us vaqt se kiyaa hai mujhe to chiraa;G-e vaqf
ma;xluuq jab jahaa;N me;N nasiim-o-.sabaa nah thii

1) they (?) have made me a 'consecrated lamp'-- ever since that time
2) when in the world the zephyr and spring breeze had not been created



vaqf : 'Standing, stopping, staying, halting, waiting; pausing (over); being intent (upon), endeavouring fully to understand; —bequeathing for pious purposes; tranquillity; firmness; constancy; permanency'. (Platts p.1197)


nasiim : 'A gentle breeze, zephyr, fragrant air, spicy gale'. (Platts p.1139)


.sabaa : ''The east wind, or an easterly wind'; a gentle and pleasant breeze; the morning breeze; the zephyr'. (Platts p.742)

S. R. Faruqi:

Mir has used chiraa;G-e vaqf at least three times. One is in the present verse, and then there are these two verses. From the masnavi josh-e ((ishq :

jalnaa us se kare nah kinaarah
jaise chiraa;G-e vaqf bichaaraa

[burning would/might not avoid that one
as with the helpless 'consecrated lamp']

From the second divan [{781,6}]:

dekhne-vaale tire dekhe hai;N sab ay rashk-e sham((a
juu;N chiraa;G-e vaqf dil sab kaa jalaa kartaa thaa raat

[your viewers have all seen, oh envy of the candle
like a 'consecrated lamp' everyone's heart always burned, last night]

Although it has been used with such abundance by Mir, I have not found chiraa;G-e vaqf in any dictionary. [A discussion of the various dictionaries and their problems.] In any case, Farid Ahmad Barkati [in his dictionary] has made a guess, and almost a correct one. He says that chiraa;G-e vaqf is a lamp lit for the common welfare, a lamp lit in the name of God, that would have no owner.... But the most important point is that the verse from the masnavi josh-e ((ishq clearly shows that the condition for a chiraa;G-e vaqf was that it would not be allowed to go out. That is, some person would be appointed to keep watch over the lamp, and not let it go out. Thus the task of a chiraa;G-e vaqf was to keep burning continually.

Khalil ur-Rahman Dihlavi told me that in the old rural areas around Delhi, and in some other areas as well, that in the place or building (for example, a chaupaal ), that was set aside [vaqf honaa] for the whole village, at the main doorway or the outer door a lamp used always to be kept burning, and at the main doorway or chamber a big lamp used to be lit as well. This lamp, and the image of this lamp, were called chiraa;G-e vaqf . In the light of this meaning too, in Mir's verse the same idea emerges: that a chiraa;G-e vaqf always remained lit.

On the theme of the lamp, Mir has composed a number of superb verses. For example, see


where the lamp of the grave burns alone; and


where there's a reference to the wound of the wretched heart as lighting up the ruins. Nevertheless, in the present verse there's a melancholy dignity and a cosmic breadth. In Iqbal too this style is commonly found-- that he speaks on a cosmic or heavenly scale. It's possible that in this there might be more or less of an influence from Mir, because Mir was the king of every kind of thought/imagining.

In Mir's poetry too there are verses in which he speaks on a cosmic or heavenly scale. For example, consider verses like these:

{115,1}, {103,7}, {100,7}, {1112,3}, {283,5}.

Or again, look at these verses. From the third divan


From the fourth divan [{1395,6}]:

abr-e karam ne sa((ii bahut kii pah kyaa ;hu.suul
hotii nahii;N hamaarii zaraa((at harii hanuuz

[the cloud of bounty made a great effort, but-- what result?
our territory just doesn't turn green, now/still]

In the present verse, it is in the speaker's fate on the highway of life to remain continually burning, like a 'consecrated lamp'. Through kiyaa hai chiraa;G-e vaqf the subject has not been made clear-- the suggestion is of some cosmic power, as though there is some position/post that the agents of fate and destiny, or their own ruler, has made: 'Keep the speaker solitary like some chiraa;G-e vaqf , and keep him burning constantly on the highway!'

And this was from the time when there wasn't even any wind in the world, everywhere was desolation and wilderness. If the zephyr and the spring breeze had been there, then they would have tried to blow out the lamp. Then someone or other would have tried to keep it lit, or to protect it. Then there's the fact that where the wind circulates, lighting the chiraa;G-e vaqf and keeping it lit will also have the meaning that all the other lamps of the highway will be blown out by the wind, but the chiraa;G-e vaqf will be kept burning. Thus to keep a chiraa;G-e vaqf lit in a windy place is a useful thing.

But where there wouldn't even be any wind, there would also be no need for a chiraa;G-e vaqf . Despite this, the meaning of the speaker's being established and maintained as a chiraa;G-e vaqf is that the goal is simply to burn him and to bring him trouble. There's also the point that when there was no zephyr or spring breeze in the world, there wouldn't have been any of humankind, either. In such a situation too, to establish and maintain the speaker as a chiraa;G-e vaqf is only to burn him and to bring him trouble. Not to exact any work from him, but rather to give him sorrow willy-nilly, seems to have been the purpose of his creation.

Despite this melancholy lack of result, the tone of the verse is not one of complaint or self-pity; rather, it's a tone of firmness and dignity, a style of willing acceptance, and in a way a style of voluntary participation in this cosmic position/post, because of which the speaker has been compelled to be wasted/lost in this way. In Ghalib's poetry too, there's often a majestic sense of waste/loss, but in his tone there's a non-individualism that engages our attention on an intellectual level, but not on a personal level. Mir's present verse compels our attention and our engagement and our acceptance on an individual level. In this context, see:




[See also {1746,9}.]



SRF clearly says that if there's no wind, then there's no need for a chiraa;G-e vaqf , but I don't see why that follows. He cites Khalil ur-Rahman Dihlavi's report that the chiraa;G-e vaqf used to be kept lit all the time, without regard to weather conditions. Its special significance as a 'consecrated lamp' was thus apparently to be a visible symbol of steadfastness, village loyalty, human solidarity, etc., rather than to be an emergency light kept burning when the wind was blowing.

Mir mentions the two sweetest, mildest, mellowest breezes. If he had wanted to emphasize the lamp's suffering under terrible working conditions, he could quite easily have invoked the aa;Ndhii or the :tuufaan . He perhaps means for us to imagine that the creation of the winds began slowly and gently, with charming but ominous little breezes-- which then gradually increased until real windstorms appeared.

Or perhaps-- this is my own best guess-- what the verse is doing is extravagantly marking the passage of time. Wind and oil lamps are predestined enemies, locked in eternal combat. (Especially since this particular oil lamp is forbidden, by definition, to yield to the wind.) The speaker claims to have held his onerous (but honorific?) position since before the whole cosmic lamp-versus-wind wrestling match even began.

Since even most dictionaries don't have chiraa;G-e vaqf , it certainly should count as a 'fresh word'.

Compare Ghalib's similar claim-- that he has had his own position/post of liver-burning since a time even before the salamander was assigned to dwell in fire: