dehii ko nah kuchh puuchho ik bhart kaa hai ga;Rvaa
tarkiib se kyaa kahye saa;Nche me;N kii ;Dhaalii hai

1) don't ask anything about the body-- it is a single/particular/unique/excellent mixed-metal water-pot
2) by means of a construction/mixture/device-- what can one say?!-- it has been cast/shaped in a mold



dehii : 'Having a body, embodied, corporeal; of or belonging to the body; —a living creature or being, a man'. (Platts p.561)


bhart : 'A mixed metal composed of copper and lead'. (Platts p.185)


ga;Rvaa : 'A kind of water-pot; a narrow-mouthed vase or vessel with flowers in it (such a vase is carried about by musicians and dancing women at the feast of basant-panćamī as an offering to people of rank, from whom they receive presents)'. (Platts p.906)


tarkiib : 'Putting together, combining, mixing; setting (a stone); composition; compound; mixture; construction, structure, make, mechanism; form, fashion, mode, method, arrangement; means, plan, contrivance'. (Platts p.319)


;Dhaalnaa : 'To pour out ... ; to throw, cast; to cast (metal in fusion), to mould, fashion, form, shape'. (Platts p.570)

S. R. Faruqi:

bhart = a mixed substance
ga;Rvaa = a small pot for drawing water

To call the body something shaped in a mold is a common theme. Mir himself has used it in several more places. In the fourth divan [{1495,3}]:

;Dol bayaa;N kyaa ko))ii kare us va((dah-;xilaaf kii dehii kaa
;Dhaal ke saa;Nche me;N .saani(( ne vuh tarkiib banaa))ii hai

[how could anyone describe the swaying of that vow-breaker's body
having cast it in a mold, the Creator has made that form]

In the sixth divan [{1903,4}]:

itnii su;Dol dehii dekhii nah ham sunii hai
tarkiib us kii goyaa saa;Nche me;N ga))ii hai ;Dhaalii

[such a shapely/curvy body, we have neither seen nor heard of
her form has been, so to speak, cast in a mold]

Then various poets (probably in imitation of Mir) have tried to versify the theme in Mir's style. Mus'hafi:

tarkiib ko dekh us ke ;xvush-usluub badan kii
jaise kih vuh saa;Nche se abhii ;Dhaal diyaa hai

[look at the form of her well-arranged body
as if it had just now been cast in a mold]


dast-e qudrat ne banaayaa hai tujhe ay ma;hbuub
aisaa ;Dhaalaa hu))aa saa;Nche me;N badan hai kis kaa

[the hand of Nature has made you, oh beloved
who else has a body so cast in a mold?]

Ali Ausat Rashk:

;Dhaale hu))e hai;N saa;Nche me;N yih bhii badan kii :tar;h
hargiz sunaar ne tire zevar gha;Re nahii;N

[even/also these have been cast in a mold, like the body
a goldsmith absolutely did not sculpt your jewelry]

In Rashk's verse the theme of jewelry is enjoyable. Atish's verse has nothing but bland verbosity. Now let's consider: a theme that many poets have versified, and that Mir himself has versified at least twice more-- in the present verse, to what a height Mir lifted it!

First of all, look at the word dehii -- it not only is fresh, but also offers a homey, physical pleasure. This word is not suitable for the bodies of ladies, nor for those of young girls. Its correct use is for the bodies of women who are seen in daily life, working and performing tasks, where something of veiledness and something of unveiledness come together to recall Roland Barthes' saying that the pleasure of those parts of the body that are kept hidden is that the body should also be somewhat naked.

The word su;Dol in {1903,4} is fine, but in the present verse by saying bhart kaa ga;Rvaa such a strange and extraordinary simile has been brought together that even a wide-thinking poet who was also a master of homey affairs, like Shakespeare, could hardly have come up with it. The metal bhart (pronounced both bhart and bha-rat ) is made from a mixture of zinc, lead, and copper. Thus its color is a greenish red. Naji probably had it in mind when he composed, and well composed:

vuh saa;Nvlaa vuh sabzaa vuh gandamii vuh goraa
mujh naqd-e dil ko jiitaa ab makr kar kisii ne

[that brown one, that green, that wheatish, that white
someone has now won, through trickery, the coins of my heart]

The word ga;Rvaa [with several slightly different idiomatic pronunciations] is used for a small vessel for drinking or storing water that has the form of a small pot, but its neck is a bit long. Maulvi Zafar ul-Rahman ( farhang-e i.s:tilaa;haat-e peshah-varaa;N , vol. 3) has said that Delhi's ;Do;Ngiyaa , and the ;Daboliyaa , and the ga;Rvaa are the same thing. That is, a small pot with a shapely/curvy, rounded, hollow form. (The picture of it in the farhang shows that it has a handle too, but with us the ga;Rvaa / ga;Rvii may also be handle-less.) In any case, its shape recalls that of [an upside-down version of] the abstract symbol for a woman's body: [[SRF gives the sign upside-down, so that it looks a bit like a pot]]. That is, a girl somewhat curvy, small-statured, slender/shapely of body, with a green-golden complexion, Mir has called a bhart kaa ga;Rvaa .

Such a simile can be brought out only by someone whose vision is remorseless, whose imagination is unchecked, and whose mind and thought are rooted in everyday life. Mus'hafi, when referring to the body, had power over sensory, visual, every kind of image-- but this kind of homey image, and that too such an uncommon one, was miles beyond his reach. Thus in his verse there are excellent words like tarkiib and ;xvush-usluub , but their rareness is expected. A word of unexpected rarity like ga;Rvaa was not in his treasury of words.

The word bhart is also used for a collection of coins of small value, which if taken together would be worth a whole rupee. That is, in this meaning of bhart too there's roundness and resemblance, since all the coins have the common feature that when brought together they would become a whole rupee. Similarly, the body too can be such that possibly no separate part of it would have any particular beauty, but if they'd all be brought together, then a Doomsday-turmoil would arise.

In the second line, the word tarkiib supports this reading. For tarkiib daadan means [in Persian] 'to give a shape to something, to make something' (Steingass). Mir has also used tarkiib very beautifully in


In the second line se can mean 'about', and is a translation of the Persian az , as is the case in Abu Talib Kalim's [Persian] verse that we have already seen noted in {1450,5}. In the present verse the insha'iyah structure of both lines is very fine-- first a negative rhetorical question, and then the reply. That is, the answer to the question is not possible-- yet he's also given a reply. Is it a verse, or is it a miracle of meaning, and poetic power, and versification? However many verses on this theme we've seen above, none of them has this feature-- that the matter of being cast in a mold would have an 'informative' [;xabariyah] structure, and its frame (or introduction) would be insha'iyah.

The word tarkiib Mir has also used very well in the second divan, but there the insha'iyah style of the second line, and the clumsiness of the refrain ( haa))e re ), have overcome the beauty of the tarkiib [{973,7}]:

riijhne hii ke hai qaabil yaar kii tarkiib miir
vaah vaa re chashm-o-abruu qadd-o-qaamat haa))e re

[the form of the beloved is worthy to be only/emphatically enjoyed
bravo, eye and eyebrow! height and stature-- oh my!]

In this verse it's in any case evident that Mir has used tarkiib in the sense of 'composition'.

[See also {885,5}.]



Here's another example of how valuable it is to have commentary from an ustad like SRF. When I initially read the verse, I took dehii to mean just 'body' or 'embodied person', the way Platts indeed presents it. This is a perfectly defensible reading, and yields a meditation on the mysteries of the Creator-- how God arranges for us to have such complex and capable bodies, like a skilful artisan who combines many kinds of metals into an elaborate special-purpose amalgam. The ik becomes particularly significant on this reading, since it offers us various ways to think about our alloyed, 'embodied' status.

But SRF supplies the view that in his own cultural region dehii is used for women's bodies, and in fact chiefly for those of adult women who move and work in the world. His explanation of ga;Rvaa too adds color and specificity to the idea of a long-necked water-pot. Both the sexual specificy of dehii , and the 'homey' [ghareluu] nuances of ga;Rvaa , greatly enrich what might otherwise have looked like a rather pious and pedestrian verse.

Note for grammar fans: The positioning of that kii in the second line looks to me very awkward. I asked SRF about it, and he replied (May 2017):

The kii is here a particle of categorization, where there are many things and you choose one of them. Like this:

mujhe botal me;N kii chaahiye, gha;Re me;N kii nahii;N .

mujhe ghar kii chaahiye , baazaar kii nahii;N .

us kii tarkiib saa;Nche me;N kii ;Dhaalii hai , gha;Rii hu))ii nahii;N .

I hope the matter is clear now.

Well, that helps somewhat in a general way. Certainly the kii , like the verb, must modify the feminine tarkiib . But I'm still not sure that I fully understand the idiomatic usage. Perhaps the idea is that the structure of her body is 'of a kind that' has been cast in a mold.