dau;Re bahut valekin ma:tlab ko kaun pahu;Nchaa
aa))indah tuu bhii ham-saa ho kar shikastah-paa rah

1) {we/they ran / you might run} a great deal, but who arrived at the goal/purpose?
2) in the future even/also you, like us, having become 'broken-footed', remain [imperative]



ma:tlab : 'A question, demand, request, petition; proposition; wish, desire; object, intention, aim, purpose, pursuit, motive'. (Platts p.1044)


shikastah-paa : ''Having the legs broken'; infirm, broken down, reduced'. (Platts p.730)

S. R. Faruqi:

The theme of the verse is a common one-- that despite effort and striving, the goal (=the Lord, the beloved, worldly success) was not achieved. But what he has added to this is new: that effort must always be unsuccessful, so having become broken-footed, just sit down. In addition, there's the further pleasure of the style of address, that the speaker is giving instruction to some other person-- 'we sit here in a state of having broken our feet (that is, having renounced action and striving), you too become like us'.

But the idea doesn't stop here. In the first line the general situation has been expressed, and it'a also possible that this expression might be about himself alone ('We ran a great deal, but who has arrived at the goal?'). It's also possible that the first line might be directly about the addressee ('You would run a great deal'; that is, if you wish, then you would run a great deal). If we accept this reading, then the meaning of the second line emerges as 'all right, this time you run around and see; in the future, sit quietly the way we do, because we know that action and striving are fruitless-- you run around and test this, and confirm it'.

If instead of that interpretation we read the first line as only a general statement, then in the second line the word aa))indah becomes very interesting-- for what 'future' is being discussed? That of a next birth, or that of some occasion in this world when the fruitlessness of striving will have been proved? Apparently the reading of the next birth is more powerful-- 'If you wish, in this birth try it out and see, there's nothing to be gained; the next time you have to come here, then sit 'broken-footed' as we do'. In this there's also the point that perhaps the speaker would already, in a previous birth, have made the experiment and verified the fruitlessness of effort; and the point that people will always make the attempt, because this is in the nature of humans. Whether or not there would be any result, humans don't stop trying.

With regard to dau;Re , the pahu;Nchaa is fine; but more interesting is the relationship of a zila between shikastah and paa rah [paarah = 'fragment']. No matter what happens, Mir never misses a chance for wordplay. Otherwise, the theme is so bitter that an ordinary poet might be finished off in the attempt to make use of it-- not to speak of being able to play with its language as well. It's a pity that in the confusion/whirlpool of artificial notions of 'portrayal of emotions' and 'portrayal of reality', we have forgotten the art of poetic composition.



Platts considers shikastah-paa to be simply a debilitated condition (see the definition above). SRF takes the term to have the more active sense of 'breaking' one's feet as a sign of renouncing action and swearing off future efforts (parallel perhaps to the way one might break a sword to signify peace). Either way, of course, the description works excellently. But the finishing touch is the one SRF points out at the end: the relationship between shikastah and paarah [paa + rah]-- since the former means 'broken', and the latter means a 'piece, fragment'. That is really a dazzling little touch, and I would probably never even have noticed it. Really SSA is a treasure trove.

Note for grammar fans: Of course, dau;Re can be either the perfect (masculine plural) or the subjunctive (singular). And how perfectly calibrated the verse is, to accommodate both possibilities so seamlessly. The intimate imperative rah feels a bit awkward; in his commentary SRF converts it into bai;Thnaa , which would be better. But rah of course is the refrain, and also permits that magnificent bit of wordplay, so it more than earns its keep.