rakhaa ((ar.sah junuu;N par tang mushtaaqo;N kii duurii se
kise maaraa hai us ghatye ne san-mukh ho ke maidaa;N me;N

1) she has kept madness hard-pressed, through the distance of the ardent ones
2) whom has that murderer/ambusher slain, having come face-to-face in the (battle-)field?



((ar.sah : 'An area; a plain; a chess-board; a space (of place or time), period, time, duration, term; an interval, a while; delay'. (Platts p.760)


((ar.sah tang honaa : ''Space or room to be scanty'; to be in a strait, or in difficulties, to be hard pressed'. (Platts p.760)


ghatiyaa : 'A murderer'. (Platts p.930)


ghaat : 'Cover, concealment, ambush, ambuscade, trap, snare; enmity, treachery'. (Platts p.928)


san-mukh : 'Facing, confronting, face to face (with), &c.' (Platts p.677)

S. R. Faruqi:

The word san-mukh was very popular in the eighteenth century; thus Dard, Sauda, Jur'at, and all of them have used it. And ghatiyaa is a very interesting word, meaning 'ambush [ghaat] maker', therefore 'murderer'. It's possible that the Urdu-knowers might have made it out of ghaatak [='attacker', 'murderer']. The word is in any case rare/choice and beautiful. The [dictionaries] nuur ul-lu;Gaat , Fallon, Duncan Forbes, the aa.sifiyah -- all are devoid of it; though indeed, Platts has included it.

Mir has used it one more time. In the third divan [{1292,1}]:

sunaa jaataa hai ay ghatye, tire majlis-nishiino;N se
kih tuu daaruu piye hai raat ko mil kar kamiino;N se

[it's heard, oh murderer, from members of your gathering,
that you have drunk liquor last night, in the company of wretches]

The very freshness of this word was enough in itself to make the verse. Since the beloved doesn't murder anyone face to face, in the battlefield, to call her an 'ambusher' is the height of affinity. Otherwise, words like qaatil , :zaalim , ;xuunii , were ready to hand.

Then, in the first line Persianism prevails; by contrast, in the second line the most important words ( san-mukh , ghatiye ) are Prakritic. He has maintained the linguistic contrast very well.

A third aspect is that by mushtaaqo;N kii duurii is meant 'remaining distant from the ardent ones'. The meaning of duurii is for there to be 'distance' and 'extensiveness'. But through this spaciousness, the beloved has 'made the interval of madness narrow'.

One possibility is that when the 'interval for madness became narrow', then the ardent ones came out and ran off. But the meaning of ((ar.sah-e junuu;N se nikal bhaagnaa is to wash one's hands of life. Because if there's no madness then there's no passion, and if there's no passion then there's no life. In this way the ardent ones themselves took their own lives. The real murderer was the beloved, but on the external level the ardent ones killed themselves. If one is to be an ambush-killer, then that's how to do it!

If she had confronted them and slain them, then at that time the battlefield would have been limited-- that is, the place and the distance at which lover and beloved were, would have been the limits of the battlefield. Here, Mir has reversed the idea and created the form of a paradox: that because the beloved has not confronted them, seemingly the battlefield has grown extensive, because between lover and beloved there has come to be an unmeasured distance (when she is not before them, then the Lord knows how far away she is, who else knows!?).

But for this very reason-- that the beloved has not confronted the lover-- 'the interval for madness became narrow'; that is, it endangered the life of madness. If she had confronted the lovers and slain them, then at least they would have seen her glory/appearance. Now what's happened is that she's slain them from hiding. Thus they gave their lives, but didn't get even so much as a glimpse of her in exchange.

Another meaning of junuun par maidaan tang rakhnaa can be that since the belover didn't confront them, there was no progress in madness-- it didn't get a chance to spread, to advance. If the beloved had come before them, then madness would have increased. By not coming before them she kept madness deprived of increase-- that is, she took their life, and didn't even allow them the pleasure of madness. It's an extraordinarily interesting verse.



The idiom ((ar.sah tang honaa , literally 'for the space to be narrow' (see the definition above), does a brilliant kind of double duty here. For idiomatically it means 'to be in a strait', or 'to be hard-pressed'. Look how comparable our own English idioms are (though we Americans say 'in dire straits'). A 'strait' is narrow by definition ('strait is the gate, and narrow the way...'), and to be 'hard-pressed' is to be corralled into too tight a space, with no room for maneuver. As SRF explains, the beloved's behavior may cause just this kind of difficulties for madness, so that it's unable to grow, to flourish, to expand.

And if we take ((ar.sah tang rakhnaa literally, then the result is an enjoyable paradox. For it's precisely by staying far away from the lovers, and thus maintaining a wide space between them and herself, that the distant beloved has 'kept the space narrow' for their madness, ensuring that it doesn't have 'room' to grow.

The second line could almost be read as a challenge: 'She's afraid to confront any of us fair and square on the battlefield, because if she did she couldn't kill us!' But in the context of the ghazal world, it has much more the effect of despairing indignation: 'Whom among us has she ever killed fair and square, on the battlefield?' It's a negative rhetorical question, of course, and we all know that the answer is 'No one'. She enjoys hunting from ambush, and she has no notion of sportsmanship at all.