vaj'h-e be-gaanagii nahii;N ma((luum
tum jahaa;N ke ho vaa;N ke ham bhii hai;N

1) the cause of strangeness/estrangement, we do not know
2) where you are from/of, from/of there even/also we are



be-gaanagii : 'Strangeness, the being foreign or not domestic; estrangement; shyness'. (Platts p.210)

S. R. Faruqi:

About the theme that has been expressed in this verse-- that the beloved and the lover are both from/of one single place, but still the beloved shows estrangement-- Askari Sahib has written that 'there's an astonished helplessness at the complexities of human existence'. The idea is correct, but this is not all that's in the verse. Consider these points:

(1) The similarity of the theme to that of {1185,4} is obvious. But here, what the speaker is bringing to the fore is not the beauties or actions of lover and beloved, but rather the oneness of the their origins. That is, the condition of their mutual humanity (to be human, to be a 'servant of God' [all;aah kaa bandah]) is central.

(2) In the first line, there's something unknown (we don't know why you are estranged from us). In the second line, there's something known (both of us are from the very same place). Thus between both lines, the opposition/encounter is extremely superb.

(3) The mention is of the beloved's estrangedness, and the emphasis is on the fact that this estrangement has no cause/reason; but in the tone there's no bitterness, no dramatic appeal, no emotional plea. He has expressed the idea with extreme determination and firmness. Or rather, it seems that he's saying something commonplace. To express such a theme with so much mildness (that is, without any outer turmoil and commotion) is the perfection of 'understatement', and Mir's special style.

(4) He hasn't made clear where and what that place is, from which they both are. But the utterance itself is very near to immediate life, and within ordinary human relationships is very powerful-- that we are both from the very same place. Then, tum jahaa;N ke ho can also mean 'the house to which you belong'-- that is, we are both from the same house.

(5) By tum jahaa;N ke ho vaa;N ke ham bhii hai;N the following ideas can be meant: (1) We are both from the same world. You are not some angel or Pari or non-human creature. (2) We have both come from the world of spirits [((alam-e arvaa;h] into the embodied world [((aalam-e ajsaam]. (3) We both share the same path/rule and nature/disposition [maslak-o-mashrab].

(6) It's a common theme that where the beloved is, the lover too is right there. (That is, the lover either keeps wandering around right where the beloved is, or in a spiritual way the lover habitually is where the beloved would be.) Thus Mir Hasan has a verse:

kyaa kahe;N puuchh mat kahii;N ham hai;N
tuu jahaa;N hai ;Gara.z vahii;N ham hai;N

[what can we say-- don't ask if we are around
where you are, in short, right there we are]

But the theme of the present verse is entirely new-- that lover and beloved are both from the very same place, but there's estrangement between them. On a fundamental level, this verse expresses human melancholy-- that despite their being of the same kind, no one feels any attachment to anyone.

[See also {381,8}.]



It's hard to make the English 'from' bear the full weight of ke . Nowadays in English people can say they are 'from' places to which they've only recently moved, but where they plan to live for the future. By contrast, I used to meet Indians who would say with equal matter-of-factness that they were 'from' places they'd never been to at all (ancestral villages of their fathers or grandfathers, usually). Since ke contains both 'from' and 'of', it can signify the most varied kinds of possession and identification, including non-geographical ones (lover and beloved might both be 'of' the same Sufi order, or other special school of thought or belief).

In this verse it's not clear who or what has caused the 'estrangement' between the speaker and the addressee. SRF basically takes the speaker to be the lover and the addressee to be the beloved, but of course in an abstract verse like this they could be any two human beings. It might be that the 'estrangement' is involuntary; perhaps not just the speaker, but neither of them, knows why and how it has come about. Perhaps it is more like 'strangeness', and the speaker is inviting the addressee to work with him to change it into familiarity (and friendship?) by invoking their shared identity-- whatever it may be.