.sannaa(( hai;N sab ;xvaar az-aa;N-jumlah huu;N mai;N bhii
hai ((aib ba;Raa us me;N jise kuchh hunar aave

1) skilled craftsmen/artisans are all wretched/vile; even/also I am of that number
2) there is a great flaw in that one to whom some craft/skill would come



.sannaa(( : 'Very skilful, expert, dexterous; industrious; —an expert manufacturer, a skilful workman'. (Platts p.746)


;xvaar : 'Poor, distressed; deserted, abandoned, friendless, wretched, ruined; abject, vile, base, contemptible'. (Platts p.494)


az-aa;N-jumlah : 'Of that number; out of the whole'. (Platts p.45)


hunar : 'Excellence in any art; art, skill; attainment; accomplishment; ingenuity; cleverness; knowledge, science'. (Platts p.1237)

S. R. Faruqi:

In connection with .sannaa(( and hunar see


where I used the present verse to explain that words like .sannaa(( and hunar do not mean that the poet/speaker himself considers himself to be a proletarian (as Dr. Muhammad Hasan believes). In fact these words were used for those with excellent creative and artistic skills. Nizami Aruzi long ago declared poetry to be craftsmanship [.sanaa((at]. And words like .sannaa(( and .saan((a are used as qualities of God.

In the first divan itself, Mir has used the word .sannaa(( in the sense of 'extremely skilful craftsman'); the word hunar too appears with it, so that both words are illumined [{553,2}]:

mai;N ne us qa:t((ah-e .sannaa(( se sar khe;Nchaa hai
kih har ik kuuche me;N jis ke the hunar-var kitne

[I have given up on that area/style of the Skilful Craftsman
of whom how many excellent skills are in every single street!]

Also in the first divan, Mir has versified those same two words ( .sannaa(( and hunar ) in an extremely fresh theme [{492,9}]:

.sannaa((-e :turfah hai;N ham ((aalam me;N re;xte ke
jo miir jii lagegaa to sab hunar kare;Nge

[we are a skilful craftsman in the world of Rekhtah
if Mir-ji undertakes something, then he will use every craft/art]

By now it is entirely clear that words like .sannaa(( and hunar were used to convey creative power and inventiveness and freshness, and were not connected to lifeless and mechanical work. And their relationship was with the creative consciousness and actions of craftsmen.

For a more extensive look at the meaning of hunar , consider the following [Persian] verses. From Hafiz:

'I practice passion, and I hope that this noble art
Would not, like other crafts [hunar], become a cause for despair.'

And again, Hafiz:

'The boat of the masters of crafts [hunar], the sky causes to sink,
It is better that we not trust in this swaying/wavering ocean.'

[Further refutation of Dr. Muhammad Hasan's views.]

Now let's consider the theme of the verse. The sky (the age / the world) does not respect the people of knowledge and skill-- this is an old theme, as we have seen in Hafiz's verse. In Mir's present verse, two points are worthy of note. One is that the speaker is calling himself 'wretched/vile' too-- that is, he's not teaching any moral lesson, but rather giving an opinion about a situation with which he's directly acquainted.

The second point is that a paradox has entered very beautifully into the second line. Neither of Hafiz's verses has a paradox. And those Urdu poets who have used this theme have not managed to attain a naturalness and trimness like Mir's. Qa'im Chandpuri:

kasb-e hunar kar nah kih is vaqt me;N
us se ba;Rii aur ;himaaqat nahii;N

[don't practice/acquire a craft, for in this time
there is no greater stupidity than that]

Amir Mina'i:

((aalam me;N rivaaj ab yih hu))aa be-hunarii kaa
ham ((aib ke maanind chhupaate hai;N hunar aaj

[in the world the custom has now become one of lack of craftsmanship
we, today, hide our craftsmanship like a flaw]

Indeed, Amir Mina'i has given the theme a new aspect-- that now in the world lack of craftsmanship alone is 'craftsmanship', and he keeps his own craftsmanship hidden like a flaw. Mir's and Amir's verses are both very 'tumult-arousing', but there's also the fact that Amir Mina'i's theme is illumined by a ray from Mus'hafi (though indeed Mus'hafi's first line is not very flowing). Mus'hafi:

in dino;N baskih zamaane me;N nahii;N qadr-e hunar
ham samajhte hai;N hunar tark-e hunar karne ko

[these days, to such an extent in the age there is no respect for craftsmanship
we consider it 'craftsmanship' to renounce craftsmanship]

Mir himself has, right in the first divan, composed this theme for a second time, very flowingly [{539,1}]:

;Dhuu;N;Dhaa nah paa))iye jo is vaqt me;N so zar hai
phir chaah jis kii mu:tlaq hai hii nahii;N hunar hai

[if you seek it, you will not find it-- what in this time is gold
then, that for which there is absolutely no desire, is craftmanship]

In our own time, Zafar Iqbal has turned the theme a bit and composed a very fine verse:

le ke jaa))e;Nge jahaa;N tak mujhe yih ((aib kabhii
;Gair-mumkin hai vahaa;N meraa hunar le jaa))e

[where this flaw will carry me off too sometime--
it's impossible that my craftsmanship would carry me there]

With a changed image, Saidi Tehrani too has [in Persian] well versified Mir's theme:

'In our time, since generosity/nobility has no value,
If the raindrop of [the month] Naisan would become a pearl, then this is its lack of wisdom.'

One idea emerges from another. Saidi's verse has reminded me that in the same 'ground' and meter and with the same rhyme-word, this [Persian] verse of Mirza Razi Danish greatly pleased Shah Jahan:

'Make the grape-vine flourish, oh springtime cloud of [the month] Naisan,
The drop that can become wine-- why would it become a pearl?'

Undoubtedly Danish's verse shows a high level of 'theme-creation' and naturalness. It's possible that one of them might have been written as a 'reply' to the other, because they both use the 'raindrop of Naisan', and Saidi's verse too is of a high rank. Here. Danish's verse has more naturalness, and Saidi's basic theme is old.



It's so helpful, and so enjoyable, to consider the collection of related verses that SRF provides-- especially since the theme itself is such a piquant and wry one. This may be my favorite among all his excellent collections of thematically linked verses.