aisaa maut;aa hai zindah-e jaaved
raftah-e yaar thaa jab aa))ii hai

1) such a dead one is eternally alive
2) he was {lost in / carried away by} the beloved, when death came



maut;aa : 'The dead'. (Platts p.1086)


raftah : 'Gone, past, departed; deceased, defunct; lost'. (Platts p.595)


maut aanaa : 'Death to come; to die'. (Platts p.1085)


aa))ii : 'End (of life), appointed hour or time, death, fate, doom'. (Platts p.111)

S. R. Faruqi:

Wordplay, and an ardor for new words, are so conspicuous in this verse that its romantic theme (or emotional aspect) has been overshadowed. Keep in mind the famous [Persian] verse by Hafiz:

'The one whose heart has been made alive by passion, can never die.
On the page of the world is our eternal seal.'

It seems as though Hafiz has composed a very serious verse, brimful of the feeling of passion, and Mir's verse is only superficial. But in truth the situation isn't so simple. Hafiz's verse is undoubtedly very 'tumult-arousing', but Mir's verse has freshness of words, and an abundance of wordplay and affinity and meaning.

Mir's verse is a superb example of the 'Sabk-i Hindi', and especially of classical Urdu ghazal; and it also proves the importance of theme and meaning in our classical ghazal. 'Sincerity of emotion, deepness, richness,' and so on are secondary things, and they are important by means of theme/meaning, they are not important in themselves.

Mir's basic theme is the same as Hafiz's, but Mir's verse has more aspects of meaning. First of all, let's consider raftah-e yaar . One meaning is 'the one who, because of the beloved, would already have lost his awareness'-- that is, one who because of the beloved, or in passion, would already have become a madman. A second meaning is 'one who has become so absorbed in the beloved that it's as if he wouldn't be in the world at all'-- that is, one who in passion, for the beloved's sake, has already renounced the world and the people of the world. A third meaning is 'one whom the beloved would already have let go'-- that is, one whom the beloved would have discarded. A fourth meaning is 'one who has already become lost within the beloved'-- that is, one would be in the state of 'mood' that Sufis have called 'wandering within God' (see


Thus this phrase of Mir's bears more meaning than Hafiz's dilash zindah shud bah ((ishq .

Now let's consider the word maut;aa . It is in the Qur'an [22:6], where God Most High says, 'Does He not have the power to bring the dead to life?'. In the present verse, the same word comes in the context of eternal life; thus it's natural for the verse of the Qur'an to come to mind. It's as if God Most High's saying that he has the power to bring the dead to life, becomes proof that a person who dies in a state of absorbedness in the Divine Beloved will have eternal life.

The word maut;aa is quite uncommon, because outside of Delhi it's now hardly to be heard. Earlier too the word was not very familiar; thus many editors of Mir have read it as motii . In the Fort William College kulliyat too motii appears, but in the 'List of Corrections' it has been clarified that it's maut;aa . In the Naval Kishor edition of 1868 and in those of Abbasi and Kalb-e Ali Khan Fa'iq motii appears. In the discussion in the introduction to SSA volume 1, p. 66, I have written that this word is so rare that even the most expert have read it as motii . [Criticism of the views of Farid Ahmad Barkati about the usage of the word.]

Leaving aside the fact that the dictionary definition of maut;aa as derived from maut is correct in a grammatical way, with regard to sound it is utterly uncouth, and my (unsupported) guess is that Mir might have written mautii meaning 'dying person'. [Further discussion of the lexical status of maut;aa , its being plural in Arabic, and its rarity.] But any Delhi person will recognize it in the sense of corpse/dust/death. Moreover, Atish has used it in at least two verses. And why would he not have done so, when he used many of Mir's themes? Atish:

nahii;N jis kaa ko))ii us kaa ;xudaa hai puuchhne-vaalaa
u;Thaate hai;N malaa))ik aa ke be-vaari;s ke maut;aa ko

[the one who has no one-- the Lord looks out for him
angels come and pick up the dead one with no heirs]

dil-e pazhmurdah hotaa hai shiguftah kuu-e jaanaa;N me;N
havaa-e baa;G-e jannat zindah kar detii hai maut;aa ko

[the withered heart comes into bloom in the street of the beloved
the air of the garden of paradise makes the dead one live]

[Further discussion of the word maut;aa and its usage.]

Now let's consider the additional beauties of the verse. The word aa))ii means 'death', and in this respect it has the relationship of a zila with maut;aa . Then, aa))ii is the past tense of aanaa , and as such it also has the relationship of a zila with raftah , the past tense of [the Persian verb] raftan .

Sayyid Muhammad Khan Rind has changed the theme a bit and composed it, but he took better advantage that did Atish, etc., because his verse is complete, and in its theme is an uncharacteristic breadth:

us ke kushte hai;N zindah-e jaaved
niistii un kii ((ain hastii hai

[his slain ones are eternally alive
their nonexistence is essential existence]



If aa))ii is the perfect of aanaa , we need to find for it a feminine singular subject that's not stated in the verse. The only plausible candidate is maut (which of course is feminine). Here is where the 'fresh word' maut;aa really justifies its otherwise clunky-sounding presence, by implicitly validating and even containing exactly the word we need (though grammatically speaking, we still need to consider the word maut to be the colloquially implied subject of aa))ii hai ). Of course, the verb tense is not exactly ideal: 'he was gone when death has come' is far less appropriate than 'he was gone when death came', in Urdu just as much as English.

But the only alternative reading is even more awkward. In terms of grammatical tense, aa))ii as a noun meaning 'death' (see the definition above) sits very discordantly with the first part of the line: 'he was gone when death is'. So to my mind this secondary meaning works better if it's taken as excellent wordplay.