aayaa jo vaaqi((e me;N dar-pesh ((aalam-e marg
yih jaagnaa hamaaraa dekhaa to ;xvaab niklaa

1) when/since the world/time/state of death came before us in reality/event/vision
2) this waking of ours-- when we looked/saw, then it turned out to be a dream/sleep



vaaqi((ah : 'Event, occurrence, incident; —news, intelligence ;—accident; misfortune; a grievous calamity; —battle, encounter, conflict; —casualty; death; —a dream, vision'. (Platts p.1175)


((aalam : 'The world, the universe; men, people, creatures; regions; kingdom (in comp., e.g. 'vegetable-kingdom'); —age, period, time, season; state, condition, case, circumstances'. (Platts p.757)

S. R. Faruqi:

For the world of death to come before him vaaqi((e me;N is meaningful, because it can also mean that commonly during life, it seemed as if it was the world of death-- that is, that life passed in such constraint that many moments brought the illusion of death. But finally one time when death really [vaaqa((ii] came, then it was as if our eyes opened. We realized that our life here was only a dream; that is, it had no solidity.

Or else it was presumably [majaaza;n] a dream; that is, the intoxicated life had become so heedless, and in it there was so little awareness of true reality, that it was so to speak only a dream. Or else in reality we were having a dream. Before coming into this world we were present in the world of nonexistence and were aware and conscious; having come to this world, we fell asleep; or we fell asleep, and then came to this world. Now that we've died, then so to speak our sleep has been broken.

Dard has presented this theme in this way:

vaa))e naa-daanii kih vaqt-e marg yih ;saabit hu))aa
;xvaab thaa jo kuchh kih dekhaa jo sunaa afsaanah thaa

[alas, ignorance! -- for at the time of death it was proved that
whatever I saw was a dream; what I heard was a story]

Despite the trimness of the second line, Dard's verse is inferior to Mir's, because in his verse there's a sorrow over the insutstantialness of life, or its being wasted, that's founded on a moralistic point of view. The moral impulse of 'alas, ignorance!' is manifest. By contrast to this, Mir's tone is [mystically] discerning or revelatory; it can be called 'cosmic' [aafaaqii]. The wordplay of 'to wake', 'to see' [in Urdu one 'sees' a dream], and 'dream' is also very fine.

After a dream/sleep a person wakes-- here 'waking' is being 'seen', and this 'waking' is being proved to be a dream. So then, in which world was it 'seen'? Obviously, in the 'sleep/dream of nonexistence' [;xvaab-e ((adam]. In this way he has called a dream inside another dream, a 'dream'.

In another place in the first divan, Mir has expressed this theme with another, a mysterious, aspect:


Nasikh has borrowed this theme directly from Mir. In his verse the hortatory tone is very heavy; thus despite the trimness of the second line there's no special merit in the verse:

ho;Ngii band aa;Nkhe;N to samjhoge kih bedaarii hai yih
dekhte ho khol kar aa;Nkhe;N jo tum yih ;xvaab hai

[if the eyes will be closed, then you'll consider that this is wakefulness
if you open your eyes and look, this is a dream/sleep]

In Mir's verse, a point also arises through vaaqi((e -- it's used in the sense of 'dream' as well. If it's taken in this sense, then the meaning of the first line will be, when in a dream we saw our dying, or in a dream saw the world of death. Thus the meaning of the verse will be that we saw the scene of death only in a dream; as yet we hadn't even become acquainted with its reality, and were seeing only a dream of death. But that scene was so attractive, and so overflowing with some mysterious kind of life, that compared to it our daily life (that is, our waking life) began to seem insubstantial like a dream, or artificial like a dream. And then, vaaqi((ah is also used with the meaning of 'death'. In this connection, see:


In this sense there is the relationship of a zila between vaaqi((ah and marg . He's composed an uncommon verse.

For further discussion, see:


[See also {423,11}; {904,5}; {1327,5}.]



Well, here's another lovely shape-shifter, a verse like a dream-- it can mean whatever you're in the mood for it to mean, each time you think about it. Just consider some of the points of flexibility:

= jo can be a contraction for jab , so that it means simply and straightforwardly 'when' (in the temporal sense); or else it can mean 'in that, inasmuch as, since' (so that it would have a broadly causal sense).

= ((aalam can mean a wide range of things including 'world', and 'time', and 'state, condition' (see the definition above).

= vaaqi((ah can mean anything from a (neutral) 'event', through a (bad) 'calamity' that may even include 'death', to a 'dream, vision' (see the definition above). Brilliant use is made of these possibilities, as SRF observes.

= yih jaagnaa hamaaraa -- in 'this waking of ours', to what does the 'this' refer? A waking from the dream of life? A waking into the world of death? A waking that itself was only a dream? A dream about 'waking'?

= dekhaa to -- this can be expanded to 'when we looked/saw, then', but what kind of 'looking' or 'seeing' is involved? In Urdu one doesn't 'have' a dream, one 'sees' a dream [;xvaab dekhnaa]; and in Urdu there's no way to distinguish between 'looking' and 'seeing'. So it might be that we're (still?) 'seeing' a dream. Or it might be that we're 'looking' (at what?) with newly-awakened eyes.

= ;xvaab niklaa -- it 'turned out to be a dream/sleep' -- but what was the 'it' that did that? (The 'it' itself is of course an artefact of translation, and isn't even present in the Urdu.) Among the candidates are: the world/condition of death; the 'reality' of death; the 'vision, dream' of death; and our (so-called but illusory) 'waking'.

It's a brilliant little mystery machine; in a handful of words it sets up in our minds a sort of infinite (or at least indefinite) regress of enticing but never-resolvable possibilities, so that we can't stop spinning our mental wheels. And of course such 'generators' are among Ghalib's favorite creations as well, as in his cryptic and mysterious counterpart verse: