chaahe jis shakl se tim;saal-.sifat us me;N dar aa
((aalam aa))iine ke maanind dar-e baaz hai ek

1) no matter in which shape/manner, image-like, emerge into it!
2) the world, like a mirror, is 'one' open door



shakl : 'Likeness, resemblance, semblance, appearance, image, effigy ... ; model, pattern, mode, manner (syn. mi;saal ); shape, form, figure'. (Platts p.72)


tim;saal : 'Resemblance, likeness, picture, portrait, image, effigy'. (Platts p.336)


.sifat : '—adj. Like, resembling (used as last member of compounds)'. (Platts p.745)


dar aanaa : 'To come out, to issue'. (Platts p.508)


baaz : '(adj.) Thrown back, open'. (Platts p.121)


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

S. R. Faruqi:

The thought of calling the world an 'open door', he might have gotten from [the Persian of] Bedil:

'No one would have seen one imprisoned like me by heedlessness, in this place,
For the world is an open door, and I search for the key, in this place.'

In Bedil's verse, besides calling the world 'an open door' there's nothing else. Contrary to Bedil's usual style, the verbosity [laffa;zii] too is rather excessive; but Mir has taken the theme from one level to another.

First, by bringing in the simile of the mirror he has given new life to the image of the 'open door'. Then, by leaving the addressee of the verse ambiguous, he has created fresh possibilities, one after another.

If the verse is addressed to God, then the speaker's grandeur and imperiousness are worthy of praise-- that in the universe created by God he doesn't see God to be present, and says that no matter in which shape, He would emerge in the world. That is, in God's sitting-room, an invitation is being given, 'Come into your house'.

If the verse is addressed to the beloved, then the question arises as to why the beloved is not present. Perhaps it's because the beloved is only imaginary, only a picture/image, and the speaker is calling out to her to become embodied. If this is the situation, then it's an entirely new theme, and brings before us an entirely novel aspect of Mir's thought: that the beloved is in all places and in all forms, but is imaginary; that is, that she is precisely on the level of a Platonic ideal.

If we reflect on the phrase 'no matter in which form', one additional aspect comes to the fore. This phrase can also mean that 'no matter what you're like, in whatever way you exist, enter into the world!'. The world, like a mirror, is an open door; but if a mirror is without anything to reflect, then it becomes spiritless and desolate and unemployed. As long as you are not embodied, the world will remain desolate. Come in any way at all, but you must certainly come! If shakl is taken to mean 'form, aspect', then the meaning appears that has been described above: that 'the world is yours, no matter in which form you would come'.

But in both cases the entry of the beloved (divine or human) will be only 'image-like'. That is, the way a reflection both enters a mirror and doesn't enter it-- in the same way if the entry of the beloved into the world will occur, then it will be only on the level of 'image, reflection'. The open door of the mirror is a symbol of an unestablished house. It's obvious that the beloved (divine) is beyond all houses, and the beloved (human) is only imaginary, therefore she's without a house. For such a beloved, even if there will be a door, then it will be the door only of an unestablished house.

If we take 'image-like' to be vocative, then the meaning becomes, 'oh beloved, you have the quality of an image'. The quality of an image is that it enters a mirror. The quality of a mirror is that it is closed, but for the entry of an image it opens like a door. The world is like a mirror, and the beloved is like a reflection. Thus he's saying to the beloved, 'why don't you enter this mirror?'.

Now let's also consider the wordplay that's fallen into our hands: dar (meaning 'door') and dar-e baaz ; shakl and tim;saal ; tim;saal and aa))iinah . It's verses of just this kind that are said to outweigh [in value] whole divans.

It's possible that the present verse might have been the inspiration for this beautiful [Persian] verse of Iqbal's:

'Step without hesitation through the door into the forbidden life of lovers.
After all, you are the lord of the house, so why come like a thief?'



'The world is an open door' is a straightforward metaphor; it makes entering into it sound easy and even inviting. But 'the world, like a mirror, is an open door' is an entirely different proposition. For a mirror is in some ways like an open door (it seems to contain within it a whole tempting alternative world), but in other ways not at all like an open door (it's a flat piece of metal or glass that can't possibly offer 'entry').

Thus, as SRF observes, the beloved can be invited into the world only in a non-physical sense: the sense in which a reflection can be 'invited' into a mirror. This means that even a human beloved can only be invited to enter the world in an entirely imaginary or idealized form, so that her identity as an 'idol' tends to merge into that of a deity. This does seem to be a verse in which the beloved is basically envisioned as divine.

Pairs of words like shakl and tim;saal are always so piquant. They have a great deal of semantic overlap (see the definitions above). But shakl also has a secondary meaning of 'model, manner'-- which is however itself synonymous with mi;saal (derived of course from the same root as tim;saal ). Other than the wordplay, what are we to make of them?

And the fact that dar aa means 'come out, emerge'-- does it suggest that the divine beloved is already around, but hidden or veiled in some invisible inward realm? And the fact that dar-e baaz means not just an open door, but a door that has been 'thrown back'-- should that subtlety enter into our reading of the verse? Is the world spreading itself in hopeful welcome? Has some other power 'thrown back' the door of the world, to invite the divine to enter? This highly abstract verse feels very Ghalibian to me. At what point does subtlety become over-reading?

Of course, it's easy to say that Mir used dar-e baaz because he need it for the rhyme; and it's no doubt true that he came upon the image while running rhyme-possibilities through his head. But having found it, he did use it; and for such a manifestly subtle poet, where is the end of interpretation? In a way, the problem when reading Mir is even more difficult than when reading Ghalib, because of it's so often elusive rather than overt.