0 922,



khe;Nchaa hai aadmii ne bahut duur aap ko
us parde me;N ;xayaal to kar ;Tuk ;xudaa nah ho

1) mankind has 'drawn' itself very far
2) within that veil/guise/pretext-- just think a bit!-- might/would the Lord not be?!



khe;Nchnaa : 'To draw, drag, pull; to attract, to draw in, ... ; to draw out, to stretch; to extract; to pull off, strip off (the skin, &c.); to draw tight, to tighten'. (Platts p.887)


pardah : 'Curtain, screen, cover, veil, anything which acts as a screen, a wall, ... ; the surface of the earth; secrecy, privacy, modesty; seclusion, concealment; secret, mystery, reticence, reserve; screen, shelter, pretext, pretence'. (Platts p.246)

S. R. Faruqi:

aap ko = himself

On the theme of man's loftiness of rank, no better verse than this is possible. Then in addition there are the aspects of ambiguity: he hasn't explained where, and in which field, man has taken himself very far. Shakespeare has, through Hamlet's tongue, said of man 'How noble in reason' and 'In apprehension how like a god' [act II, scene 2], and has certainly mentioned many of man's qualities. Here, the accomplishment is that he hasn't mentioned a single quality, he's left everything up to the reader or hearer.

Then, in the second line, in a style of supreme 'dramaticness' he has also mentioned the limit of man's rank. When he has called man 'the Lord's veil', then he's permitted no difference at all to come into the loftiness of the Lord; and he has also established man's lofty rank as indebted to God.

Then, ;xayaal to kar he has justified by the word parde , for if man were not a veil, then Truth/Reality would be before us-- so that there would be no need to 'think'. To think is necessary so that information might be obtained about the mystery.

In the first divan, Mir has composed a theme similar to this one in the very first ghazal [{1,3}]:

pahu;Nchaa jo aap ko to mai;N pahu;Nchaa ;xudaa ke ta))ii;N
ma((luum ab hu))aa kih bahut mai;N bhii duur thaa

[when I arrived at myself, then I arrived at the Lord
now I learned that even/also I was very far off]

In the present verse, the theme required more courage. Indeed, we can also call it a verse of praise of the Prophet [na((t]; in this case too courage was needed, so that no harm would be done to the quality of reverence for the Prophet of God, and his rank could also be acknowledged. It's probable that when Mir composed this verse he had before him the peerless opening-verse in praise of the Prophet by Shah Abd ul-Alim Asi:

vuhii jo mustavii-e ((arsh hai ;xudaa ho kar
utar pa;Raa hai madiine me;N mu.s:taf;aa ho kar

[that same one who is equal to the heavens, having become the Lord
came down in Madina, having become Mustafa [the Prophet]]

Shahid Ali Sabz-posh says that Shah Asi Sahib had given him commentary on this verse as follows:

'Ignorant people will object to this verse. But the answer to their objection is present in the first line. That is, that now too he is equal to the heavens.... If in the first line there had been vuhii jo mustavii-e ((arsh thaa ;xudaa ho kar , then indeed their objection to the Lord's becoming embodied would be correct. Now too he is equal to the heavens. His coming down into Madina is a descent with the same qualities as the way the sun comes down into a mirror. al-aan kamaa kaan ['He is now such as he was'].'

On this there's no doubt: that about the verse Hazrat Shah Sahib's proof is powerful. But Mir has created a poetic proof-- he's called man a 'veil'. And then he's also planted a touch of doubt. If Shah Asi Sahib's verse is in the mode of Nasikh, then Mir's verse is in Mir's special style: that he's said a deep thing, but it seems that he's said it in the course of conversation.

Shahid Ali Sabz-posh says that Hazrat Shah Asi very much liked a [Persian] verse by a friend of his, Haziq Mohani:

'The beauty of the beloved of the seclusion-place of the unseen--
When I lifted the veil, then the face of Ahmad appeared.'

On this verse too there's a small glimmer from Mir's verse, especially because in both verses 'veil' has a key importance.

[See also {481,2}.]



SRF takes this as an unambiguously pious verse. In a biographical way that perspective might make sense; see for example {344,5}, in which Mir makes a sharp attack on what he considers un-Islamic views by some of his contemporaries, and SRF discusses Mir's own views.

But if we read this verse apart from biographical predispositions-- which is a far more interesting and exciting way to read it-- then it opens before us a whole universe of possibilities.

The first line, with that spectacularly versatile khe;Nchnaa (see the definition above), is obviously meant to keep us guessing. Here are some quite possible readings:

=Mankind has drawn itself along very far (humans have managed to achieve a great deal through their own efforts).

=Mankind has stretched itself out very far (humans have tried to reach out as far as they can in all directions in the universe).

=Mankind has withdrawn itself very far away from something (something has caused humans to feel real alarm or pain or aversion).

As usual, we hope for some clarification from the second line. And as so often, we get only a further branching of the tree of choices. For just consider the possibilities of that second line. The most efficient way to get a good 'connection' between the lines is to take the 'drawing' in the first line to refer to the 'drawing back' of a veil. Mankind has done a lot of 'drawing' of itself already. (Perhaps humans have even 'drawn' themselves along by means of 'drawing open' veils.) Now the addressee (mankind?) is being warned to stop and think for a moment about some seemingly urgent concern:

=Wouldn't the Lord be within that veil? (and might he not be angry at being exposed?)

=The Lord might not be within that veil! (and what a terrible shock that would be, if humans were alone in the universe!).

=May the Lord not be within that veil! (humans would rather reveal further layers of their own, human reality, than encounter divinity).

Moreover, what kind of a veil is it, the veil that might or might not hide the Lord? We know only that it's 'that veil' (or 'this veil', but in such an abstract verse the choice can hardly much difference). It could most obviously be the veil of human selfhood and ego, which mankind idealistically seeks to transcend. It could be the veil of ignorance, which mankind seeks to draw back through knowledge. It could be the veil of the physical world, which mystics seek to penetrate in pursuit of the divine. It could be the veil of death, from which mankind has 'drawn' itself as far away as possible.

We could also take pardah in a more extended sense (see the definition above). It can mean not only 'guise' or 'concealment' but even 'pretext, pretense'. This latter reading, especially, would call into question the whole nature of humanity's project of 'drawing itself very far'. But how, or why? What could humans possibly be up to? In that case, the injunction to 'just think a bit' would become more general, and would not be an urgent warning against opening some one particular veil.

Whatever pardah it might be, the verse asserts that in one way or another humans have done a lot of 'drawing' of themselves, and they should stop and think about what implications such 'drawing' might have, in relation to the (non?)presence of the Lord. Within that very broad framework, there's plenty of room for almost everybody's metaphysical reflections.