thaa miir to diivaanah par saath :zaraafat ke
ham-silsilah-vaaro;N kii zanjiir hilaa jaataa

1) Mir was mad no doubt, but with wit/humor,
2) he used to go on shaking the chains of those linked together in a line/chain



:zaraafat : 'Beauty; ingenuity, &c. ... ; wit, humour, jocularity, facetiousness, pleasantry, fun, jest'. (Platts p.755)

S. R. Faruqi:

The wordplay of silsilah (meaning 'chain') and zanjiir is fine. In the verse the story and the character too are interesting. Mir-- well, he was mad after all; but those people who are linked to him, will they be any the less mad? And it's possible that they might be criminals as well, so that they would have been imprisoned. There's a helpless and constrained body of people, bound in chains. Their bondage is so harsh, or they are guarded so rigorously, that they don't have the nerve even to move their limbs.

Now the madman Mir passes by from some direction, and like a madman averts his face from them; laughing at them, he shakes the chains of those linked together, and goes away.

Fate/death for a single moment becomes a bit radiant. For the madman, in jest, to shake the chains is as captivating as it is eloquent. The wildness/terrifyingness and helplessness come to the fore. And the word silsilah-vaar too is very fresh.

[See also {1781,1}.]



Until I read SRF's analysis it had never occurred to me that 'Mir' might simply have passed by and spent a few crazy moments rattling the chains of a 'chain gang' (presumably of mad lovers). I took it that Mir himself was part of the chain gang. And the ham gives my reading a certain amount of backing, for silsilah-vaar by itself could well mean just 'linked/chained'. The ham gives extra emphasis to the idea of 'together'; it doesn't require us to think that it includes Mir as well, but it definitely suggests such a possibility.

On this reading, whatever crazy impulse led Mir to shake the chains applies to himself as much as to the other madmen-- he's rattling his own chains too. (But in favor of SRF's reading it can be said that Mir might be rattling the chains of the others to point out that he's a special kind of madman, one who is chained only to himself and is not part of any line or gang.)

There's also an elegant 'midpoint' undecideability about par saath ;zaraafat ke -- it can be read as part of the first line (Mir is mad, but witty), or as part of the second line (jestingly he rattles the chains).

But of course the real delight of the verse is the radical indecipherability of the gesture. Is he implying that chains are a joke? That efforts to get free from them are a joke? That efforts to sit quietly and independently while chained together are a joke? That the chained men themselves are some sort of comic spectacle? That passers-by should notice the loudly clanking chains? That the chains are emblematic of the human condition? Or whatever. Mir has compelled/allowed us to decide for ourselves.