mere ta;G))iir-e ;haal par mat jaa
ittifaaqaat hai;N zamaane ke

1) don't {judge / set store} by my change in condition/state
2) there are happenstances/events of the time/world



ta;Gyiir : 'Altering, making a change (either for the better or the worse); change, alteration; removing, dismissing from office, discharging; discharge, dismissal'. (Steingass pp. 311-12)


ittifaaqaat :  Accidents, occurrences, events'. (Platts p.16)

S. R. Faruqi:

This verse's cool tone and swiftness/brevity are such that thousands of ebullient speeches would sacrifice themselves in admiration. Here too there's the same 'ironic tension' and ambiguity of addressee that confronted us in


In mat jaa there's a strange darvesh-like carelessness, and along with it a kind of suppressed urgency-- that is, there's an immediacy or haste. That is, the speaker is saying (probably) to the beloved: (1) You should not misunderstand the change in my condition; I am the just the same as I was before. (2) Or, don't regret/pity my change of condition. (3) Or, my change of condition is nothing important. (4) Or, don't consider my change of condition to be any problem for you.

Then, in the second line there's an attitude of carelessness-- that this is the kind of thing that happens. It's the ups and downs of the time; do you, or does anybody, control it? Don't be embarrassed at this change of condition, don't blame yourself for it.

Having gotten this far, it's necessary to pause for a moment. In the second line, is it a matter of declaring that the beloved is not responsible for her pursuit of the heart, and his own change of condition? Or is there sarcasm beneath its surface-- that apparently he's declared the happenstances of the age to be guilty, but the speaker (lover) and the addressee (beloved) both know that this change of condition would not have taken place if (1) the beloved had not behaved cruelly; or if (2) she had not been negligent; or if (3) she had not left the lover and gone off somewhere. (The third possibility is because it's clear that the speaker and the beloved have met after many days, and for this reason the beloved feels surprise or perplexity at his change of condition.) This possibility that the verse (and especially the second line) can also be sarcastic, creates tension in the verse.

In the second line, there's one more possibility. The phrase 'happenstances' of the age can also be for the whole condition/situation (past and present). That is, the speaker is really saying that his meeting her, his becoming her lover, her crooked behavior, his separation from her, his change of condition, their now meeting again, and everything that has happened to her and to him up to the present, is all ittifaaqaat zamaane ke . That is, the whole affair of passion and lover-ship too is only a happenstance. In human life there's no plan or arrangement; it all just somehow keeps on happening.

Obviously this interpretation is one that agitates/distresses the heart, but its power to agitate would be much less if the verse's tone were not so cool and so apparently neutral. For example, Dard has composed this theme, in his own style:

mere a;hvaal par nah ha;Ns itnaa
yuu;N bhii ay mihrbaan pa;Rtii hai

[at my condition, don't laugh so much
things like this, oh kindly one, befall people]

Undoubtedly Dard's verse is in its own way a masterpiece. Especially, in the second line the word mihrbaan is such a crest-jewel that however much Dard prided himself upon it, it was too little. But in his verse, the attitudes of both the speaker (the lover) and the addressee (the beloved) have no complexity. (Or rather, the complexity in the speaker's tone has been reduced by his moralistic tone.)

Momin has given the theme an entirely new style/aspect. In his verse there's no complexity of meaning or tone, no ironic tension. Only the rareness of the theme has bestowed on his verse (although in comparison to both Mir's and Dard's it is very limited) a lofty rank:

mere ta;G))iir-e rang ko mat dekh
tujh ko apnii na:zar nah ho jaa))e

[don't look at the alteration of my color/style--
may you not be affected by your own 'evil eye'!]

In Momin's verse , there's in any case an elaborate, artificial, 'cutesy' style. Nasikh, in whose tempermant there was a Mir-like capability, has framed the idea in yet another way:

nah mai;N huu;N mu;xaa:tib nah tuu hai mu;xaa:tib
vuhii mai;N vuhii tuu nah mai;N huu;N nah tuu hai

[neither do I converse, nor do you converse
that very I, that very you-- neither am I, nor are you]

Nasikh's verse is on a high level of loftiness of theme and 'meaning-creation'. And the way Dard, Nasikh, and Momin have taken the theme from Mir and presented the same single theme with such varied adornments and changes-- it's a superb example of the act of 'theme-creation'.

Now let's look at a dull and pleasureless example. Firaq Gorakhpuri Sahib says,

ab nah tum vuh rahe nah ham vuh rahe
ittifaaqaat hai;N zamaane ke

[now neither did you remain that, nor did we remain that
these are happenstances of the time/world]

The way Firaq Sahib has brought together Nasikh's and Mir's second lines-- concerning it, bhaan-matii ne kunbah jo;Raa kii phabtii [= a jest about bringing together a heap of disparate things] proves true. For Mir's second line, his first line was necessary, because without it the possibilities of the second line and its sarcastic dimensions could not unfold. Nasikh's second line too, without its first line, is only an interesting riddling expression-- but still it's interesting. Firaq Sahib didn't reflect that most of its pleasure is in nah mai;N huu;N nah tuu hai , and that the life of the whole second line is in the first line-- that both are seated face to face, but there's not even any conversation between them. Firaq Sahib's verse lacks this dramatic situation that has made Nasikh's verse so memorable. Poor Firaq Sahib set out to write a 'reply' to Mir and Nasikh, but didn't manage to do anything more than to steal [sarqah karnaa] a line from one of them, and plagiarize [mas;x karnaa] a line from the other.

As a final point, consider a [Persian] verse by Nisbati Thanesari. It's probable that Nasikh, Mir, and Dard were all acquainted with this verse:

'Her beauty so increased, and grief over her so melted me,
That neither did I recognize her, nor did she recognize me.'

In Nisbati's verse there's seemingly a bit of frivolity. But in fact it's the melancholy of a whole life. If the beloved didn't recognize the lover, this is no cause for melancholy. But the lover too failed to recognize the beloved. Even if the reason would be an increase of beauty, this is a change in the lover's mental condition. And such a change calls into question the sincerity of the whole experience of passion. Nasikh's verse has the same logic.



SRF has done a really superb job on this verse. The verses that he adduces for comparison are a fascinating lot, even by his high standards.

Note for meter fans: In the first line, note that ta;G))iir has to be scanned ta;G-))ii-r, long-long-short. Steingass gives the form ta;Gyiir , with of course the same scansion.

Note for translation fans: The idiomatic expression us par mat jaa doesn't seem to be in dictionaries. But it feels very intuitive somehow: 'Don't count on that', 'Don't judge by that', with overtones not of pleading but of warning: at the very least you'll be acting on wrong information, and possibly other undesirable results will occur.

Note for fans of obscure idioms: Since I found bhaan-matii ne kunbah jo;Raa kii phabtii entirely opaque, I asked SRF what it meant. He replied (May 2017):

It's an old proverb which now means, ‘putting things together which don’t really go together: an assortment of unsuitable or ill-matched  things'. The Urdu original begins with: kahii;N kii ii;N;T kahii;N kaa ro;Raa [a brick from somewhere, a stone-fragment from somewhere]. That is to stay, collecting bricks from some source, and rocks from another place, Bhan(u)mati (=juggler woman) has created connections to put together a family. The literal meaning was used when somebody claimed some connection with a family but had no real  connection. Now it means just an assortment of ill-matched things.