((arsh-o-dil me;N rahe magar barso;N
vahm hai par kahii;N kahii;N hai qiyaas

1a) he might remain in the heavens and the heart perhaps/perchance for years
1b) we remained in the heavens and the heart perhaps/perchance for years

2a) but somewhere is illusion/imagination/suspicion, somewhere [else] is conjecture/estimation/judgment
2b) there is illusion/imagination/suspicion, but here and there is conjecture/estimation/judgment



magar : 'If not, unless, except, save, save only, but; besides, however, moreover; —perhaps, perchance, peradventure, by chance, haply, probably, possibly'. (Platts p.1061)


vahm : 'Thinking, imagining, conceiving (esp. a false idea); —opinion, conjecture; imagination, idea, fancy; —suspicion, doubt; scruple, caution; distrust, anxiety, apprehension, fear; —a superstition'. (Platts p.1205)


kahii;N kahii;N : 'Here and there, in sundry places; at times, sometimes; at intervals'. (Platts p.886)


qiyaas : 'Measuring (by or with); comparing (with); measurement, comparison; —reasoning, ratiocination; a syllogism; —regular form, analogy, rule; judgment, opinion; thought, conception; fancy; theory; supposition, conjecture, guess'. (Platts p.796)

S. R. Faruqi:

We'll be forced to call this a verse of skepticism [tashkiiik], although in Mir's poetry verses with such a harsh/strident tone of skepticism are very rare. The Lord's dwelling is the heavens; the heart too is said to be the Lord's house. Here, rahe means rahtaa hai-- that is, we do know that the Lord remains in the heavens and in the heart. But for years, we've been in a state such that we regard his existence as an illusion or a conjecture.

By using kahii;N instead of kabhii , he's created the suspicion that possibly the Lord might be somewhere else. As far as it's a question of the heavens and the heart-- well, he seems to us to be only hypothetical. Somewhere (in the heavens or the heart) his remaining there seems to be a conjecture; and somewhere it seems to be only an illusion.

The repetition of magar and par is not current/accepted; one of them is only padding. But in Mir's time usages of this kind were certainly permissible, if not admired. If magar would be taken in the sense of 'perhaps', and kahii;N kahii;N as a single phrase, then this flaw no longer remains, but the meaning becomes weak. That is, we perhaps remained in the heavens for years, or remained in the heart-- this is an illusion, but here and there it takes on the style of conjecture. Conjecture is stronger than illusion, because in conjecture reasoning is operative, and illusion is without foundation.

Another possibility is that the prose of the second line would be like this: hai [ya((nii ;xudaa hai] par kahii;N kahii;N vahm hai kahii;N kahii;N qiyaas . That is, hai par would be taken in the meaning of hone par .



On the source of these verses see {236x,1}.

Since the first line provides no subject, we can take rahe to be either a singular future subjunctive agreeing with the Lord, as in (1a), or a plural perfect agreeing with us, as in (1b). Of course there's no specific reference to 'us' in the verse; but then, there's no specific reference to the Lord either. In fact there's no specific reference to anybody.

If we break up the two occurrences of kahii;N , we have an equal or random distribution, as in (2a)-- somewhere there is X, somewhere there is Y. If we take them as a redoubling, as in (2b), then basically there is X, but here and there are outcroppings of Y.

Then just to complicate things further, consider the two alternatives vahm and qiyaas . SRF rightly highlights the difference between them (the former is always 'without foundation', while the latter includes 'reasoning'). But it's also clear that they have substantial areas of overlap; see the definitions above. Both words include the range 'opinion, thought, idea, imagination, fancy'. So another reading of the second line would be a kind of ironically despairing one: somewhere there are opinions, somewhere there are thoughts-- but nowhere is there real, solid knowledge.

And what is there such a lack of knowledge about? SRF plausibly supposes that it's the Lord, since he dwells in the heavens and the heart. But on the equally plausible reading (1b), in which 'we' dwelt in both places, it may be knowledge about the heavens, or about the heart, or about ourselves. And in fact it may call into question our long residence in the heavens and the heart-- perhaps it's only an 'illusion' or a 'guess' that we did so, not a reality.

Since we can break the first line into two residences, and the second line into two places, one final reading would segment the lines: the first residence is X, the second residence is Y. Thus our dwelling in the heavens might be an 'illusion' and thus totally 'without foundation', while our residence in the heart might be a 'conjecture' and thus at least somewhat rational or reasonable.

Basically, the combination of abstraction and vagueness means that we can choose for ourselves, to quite a radical degree, what the verse is about. It offers us an astonishing range of metaphysical possibilities; not a bad achievement, for a poem fourteen words long.