asbaab muhaiyaa the sab marne hii ke lekin
ab tak nah muve ham jo andeshah kafan kaa thaa

1) the causes/resources/necessities were all prepared for only/emphatically dying, but
2) until now we have not died, since there was a thought/doubt/concern about a shroud



asbaab : 'Causes, motives, means; resources; —s.m. sing. Implements, tools, instruments, apparatus, materials; goods, chattels, effects, property; furniture; articles, things; commodities, appliances, machinery; stores, provision; funds; necessaries; baggage, luggage; cargo'. (Platts p.47)


muhaiyaa : 'Disposed in order, arranged; got together, got ready, prepared, ready'. (Platts p.1102)


andeshah : 'Thought, consideration, meditation, reflection; solicitude, anxiety, concern ... ; doubt, misgiving, suspicion; apprehension, dread, fear; danger, peril'. (Platts p.91)

S. R. Faruqi:

He has expressed the theme like this also, in the fourth divan [{1349,5}]:

marne nah the ham ((ishq ke raftah be-kafanii se ya((nii miir
der muyassar is ((aalam me;N marne kaa asbaab hu))aa

[we who had been swept away by passion didn't want to die without a shroud,
in this world the equipment for dying was obtained after a delay]

But in that verse 'in this world' is padding [baraa-e bait], and in the present verse from andeshah two two aspects have been created. One is based on the meaning of 'concern'-- that is, we were without any property or possessions, and we thought about a shroud, that if we would die then a shroud ought to be obtained; for this reason, we delayed our dying.

The second aspects is if andeshah is considered to mean 'fear'-- that is, we feared that people would put a shroud on us and would bury us in proper style, etc. We wanted to remain without shroud and grave, so that our haplessness would be revealed to the world; or we wanted to remain without shroud and grave in order to show the world that even after death we are not one to adhere to worldly rules. When people entirely abandoned us, and we no longer had any fear that they would perform the funeral formalities, then we died at ease.

If we take andeshah to mean 'thought', then the meaning emerges that we thought of a shroud-- that is, that we became anxious at the thought of wearing a shroud. The word asbaab is the plural of sabab , but the attention also goes toward 'equipment'; this is an iham, which would also take on the role of an interpretation. In the first line the word asbaab is very meaningful and appropriate. With regard to the first interpretation, the pleasure will be that the 'equipment' for dying was available, but the lack of property and possessions was so extreme that there was no arrangement for a shroud. With regard to the second interpretation, the pleasure is that 'causes' or reasons for dying were available, but we didn't want that 'equipment' (that is, a shroud, etc.), so we didn't wish to die.



SRF has done an excellent explication. The plays on asbaab and (especially) andeshah serve to complicate any possible understanding of the verse. Above all what's piquant is the claim that in the speaker's view everything was ready-- except, it happened, for 'concern', 'fear', 'thought' about a shroud. We can't help but speculate what exactly the problem may have been; but it's also clear that the verse has been so cleverly contrived that we can never do anything more than speculate.

And how can this verse not remind us of Premchand's last and greatest short story, 'The Shroud' [kafan]?