kyaa samjhe lu:tf chahro;N ke rang-o-bahaar kaa
bulbul ne aur kuchh nahii;N dekhaa sivaa-e gul

1a) how he would understand the pleasure of the color and springtime of faces!
1b) as if he would understand the pleasure of the color and springtime of faces!
1c) would he understand the pleasure of the color and springtime of faces?
1d) what would he understand the pleasure of the color and springtime of faces to be?

2) the Nightingale saw nothing else except/beyond the rose



samajhnaa : 'To perceive, know, understand, comprehend, apprehend; to learn; —to think, consider, conceive, suppose, deem, imagine, fancy; to think highly of, to consider as good or excellent or remarkable'. (Platts p.675)


lu:tf : 'Delicacy; refinement; elegance, grace, beauty; the beauty or best (of a thing); taste; pleasantness; gratification, pleasure, enjoyment; —piquancy, point, wit; —courtesy, kindness, benignity, grace, favour, graciousness, generosity, benevolence, gentleness, amenity'. (Platts p.957)

S. R. Faruqi:

This theme is interesting, and in it the use of the vaa))o of conjunction too is fine. But the meaning is, 'what does the Nightingale know about the colors and the flourishingness of faces?' But in view of the way Mir habitually uses the vaa))o of conjunction between Prakrit words and expressions, the reading can also be, 'what does the Nightingale know about the colors of faces, and about the spring season?'

Now consider the meaning of the verse. In one respect, Mir has denigrated the Nightingale: he has seen nothing of the world, he has no experience of beautiful things and people. He's nothing but a 'frog in a well'. He's only seen a flower, and considers this to be everything-- the life of beauty, the origin of passion, etc. Otherwise, actually in the world one person is more beautiful than the next, and the pleasure of one springtime too is exceeded by that of the next. Or, human faces too have their own kind of springtime, and this springtime of love and beauty is a world of its own. In this respect, this verse becomes one that praises and glorifies the human world and its affairs, and its point seems to be that as long as our experience is narrow, we cannot understand the value of this world.

Another interpretation does not denigrate the Nightingale, but praises his absorption and immersion in the beloved: he is so lost in the flower that doesn't even cast a glance at anything else. What would he know about the colors of faces, and the spring? He has no interest in these things. In this respect, the verse calls to mind the [Persian] verse of Hafiz:

'We have not read the story of Sikandar and Dara,
Don't ask us about anything except stories of love and faithfulness.'

[See also {1850,3}.]



Here is a superb illustration of the power of the 'kya effect'. The first line can be read (1a) as an affirmative exclamation ('How well he would understand...!')-- because the true lover's passion of course enables him to see, with Blake, 'a world in a grain of sand' and 'heaven in a wild flower'. The Nightingale's utter absorption in the rose teaches him everything worth knowing about colors, faces, springtime, and much more.

The first line can also be read (1b) as a negative exclamation ('As if he would understand...!')-- since the Nightingale has never seen anything except a single flower, what could he possibly know about the complexities of the real world?

And of course it can also be read (1c) as a yes-or-no question ('Would he understand...?'). And a very good question too, in view of the two radically different possibilities of (1a) and (1b).

Moreover, since samajhnaa means not only 'to understand' but also 'to consider, to deem' (see the definition above), an additional reading would be (1d) 'How would he understand all this, what would he consider all this to be?'.

Needless to say, the second line, so absolutely plain and ;xabariyah , works to brilliant effect with any of these radically insha'iyah possibilities. The Nightingale's absorption is a perfect image of the lover's world; it can be scorned or idealized with equal ease. And really, what else is the ghazal full of, if not the humiliating despair, or radiant exaltation, of the lover's lot?

Note for grammar fans: SRF's point about rang-o-bahaar is that traditionally that kind of connective vaa))o is used only to conjoin individual (Perso-Arabic) words or parallel phrases. But Mir takes liberties: he uses it with Indic words, and can thus be suspected of using it like aur , as a more flexible connector.