yih daur to muvaafiq hotaa nahii;N magar ab
rakhye binaa-e taazah is char;x-e chanbarii kaa

1) this era/'circling' is [habitually] not favorable-- but/perhaps now
2) there should be emplaced, a fresh foundation for/'of' this round sphere/wheel



daur : 'Going round, moving in a circle, revolving; revolution (of a body, or of time); circular motion; the going round, or circulating (of wine); the cup handed round; the coming round in turn (of days or times); vicissitude; ... —circumference, perimeter; circular enclosure; border (of a garment, &c.); circle, circuit; orbit; circuit of rule, compass, jurisdiction, power, authority, dominion, sway; —a period of years, time, age, cycle; a turn, tour, round, course, progress'. (Platts pp. 532-33)


muvaafiq : 'Conformable, consonant, congruous, agreeing, according, concordant, suiting, suitable; apt, expedient; like, similar, analogous; prosperous, favourable, propitious'. (Platts p.1085)


binaa : 'Building, structure, edifice; foundation, basis, base; ground, footing, motive; root, source, origin; beginning, commencement'. (Platts p.168)


char;x : 'A wheel (as of a water-mill, or of a well, &c.); a potter's wheel; a lathe; the celestial globe or orb, the sphere of the heavens, the heavens, the sky'. (Platts p.429)


chanbarii : 'Round, circular'. (Platts p.443)

S. R. Faruqi:

The word chanbarii means 'having a circular shape'. But it also means 'going round, dancing' ([in the dictionary] aanand raaj ). The sky is called a char;x because it goes around. Thus among char;x , chanbarii , daur there's an extremely enjoyable affinity. An additional pleasure of meaning is the question of how a thing that is going around would be able to have a foundation made for it. Thus in the second line, along with the intention there's also sarcasm. And it's clear that even if a foundation for the round sphere were made a second time, there's no proof that the circling of the sky would be favorable to the speaker. This is an additional aspect of sarcasm.

A theme similar to this one, Mir has versified in the second divan, but without these dimensions of meaning [{730,4}]:

shaayad kih qalb-e yaar bhii ;Tuk is :taraf phire
mai;N munta:zir zamaane ke huu;N inqilaab kaa

[perhaps even the beloved's heart might turn a bit this way
I am waiting for a revolving/revolution of the age/era]

Indeed, the word qalb is fine, because it also means 'to turn over, to turn back'; it is a fine example of 'affinity'.

The opening-verse of a famous [Persian] ode by Anvari is,

'Oh Muslims, there is sighing at the revolving of the round sphere
and the enmity of Mercury, and the trickery of the Moon, and the deceitfulness of Jupiter.'

It's possible that Mir might have gotten the idea of using the word daur with char;x-e chanberii , from seeing this verse of Anvari's. But in Anvari's verse the theme is entirely commonplace; the astrological terms have endowed it with power. In Mir's verse there's a dignity and resolve, and in its depths a feeling of helplessness as well. In Mir's verse the theme and the style are both powerful. In Anvari's verse only the style is powerful.

It's also possible that Ghalib's famous Persian opening-verse might have been influenced by Mir's verse. Though indeed, in the second line Ghalib greatly broadened the theme:

'Come, let's overturn the rule of the sky,
Through the going-around of a heavy/full glass, let's overturn fate/death.'

Ghalib's verse doesn't have the 'flowingness' of Anvari's, but its lofty harmony is fine.

[A discussion of literary-critical methodology:] Sardar Ja'fri has written about the present verse that in it

'the vision of revolution has not been used in the modern-day sense, for political and social change. The meaning of this is only the ending of an age of oppression and confusion. This style and inclination in fact informs us of the dualism of lover and beloved, and makes clear the clash of individual and society, of man and the era.'

The idea is extremely fine, but to limit the verse's meaning to 'only the ending of an age of oppression and confusion' is not appropriate. The difficulty of the Progressive view of poetry is that it prefers the presence of only one meaning in the text. Toward the text, the proper approach is to keep the door open to multiplicity of meaning. If in some text political/social meanings can emerge, then why wouldn't/shouldn't they be brought out? Sardar Ja'fri is correct to say that in the present verse there's a sense of the dualism of lover and beloved, and of the clash of individual/society, man/era. But in it there's also a mention of the possibility of social/political change, or the demand/claim for it-- just as there is in the verse of Momin's that has appeared in the discussion of {453,3}:

ay ;hashr jald kar tah-o-baalaa jahaan ko
yuu;N kuchh nah ho umiid to hai inqilaab me;N

[oh Resurrection Day, quickly overturn the world!
if hope would not be like this, then it is in revolution]

If some text can be the bearer of political/social meaning (or meaningfulness), then it is the duty of poetic understanding to express this quality and make clear its political/social meaningfulness. The difficulty occurs when a critic would insist that in some text there are no other meanings at all, or that there are only political/social meanings. Or again, when he would do violence to the text to make political/social meanings emerge.

A somewhat subtle example of this violence is in the thought of Pierre Macherey, where he presents a vision of absences, and says that the meaningfulness of some texts is in those things that they do not mention. The meaning of this absence is that the text-maker had a deep feeling for those things; he adopted a silence toward them and thus made clear to us their importance. Macherey says that in order to explicate the things that are said in the text, we ought to await 'the critical explicit'; and this 'critical explicit' can be outside the text. In his famous book 'A Theory of Literary Production', Macherey says,

'The recognition of the area of shadow in and around the work is the initial moment of criticism. But we must examine the nature of this shadow: does it denote a true absence, or is it the extension of a half-presence? .... It might be said that the aim of criticism is to speak the truth, a truth not unrelated to the book, but not as the content of its expression.'

The meaning of this is that those things that are not present in the text at all-- that is, are not the 'content' of its 'expression'-- can also be declared to be a part of the text, and discussed as such. According to Macherey, 'No book is sufficient unto itself. With it there is necessarily a non-presence, without which the presence of the book is impossible.' For example, according to Macherey, Jules Verne wants to say in his novels that science and technology have put the middle classes on the royal road of progress. But since in his ideology there are certain internal contradictions, between his 'figuration' and his 'representation' there are intervals of silence, and those are the life of his novels.

I have mentioned Macherey because Gopi Chand Narang, writing about Faiz, has relied on Macherey's ideas when speaking about the artlessness and simplicity of Progressive criticism. Although Macherey himself is prey to a certain kind of artlessness and Marxist self-deception, such that he declares the text to be dependent upon an inescapable historical consciousness; and as for the things that are not in it, he establishes their non-appearance as the proof of their presence. If this were not innocence, then it would be established as dishonesty. A second point is that Macherey's vision of non-appearance is also not new. Scholars of hadith had long ago expressed to Imam Bukhari this kind of considerations and explications for the non-presence of some matters.

One example of doing violence to the text in order to bring forth non-present meanings is that of Pierre Macherey, in whose writing there are in any case some mental gyrations and subtleties. A second example is that of Sardar Ja'fri, when he says that in many verses Mir has 'directly poured out social conditions and political problems'. It never occurred to Sardar Ja'fri that these themes would weigh heavily on the sensitive temperament of the ghazal. After this, he notes the following verse of Mir's, from the second divan [{862,10}]:

nah mil miir ab ke amiiro;N se tuu
hu))e hai;N faqiir un kii daulat se ham

[Mir, don't meet with today's aristocrats
we have become a faqir because of them]

Sardar Ja'fri's idea was probably that daulat here meant 'wealth', so that for this reason in the verse there was direct mention of 'social conditions and political problems'. The reality is that this verse is about beloved-like aristocrats, and here daulat se has the meaning of badaulat -- that is, 'on account of', not 'because of wealth'; we became a faqir in our passion for them.

