rau;Nd ke jaur se un ne ham ko paa))o;N ;hinaa))ii apne kiye
;xuun hamaaraa bismil-gah me;N kin rango;N paa-maal kiyaa

1) having trodden upon us, with oppression/violence, she made her feet henna-ed
2) in the slaughter-place, {in what a way / 'with what colors'} she trampled our blood underfoot!



raundnaa : 'To trample on, to tread down; to ride over; to crush; to lay waste, to destroy; —to tread out (corn)'. (Platts p.608)


jaur : 'Wrong-doing, injustice, oppression, violence, tyranny'. (Platts p.396)

S. R. Faruqi:

For blood, kin rango;N is very fine. In the verse the point is that there's no complaint at my being murdered. Rather, the complaint [shikaayat] is only that she trod upon and trampled my blood. In the word 'slaughter-place' there's also an implication that other people too must have been murdered there. That is, she trod upon only my blood, in a special way; she considered me alone to be worthy to be degraded in this way. The feeling of blood being trodden underfoot is so intense that it seems that we were trodden upon while we were still alive; thus in the first line there's the mention of ourself being trampled underfoot.

This verse is the only one of Mir's with this theme, because usually he emphasizes the fact that he would be murdered apart from others, and with 'distinction/discrimination' (that is, the way in the present verse she murdered him and then trampled him underfoot in a special way). In a number of verses there's a complaint that she didn't kill him separately, but rather slew him along with others, and in this way gave him 'similarity' with others. In the first divan


From the sixth divan [{1904,5}]:

saan maaraa aur kushto;N me;N mire kushte ko bhii
us kushandah la;Rke ne be-imtiyaazii ;xuub kii

[he killed us among other slain ones-- even my slaughter
that murderous boy did with a fine lack of distinction!]

It's possible that in the present verse too the complaint might be that in any case the result of trampling the blood underfoot is that my blood and body have been mingled with those of others, and no discrimination has remained. But to use the blood as henna on the feet is in itself a very large distinction. Thus either to Mir even this distinction is not acceptable, in connection with such non-discrimination that his body would be mingled with those of others; or else the verse alludes to some personal experience-- that is, it's possible that in this verse Mir has complained of Lucknow and the people of Lucknow, that they didn't show him respect according to his status.

In this latter sense the verse becomes 'allegorical' [tam;siilii], and by the beloved's feet becoming henna-ed by Mir's blood can be meant that Asaf Ali Khan's or Sa'adat Ali Khan's court had been adorned by Mir, but Mir himself received no respect there. Kazim Ali Khan has claimed in an essay that Mir had no complaint against Lucknow. He says that when Mir became attached to the court at Lucknow, he received such honor and comfort/ease as he had never had anywhere before. Kazim Ali Khan also says that after the death of Asaf ud-Daulah, for four years Mir's salary was stopped, and in about 1801, through the efforts of Insha, it again began to be paid. Thus if there are any verses of Mir's that complain against Lucknow, they come from this same period. In this regard Kazim Ali Khan agrees with Safdar 'Ah' in saying that those famous verses of the 'Shikar-namah' in which Mir has spoken of turning back and taking away the 'wealth of poetry', and says 'we've stayed long in Lucknow, let's go home', are later insertions. Kazim Ali Khan says apart from some verses in the fourth divan, in the poetry of Mir there is no complaint against Lucknow; therefore it's proved that Mir lived very comfortably in Lucknow.

I have no hesitation in believing that in Lucknow Mir found much honor and comfort. But this doesn't prove that in Lucknow he was happy as well. Even if the verses from the 'Shikar-namah' are considered to be insertions, even then it's not proven that apart from the fourth divan Mir never said anything bad about Lucknow. Even if the present verse isn't considered to be allegorical, and to be based on a complaint about Lucknow, in the light of the verses below Kazim Ali Khan's claim that apart from those verses in the fourth divan that date from the time of the salary-stoppage, Mir has never made a complaint about Lucknow, is shown to be erroneous. From the fifth divan [{1557,4}]:

go lakhna))uu viiraa;N hu))aa ham aur aabaadii me;N jaa
maqsuum apnaa laa))e;Nge ;xalq-e ;xudaa mulk-e ;xudaa

[although Lucknow has become desolate, we will go to another town
and bring our portion/destiny-- 'the creatures are the Lord's, the land is the Lord's']

From the fifth divan:


Both these verses are from the fifth divan, which had already been prepared by 1803. Kazim Ali Khan declares the fifth divan to date from around 1798. If this is correct, then it's probable that if not both, at least one of these verses is certainly from the time of Asif ud-Daulah, and one would presumably be from the time of Sa'adat Ali Khan.

The verse below from the fifth divan is clearly from the time of Asif ud-Daulah and Vazir Ali Khan, and in an ambiguous way complains of, along with both of them, of Sa'adat Ali Khan as well:


Since Vazir Ali Khan ruled for only a very brief period, the strongest possibility is that this verse has to do with Asaf ud-Daulah and Sa'adat Ali Khan. The largest part of the fourth divan itself (or rather, possibly the whole fourth divan) is from the time of Asaf ud-Daulah. Thus Kazim Ali Khan's claim that the verses in the fourth divan that complain about Lucknow are from after the death of Asaf ud-Daulah, is also proved incorrect. For example, this verse seems to come from only a little while after his arrival in Lucknow [{1326,7}]:

lakhna))uu dillii se aayaa yaa;N bhii rahtaa hai udaas
miir ko sar-gashtagii ne be-dil-o-;hairaa;N kiyaa

[he came to Lucknow from Delhi; here too he remains forlorn
distress has made Mir downhearted and stupefied]

In the light of these evidences, it seems particularly probable that the present verse would be of an allegorical style, and in the veil of allegory a complaint about Lucknow would be intended. For more, see:




Well, I'm really stunned by SRF's commentary. First of all, what is there that particularly marks the verse as a 'complaint'? That second line, thanks to the 'kya effect', could equally well be an expression almost of (ironic?) admiration-- 'What a devastatingly effective murderer she is! She not only slew me and stomped me into the ground, but she also used my blood to make the most remarkable henna patterns on her feet!' After all, the mad lover very often longs to die at the hand of the beloved, and this verse reports a magnificently gory and intimate finale of just that kind.

And then, is there any reason to believe that the present verse makes a 'complaint' against the speaker's being treated in a way that doesn't distinguish him from others? SRF begins by observing that the present verse, almost uniquely, does not make such a complaint. He then gives a couple of examples of more typical verses that do make this 'non-distinction' complaint. But he then goes on to say that perhaps this verse too might make such a complaint, because the result of the trampling underfoot might be that the speaker's blood was mingled with that of others in the 'slaughter-place'. This is a possible but quite tenuous interpretation, since as SRF has previously noted it has no support in the main, clear reading of the verse.

Then SRF goes on to theorize that the verse might refer 'allegorically' to the real-life Mir's real-life grievances against the rulers of Lucknow. This to me is just unfathomable. Normally nobody is more averse to ungrounded 'natural poetry' and zamaan-o-makaan readings than SRF (although I think I can claim to be a close second). And here he's gone and indulged in it on what look to me to be exceptionally flimsy and arbitrary grounds. Of course, he's only ranked the idea as the second of two alternative readings, but it still looks quite unpersuasive.

Not only is there no mention of Lucknow itself, or of any word suggestive of anything Lakhnavi. But also, every single image, every quality and suggested act of the lover's and the beloved's, all the distinction or non-distinction, every bit of wordplay-- every element of the verse seems entirely typical of the ghazal world and its deeply embedded themes. It would be easy to cite lots of parallels. Seriously-- if SRF hadn't taken it into his head that this verse might refer to Mir's complaints about Lucknow, could you ever possibly have imagined that it did? I certainly couldn't have done so. And even given the immense authority of SRF's analytical abilities, it's still quite hard for me to envision it. Or rather, if this kind of reasoning would suffice, then hundreds of Mir's verses could also be complaining about the hardships of his life in Lucknow.

The question of the quality and quantity of Mir's poetic complaints about Lucknow is really an enjoyable one, and it's a pleasure to see SRF discuss it so authoritatively and with such conviction. But I can't for the life of me see why it should be relevant to this verse in particular. And by contrast, the other illustrative verses that he cites really, manifestly are about Lucknow. Which only makes it all the more conspicuous that this particular verse has to be dragged into the 'Lucknow' category by sheer rhetorical force. Perhaps SRF was just reading Kazim Ali Khan, and was in the mood to enter the scholarly lists and break a lance or two with him.

Or perhaps I just miss the point of it all. I don't even see much real excitement in the verse, beyond the kind of wordplay that's nothing out of the ordinary for Mir. He's using the same kind of play on rango;N that he used in {1333,1}. And of course the insha'iyah second line is radically dependent on the choice of tone-- is is wry? melancholy? amused? matter-of-fact? proud? Etc. etc. This too is absolutely unremarkable in the context of Mir's divan.

(While we're discussing hatched jobs on Lucknow, it's worth noting that Ghalib provides a very enjoyable one: