ko))ii bujhtii hai yih bha;Rak mai;N ((aba;s
tishnagii par ((itaab kartaa huu;N

1) does this flame ever get extinguished?! I vainly/absurdly
2) upon thirst, pronounce a censure/rebuke



bha;Rak : 'Splendour, glitter, flash, blaze; show, pomp, parade, pageantry; burst, explosion; flame; burst of anger, paroxysm, rage, fury; perturbation, agitation, alarm'. (Platts p.188)


((aba;s : 'In vain, uselessly, bootlessly, idly, absurdly'. (Platts p.758)


((itaab karnaa : 'To pronounce censure (on), to censure, rebuke, &c.'. (Platts p.758)

S. R. Faruqi:

The meaning of bha;Rak as 'flame' is in the dictionaries, but as 'fire' it's not. Now, should we call it Mir's usage, or a failure of the dictionaries, or a superb example of synecdoche [majaaz-e mursal], that by using a part he has intended the whole? I prefer the latter choice. But since Mir had a great command of Prakritic words, it's possible that in some regional dialect bha;Rak might also mean 'fire'. In any case, the freshness of that one single word is enough for the verse to be included in the intikhab.

But there are some other aspects as well. First, please notice that he has not explained bha;Rak , as to what kind of fire it is. But by saying yih bha;Rak he has created power in the expression, and has also inserted the implication that the fire is old, and that the hearers too know what fire this is and who has lit it. There's also the tone of speaking to oneself-- that is, nobody is nearby and the speaker is saying to his own heart that 'willy-nilly, I am becoming angry with my own thirst'. This fire is not the kind that would be extinguished by anything.

The implication is also very enjoyable that in the first line he has said only bha;Rak , and in the second line he has made it clear that by bha;Rak he means 'thirst'. Now the point emerges that fire and thirst are separate things. Thirst is felt because a fire has been lit in the heart. If the fire would be extinguished, then the thirst would be extinguished. To be angry only at thirst is meaningless. Thirst is an effect of fire, it is not autonomous. The fire can't at all be put out.

Thus in the verse there's a strange hopelessness and helplessness, but it does not allow scope for any mourning or lamentation. Rather, in it there's a kind of acceptance, and this acceptance has emerged from a tug-of-war. First he tried to extinguish the thirst (for example, he wanted to attach his heart somewhere else, or he wanted to absorb it in worldly tasks, or he wanted to divert it with poetry). When he had no success in that, then he became angry with the thirst. He wanted to frighten and diminish it by means of rage and fury (for example, his consciousness blamed it, or he threatened himself: 'if the thirst isn't extinguished then the result will be bad', etc.). When all these devices proved ineffective, then he arrived at the conclusion that now he would have to accept his fate: that this fire could not be extinguished, and he was angry in vain at the thirst.

The phrase ko))ii bujhtii hai too is very eloquent [balii;G], because in it are all the possibilities: [the wish] (1) that the fire would of itself become extinguished; (2) that someone else would come and extinguish it; (3) that I might try, and it would be extinguished; etc.

The enjoyable thing is that even now, he has still not made clear the nature of the fire. All the possibilities are present. He's composed an extremely excellent verse.

[See also {88,3}.]



Since this is an 'A,B' verse, the relationship between the lines is left for us to decide. The censure or rebuke mentioned in the second line thus might be not some general excoriation, but the wonderfully idiomatic complaint in the first line. The complaint has the form of a rhetorical question: 'Does this damn flame ever get extinguished?!' (Clearly implied answer: 'Of course not!'.)

Since bha;Rak can mean 'flame', why does SRF bother about whether it means 'fire' or not? Perhaps because the meaning of 'flame' is only a small facet of a much larger general meaning that is more like 'glitter, flash, blaze' (and here 'blaze' too is ambiguous) than like 'fire'; see the definition above. As SRF points out, we never do get to know what kind of 'flame' it is-- except that it's one well-known to the speaker.

Nor do we ever get to know why the speaker's censure of 'thirst' is 'vain' or 'absurd'. There are various possibilities:

=Because this particular flame will never be extinguished, so the 'thirst' will never be able to depart.
=Because blaming 'thirst' makes no sense, when it's the flame that's at fault.
=Because neither the 'flame' nor the 'thirst' can hear or heed the blame.
=Because merely 'pronouncing a rebuke' has no effect on the real world.

Note for grammar fans: It seems that ko))ii ought to be kabhii . It seems that it must modify bha;Rak , and I think it does, but not in any straightforward grammatically interpretable way. Really, the whole thing just has to be taken as an idiomatic expression. (Think of the weird, elliptical structure of 'I could care less'.)