mirii namuud ne mujh ko kiyaa baraabar-e ;xaak
mai;N naqsh-e paa kii :tara;h paa))imaal apnaa huu;N

1) my manifestness/prominence made me {level with / equal to} the dust
2) I, like a footprint, am trampled underfoot by myself



namuud : 'The being or becoming apparent, visibleness; appearance; —prominence, conspicuousness; —show; —affectation; —display; —pomp; —honour, character, celebrity'. (Platts p.1154)


baraabar : 'Abreast, even, level, on a level (with, - ke ), up (to); on a par (with), on an equality (with), equal (to); next (to), adjoining; agreeing, coinciding, fitting ;... —s.m. Equal, peer, compeer'. (Platts p.143)


paa))imaal : 'Trodden under foot, crushed, ruined, destroyed'. (Platts p.213)

S. R. Faruqi:

This theme has certainly been taken, to some extent, from Bedil (as I have written in {328,1}); and then Bedil has, in another verse, composed his own verse about being trampled underfoot:

'How is it possible that a candle of contentment would be lit?
As long as my head exists, I trample myself underfoot.'

But the truth is that Bedil's opening-verse (which has been noted in {328,1}) is not very excellent, because in it there's no 'proof' of trampling oneself underfoot, and between the two lines there's also not much 'connection'. The verse that has been noted here is better, but Mir's theme has nevertheless advanced beyond Bedil's. And Mir's verse is superior to both of Bedil's with regard to connection and affinity of words.

The first point worthy of attention is that in Mir's verse, unlike Bedil's, the theme is not moral or didactic, but rather is thoughtful/concerned, and bears a kind of cosmic melancholy. The meaning of namuud is 'to be visible, to be manifest', and also 'to be conspicuous, to be apparent'. In both senses, the result is the same: that just when I became visible/prominent, I was mingled with the dust.

Now for this theme, in the second line what a superb 'proof' he has presented-- that just the way the moment a footprint becomes visible it is erased, or is trampled beneath feet/footsteps, it is the same with my visibility/prominence and my being trampled underfoot.

It should be kept clearly in mind that a footprint is created at the time when the foot falls on the ground. It's another thing that it becomes visible when the foot is lifted. Thus to be trampled underfoot is itself the coming into existence of the footprint. That is, the nonexistence of a footprint is its existence. And its existence depends on being trampled underfoot. So just look-- others' feet fall on the footprint, but it's also possible that one's own following foot would fall on the footprint that one's own advancing foot has made. Thus the footprint is trampled underfoot in every way-- since it comes into existence by means of being trampled underfoot, and its existence is because it would be trampled underfoot.

To construct himself as a footprint, and in this way to prove that his coming into existence is a result of being trampled underfoot, and that being trampled underfoot is a result of his coming into existence, is a supremely excellent idea/imagining, and has a style of cosmic melancholy.

The theme of the oppressedness and wretchedness of the footprint, Mir Dard has well written:

huu;N fitaadah bah rang-e naqsh-e qadam
raftagaa;N kaa magar suraa;G huu;N mai;N

[I am oppressed, in the style of a footprint
perhaps I am the trace/track of the passed-on ones]

This theme, that the footstep is the trace/track of departed people, Vali has versified with supreme beauty and 'mood':

yuu;N raftagaa;N ke hijr me;N daa;Gaa;N hai;N siine par valii
.sa;hraa ke juu;N daaman upar ho;N naqsh-e paa-e rah-ravaa;N

[in such a way there are wounds on the breast from separation from the passed-on ones, Vali,
the way that on the edge of the desert there would be footprints of travelers]

Before such beautiful verses, it's difficult for one's lamp to shine. But Mir, receiving benefit from Bedil, has given to the theme of the footprint a new breadth.

[See also {887,2}.]



SRF sees in the verse a flatly paradoxical quality: 'the moment a footprint becomes visible it is erased' [naqsh-e paa namuudaar hote hii mi;Taa diyaa jaataa hai]. Why? Because, says SRF, it is at once stepped on by others, or even by the footprint-maker himself. But this former condition isn't at all necessary (there might not be anyone walking directly behind the footprint-maker), and the latter condition is very uncommon (one of a walker's feet won't normally re-strike the same place as the other unless the walker stops and turns around). This claim of paradoxicalness thus seems a bit contrived. (Just for the record, the oldest human footprints yet found date back at least 325,000 years.)

Of course, for something to be trampled underfoot 'like a footprint' is a complex and multivalent idea-- because to 'trample something underfoot' is normally to show aversion to it, and/or to destroy it, while the making of a footprint rarely involves either hostility or active 'trampling' at all. No doubt the essence of a footprint is to be created underfoot-- but not necessarily by being actively (much less hostilely) 'trampled'. How does all this fit together?

It's not really clear. The 'connection' between the two lines is hard to make with confidence. Why is the speaker trampled underfoot by himself? Surely the reason has something to do with his namuud , which can be either his (physical, bodily) existence, or else some quality distinct from existence itself, such as 'prominence, show, display, fame' (see the definition above). He blames this namuud for the way he is trampled into the dust by himself. But surely the act of trampling shows hostility? And as far as we can tell from the verse, the hostility seems to be appropriate and justified (otherwise the speaker would surely blame himself, or no one, for the trampling, rather than explicitly blaming the namuud ). So apparently the namuud is culpable, and is also (appropriately?) punished.

So we're left with a range of choices. Maybe there's something about the speaker's physical presence, his very existence, that makes him self-hating and self-punishing. Or maybe he despises in himself some kind of egotistical or self-promoting behavior ('prominence, show, display, fame, affectation, pomp, honor', etc.) that requires, and receives, the severest punishment. As so often, we're left to decide for ourselves.

The double sense of baraabar also works well here: either the speaker's namuud caused him to be literally 'level with' the dust (since he's so thoroughly trampled down into it) or else it caused him to be 'equal to' the dust (since the dust is disregarded and trampled, and so is he).