.sad gulistaa;N tah-e yak baal the us ke jab tak
:taa))ir-e jaa;N qafas-e tan kaa giriftaar nah thaa

1) a hundred gardens were under a single wing, of his-- as long as
2) the bird of life was not a captive/prisoner of the cage of the body



S. R. Faruqi:

As long as man was in the world of the spirits, everything was his, because he was limitless. When he was imprisoned in the body and came into the world, then he became limited. His powers and abilities too became limited. This is an especially Sufistic theme. Having taken the common metaphors of the 'bird of the spirit' and the 'cage of the body', Mir created the new metaphor of his having hundreds of gardens under his wings.

One aspect of this theme, he expressed in the second divan like this:


In the present verse, there's also a delicate point that he's said 'a prisoner of [kaa] the cage of the body', not 'a prisoner in [me;N] the cage of the body'. Thus there's also a suggestion that the bird of life loves the cage of the body; in this love he has harmed himself, sacrificed himself-- since a hundred gardens were under his wing, but he left them and chose to live in a confined kind of body.



What an excellent point SRF makes about the use of kaa ! We can even capture the same effect in English: one can be a captive or prisoner 'of' something, with a strong sense of emotional bondage; this is very different from being a captive or prisoner 'in' something (e.g., in a cell) with its clearly physical range of meaning. Without SRF's observation, I wouldn't have spotted this excellent but subtle effect.

What about the 'hundred gardens' that were under the single wing? First of all, the 'bird of the spirit' could then fly far and freely, ranging at will over countless beautiful scenes. Now he can't fly at all, and is confined to the mere space of the body. Second, the gardens might have been those of Paradise, so that the bird would have truly lived in bliss. Third, they might have been 'his' [us ke] gardens, rather than ones found under 'his' wing (since the grammar of the line permits either reading), and this would suggest that he held in those days a particularly high spiritual rank. And fourth, since these gardens were under a 'single' wing, they obviously didn't exhaust the powers and estates of the bird. What might this 'bird of the spirit' have had under his other wing?