rang be-rangii judaa to hai vale
aab saa har rang me;N shaamil hai myaa;N

1) color and colorlessness are separate, but
2) like water/luster, in every color that one is merged/blended, sir



aab : 'Water; water or lustre (in gems); temper (of steel, &c.); edge or sharpness (of a sword, &c.); sparkle, lustre; splendour; elegance; dignity, honour, character, reputation'. (Platts p.1)

S. R. Faruqi:

On the marvel of the colorless one, see


The Sufis have said that in multiplicity there is colorfulness, and in oneness there is colorlessness. It has also been said like this: that the station of the mystical knowers is without qualities; there all qualities come to an end and only oneness remains. Trimingham has written, in his book on Sufism ['The Sufi Orders in Islam' (1971)], that the way some Sufis express the stations of the path in the terminology of stages (the stage of oblivion, the stage of eternity, etc.) and some Sufis express the stages in the terminology of worlds (angels, dominions, humans, etc.), in the same way some Sufis express the stages with the metaphor of colors of light. And with regard to the ranks and levels, the highest rank is that of light that has no color.

It's clear that this is the same colorlessness of oneness that comes into view upon going beyond the colorfulness of multiplicity, and that Maulana-e Rum has expressed (in the 'Masnavi', first daftar, second part) [in Persian]:

'From two hundred colors the road is toward colorlessness.
Color is like a cloud, and colorlessness is the moon.
Whatever radiance and glitter you see within a cloud,
Consider it to be because of the stars and the moon and the sun.'

This very colorlessness also gives rise to different kinds of colors. That is, if there would be no colorlessness (if there would be no oneness of the True Power), then neither would there be colorfulness (the multiplicity of the physical world). Maulana-e Rum says (in the 'Masnavi', sixth daftar):

'Colorlessness is the root of colors,
Peace is the root of wars.'

Mir expresses this very theme: that although the True Power is colorless, nevertheless the way the color of water is in every color, in the same way His radiance is in everything. That is, in the words of Maulana-e Rum, 'Colorlessness is the root of colors'.

Mir has greatly opened out this theme, and has composed it like this in the third divan [{1059,5}]:

vuh ;haqiiqat ek hai saarii nahii;N hai sab me;N to
aab saa har rang me;N yih aur kuchh shaamil hai kyaa

[that whole reality is one; if it's not in everything, then
in every color, like water/luster, is it something else that's blended?]

In this verse is an argumentative tone; thus it doesn't have the revelatory mood that's in the present verse.



How does the protean aab saa (see the definition above) work? Since water is clear, it could be thought of as invisibly (or at least metaphorically) present in all colors. Or the image could be the mixing of watercolors on the painter's palette, in which water is always an ingredient. Or we could take the meaning of 'sparkle, luster, splendor, elegance' and say that every color has a radiance of its own, but this radiant quality is not a part of the color itself. Or we could think of the 'temper' of steel, so that the true essential quality or 'dignity' of every color is in fact based on colorlessness. Once we get into Sufistic territory-- and really, the substratum, the essence, the aab , of Urdu ghazal is Sufistic territory-- the imagery readily turns paradoxical.

Note for grammar fans: The reason we see the singular hai instead of the plural hai;N for the two entities is of course that when multiple subjects are present, the verb takes the number and gender of the last one (the one nearest the verb). Here this grammatical feature also works well to show the 'oneness' of color and colorlessness.