ab vuh nahii;N kih shorish rahtii thii aasmaa;N tak
aashob-e naalah ab to pahu;Nchaa hai laa-makaa;N tak

1) now there's not that-- the way commotion/tumult used to remain up to the sky
2) the turmoil/affliction of the lament now has arrived as far as the 'houseless'/nonexistent [one]



aashob : 'Tumult, clamour; storm, tempest; terror; misfortune'. (Platts p.58)


laa-makaan : 'Inexistent, with no abode, without a dwelling-place; —s.m. The Deity'. (Platts p.944)

S. R. Faruqi:

The opening-verse isn't anything very powerful, but the theme of the turmoil of the sighs and laments' arriving as far as the Houseless One is interesting. It's also interesting that beyond the sky is the Houseless One. That is, he has said that contrary to popular belief, the sky is not the highest level of the universe.

In this verse laa-makaa;N seems to mean [the English words] 'anti-space', while the sky is in any case [the English word] 'space'.



The ab vuh nahii;N at once alerts us to expect a change in state. But what kind of a change? The rahtii thii makes it clear that the commotion had formerly reached up to the sky and habitually used to 'remain' there. Now what does it do? Is it now (1) so much strengthened by the lover's increasing passion that it goes beyond the sky, or (2) so much weakened by the lover's increasing debility that it can't reach the sky for more than a moment (if at all)?

As so often, the cleverness of the second line denies us any clear answer to such a dichotomized question. If we choose the first reading, then the strengthened commotion now reaches all the way beyond the sky, to whatever Divine presence is to be found in that even loftier realm; this is SRF's reading.

But since laa-makaa;N can also mean (spatially) 'inexistent' (see Platts's definition above, or SRF's 'anti-space'), if we choose the second reading then the weakened commotion is now imperceptible, and thus reaches only as far as the ear of a God who is 'closer than the jugular vein'. Perhaps the weakened condition of the desperate lover actually enhances his access to God's ear, or his claim on God's attention.

Compare Ghalib's play with existence/nonexistence: