saath us ;husn ke detaa thaa dikhaa))ii vuh badan
jaise jhamke hai pa;Raa gauhar-e tar paanii me;N

1) along with that beauty, that body used to be visible
2) the way, {'bravo!' / lying fallen}, a moist/fresh pearl glimmers in the water



tar : 'New, fresh; green; young, tender, soft; juicy, moist, damp, wet, wet through, saturated (with moisture, or grease, &c.); refreshed, revived, gladdened'. (Platts p.314)

S. R. Faruqi:

pa;Raa = an expression of praise

In Mus'hafi's ghazal in this 'ground', he's struggled greatly to equal Mir. But 'theme-creation' is not Mus'hafi's best aspect. And this ground is such that if a poet is not a 'theme-creator' of a high level, then the ghazal remains entirely flabby. Thus in this ground Mus'hafi's best verse is is indeed a mirror of the down-to-earth-ness and sensual enjoyment of his temperament, but the rest of his verses are weak:

jhalke hai yuu;N vuh badan jaamah-e shabnam se tamaam
sho;xiyaa;N jaise kare ((aks-e qamar paanii me;N

[that whole body glimmers in such a way through the robe of 'dew'-fabric
the way the moon's reflection would play mischievously in the water]

The word shabnam (a delicate fabric) is fine, and if the 'mischievous play of the moon's reflection' is not very excellent, it's also not very unworthy. But between the glimmering of the body and the mischievous play of the moon's reflection there's no 'connection', because by the glimmering of the body is meant that because of the delicate fabric sometimes a bit of some part of the body shows a glimmer, and sometimes a bit of some other part. This is not the condition of the waves in a moonlit night. In that case, the whole surface of the river is illumined to one or another extent. Then, the word 'whole' is not effective, but rather is almost one of 'padding'.

In contrast, Mir has well used pa;Raa , an expression of praise. This word is excellent in its own right, but it also alludes to the coquetry of the beloved (that she's lying [pa;Raa hu))aa] on a bed and the lover is heating up his gaze by looking at her). For an equally appropriate use of pa;Raa as an expression of praise, see


But in Mir's verse, the use of pa;Raa is not the only thing worthy of attention. The theme of the verse, and the image that has been used to express it, are both extremely fresh and are full of sensuousness.

The first point is that Mir has rejected the glimpse of the body showing from within the clothing, and has shown the body straightforwardly as naked. Then, in detaa thaa dikhaa))ii vuh badan there are several suggestions:

(1) The lover is seeing this scene from somewhere far off. Thus it's possible that this might be a description of a dream.

(2) The beloved is lying naked on a bed (or is sleeping), but all around the bed is some kind of veil/curtain (it might be a veil/curtain of mosquito-netting), and the lover outside the bed is enjoying this scene.

(3) The lover has hidden and is looking at the beloved's nakedness. People of a modern temperament will construe this as 'voyeurism'; and this construal will also be correct. But voyeurism is, in any case, a theme, even if it's considered distasteful.

(4) The beloved is in truth wearing some delicate fabric (as in Mus'hafi's verse), but the eye of the lover's imagination is seeing her as entirely naked. Mus'hafi has a peerless verse:

aastii;N us ne jo kuhnii tak u;Thaa))ii vaqt-e .sub;h
aa ga))ii saare badan ke be-;hijaabii haath me;N

[when she lifted her sleeve as far as the elbow, in the early morning
all the unveiledness of her whole body came into her hand]

Now we'll look at the second line. The wordplay of 'moist pearl' and 'water' is extremely superb. Then, the color of a pearl is not a bland plain white, but rather has usually a light touch of yellow or goldenness. The glimmer of a pearl too is not very sharp. All these things have a great affinity with the delicacy and fairness of the body. And if a pearl has fallen into the water, then about its color and its depth both, our feeling will remain somewhat lacking in certainty.

The color of the water will have an effect on the color of the pearl. The color of the pearl will glimmer sometimes more, sometimes less. Because of the movement of the waves, the pearl will also acquire the effect of a kind of life and vitality. That is, there will seem to be some warmth in the pearl, which we can call the 'warmth of life'. In this way the moist pearl that has fallen into the water will show a similitude with that moist and fresh and juicy body, the appearance/radiance of which is before the lover's gaze.

With regard to the pearl, the final point is that if other precious stones are carved, then their beauty shows forth. But the beauty of a pearl is in its own natural shapeliness. Thus the pearl's beauty is more 'organic'. This is the same quality that's in the human body as well. Then, the roundness of the pearl brings to mind the roundnesses of the body as well. This is one of those perfected verses in which various aspects of several kinds of sensory and visual and inward effects have been completely gathered together. Vision, touch, horizontal images, vertical images, softness/gentleness, languor, warmth, movement, erotic power-- everything is present.

One more thing is also worth mentioning. He hasn't in any way made it clear what is the mental state of the body that is being viewed. Does that person feel that she is naked? In the light of some of the interpretations that have been given above, it's possible that the beloved whose body is visible is aware of her nakedness, but she's perhaps not aware that anyone is looking at her. In the light of some others, both kinds of awareness are impossible (for example, if this is a scene in a dream-- although indeed, it's nevertheless possible that the dream-visible beloved might even be declared to be aware!). In the light of yet others, it's possible that the beloved might have both kinds of awareness, as will be discussed below.

In Europe, painters have for centuries been painting naked women, but the women used to have an expression on their faces showing that they were not only unaware that someone was looking at them, but also perhaps didn't even realize their own nakedness. In this way something like a veil of 'innocence' remained. Thus when in 1865 Edouard Manet entered into the Exhibition his painting 'Olympia', in which Olympia is not only naked but also aware both of her nakedness and of the fact that someone is looking at her, a great clamor broke out and Manet was heaped with a thousand kinds of abuse and blame.

Here a fundamental difference in the taste of East and West is apparent: that in the East, pictures of naked women are very rarely made (this doesn't apply to marble sculptures), but when they're made, then it's with full consciousness. In Mir's verse too, there's the same idea: although it can be construed in such a way that the beloved would not be aware of her nakedness or her being seen, it can also be construed such that the beloved would be aware of both these things. For example, this construal: that the lover is outside the bed and is looking at the beloved through the curtain of mosquito-netting; here it's entirely possible that the beloved would not be sleeping, but rather would be awake and would be awaiting the lover.



The verse doesn't seem to invite much concern about the beloved's awareness (or lack thereof), or about the lover's situation either. The extravagant but vague evocations ('that' beauty, 'that' body) in the first line seem entirely concerned with setting us up: we are made to wonder what kind of thrill the second line might have in store. Then after-- under mushairah performance conditions-- the longest convenient delay, when we finally get to hear the second line, even then the operative phrase, gauhar-e tar , is postponed as long as possible, and in fact contains the rhyme-word.

The image of the shimmering body/pearl is so striking, and the wordplay of pa;Raa so perfectly integrated into the line, that the effect is a smooth, subtle, sensuous delight. If the listeners do devote their time and energy to speculating about the surrounding spatial or social relationships, they do so without any encouragement from the verse itself.

For more on this special idiomatic usage of pa;Raa , including a clearer example, see {20,2}. In the present verse both its normal meaning (perfect participle of pa;Rnaa ) and the idiomatic 'bravo!' are fully invoked.