tujhe kyuu;N-kih ;Dhuu;N;Dhuu;N kih sote hii gu;zrii
tirii raah me;N apne paa-e :talab kii

1) how would I search for you-- for only/emphatically while sleeping, it passed
2) on the road to you, the road of my 'foot of seeking'



S. R. Faruqi:

kyuu;N-kih = in what way

Before considering this verse, please read again:


and especially the quatrain by Sarmad, and concentrate on what nudges Mir gives his reader, and in what ways he takes his reader to stroll through new worlds of theme. In {1469,3} the basic point was that the sought-for itself was the seeker, and was in search of its own seeker. Besides this, it was possible that the seeker had a sense of the effort of searching, but he didn't know what kind of search it was in which success would be possible. In the present verse, the speaker has withdrawn his heart from the very search itself, and has given the excuse that his 'foot of seeking' has gone to sleep-- and if it has always been like that, then how would he be able to search for her?

The question is, why did the 'foot of seeking' go to sleep? In the ordinary world, feet go to sleep when they are kept motionless for long periods, and when they are bent or pressed down, so that they are unable to move. So does the speaker want to say that he has been compelled to keep his 'foot of seeking' motionless and still? But before this question would be discussed, and before we would judge the speaker's (real or imagined) compulsion, we ought also to take into account the fact that from the words of the verse it's clear that the 'foot of seeking' has not been compelled to be motionless and still. Rather, the 'foot of seeking' deliberately chose to go to sleep in the road of searching, and chose numbness.

Thus the speaker's real problem is that his 'foot of seeking' chose to go to sleep. In such a case there's no question of being successful in the search for what is sought after. The Sufis say that to attain union with God one ought certainly to make an effort, but nothing comes of this effort unless/until God would wish it. One gentlemen petitioned Hazrat Imdad Allah Sahib Muhajir Makki, 'Hazrat, there is an employment relationship in one place, but my inner-self wants to leave all employment and devote myself only to God.' The Haji Sahib commanded, 'Maulvi-ji, keep on with your employment. When He wishes, He himself would cause you to leave it.' In this guidance of the Hazrat's there are several points. One of them is that when there is a strong relationship, then other connections spontaneously fall into weakness. Until a 'mood' is overpowering, the relationship is not strong.

Dard has expressed this theme like this: when a wave arises within the heart, then the road of holy places can be traversed. That is, this wave in the heart will not arise by itself; rather, it will come to the heart. The idea is that when God would so desire, he would put a wave into the heart:

qa.sad hai qa:t((a bah-:taur-e mastaa;N
((ar.sah-e dair-o-;haram kiiji))egaa
lahar jab aavegii jii me;N juu;N barq
raah :tay ik do qadam kiiji))egaa

[if your purpose is to be cut off like the intoxicated ones
spend some time in different holy places,
when a wave comes into your inner-self, like lightning
you will traverse the road in one or two footsteps]

The phrase 'like lightning' is a good example of 'meaning-creation', because here the 'lightning' is from two directions-- that is, the 'wave' is like lightning, and the traversing of the road too has the swiftness of lightning.

Now the speaker's saying that 'in your road, my 'foot of seeking' has remained asleep' becomes the bearer of two or three meanings. (1) The speaker's relationship is not strong. (2) The speaker's relationship is strong, but the urging from the Unseen has not as yet come to him. For this reason, he has not yet become zealous to travel toward the sought-after one. But since he is subject to oppression and emptiness, he suspects that his effort is incomplete. He construes this 'mood' as the sleep of the 'foot of seeking'.

(3) The speaker has had no relationship at all, from the beginning; he is passing his lifetime in frivolity and play, or in unawareness, and is blaming his 'foot of seeking' for this-- that it has been asleep from the first. But in this case there's no special need to place the blame on the 'foot of seeking'. Thus it seems that the speaker indeed is in search of relationship, but he's constrained by the failure of the 'foot of seeking'. And the reason for the failure of the 'foot of seeking' is nothing other than human weakness. That is, what is sought for is so far away that to search for it or not to search for it comes to the same thing.

