((aalam kisuu ;hakiim kaa baa;Ndhaa :tilism hai
kuchh ho to i((tibaar bhii ho kaa))inaat kaa

1) the world is an enchantment/'tilism' created/'bound' by some sage
2) if something would exist/'be', then there would/might be even/also confidence/trust in/of the universe



;hakiim : 'A wise man, a sage; a philosopher'. (Platts p.480)


i((tibaar : 'Confidence, trust, reliance, faith, belief; respect, esteem, repute; credit, authority, credibility; weight, importance; regard, respect, view, consideration'. (Platts p.60)

S. R. Faruqi:

In the first line and image and the metaphor have come together in such a way, and both are so devastating, that beyond this there's hardly anything left to be said. To add a line to such line was a burden that could be borne only by Mir himself.

The fundamental attribute of a :tilism is that the things by means of which it is established are very trifling-- or rather, nonexistent. But they certainly have some connection to those things that can be seen in the tilism. Thus in :tilism-e hoshrubaa vol. 2 [of the Dastan-e Amir Hamzah] (by Muhammad Husain Jah) there's an example of this: a female magician constructs a tilism in which are a wide and extensive verdant garden, a beautiful woman, a cow, and dance and song, etc. When that tilism is broken, then nothing remains-- but some lines drawn on the ground can be seen; and there's a small clay doll, and an ill-formed cow made of dough (p. 430). That is, having made these things, the female magician recited a spell over them, and prepared the tilism.

In olden times, it was also believed that by making a place 'tilism-bound' [:tilism-band] it could be protected from certain calamities. For example, it used to be said that some sage had made the 'city of Egypt' 'tilism-bound'; thus the crocodiles of the river Nile did no harm to its residents. Tilisms constructed by sages were usually for some good purpose-- for example, to test someone, or merely to manifest their own creative powers. (Ahmad Husain Qamar's dastan :tilism-e ;xayaal-e sikandarii [of the Dastan-e Amir Hamzah] accords with this statement. In it a sage named 'Khayal' constructs a powerful tilism, and becomes proud of his strength to such an extent that he makes a claim of divinity.) In bostaan-e ;xayaal , the sage Qitas ul-Hikmat is the creator of a number of tilisms, and all of them have one or another virtuous purpose. In contrast to this, tilisms created by magicians [saa;hir] were for luxury and enjoyment, and pomp and splendor, and power and oppression.

Now look at the verse. The world is a tilism created by some sage, so perhaps it's not malevolent, but in it there will be many kinds of tests, and for those who enter there will certainly be many kinds of hardships. The greatest of them is that people who live in the tilism, and people who enter the tilism-- for the people outside, neither group has any existence. Nor do they themselves have any sense of the existence of anything outside the tilism. Thus the people who are in this world are not aware of themselves, or anyone else.

Mir is at such a stage of revelation that he can see himself as separate from the tilism and the people of the tilism, and he says that if anything would exist, then there would also be confidence in the creation. At this time the aspect is that our perception of the universe exists by means of the world. And about this world he has realized that it's only a tilism. In short, a thing for which the evidence of its existence would be only a tilism-- what confidence would we have in it?

An additional point is that although we believe in the universe only on the strength of another world, and thus are within our rights to doubt its existence, nevertheless this doesn't prove that the universe has no existence at all. It's possible that the universe would exist in its own right, but that since we measure every substance by means of another world, we are unaware that it exists in its own right. Thus Mir has used the word 'confidence'. That is, we have no confidence. For us the universe is not trustworthy; it's possible that it might really exist, but how would we have confidence in it?

Now the question remains, of what the justification is for calling the world a tilism constructed by some sage. The answer to this is that if the universe exists necessarily, in its own right, then it's as ancient as the Divine Presence, or else it is itself the Divine Presence. If this is not the case (and it's clear that this is not the case) then we'll have to call it 'nonexistent' [be-vujuud]. Then why is it visible, and why don't we sense its nonexistence? Thus this is certainly some kind of tilism.

Amir Mina'i has taken this metaphor directly from Mir, but by giving the theme a moralistic tone he has made the idea much lighter:

aasaa;N nahii;N hai daam se dunyaa ke chhu;Tnaa
yih ik ba;Re ;hakiim kaa baa;Ndhaa :tilism hai

[it's not easy to get out of the net of the world,
this is a tilism constructed by a great sage]

In one place in the fifth divan Mir has invented for the sky the unusual metaphor of 'tilism of dust':


[See also {217,3}.]



Here's an elegant and sophisticated use of classic dastan terminology. We're fortunate to have it explained by SRF, who has done by far the best and most extensive work on the daastaan-e amiir ;hamzah ; he's also the only person I know of who has read all 46 massive volumes of the Naval Kishor 'long version' of this dastan.

Compare Ghalib's piquant use of the idea of a tilism, in an unpublished verse: