re;xtah kaahe ko thaa is rutbah-e a((l;aa me;N miir
jo zamii;N niklii use taa aasmaa;N mai;N le gayaa

1) how/why was Rekhtah in this lofty station/rank, Mir?!
2) whatever 'ground' emerged, I bore it away to the sky



kaahe ko : ''For what?' 'why?' 'wherefore?'. (Platts p.808)

S. R. Faruqi:

With regard to the meaning of re;xtah as 'lying down, fallen down', 'lofty' is very fine; the wordplay of 'lofty', 'ground', and 'sky' too are well-fitted. Especially by saying 'lofty' in the first line, he has very well 'seated' the wordplay of 'earth' and 'sky'. This whole ghazal with regard to meaning is not very deep, but in every verse there's a devastating 'mood' and 'flowingness'.

The theme of the 'ground' of the ghazal Momin has versified with a new aspect, although the honor of primacy goes to Mir:

aisii ;Gazal kahii hai yih jhuktaa hai sab kaa sar
momin ne is zamiin ko masjid banaa diyaa

[he's composed this, such a ghazal that everyone's head bows down
Momin has made this 'ground' a mosque]

Mir Anis's famous verse seems to have been borrowed directly from Mir:

sadaa hai fikr-e taraqqii buland-biino;N ko
ham aasmaan se laa))e hai;N in zamiino;N ko

[the lofty-seeing ones always think about progress
we have brought from the sky, these 'grounds']

But despite the wordplay, Mir Anis's first line, and on account of the shallowness of its thought Momin's first line, are both not equal to their second lines. Both Mir's lines are equal.

In the work of In'amullah Khan Yaqin too this theme has been versified very well; or rather, it's possible that Mir borrowed the theme from Yaqin:

nah aayaa sar faro iidhar yaqii;N ke fikr-e a((l;aa kaa
zamiino;N ko vagarnah re;xte kii aasmaa;N kartaa

[the head was not lowered in this direction, of Yaqin's lofty thought
otherwise, he would have made the 'grounds' of Rekhtah into a sky]

But Yaqin has little flowingness. The word zamiino;N too is not very excellent. The most important thing is that the making of the 'ground' into a sky is only a one-level metaphor, while the carrying off of the ground into the sky is a metaphor with depth upon depth, and is also nearer to life.



The first line seems to be a rhetorical question in which the operative word is 'was'-- how/why was Rekhtah on this lofty level previously? Why, it wasn't at all, of course! How could it have been?! Not until 'Mir' came along and lifted it up, could it possibly have attained such a height.

It really is a gem of a verse, isn't it? So playful, so sophisticated, so cheerfully (and also seriously) extravagant in its poetic claims. It also beautifully describes the project of the classical ghazal poet-- not to offer some kind of personal self-expression, but to display masterfully deft handling of 'whatever ground emerges'. The brilliant ghazal poet not only accomplishes feats that you could imagine yourself trying to do (though you might entirely fail)-- he also pulls out from the bare ground wonderful effects that you couldn't even imagine were there to be pulled out. Just as the 'ground' of a ghazal 'emerges' into poetic performance, each verse 'emerges' from this ground as something planted and nurtured there by the poet's magical skill.

Yet apparently this magical skill is not enough to achieve the recognition that Mir feels Rekhtah to deserve. In the very next ghazal, he laments the difference in prestige between Rekhtah and Persian [{1057,4}]:

kyaa qadr hai re;xte kii go mai;N
is fan me;N na:ziirii kaa badal thaa

[what respect does Rekhtah receive?-- although I
in this art/craft was the peer of Naziri]

For a similarly extravagant boast by Ghalib, see


Note for grammar fans: We could of course read the jo in various ways: 'whatever emerged as ground', or 'when a ground emerged', or 'since a ground emerged'. And we could read nikalnaa as 'turned out to be'. But these readings don't really seem to open up new interpretive possibilities in the verse.