kahaa;N aate muyassar tujh se mujh ko ;xvud-numaa itne
hu))aa yuu;N ittifaaq aa))iinah mere ruubaruu ;Tuu;Taa

1) how/where would such a vain/'self-showing' one as you, have been available to me?
2) there happened thus/gratuitously a contingency/coincidence-- the mirror, face-to-face with me, broke



muyassar : 'Rendered easy, facilitated; easy, feasible, practicable; favourable; —ready, prepared; —obtained, attained; attainable, obtainable, procurable'. (Platts p.1105)


;xvud-numaa : 'Ostentatious, self-conceited, vain, proud'. (Platts p.495)


yuu;N : 'Thus, in this wise, in this manner; —just so, for no particular reason; without just ground, vainly, idly, causelessly, gratuitously'. (Platts p.1253)


ittifaaq : 'Concurrence, agreement, accord, correspondence, coincidence; equality; union, unity, concord, harmony, unison, conformity; amity, friendship, affection; similarity of disposition; assent, consent; concert, combination, confederation, conspiracy, collusion; probability, contingency, case, event; circumstance, incident, affair, particular; opportunity; accident, chance, lot, fortune'. (Platts p.16)

S. R. Faruqi:

;xvud-numaa = arrogant [ma;Gruur]

Mumtaz Husain, in his essay risaalah dar ma((rifat isti((aarah , has provided an excellent discussion of this verse. But because the text was not correct, a number of his conclusions have become erroneous. The correct text is that which is given above. And there's no doubt but that if in its altered form the verse was particularly ambiguous, then in the present form it's become even more ambiguous. The reading that Mumtaz Husain used was according to the ta;zkirah-e miir ; in it the second line was,

bah ;husn-e ittifaaq aa))iinah tere ruubaruu ;Tuu;Taa

In Asi and in the Fort William edition, the verse appears as I have written it; and in the Majlis Taraqqi-e Adab (Lahore) edition too, the printed edition also has it this way. Thus it can't be rejected. But it's also true that it's not easy to extract its meaning, and perhaps not everybody would agree on any one single meaning.

In any case, if we place before ourselves these two verses of Mir's, then some light can fall on the present verse. From the third divan [{1272,9}]:

ga))ii ;Tuk;Re ho dil kii aarsi to
hu))ii .sad chand us kii ;xvud-numaa))ii

[when the thumb-ring-mirror of the heart became fragments, then
it became a hundred-fold, her vanity]

From the fourth divan:


Thus in the present verse the 'mirror' is either the heart, or the whole world. The beloved, who in every matter and every quality is unjust, in the same way is unique in arrogance as well. The word ;xvud-numaa gives a double pleasure, because she is not only arrogant, but also one who regards herself in the mirror and shows herself off as well.

By chance/coincidence it somehow happened that at the time when the beloved was showing herself in the mirror, the mirror broke. In this way from one mirror, there came to be hundreds of mirrors, and the beloved's glory began to be visible in every mirror. That is, instead of one vain/'self-showing' one, many vain/'self-showing' ones became manifest. An additional chance/coincidence was that the mirror broke at the time when the speaker (that is, the lover) was present there. Thus instead of one vain/'self-showing' beloved, he obtained many vain/'self-showing' beloveds.

Now the question is, of what is the 'mirror' a metaphor? It's possible that it might be a metaphor for the whole universe (as it is in {1312,8}). In that case, the breaking of the mirror into fragments is a metaphor for the appearance of mankind after the creation of the universe, because man (or his existence) is a mirror in which the divine glory, or the divine truth, is reflected.

Or the lover's heart is a mirror; in that mirror the beloved manifested her glory/appearance, but when the lover presented that mirror in the service of the beloved, then either by way of coquetry, or out of carelessness, right in the lover's presence the beloved broke it into fragments. In this way the lover's heart was destroyed, but in place of one he obtained countless vain/'self-showing' ones.

