((aam ;hukm-e sharaab kartaa huu;N
mu;htasib ko kabaab kartaa huu;N

1) I make a general/public order for wine
2) I make the Muhtasib into a kabob



mu;htasib : 'A reckoner, calculator; —the inspector of the markets, and of the weights and measures, &c.; the superintendent of the police, who examines weights, &c., and prohibits unlawful games, drinking, and the like; a censor. (Platts p.1007)

S. R. Faruqi:

Here the theme is nothing special; the the second line bears two meanings. (1) when the general/public order for wine is made, then the Muhtasib will burn [with anger] and will become a kabob; and (2) the Muhtasib will be captured, and I (or all the drinkers) will make him into a kabob and eat him up. The verb is in the present habitual, but that can also apply to the future. For example, we say, ab mai;N vuh kaam kartaa huu;N , jis par zamaanah ;hairat karegaa . This excellence of the grammar is an addition to the verse. In the following verse [{324,2}], the use of the verb is along the same lines.

Mirza Farhatullah Beg has written, in the preface to the divan of Yaqin, that Mir has translated this verse from [the Persian of] Amir Khusrau:

((aam ;hukm-e sharaab mii-;xvaaham
mu;htasib raa kabaab mii-;xvaaham

Leaving aside the fact that Mir's verse isn't entirely a translation, the basic point is that this verse isn't to be found in the Persian kulliyat of Khusrau. It's possible that this verse might be by someone else. And it's also possible that someone might have turned Mir's verse into Persian. In any case, Farhatullah Beg has correctly written that earlier people did not consider translating verses from other languages to be a flaw [((aib]. He has not discussed this problem in detail. Here too it's not the occasion for a discussion in detail, but I consider it necessary to say this much: that translation too is part of the basis of 'theme-creation', especially when the translation would improve upon the original (as Mir has often done).

In the old poetics, there were the following forms of profiting from the poetry of another: (1) 'theft, plagiarism' [sarqah]; (2) 'coincidence' [tavaarud]; (3) 'translation' [tarjumah]; (4) 'borrowing' [iqtibaas]; (5) 'reply' [javaab]. The final category was the most often used-- that is, to present the theme of someone else's verse or someone else's ghazal in a better way. This was a skill of a high order. See




Verses falsely attributed to Amir Khusrau are unfortunately all too common-- not only in Persian like the one that SRF cites, but also in Urdu; the best scholarly conclusion is, alas, that we have exactly zero authentic lines of Urdu that can be reliably attributed to him). For more on false attributions, see {1015,1}.

The Muhtasib seems really vestigial; I don't think that Ghalib ever even mentions him (unless in one of the unpublished verses). And this is Mir's first (and so far, only) reference that I've come upon. Mir usually vents his wrath on the Shaikh-- just check the 'Names' list, and see how often he does so, and sometimes in very strong terms. No doubt the Muhtasib was not a significant figure (if the title was used at all) in Mir's and Ghalib's Delhi.

I love to think of ((aam as 'general'-- the speaker comes into the wine-house, perhaps staggering a bit, and with an expansive sweep of his arm calls out 'Another round for everybody!' and urges them all to drink up. Then after they're all pretty well round the bend, he further suggests that the annoying Muhtasib might as well be useful for once-- why not make him into kabobs, for a tasty snack? The whole crew go lurching out the door, calling out for mu;htasib ke kabaab ...

Of course this is a ridiculous vision; but the point is that the whole scene is humorous, it's just meant to be funny and 'rakish' [rindaanah]. It's one more counterexample for people like Azad, who claim that Mir is only melancholy and has no sense of humor.