jii me;N phirtaa hai miir vuh mere
jaagtaa huu;N kih ;xvaab kartaa huu;N

1) she wanders around, Mir, in my inner-self

2a) whether I am awake, or I dream
2b) am I awake, or do I dream?
2c) I am awake, {because / when / in that} I dream



phirnaa : 'To turn, go round, revolve, whirl; to circulate; to turn back, to return; to walk, walk about, walk to and fro; to wander, rove, ramble, stroll; to travel'. (Platts p.286)


kih : 'conj. That, in order that, to the end that, so that, for that, in that, because, for; if; and; or; whether; namely, to wit, saying, thus, as follows... ; lest; when'. (Platts p.866)

S. R. Faruqi:

In the [dictionary] nuur ul-lu;Gaat the meaning of jii me;N phirnaa is given as 'to think of somebody again and again'; and as a warrant [sanad] the present verse of Mir's has been given. Farid Ahmad Barkati too has given this meaning, on the authority of muha;z;zab ul-lu;Gaat . The difficulty is that the meaning doesn't follow from the verse. If the thought of the beloved occurs again and again, then this is nothing surprising, and there's no occasion at all for the doubt whether I'm awake or asleep. The best thing is to take phirnaa in its dictionary sense (to go around, to wander around) here, and not to suppose jii me;N phirnaa to be an idiom.

The old poets used to use jii in the sense of 'life' [jaan], especially when this word wasn't part of any idiom and was used as a noun. As Nasikh says,

jii nahii;N bachtaa na:zar aataa shab-e furqat me;N aaj
kahkashaa;N talvaar hai aur aasmaa;N jallaad hai

[it looks as if my life won't escape in the night of separation, today
the Milky Way is a sword and the sky is an Executioner]

(The theme of the Milky Way as a sword and the sky as an Executioner was Mir Dard's; then Ghalib too used it. This is a separate discussion.)

Thus the meaning of the first line is that the beloved wanders around in my 'life'-- that is, she has sunk down into my life. It's clear that when the life itself would be inhabited by the beloved, then this will be the ultimate stage of union with the beloved.

Thus in the second line he's said, with surprise and joy, 'am I awake or am I asleep (seeing a dream)?'. That is, for the beloved to settle in the 'life' is the kind of thing that is not easily vouchsafed.

For Mir's use of jii to mean 'life', see verses like



Siraj Aurangabadi has lightened this theme:

yaar ko be-;hijaab dekhaa huu;N
mai;N samajhtaa huu;N ;xvaab dekhaa huu;N

[I have seen the beloved unveiled
I consider that I've seen a dream]



What strikes me is the excellent use of kih to make the second line multivalent (see the definition above). It may mean 'or' from 'either-or', as in spelling out two alternatives (2a). Because word order doesn't change for the interrogative in Urdu, it may also mean 'or' as part of a question (2b). And most elegantly, it may work as a general clause introducer (2c)-- perhaps the speaker is only 'awake' at all because, or when, in that, he is possessed by the overpowering 'dream' of the beloved's inner presence.

Because of the magic of kih , an utterly simple line becomes irreducibly complex. The effect also accords beautifully with the reaction of the speaker-- when he finds that the beloved is actually somehow inside him, wandering here and there and making herself quite at home, he's in a state of ecstatic mystical shock. Naturally he's confused about what might be going on.

Ghalib takes the idea in the opposite direction: his beloved has more frivolously moved into the wrong person's breast: