;xuub kiyaa jo ahl-e karam ke juud kaa kuchh nah ;xayaal kiyaa
ham jo faqiir hu))e to ham ne pahle tark-e savaal kiyaa

1) [someone] did well, in that [someone] gave no thought/heed to the bountifulness of the people of generosity
2) when we became a faqir, then we first renounced asking/questioning



juud : 'Liberality, bountifulness, munificence, generosity'. (Platts p.396)


;xayaal karnaa : 'To think (of), to consider, imagine, fancy, conceive; to regard attentively, to attend (to), direct the attention (to), to mind, observe; to form designs (against, - kaa )'. (Platts p.498)

S. R. Faruqi:

He has arranged the 'seating' [nishast] of the words in such a way that for a moment the thought occurs that the verse has no 'connection'. In fact the situation of the first line is that it's an under-the-breath comment on the second line. The meaning of adopting faqiirii is to renounce attachments. But sometimes the faqir becomes obliged even to ask. (Or rather, in the common idiom the very meaning of faqiir is 'mendicant'). When we girded up our loins to renounce attachments, first of all we renounced 'asking' itself. We did well, in that we paid no heed to the generosity of charitable and generous people. That is, apartt for the Lord, we didn't keep in view the generosity of anybody else.

But the 'renunciation of asking' can also be taken to mean that we didn't spread our hand [in appeal] even before the Lord. The reason for not spreading the hand before the generous people of the world can be that there was nothing they could give us-- the thing in search of which we had adopted faqiirii was not in their possession at all. Or else it can be taken to mean that we adopted the 'renunciation of asking' in the sense that every single thing would be renounced, nobody's kindness would be accepted at all.

Now the question is, on what occasion has the verse been said? Several answers are possible:

1) On seeing other faqirs becoming contemptible/'eaters' [;xvaar honaa] at the hands of generous people.

2) On seeing that those who are askers cannot do justice in the real sense to the renunciation of the world, because if the asker wouldn't receive, then he remains melancholy, in search of what he is trying to find; and if he would get it, then there remains the longing for more.

3) In the last moments of life, when a man draws up an account of the days that have passed.

In the verse another subtle pleasure is that he has not denied the presence of the people of generosity, or of their generosity; he has only said that he gave to those things no importance.



The first line is a complete statement in itself, commending the behavior of some person or persons unknown; because of the ergative ne , we can't tell anything at all about the subject. (The jo can't be pressed into service as a subject, because it would need to be jis ne .) When I first looked at the line, a third-person reading seemed very natural to me: the speaker was part of a conversation, and was commenting favorably on the behavior of someone whose doings were under discussion. This uncertainty about the circumstances helps to make the verse a fine 'mushairah verse', since the hearers are obliged to wait in anticipation (for as long as can conveniently be managed) before they're allowed to hear the second line.

Once we hear the second line (with its own maximally-delayed punch-word savaal ), SRF says that it causes us to annex the first line, so that the speaker is commending his own behavior. This is of course the most obvious reading. But in a conversational context, the speaker could also be praising someone else's behavior, or endorsing some pattern of behavior in the abstract ('The man who...'), and then citing his own behavior as evidence that he had long followed the same excellent practice himself.

It's also true, as SRF points out, that the speaker hasn't explicitly denied the existence of generous people, or questioned their generosity. Yet it's also so easy, so inviting, to read a sarcastic intent behind that first line! If we imagine scare quotes around 'bountifulness', the comment becomes part of a conversation about some sort of exploitative, or self-promoting, or even miserly behavior by some of the 'people of generosity'. On that reading, too, the speaker may be congratulating himself for having renounced all 'questioning' not only in the sense of all 'asking' or begging, but also in the sense of all inquiring or investigating so as to discover the hollowness of some claims of 'bountifulness'; rather than inquiring about them, one should simply give them no thought at all. In short, I'm proposing that the 'tone' of the verse can in fact be quite flexible.

Mir himself, in another verse, formulates the cynical reading wonderfully [{41,4}]:

aage javaab se un logo;N ke baare mu((aafii apnii hu))ii
ham bhii faqiir hu))e the lekin ham ne tark-e savaal kiyaa

[before an answer from those people, finally we were 'excused' [by death]
we too had become a faqir-- but we gave up asking]

But then again, theoretically the lover could have died so quickly that even a truly generous benefactor wouldn't have had time to respond. In the hands of a master, the complexities of simple little two-line verses are endless.

Compare Ghalib's equally sophisticated treatment of a similar theme: