himmat apnii hii yih thii miir kih juu;N mur;G-e ;xayaal
ik par-afshaanii me;N gu;zre sar-e ((aalam se bhii

1) only/emphatically our courage/spirit was such/'this', Mir, that like the bird of thought
2) in a single/particular/unique/excellent wing-fluttering we passed even/also beyond the border of the world



himmat : 'Magnanimity; lofty aspiration; ambition; ... —enterprise; spirit, courage, bravery; —power, strength, ability'. (Platts p.1235)

S. R. Faruqi:

On this theme, that for us dying was easy, Mir composed several verses. For example, see:




Similarly, Mir has also several times versified the theme that with one single wing-flapping we would emerge from the prison of place. Thus in the first divan itself he says [{487,4}]:

ham qafas-zaad qaidii hai;N varnah
taa chaman ek par-fishaanii hai

[we are a cage-born prisoner; otherwise
to the garden, it's a single wing-flutter]

Nevertheless, in the present verse there are several points that make it choice even among superb verses. The first point is that to pass beyond the border of the world (that is, to emerge on the far side of the world, to leave the world behind) like the bird of thought is a supremely eloquent idea, because the very characteristic of thought is that is has no restriction of place.

Then, by saying 'the bird of thought', he has made it permissible to say 'wing-fluttering'. To give to 'thought' the simile of a bird, too, is a new idea. It is even more appropriate because characteristics like 'sky-traversing' [aasmaa;N-pemaa], 'sky-strolling' [aasmaa;N-sair], and so on are attributed to thought.

Now let's look further. Thought has been said to pass beyond the border of the world. From this the suggested meaning emerges that it's possible that thought might know the circumstances beyond the world (that is, in the world of death, in the world of spirits). From this the implication emerges that after the world, or before the world, there exists another world (or several worlds).

Then there's the point that the speed of thought cannot be imagined or expressed; but despite this, Mir searched out a metaphor such that the speed of thought can be imagined: just a single flapping of the wings, and you've arrived beyond the world! This metaphor is particularly powerful and evocative also because many birds, before flying up, flap their wings once while still on the ground. Thus one meaning becomes that it's enough just to open the wings-- in only that much, the earth and sky are traversed.

Here, himmat is an abundantly meaningful word. If it is taken to mean 'courage', then in it there are two implications: the first is that he had the courage for such a long and fast-paced journey; the second is that he had no fear of death. But himmat as a Sufistic technical term means 'to have no attachment to the world and the people of the world, to have no expectation or hope of anything from the world'. In other words, it's a name for the rejection of all worldly relationships. Urfi has a famous [Persian] opening-verse:

'For the people of courage, to accept kindness is a sting,
Courage never endures the lancet of 'yes' or 'no'.'

Thus if the claim of himmat is the rejection of relationships and expectations, then its best manifestation is that a person would pass beyond the border of the world. Now the meaningfulness of hii in the first line and bhii in the second line becomes clearer-- that other people too show courage, but it was only/emphatically our courage that we abandoned the world itself. It's a fine verse.

[See also {545,10}; {1741,3}.]



The 'bird of thought' passes beyond the limits of this world without dying, and in fact without even breathing hard-- the passage requires only a single flutter of the wings. So if 'we' ('Mir' himself, or some group of lovers, or humans in general) have the same amount of himmat , one meaning of which is 'power, strength, ability' (see the definition above), then why should the verse chiefly evoke thoughts of death, as SRF assumes?

Why shouldn't Mir boast the way Ghalib does:


since the flight of his courage takes him wherever the 'bird of thought' can go, and with the same speed and ease? Just as Ghalib is at least the equal of the Anqa, and even solicitously worries that his fiery sighs might have burned its wings, 'Mir' too seems in this verse exuberant and proud. The multivalent possibilities of ek also suggest that he may have special powers. To my mind a claim of such grandiosity is a much more piquant reading than simply a report of the journey to death.

The only note of uncertainty is the past tense of the verb. His courage 'was' like this-- but perhaps it is not so any more? On the other hand, very possibly it doesn't need to be so any more, since he has already made the single wing-flutter that successfully took him beyond everything. To whom is he (proudly) reporting his feat? To the denizens of that world beyond? Or has he perhaps returned with equal ease to this world, just as the 'bird of thought' itself does in its freewheeling travels?