It's also possible that by 'mirror' would be intended simply a mirror. That is, the beloved was looking in the mirror, by chance/coincidence it happened that the mirror broke, and it broke at a time when the lover was there. But this meaning is of a lower rank, because in it there's no natural aspect; rather, it's an improbable situation.

In supposing the universe to be a mirror, and its breaking to mean the appearance of mankind, there's also the pleasure that the speaker comes before us in the capacity of the first man. And if we suppose the mirror to be the lover's heart, then there's also the pleasure that in any case the heart remains in the lover's breast. Even if the beloved broke the mirror into fragments, then so what-- those fragments are still in the lover's breast, and instead of one beloved, his breast is inhabited by countless beloveds.

There's an affinity between kahaa;N and ruubaruu . There's also an affinity between ittifaaq (meaning 'to come together') and ;Tuu;Taa . He's composed a fine verse. The 'delicacy of thought' is like Ghalib's. But the tone is not revelatory like Ghalib's; rather, he's spoken in the ordinary tone of everyday. This tone itself is a very great beauty of this verse.

[See also {1779,13}.]



A number of devices set this verse up to be a 'generator', so ambiguous and multivalent that new meanings just can't be stopped from pouring out of it. First of all it's an 'A,B' verse, in which the two lines are semantically quite separate, so that we're left to decide for ourselves how to connect them. The connective possibilities are multiplied, too, by the fact that the second line describes a sudden change of state, so that the first line might be linked either to the previous or general state ('How could I ever have seen the beloved-- the whole world conspired to make it impossible, even the mirror broke!'), or to the newly resulting one ('How could I ever have seen the beloved, except that fortunately the mirror broke!').

Second, the excellently chosen word kahaa;N can be taken either metaphorically, as something like 'how?', or literally as 'where?'. The first reading pushes the verse toward abstraction (as if it needed any pushing!), while the second points directly to the (breaking of the) mirror (except in a mirror, 'where' could I see the beloved?).

Third, the usefully multivalent yuu;N can either mean-- see the definition above-- 'like this, in this way' (thus forming part of an explanation or account of some kind); or else it can mean 'for no particular reason, causelessly' (thus denying the possibility of any explanation or causal account). In this latter sense, yuu;N and ittifaaq (in its sense of 'chance, coincidence') work elegantly together. Some other lovely yuu;N verses: {785,6}; {1318,1}, {1336,7}, {1352,2}. There are also yuu;N hii verses: {696,5}; {1554,7}.

SRF discusses some of the possible readings of the 'mirror'. He finds the idea that it's an actual mirror to be the least plausible, and the reading of the mirror as 'universe' and 'lover's heart' to be far more satisfactory. I agree, but I would frame the reasons differently. For there's an underlying problem that I keep coming back to: whatever the nature of the mirror, why would 'you' be available to 'me' in a mirror anyway? A mirror, after all, reflects the face of the person who is looking into it, so how could the speaker see the beloved in it, and not himself? Since we're not talking about spies or contortionists here, the only way is for it to be not really a mirror at all, but something that's already a metaphor.

The universe is a 'mirror' of God's presence, because it embodies, and thus 'reflects', God's creative power. Thus in such a so-called, metaphorical-only 'mirror' one can 'see' God-- except of course that this mirror immediately 'breaks', which would seem to be a problem, since how does the universe 'break'? SRF most ingeniously reads this 'breaking' of the mirror as the appearance of mankind on the scene. Then-- does every mirror-fragment, every human being, act as his own mirror of God's presence? Or does the vision of God then become unattainable? It's left to us to decide.

The lover's heart is a 'mirror' of the beloved, because it obsessively watches and responds to her every move, the way a mirror does. And of course that heart is always likely to 'break', with or without provocation. But on this reading, I don't see how 'face to face with me' [mere ruubaruu] makes any sense. In what way could the speaker's heart be 'face to face' with him, either in general or at the moment of beholding the beloved?

My guess is that what really inspired Mir to frame the verse was ;xvud-numaa , with its superlative wordplay possibilities involving the literal 'self-showing' and the metaphorical 'vain' (see the definition above).

Compare Ghalib's equally strange and enigmatic counterpart verse: