panjah hai miraa panjah-e ;xvurshiid me;N har .sub;h
mai;N shaanah-.sifat saayah-rav-e zulf-e butaa;N huu;N

1) my hand/'five-fingers' is in the rays/'five-fingers' of the sun, at every dawn
2) I, comb-like, am a trickster/'shadow-goer' of the idols' curls



panjah : 'An aggregate of five; ... the hand with the fingers extended; claw, paw (of a tiger, &c.); clutch, grasp, possession, power; the five-fingered instrument of the religious mendicant; a sort of link or torch resembling the five fingers, or having five branches ... ; a hand made of ivory (to scratch the back with)'. (Platts p.271)


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

S. R. Faruqi:

panjah-e ;xvurshiid = rays of the sun
saayah-rau = trickster, guerilla [((ayyaar]

The idiom panjah-e ;xvurshiid , a number of other poets have also used very well. Sauda:

;Duubaa hai shafaq biich .sanam panjah-e ;xvurshiid
yaa mah;Ndii kaa haatho;N pah tire rang rahaa rach

[the rays/'five-fingers' of the sun, oh idol, have drowned amidst the twilight
or the color of henna has remained fresh on your hands]


is qadar hotaa nahii;N dast-e ;hinaa))ii kaa a;sar
panjah-e ;xvurshiid tere gesuu))o;N kaa shaanah hai

[the effect of the henna-ed hand is not usually to this extent
the rays/'five-fingers' of the sun are the comb of your curls]

Ghalib (unpublished):


It's clear that both Nasikh and Ghalib have profited from Mir's verse. From their verses some suggestions also emerge, about how to understand Mir's verse; but Mir's verse is better than all three of them.

The first point is that Mir has, by putting his own hand into the hand of the sun, has established himself as equal to the sun. Then, in his verse the 'commonality' wordplay [muraa((aat ul-na:ziir] too is an addition ( panjah , panjah-e ;xvurshiid , .sub;h , saayah-rau , zulf ). If we look at it with regard to meaning, then he has also established panjah-e ;xvurshiid as equal to the beloved's curls, because in both there's delicacy, refinement, and gleamingness.

In the second line he's put the uncommon word saayah-rau , meaning 'trickster' [((ayyaar]. An ((ayyaar always remains with his master-- where there's the master, there's the ((ayyaar too. In this way the comb too works like an ((ayyaar for the curls-- to whatever extent the curls go, to that extent the ((ayyaar goes too. Then, between the curls and the comb there's the very same relationship that exists between a master and an ((ayyaar -- like a master the curls too are loftier and grander in rank, and like an ((ayyaar the comb too is of lesser rank. The way an ((ayyaar serves his master, in the same way the comb too serves the curls.

Thus every morning I comb the beloved's curls with my fingers. It follows that my hand is like the rays of the sun in two ways. One is that the person who combs the beloved's curls has a rank like that of the sun. A second point is that the beloved's curls are like the rays of the sun. When I comb them, then it's as if I make a comb out of rays of the sun.

After such a line, to obtain a second line was very difficult-- but how easily Mir has reached that goal! Progressing beyond the first line, he has called himself an ((ayyaar who goes along together with the master of the curls, and has thus entirely proved his own command.

In our dastans, the ((ayyaar is shown in the role of the prince's (the hero's) utterly devoted friend, confidant, and faithful servant, going along with his hand on his prince's stirrup, or going ahead with the lead-rope of the prince's mount in his hand, or going along together with the prince. It's possible that this custom might be even older than the ((ayyaar , or might be a custom of the Arabs, because Shibli has written in 'Sirat ul-Nabi' (vol. 1) that when toward the end of his life, on the day he had conquered Mecca, the Prophet entered the city, then 'Hazrat Abu Bakr al-Sadiq, with his hand on the Prophet's stirrup, was going along with him'. And Sayyid Sulaiman Nadvi has written in 'Sirat ul-Nabi' (vol. 2) [of an occasion when] 'the reins of the Prophet's camel were in the hands of Hazrat Bilal'.

In this way this custom about the ((ayyaar (or the life-sacrificing servant and friend) is very old: that he always goes along at the stirrup of his master. In Mir's verse too there's the same idea: that the speaker is the ((ayyaar of his beloved's curls, and always remains with her.

If we attentively consider Nasikh's and Ghalib's verses, then we find a suggestion of one more interpretation. In both verses, the theme is that the rays of the sun act as a comb in the beloved's curls. This theme is based on the fact that when morning came, people used to come out into the courtyard or the verandah. Usually there would be sun, which caused the face and hair of those who were washing their faces to shine even more. In this context, Mir's verse too can be interpreted as 'Every morning I comb the beloved's curls with my gazes. Meanwhile, the rays of the sun too seem to be combing her curls. Thus my panjah , every morning, is in the panjah of the sun.' By using panjah-e ;xvurshiid (rays of the sun) in its dictionary meaning, he has created a 'reversed metaphor' [isti((aarah-e ma((kuus]. This is Mir's special style.

About washing one's face in the courtyard/verandah, see 'Bagh o bahar' (the journey of the second darvesh, the story of the princess of Basra): 'I took her into a courtyard and made her sit down; I sent for warm water, and washed her hands and feet'.

In the following verse of Mir's too, there's an allusion to washing the face in a courtyard/verandah. From the second divan [{936,12}]:

dekh rahte dhote us ru;xsaar ke
daayah mu;Nh dhote jo kahtii maah maah

[look--while keeping on washing that face
how the maidservant, washing the face/mouth, says, 'moon, moon']

Since in this ghazal there are many themes of loftiness, and since he has said in the first line of a verse [{321,3}] just before the present one:

jalvah hai mujhii se lab-e daryaa-e su;xan par
.sad-rang mirii mauj hai mai;N :tab((-e ravaa;N huu;N

[the glory/appearance is only/emphatically from me, on the lip of the ocean of speech/poetry
my wave is hundred-colored; I am of a flowing temperament]

then if we suppose the present verse to be in an illustrative style, the meaning emerges, 'I act as an adorner/dresser [mashshaa:tah] of the beloved of poetry, and arrange her curls'.

The meaning of saayah-rau is 'night-goer' (that is, thief); and also 'one who is awake at midnight'. These meanings are not entirely effective here, but neither are they entirely ineffective, because between them and 'curls' is the relationship of a zila. (The curls have the task of stealing the heart; the curls are dark and long like the night; when sleeping, the braid is usually unbound, so that we can suppose the curls are 'awake at midnight'.) He's composed a peerless verse.



Here is a verse that's jam-packed with imagery, and with networks of wordplay that are both intricate and flexible. The center of it all is panjah , basically meaning 'a set of five'. Thus it can easily apply to the hand with its five fingers splayed out, or to the rays of the sun beaming out in different directions, or to the comb-like back-scratcher with its outward-radiating teeth. In the verse itself, the word for 'comb' is shaanah , but it's impossible to miss the comb-like associations of panjah (see the definition above).

Compare Ghalib's equally complex and metaphysical use of a sar-panjah , which he makes from a deer's eyelashes, and converts into a back-scratcher:


SRF takes saayah-rau to mean ((ayyaar . But in its less dastan-specific sense of a 'thief' ('night-goer' [shab-rau]), it seems here also to be literally a 'shadow-goer'. A shadow-goer would be a kind of thief, or at least a sneak-- someone who enters furtively into a place where he's not welcome, and tries to keep himself hidden (in the shadows, of course) so as to avoid detection.

So another reading of the verse could be: 'I am a clever trickster-- I sneak into the dark tangled night-like shadows of the curls along with (and concealed by?) the bright sun-rays in the morning, and move among the curls as carefully and skilfully as a comb does'.

This latter reading seems preferable because the idea of somebody running alongside a horse, loyally holding a stirrup, is much more remote from the imagery patterns of the verse than the idea of somebody sneaking into a dark forest and furtively, in disguise, doing what he pleases there.

Note for meter fans: The phonetic change from rau to rav is triggered by the presence of the izafat.