gosh ko hosh ke ;Tuk khol ke sun shor-e jahaa;N
sab kii aavaaz ke parde me;N su;xan-saaz hai ek

1) {just please / a little bit} open the ear of awareness, and listen to the tumult of the world
2) in the guise/veil of the voice of all, the 'speech-producer' is 'one'



pardah : 'A curtain, screen, cover, veil, anything which acts as a screen, a wall, hangings, tapestry; ... drum (of the ear)'. (Platts p.246)


ek : 'One, single, sole, alone, only, a, an; the same, identical; only one; a certain one; single of its kind, unique, singular, preƫminent, excellent'. (Platts p.113)

S. R. Faruqi:

Idiomatically, the meaning of su;xan-saaz is 'a glib, smooth-tongued speaker' [charb-zabaan], 'an excuse-maker, a fabricator, a boaster' [baate;N banaane-vaalaa]. Otherwise, the dictionary meaning is just what it seems: 'a person who would make speech/poetry'-- that is, a poet, or a skilful speaker, or a person who makes a habit of speech/poetry. It's clear that the idiomatic meaning is preferable.

And in the light of these meanings, the theme of the verse becomes extraordinarily interesting. In the world whatever conversation there is, whatever turmoil and commotion and tumult there is, whatever voices there are-- in the guise/veil of them all there's one single glib, smooth-tongued, excuse-making, fabricating, story-telling being-- that is, the Divine Being. Thus on the one hand this verse presents the theme of 'oneness of being' [va;hdat ul-vujuud], and on the other hand it seems to present a complaint against the Divine Essence, or rather to be scoffing at it.

It's clear that if an objection had been made against Mir, then he would have said that he had used su;xan-saaz in its dictionary meaning. But probably no objection was made, because the amount of freedom that used to be given to poets in the eastern culture was perhaps more than they had attained in any other classical culture.

If it's assumed that there's an implied izafat [fakk-e i.zaafat] in su;xan-saaz -- that is, that its meaning is really saaz kaa su;xan -- then the meaning emerges that in the guise of the voices of all, in reality there's the voice of only one speaker. This speaker can be Nature; it can also be the Divine Creator. Or the meaning can be only that in the world everything is in reality one, even if outwardly all things seem to be different and separate.

If parde is taken in the sense of 'guise', then this meaning becomes very suitable. If parde me;N is taken as 'behind', then the previously mentioned meaning becomes more suitable. The verse is in any case one of multivalent meaning.

Between gosh and parde (eardrum) there's a zila. Between khol and parde too there's a zila (the opening of a veil). And sun and shor too are of exactly the same kind (because of tumult, the ears become sun [numb, deafened]). The wordplay of aavaaz and saaz [harmony] is obvious. There's also wordplay between pardah and saaz , because the several strings of a saaz [musical instrument] are called a pardah .

Mus'hafi has greatly lowered this theme:

yaaro ko))ii samjho to mu;Gannii kii .sadaa ko
kis parde me;N bole hai yih aavaaz kahaa;N hai

{oh friends, if anyone would understand, then the sound of this singer--
in what guise/veil does this voice speak? where is it?]



To all this wordplay we can add the clever use of ;Tuk , which conventionally means something like 'please', the way we similarly use 'just' in English (as in 'Won't you just open the door?'); the effect of minimizing or deprecating the request is a form of courtesy. Here, in addition to that sense, the literal meaning of 'a little bit' is also operative: the heedless listener should open his ears at least 'a little bit', so he can hear the 'tumult of the world'.

And of course, here as in the other verses of this ghazal, ek has a remarkable range of possible meanings, which is why I've left it untranslated. Of course, the juxtaposition with sab brings the literal, numerical meaning of 'one' into high relief. But the other possibilities too are fully operative.

Note for translation fans: The obvious rendering of su;xan-saaz is of course 'speech-maker'. Isn't it a pity that it's ruined for our purposes by its overtones of artificiality and hypocrisy? It's like the case of 'selflessness', which would be perfect for be-;xvudii except for its established English sense of 'unselfishness'.