aavaaragaan-e ((ishq kaa puuchhaa jo mai;N nishaa;N
musht-e ;Gubaar le ke .sabaa ne u;Raa diyaa

1) when I asked for/about a mark/trace/sign of the wanderers of passion
2) having taken up a handful of dust, the breeze caused it to fly



nishaan : 'Sign; signal; mark, impression; character; seal, stamp; proof; trace, vestige; —a trail; clue ;—place of residence (of a person), whereabouts; ... —note; index; type, emblem, device; order, badge; —ensign, flag, banner, standard, colours; —family arms, armorial bearings'. (Platts p.1139)


u;Raanaa : 'To cause to fly; to fly, let fly; to throw or toss up as a pigeon, or a coin; to set free, uncage; to cause to move rapidly or swiftly, to drive hard a horse, etc.; to fly away with; to run or make off with; to make away with, to rob, plunder, despoil of; to ravish; to cause to vanish or disappear'. (Platts p.903)

S. R. Faruqi:

With this rhyme, Jur'at too has to some extent used this theme:

kyaa dushmanii thii tujh ko .sabaa us galii se jo
ak;sar miraa ;Gubaar bhii tuu ne u;Raa diyaa

[what enmity did you feel, oh breeze, that from that street
you often blew away even/also my dust?]

But in Mir's verse it's a whole different world. The breeze's picking up a handful of dust and flinging it into the air, Mir has versified in one other place as well [{1055,4}]:

intihaa shauq kii dil ke jo .sabaa se puuchhii
ik kaf-e ;xaak ko le un ne pareshaan kiyaa

[when I asked the breeze about the extremity of the ardor of the heart
having taken up a single handful of dust, it disordered it]

Here the theme is different, and the use made of the breeze is only artificial. By contrast, in the present verse the use is meaningful, because he asks for a sign/trace of the wanders of passion from the breeze-- which itself wanders from street to street, in every neighborhood. In Jur'at's verse there's only one aspect of the theme: that the breeze feels something like enmity toward the wanderers of passion, since it doesn't let even their dust remain settled.

In Mir's verse, in addition to that there are a number of aspects:

1) The end of the wanderers of passion is only a handful of dust.

2) The wanderers of passion are nameless and traceless the way a handful of dust is nameless and traceless.

3) The real essence of the wanderers of passion is no more than a handful of dust; in the wide and grand workshop of being, they have no standing.

4) The wanderers of passion wander the way a handful of dust does; they have no stability anywhere.

5) The breeze has no information about the wanderers of passion (it knows 'dust' [;xaak ;xabar hai]-- that is, it has absolutely no information).

6) As for what happens to the wanderers of passion, the breeze has no interest in it; it only goes around flinging up dust. Or, it itself goes around flinging up dust, what does it want with others' dust?

7) When I asked for a sign/trace of the wanderers of passion, then the breeze flung up dust in my face, as if to say that I had no such status as would entitle me to ask such a question.

8) The breeze is so grief-stricken that it is flinging dust.

9) It's not necessary that this question would have been asked of the breeze. It's possible that he might have asked the question of somebody else, or the speaker might have asked himself where the wanderers of passion went or what happened to them. And there was no answer from anywhere else-- the breeze, flinging up dust, gave an answer.

It's hardly a verse-- it's an engraved gemstone, from which light is flashing out in every direction.

It's possible that the theme of supposing oneself to be a handful of road-dust flung up by the wind, Mir might have taken from [the Persian of] Hafiz:

'Oh dear friend, in longing for your face,
My heart has become like road-dust that would have fallen into the hands of the breeze.'

In Hafiz's verse the eloquence [balaa;Gat] and dramaticness of the second line are both worthy of praise. But Mir too has drama, and expressiveness, and also a whole story in which there are several characters and an abundance of meaning in addition. Mir's verse is of a higher order than Hafiz's.



This is a verse to die for, isn't it? SRF's unpacking of some of the possibilities and implications is a tour de force in its own right. The verse generates a set of haunting complexities, but they're evoked by an almost soothingly simple little bit of business: the speaker meditates, perhaps thinking aloud; and a breeze lifts a swirl of dust into the air. Since this is a strictly non-verbal gesture (and perhaps not even one that's meant to answer the question), any meaning that we give it can only be speculative.

In fact there's one more possibility that SRF hasn't enumerated: that the two events have nothing to do with each other. The natural universe is unresponsive. When we ask a question, we get no answer; it's just 'nature naturing' as usual. The breeze blowing dust around in the background means nothing at all, unless we are desperate for metaphors (which of course we may well be).

Compare Ghalib's equally brilliant vision of what happens to the dust of dead lovers: