shahr me;N zer-e dara;xto;N kyaa rahuu;N mai;N barg-band
ho nah .sa;hraa ne mirii gunjaa))ish-e asbaab ho

1) in the city, under the trees, how would I remain, a qalandar/'leaf-bound'?!
2) there would not be the desert, there would not be my scope/profit of possessions/goods



barg : 'Leaf ... ; —warlike apparatus; provisions or necessaries for a journey or march'. (Platts p.148)


band : 'Fastened, tied up, bound; shut, closed, stopped, stopped up, cut off; prevented, hindered, barred, checked, restrained, suppressed'. (Platts p.169)


gunjaa))ish : 'Holding, containing; room, capacity; room to contain, stowage; —profit; —the revenue capabilities of a village (esp. with reference to a proposed increase of revenue)'. (Platts p.917)


asbaab : 'Causes, motives, means; resources; —s.m. sing. Implements, tools, instruments, apparatus, materials; goods, chattels, effects, property; furniture; articles, things; commodities, appliances, machinery; stores, provision; funds; necessaries; baggage, luggage; cargo'. (Platts p.47)

S. R. Faruqi:

barg-band = qalandar

Here the word barg-band is so powerful that it has overshadowed the excellence of the theme. In its dictionary meaning barg-band is a person who finds himself imprisoned in a thicket of leaves. In the trees, gardens, and parks of the city, the wandering madman feels himself a prisoner. As long as there was no desert, how after all could there emerge the equipment of his madness, so that he would wander around kicking up dust?

In the sense of terminology, barg-band means 'qalandar', because qalandars used to cover their bodies with tree bark and leaves (according to the [dictionary] bahaar-e ((ajam ). In this way barg-band is a two-fold metaphor. The term itself has a metaphorical direction, and the person who feels himself a prisoner of trees and gardens is, so to speak, 'imprisoned' in 'leaves'. This kind of usage is a special style of Mir and Ghalib-- that the dictionary meaning would be appropriate, and the metaphorical meaning would be appropriate as well.

The insha'iyah mode of the second line too is peerless. The line is full of 'dramaticness', and it also has two meanings: (1) there will neither be a desert, nor will there be scope for my possessions; (2) as long as there would be no desert, there would be no scope for my possessions.

The insha'iyah mode of the first line has two meanings as well. One is that kyaa is only a rhetorical question: after all, for what benefit, what fruit, what purpose, should I remain barg-band in the city, under the trees? In the second meaning, it is a simple question: should I remain barg-band in the city, under the trees? It's a fine verse.

The gunjaa))ish-e asbaab and the theme of the present verse, Mir has also versified like this, in the first divan [{438,3}]:

kyaa shahr me;N gunjaa))ish mujh be-sar-o-paa ko ho
ab ba;Rh ga))e hai;N mere asbaab-e kam-asbaabii

[what scope, in the city, would there be for me, the headless-and-footless one?!
now my resources of resourcelessness have increased]

In the sixth divan, he has also versified barg-band [{1884,5}]:

mai;N barg-band agarchih zer-e shajar rahaa huu;N
faqr-e makab se lekin barg-o-navaa nahii;N hai

[although I, a qalandar/'leaf-bound', have remained under a tree
still there's no fruit and prosperity from disgraceful/vile asceticism/poverty]

Here too there's wordplay, but no pleasure of meaning. For faqr-e makab he has given no 'proof'; thus the meaning has become weak.



That little word barg has the additional meaning of provisions or equipment for a journey, so the phrase barg-band could also mean 'hindered/restrained by provisions/equipment' (see the definitions above). On initially hearing the first line we perhaps don't notice this secondary or tertiary possibility-- but then after finally (under mushairah performance conditions) hearing the second line, we are alerted by the commercial possibilities of gunjaa))ish ('profit; the revenue capabilities of a village') and of course asbaab ('materials, goods, commodities', etc.)-- see the definitions above.

What does it mean to complain about the city for its failure to offer sufficient gunjaa))ish-e asbaab ? On the face of it, it sounds like the sort of complaint a merchant might make about a city too small to offer all the commercial opportunities (warehouses, markets, banking facilities) that he seeks. What are the possessions or (commercial?) goods of a wandering religious ascetic who hardly even has clothes to wear? It's a piquant question, and of course it's left for us to figure out. (If we take asbaab in the plural as meaning 'causes, motives', it's piquant in a different way, but we lose the enjoyable emphasis on actual physical things.)

If we take the complaint to be chiefly about the city as too full of trees, then is it shade that's at issue (in contrast to the treeless desert), or the crowded-seeming space of a garden (as opposed to the empty desert), or urban self-indulgence (as opposed to the stark and hostile desert)? In any case, a 'leaf-bound' qalandar might well find himself constrained in such city. SRF is right, barg-band is such a transfixing image that it seizes our attention at once.

Then of course the second line is as opaquely constructed as possible: 'X would not be, Y would not be'. This could of course be (as SRF notes) a colloquially shortened form of 'if X would not be, then Y would not be' ('If I don't have the desert, then I wouldn't have the scope for profit'). This is perhaps the most enjoyable possibility, since it envisions the desert as the ideal arena for commercial display or profitable activity. Is the desert perhaps not as empty as it looks? Or are the speaker's commercial goods linked to the desert somehow?

Alternatively, the second line could represent a falling-between-two-stools situation-- as a qalandar in the city, the speaker would neither have the desert, nor have the scope for profit (whereas he certainly ought to have one or the other!). Or it could simply be the beginning of an iterative list (he would not have the desert, or the scope for profit-- or many other such things that he also seeks.)

Note for meter fans: In the second line, in the neither-nor construction the spelling of the second nah as ne is to turn it into a long syllable; the normal spelling nah is always scanned as short.