laag agar dil ko nahii;N lu:tf nahii;N jiine kaa
uljhe suljhe kisuu kaakul ke giriftaar raho

1) if the heart has no attachment/affection, there's no pleasure in living
2) entangled, disentangled-- remain a captive of some curl



ulajhnaa : 'To be entangled, ravelled, twisted, entwined; to be complicated, made intricate; to be perplexed; to be involved (in difficulties, &c.)'. (Platts p.75)


sulajhnaa : 'To be or become unravelled, to be disentangled; to be solved; to be analysed, tested or tried; to be settled, be set right again'. (Platts p.669)


kaakul (f.): 'A curl, lock, ringlet'. (Platts p.802)

S. R. Faruqi:

In all the manuscripts uljhe suljhe appears. In this regard the utterance is for the speaker-- that if there's no love in the heart, then there's nothing. Then, there's the instruction or advice-- that whether it be 'entangled or disentangled', whether it prove fatal or successful, remain imprisoned by some curl.

In raho there's the implication of continuation; that is, he hasn't said 'become imprisoned by some curl'; in that case, there would have been the possibility that the imprisonment would be only casual/adventitious. But the meaning of 'remain imprisoned' is, always, in every situation, at every time, remain imprisoned.

If we read uljhii suljhii , then the words become the description of the curl: remain imprisoned by any curl at all, whether it would be disentangled and nicely arranged, or tangled and disordered. The point is also that there's beauty in entangled and disordered curls. And also that even if the curls are tangled, they are still the curls of the beloved. Another point is that the beloved might be free-spirited and careless, she may give no special thought to her decoration and adornment; thus her curls might sometimes be tangled and sometimes disentangled.

Another reading is that if the curls would be arranged with a special effect called 'careful disarray', then this too is one style of adornment and beauty. That is, if the hair would be arranged so skilfully that it appears to be tangled and disordered. (This is exactly the style of some present-day western film and TV personalities.)

Another possibility is that Mir might have versified kaakul as a masculine noun. In this case, uljhe suljhe has been versified as a quality of the curl, and also of the speaker. Thus this is a superb example of 'abundance of meaning'-- that a single utterance would turn out to be true of two different things, or two different people, in different meanings.

Usually kaakul has been versified as a feminine noun. Thus the first line of a famous quatrain by Josh is kaakul khul kar bikhar rahii hai goyaa . But the [dictionary] nuur ul-lu;Gaat , relying on a verse by Sayyid Muhammad Khan Rind, has also noted it as masculine; [the verse is given]. Ghalib's usage of it as masculine will be familiar to many:


In the light of this evidence, the best guess seems to be that originally Mir wrote uljhe suljhe , and that it applies in both directions (to the curl and to the lover). The use of kaakul as a masculine noun is established in both Delhi and Lucknow, and this is additional proof that here we ought to read it as masculine.

On the double-meaningfulness of laag , see:


Here, apparently only one meaning is active (affection and relationship). But in the second line, the word 'imprisoned' also suggests that the meaning of grief/anger is not very far away; rather, as Derrida says, it's 'under erasure'. Between laag and dil there's also the relationship of a zila, because dil lagnaa is an idiom.

If after uljhe suljhe we assume a break, then the utterance becomes vocative. In this case its multivalence drains away, but a new meaning is obtained-- that is, 'Oh uljhe suljhe person, in your temperament and nature is aloofness and detachment. You sometimes remain entangled, or in a confusion; sometimes you become disentangled and your temperament is steadfast. If you want to obtain the pleasure of life, stay imprisoned by someone's curls; then your life will have a shape/structure.' For more, see:


[See also {1768,4}.]



The wonderfully useful-- and wonderfully used-- multivalence of uljhe suljhe (see the definitions above), with its two halves so phonetically similar yet so semantically opposite, is the only charm of a verse that would otherwise remain a worn-out piece of sentimentalism. The first line hardly does anything interesting at all, but it could be said that its blandness sets us up for the shock of that juicy, chewy, irresistible uljhe suljhe in the second line, with all the pleasures that SRF has so well unpacked.