Here it's necessary to observe that the addressee of the verse is the object of search. That is, addressing the object of search, he has solicited that one's help. 'How might/would I search for you?' This is not the voice of some heart that is entirely unaware; rather, it's the voice of a heart that believes the object of search to be a shelter and a refuge, and asks that one alone for help in seeking. In this way, the verse has captured the seeker's dubious, search-wearied, increasingly miserable mood; the unavailability of an open road to the object of search; the seeker's tendency to have doubts about himself; and despite all failures and despairs, the seeker's sense of oneness with the object of search-- in short, so many kinds, and so many oppositions, of meaning have been resolved, that the verse has attained the rank of a lofty ascent [mi((raaj] of 'meaning-creation'.

Qasim Kahi has composed [in Persian] the theme of 'sleeping fortune' with extraordinary power, basing it on an absolutely unique image:

'The attempt to awaken a vile sleeping fortune is in vain,
This is that sleeping road for which the sound of a footstep is a bedtime-story.'

It should be kept in mind that a 'sleeping road' [raah-e ;xvaabiidah] is [in Persian] what we call a 'dead-end street'-- that is, a road that would go nowhere. Qasim Kahi has taken fine advantage of this meaning. But his verse lacks those layers of meaning and those oppositions that make Mir's verse uncommon. Whatever is in Qasim Kahi's verse, is on the surface. While in Mir's case, the verse has been expressed apparently so simply and straightforwardly that if the reader is not very alert, his gaze might not even linger on this verse.

Now look at the wordplay. The phrase sote hii gu;zrii is very fine everyday speech, but its pleasure is also in the 'commonality' [muraa((at ul-na:ziir] of gu;zrii , raah , paa . And gu;zrii also means 'bazaar', where people 'search for' [;Dhuu;N;Dhte] things; thus between these two words is the connection of a zila.

[See also {956,4}.]



For discussion of the Persian-derived structure of the 'foot of seeking', including enjoyable examples, see


Just as Ghalib causes the fancy, literary, Persianized 'foot of stability' to unexpectedly sustain an actual wound, Mir causes the fancy, literary, Persianized 'foot of seeking' to-- even more prosaically, unexpectedly, amusingly-- 'go to sleep'. SRF has elaborated the complex Sufistic ways in which the verse can be read, and his approach is quite plausible. But I would definitely add to the list of the reader's pleasures an element of humor created by the abrupt descent from the high-flown to the all-too-pedestrian (sorry, sorry!) level of language and imagery.

See also the 'foot of passion' in


And there's a similarly clever 'hand of formality' in


Even more drastically, the 'foot of life' appears in {789,1}:

((ishq me;N ay :tabiib haa;N ;Tuk soch
paa-e jaa;N darmiyaa;N hai yaa;N ;Tuk soch

[in passion, oh physician, indeed, take a bit of care
the 'foot of life' is interposed, here-- take a bit of care]

Note for grammar fans: In the first line, we have to take kyuu;N-kih to mean something like kaise . It was something feminine singular that 'passed', and the only remotely plausible candidate is raah -- but then we have to dub in an extra one to provide a subject and make the line work: apne paa-e :talab kii [ raah ] tirii raah me;N sote hii gu;zrii . The grammar is very clunky, and does not make me happy. I asked SRF about this (Apr. 2018) and he replied that a better prose order would be gu;zrii hii sote ki :talab paa))e [ mere ] apne me;N raah tirii kih ;Dhuu;D;Duu;N nah kyuu;N tujhe . This too leaves me somewhat confused. So you too can give it some thought, dear reader. I am now ready to move on.

Note for translation fans: Aren't we lucky that 'for one's foot to go to sleep' works as an English idiom too, with the same meaning? Otherwise, the job of translating the verse would become nightmarish.