This same idea Mir has composed in more detail in the first divan [{570,6}]:

amiir-zaado;N se dillii ke mil nah taa maqduur
kih ham faqiir hu))e hai;N u;Nhii;N kii daulat se

[to the extent we are able, we don't meet with the aristocrats of Delhi,
for we have become a faqir on account of them]

One time Vahid Akhtar recited to me {570,6} as a proof of Mir's 'social and political consciousness'. Although here too daulat means not 'wealth' but rather badaulat . If the question would be raised about {570,6} of what proof there is that the aristocrats have beloved-like qualities, then in {1723,6} we have already seen this verse by Abru:

miirzaa))ii se hu))e naa-mard dillii ke amiir
naaz ke maare phirii jaatii hai mizhgaa;N kii sipaah

[from Mirza-ness, Delhi's aristocrats have become unmanned
through coquetry, an army of eyelashes turns back]

If the question would arise of what proof there is that daulat should be read as 'on account of', and what forbids us to read daulat as 'wealth', then the reply is that if we read daulat as 'wealth', then instead of daulat se there should have been daulat kii vajah se . For ham un kii daulat se faqiir hu))e hai;N absolutely cannot mean that we became a faqir from, or due to, or because of, their wealth.

A second reply is that daulat meaning 'reason, cause' was common in Mir's time. We have already seen, in {452,2}, a verse of Shah Hatim's. And Jur'at says:

kyaa kahuu;N jo kih milaa ham ko junuu;N kii daulat
tan ko ((uryaanii milii paa))o;N ke ta))ii;N ;xaar mile

[what can I say-- what we obtained because of madness
the body obtained nakedness, the feet obtained thorns]

Mir Soz has, in a verse-set, praised his friends-- that they were all of harmonious/'measured' temperament, so from sitting in their company he became a poet:

varnah mai;N aur shaa((irii taubah
yih bhii sab .saa;hibo;N kii hai daulat

[otherwise, I-- and poetry?! God forbid!
all this too is because of the Sahibs]

Thus it is entirely clear that in Mir's verses daulat se means 'because of'. If additional proof would be desired, then look at Mir's verse below; in it the words daulat se do not appear; thus the theme has become even clearer. From the second divan [{523,9}]:

mat mil ahl-e dival ke la;Rko;N se
miir-jii un se mil faqiir hu))e

[don't meet with the sons/boys of people of wealth
Mir-ji, having met with them, became a faqir]

In truth all these verses are from the realm of shahr-ashob. See:


At the very most one can say that against the wealthiness of the aristocrats, the meaning of a 'reproach' can also be given, but this interpretation is very weak.

In the context of criticism, the fundamental thing is that the critic should read the text in the light only of textual principles and rules, not in the light of his own assumptions. And the principles and rules that he would search out, should be able to be entirely proved from the text. The question in any case remains, of the extent to which any critic can put aside his own conscious or unconscious prejudices and relationships. But the attempt should in any case be made. He ought not to first establish an opinion about the literature/text, and then seek for that in the literature/text (that is, read the literature/text in such a way as to seek confirmation in it for the opinion that he had previously formed).



I've taken the liberty of rearranging SRF's commentary so as to put his specific comments on the verse at the beginning rather than the end. This verse inspires him to extensive general reflections on Sardar Ja'fri and Pierre Macherey and the critical approaches that they represent; this discussion will of course interest some readers more than others.

The two meanings of magar -- 'but' and 'perhaps'-- offer two enjoyably different relationships between the two lines. But the real work, the heavy lifting, is done by daur (see the definition above). Depending on whether it is taken to mean 'revolving', 'the passing around of a wineglass', 'vicissitude', 'circular enclosure', 'jurisdiction', 'dominion', 'age', etc., the whole sense of the verse shifts. And really, many of those meanings cycle through the reader's mind. The most common meaning is that of 'age, era'-- but that meaning itself derives from the idea of the wheel of time and fortune as it rolls along, turning, 'revolving', creating one 'revolution' after another as it goes round. (In English, I can't help but think of a 'go-round'.)

The problem described in the first line is a major one; and then the second line suggests, somewhat hesitantly (especially if we read magar as 'perhaps'), only a very uncertain-sounding fix for it. As SRF notes, it's difficult to see how there could be made any solid (much less 'fresh') foundation for a sphere (of the heavens) or wheel (of time and fortune) that's constantly revolving. And even if there could be, would it necessarily be any more 'favorable' to the speaker than the present rotation?

Note for grammar fans: Here rakhiye (which is scanned here as rakh-ye ) isn't really being used in its official sense as a second-person polite imperative. Instead it's a kind of general proposal, a wish that something would be done or would happen.