((aalam me;N jaa;N ke mujh ko tanazzuh thaa ab to mai;N
aaluudagii-e jism se maa;Tii me;N a;T gayaa

1) in the world of spirits, I had purity/chastity; now, well, I
2) through the defilement/dirtiness of the body, have mingled in the dust



tanazzuh : 'Being pure, keeping oneself free from vice or stain; studying continence; being modest or chaste'. (Platts p.339)


aaluudagii : 'Contamination, defilement, pollutedness; pollution, stain; foulness, impurity'. (Platts p.78)


maa;Tii : 'Earth, mould, soil; clay; dust, &c.' (Platts p.978)


a;Tnaa : To be held or contained; to go or fit (into, - me;N ); to be filled up, be full'. (Platts p.20)

S. R. Faruqi:

By ((aalam me;N jaa;N ke is meant 'in the world of spirits [arvaa;h]'. The Sufis believe that the spirit is pure in its own right, because it lives in a pure/holy world. When it assumes the garb of a body and comes into the world, then it becomes the prey of worldly relationships and lusts and desires, and loses its purity. For this reason, among the Sufis the attempt to purify the spirit has been given central importance. Simply to be imprisoned in a worldly form pollutes the spirit. The famous Sufi saying 'your existence is a sin' reflects not only a 'oneness of being' [va;hdat ul-vujuud] kind of thought, but also the idea that the impurity of the worldly form also affects the spirit.

Mir has expressed this idea by means of a single powerful metaphor in the second line. The body is made of dust; in this regard to interpret the body as 'defilement/dirtiness' and to convey its pollution by means of 'mingling in the dust' is an uncommon feat of imagination. And in ab to mai;N there's both melancholy and a kind of expression of compulsion too: 'Now if sins would be ascribed to me, then I am coerced and not blameworthy'. The human spirit is in reality a ray of the 'Light of the Truth'; and this ray, having been imprisoned in human form, becomes scattered.

In a number of places Maulana-e Rum has elucidated this idea by means of his own images and similes, which are beyond Mir's reach. In the 'Masnavi' (first daftar, first part) he says [in Persian],

'We were expansive and uncontrolled and of a single quality.
In this place we were without head and without foot (that is, we were free of the disease of the body).
Like the sun we were a single being,
Like water we were unknotted and pure.
When this pure light took on form,
Then like the shadows of towers we became multiple and fragmentary.'

After this Maulana-e Rum exhorts us that we should make our bodies, which are like towers, desolate (that is, destroy them) so that (in the words of Maulana Thanavi), 'toward this pure spirit, which is undying and beneficent among spirits, attention should be directed'. In the Masnavi (second daftar) Maulana-e Rum says,

'The human spirit is like a single breath,
The animal spirit is like an inorganic cup.'

That is, the human spirit is a portion of that spirit which the Sufis call the 'Great Spirit' [ruu;h-e a((a:zam], and the animal spirit is is the one that expresses itself through the body.

Mir too has written that the impurity of the animal soul is because of the body; if there were no body, then it would become that spirit that is a portion of the Great Spirit, and that possesses purity. Mir has composed this same theme, in almost the very same words, in the third divan [{1133,2}]:

thii jumlah-tan la:taafat ((aalam me;N jaa;N ke ham to
mi:t:tii me;N a;T ga))e hai;N is ;xaak-daa;N me;N aa kar

[if there was all-over purity in the world of spirits, then we
have mingled in the dust, having come into this dust-bin]

Although Mir doesn't have the Maulana's revelatory style and intensity of expression, in the present verse he has alluded to all those images of which the Maulana's verses are the fountainhead. Despite this, the verse is utterly clear/clean, without any disconnectedness or unnecessary convolution, and its emotional aspect takes precedence over Maulana-e Rum's theme. See


[See also {321,10}; {958,2}; {1450,1}; {1480,3}.]



The i.zaafat gives a certain amount of theological flexibility: aaluudagii-e jism could be 'the impurity that is the body' (something essential and inherent); or 'the impurity of the body' (the sins that the speaker committed with his body); or maybe just 'the impurity associated with the body' (the inevitable small embarrassments and pettinesses that are hard to avoid when living in a body).

There's also the hovering idiom ;xaak me;N milnaa , 'to merge into the dust' (or as we say in English so similarly, 'to mingle with the dust')-- in other words, to die. The sense of maa;Tii me;N a;Tnaa is very much along those lines (see the definition above). And of course 'dust' or dirt is, both literally and metaphorically, the very emblem of 'impurity'. Those lovely retroflex ;T consonants too are enjoyably and richly down-to-earth (sorry, sorry); they have a punch of their own. In the world of the Urdu ghazal, such conspicuously desii vocabulary is often used for demotic effect, while Persian is sophisticated and Arabic can be made to sound pompous.

Note for grammar fans: Here's a textbook example of how the perfect forms work differently in Urdu and in English. The speaker has literally said, 'now I mingled in the dust' (or perhaps even, metaphorically, 'now I died'). Of course, in English we would normally say 'now I have mingled in the dust'; the presence of 'now' would almost automatically trigger the present perfect. But time and again we see that this isn't at all the case in Urdu; for more examples, see the GRAMMAR page.