventionally pious exclamation, or some kind of prosy philosophical assertion?

Compare the similarly open-ended mystical (and grammatical) possibilities of Ghalib's famous verse-set: