ham ((aajizo;N kaa khonaa mushkil nahii;N hai aisaa
kuchh chuu;N;Tiyo;N ko le kar paa))o;N tale mal ;Daalaa

1) the destroying/destruction of us weak/helpless ones is not difficult-- it is such as
2) having taken some ants, [someone] trampled them under foot



((aajiz : 'Lacking strength or power, or ability, powerless, impotent, unable (to do), unequal (to); weak, feeble, helpless; brought low, overcome; lowly, humble; exhausted; dejected; in despair, hopeless; baffled, frustrated'. (Platts p.756)


malnaa : 'To grind; to tread on, trample on; to tread out (corn); ...: — mal-;Daalnaa , v.t. intens. of malnaa '. (Platts p.1066)

S. R. Faruqi:

The uncommon beauty of this verse is in the act of deliberately trampling ants under foot. Ants are after all constantly coming under foot and getting trampled, but except for small children (who can't distinguish between good and evil) nobody deliberately tramples ants under foot and kills them. The person who does that will be a limit case of cruelty, or rather a kind of unfeeling butcher beyond all hope of reform. The slaughter that most perturbs the heart is that done without any object. Thus to give for the slaughter of helpless and oppressed lovers the simile of trampling on ants not only makes clear that it's very easy to slaughter lovers, but also suggests that this slaughter will be the extremity of butchery.

Then, there's the fact that the helpless ants wish evil to no one, they do evil to no one-- how utterly cruel and pointless it is to slaughter such harmless creatures! In the same way, the lover wants only the good of the beloved, he does no harm to her-- and then, he's vulnerable to the beloved too, the way tiny little ants are vulnerable to human beings. If people wish, they can block their path, submerge them in water, burn them in fire.

In the first line the word 'us', and in the second line 'some', are suggesting that in a personal way, the status of a single lover is not greater than that of a single ant. And then, reflect that in the verse there's no direct mention of lovers; rather, ((aajizo;N has been said. In this way the verse can also be about the Lord and his creatures. Before the Lord, creatures are as weak and insignificant as ants are before humans.

An additional pleasure is that he calls human beings ((aajiz -- that is, 'acting weakly' and 'possessing weakness'. The idiomatic meaning of ((aajiz in Urdu is 'oppressed'. On the use of bashr and ((aajiz see


The word chuu;N;Tii is now current only in eastern Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. In other places they say chyuu;N;Tii or chii;N;Tii (both scanned long-long). Although indeed, these days the people of Delhi say chiinuu;Tii (scanned long-short-long). Shan ul-Haq Haqqi has not given, in his dictionary, any pronunciation information beyond the scansion.



The first line offers a nice grammatical ambiguity. Since khonaa is a verb that can be either transitive (to lose, destroy) or intransitive (to be lost, to be destroyed) with no change in form, the khonaa could be taken either as 'the destroying of us weak ones as actively done by some agent' or as 'the destruction of us weak ones (with no agent implied)'. The multivalence is increased by the fact that there's not only no mention of lovers in the verse, as SRF has observed-- there's also no mention of the beloved, or of the hand of God, or of any other particular destructive agent. The weak ones seem to be alone in the world, even as they're being (metaphorically or similitudinously) trampled under foot.

And yet, they can't be entirely alone, because the verse offers one more level of deliberateness and cruelty. The image isn't just of someone going along, noticing some helpless ants who are going about their tiny business, and then wantonly trampling on them. For the verse particularly specifies that one would 'take' or 'take up' some ants and then trample them under foot. I imagine someone grabbing up or somehow capturing a handful of ants, lifting them up perhaps for scrutiny, then replacing them carefully on the ground in order to trample them. This extra turn of the screw might remind us of the way the beloved would first 'take up' her lovers by showing them some marks of favor and acceptance, before deliberately crushing their small helpless lives. That final mal ;Daalaa sounds so brutal and cruel, like the stamp of a jackboot.

I can't resist bringing in Ghalib's one 'ant' verse for comparison:


And indeed, can't the two 'ant' verses be juxtaposed, as SRF proposes for {731,4}, to illustrate some of the characteristic techniques of each of the poets?