majlis-e aafaaq me;N parvaanah saa
miir bhii shaam apnii sa;har kar gayaa

1) in the gathering of the horizons, like the Moth,
2) even/also Mir made his evening into dawn-- and went [away]



aafaaq : 'Horizons; quarters of the heavens; quarters of the world; regions'. (Platts p.61)

S. R. Faruqi:

The phrase majlis-e aafaaq has truly lifted the verse to the skies. The Moth, in ordinary gatherings, burns and becomes ash, and in this way so to speak turns night into dawn (night = burning; dawn = to be radiant, to be extinguished). But the gathering in which Mir burned and gave up his life, was the gathering of creation, or at least the gathering of the skies. How excellently he has established in this way his own greatness, and by extension the greatness of humanity!

Then, how many meaningful implications there are! The meanings of shaam include darkness-- that is, hopelessness, a burdenedness, a distance from the road. And .sub;h is the destination, achievement, hope, and discernment. When the Moth burns and is extinguished, then he arrives so to speak from the evening to the dawn-- that is, from burdenedness and hopelessness to achievement and hope and discernment.

Then, the night is also the whole life. That is, life is so sorrowful and intermixed with pain that it's like night, The dawn after such a night can only be that a man would burn himself and turn into ashes. If there would be an ordinary night, then it will also have a dawn. But when the whole life is a night, then its morning will be only death. For the Moth to be illumined is for dawn to break. The difference is only that the stage on which the Moth performs his task is limited and humble, and Mir's stage is the whole of creation.

In kar gayaa is the implication that he did it knowingly, through deliberate choice; or else that he did it helplessly, somehow or other. In one single action there's compulsion, and also free choice. Another point is that the Moth sacrifices himself for an ordinary candle. If Mir too, like the Moth, burned himself and gave up his life, then that candle for which his life departed would be nothing less than the candle of Truth/God. The effect of sacrificing oneself for the candle of Truth/God, or the Divine Light, also arises from the phrase 'gathering of the horizons', because in the Qur'an it's been said that God is the light of the earth and the sky.

[See also {456,8}; G{31,1}.]



As SRF notes, the real brilliance of the verse is in that resonant, evocative image majlis-e aafaaq me;N . In the evening social gathering of the 'directions' or the 'horizons', Mir plays the role that the Moth plays in an ordinary gathering. And what role is that? The full set of implications are for us to tease out, but the verse has given us the main stage directions. Like the Moth, Mir 'turned his evening into dawn' and then, having done so, 'went away'. He was thus indifferent to the members of the gathering: he apparently paid them no attention and expected nothing from them. To treat the cosmos with such lofty disdain is as striking for Mir as is the similar indifference shown by the Moth to the lights, music, perfumes, flowers, poetry, and other beauties of the 'ordinary' gathering. Perhaps he's in so much inner pain that he's obsessed only by the search for release? Or perhaps he's overpowered by an inner vision of such ravishing beauty that all the feeble fripperies around him aren't even worth noticing, and he impatiently brushes them aside?

Even the candle gets remarkably short shrift-- it hovers over the verse only by implication, and then apparently only as a kind of mystically inflected suicide machine. If we didn't already know a good deal about the role of the candle in the ghazal world, this verse would be utterly opaque, and we'd have no idea at all what the Moth and Mir had done, or why.

Since both 'evening' and 'dawn' appear first on the horizon, the resulting wordplay is also a source of delight.

Note for grammar fans: The idiomatic structure of kar gayaa is of course not the standard compound verb structure of kar liyaa or kar diyaa , because jaanaa is an intransitive verb. Rather, it's more like a case of kar deletion, where the full form would be kar ke gayaa , 'having made... went'. But SRF also points out some further (and apparently mutually contradictory) idiomatic possibilities.