jhuk ke salaam kisuu ko karnaa sijdah hii ho jaataa hai
sar jaave go us me;N meraa sar nah faro mai;N laa))uu;Ngaa

1) to bend/bow/stoop and make a salutation/salaam to someone, becomes only/emphatically a prostration
2) although my head might go in it, I will not bring my head low



jhuknaa : 'To be bent down (as the bough of a tree), to bend, stoop, lean, incline; ... to bow, to nod; to crouch; ... to submit, to yield'. (Platts p.405)


salaam : 'Salutation, greeting, compliments'. (Platts p.668)


sijdah : 'Prostration (in prayer, &c.); bowing so as to touch the ground with the forehead in adoration (esp. to God), adoration'. (Platts p.643)


faro : Down; below, beneath, under'. (Platts p.780)

S. R. Faruqi:

The point is that if the head is cut off, then the of course it falls down. Thus the claim of not lowering the head becomes invalidated on its own terms. The ambiguity of the verse is also fine-- he has not explained whether the claim/demand for a salaam is from the beloved, or from a patron, or from the Shaikh of the city. Through sijdah hii ho jaataa hai it's become clear that the speaker is not mad but rather in his senses, and aware of the claims of the shari'at.

On various occasions Mir says things that are extremely sensible and wise. In this context, here is an antagonistic verse from the second divan:




'Although my head might go in it' is a somewhat unclear shorthand for 'although I might lose my head for refusing to bow to someone'. To collapse all the whole idea into 'in it' (presumably for 'in the process of refusal') is of course convenient, and its obscurity isn't beyond the normal range. The real energy of the verse pretty clearly comes from all the 'head' wordplay-- implied in the first line, then doubly explicit in the second.

SRF's point about how a cut-off head would inevitably fall down is no doubt one aspect of the verse, but to me it seems secondary. The speaker explicitly recognizes his vulnerability to death (he knows that he might be executed for his behavior), and what he asserts is that he refuses to himself 'bring' his own head low. If the head were to become physically lowered to the ground after his death, no doubt he would greet the prospect with a shrug. Whatever might happen to his body after his death is immaterial; that's not what his claim is about. His claim can remain in the most important sense secure if as long as he has lived, he has not himself yielded, consented, 'brought low' his head.

But the lover's claim that to 'bow' or 'bend' in a greeting or salutation 'becomes' a prostration is clearly hyperbolic. Court etiquette around the world has very often involved bowing; polite social greetings in many times and places have also incorporated such a gesture of symbolic humility. I know a number of South Asians who as a matter of course bend to touch the feet of their elders when they greet them; the elders may arrest the gesture and turn it into a blessing, but the gesture is definitely made. When poets at mushairahs are praised, the old-fashioned ones may still do tasliim , a gesture that includes bending from the waist (and in the old days was done from a sitting position); even younger poets often bend their heads as part of a gesture of appreciation.

Perhaps theologically one could push the argument as far as the speaker does (in an implied claim that all bowing or bending of the head infringes on God's prerogatives), but still the argument is extreme. And in fact the verse itself makes no reference to any theological concerns, unless the word sijdah would be taken to express such a concern (which is possible, but not required; see the definition above). A strong aversion to 'lowness' can suggestion arrogance just as easily as religious zeal.

In what sense does a bow 'become' a prostration? Certainly not the literal, physical one; no one could mistake the two. So it must be an inner, mental one-- and only in the mind of a person who rejects the claims of traditional authority, conventional courtesy, and familial respect. So is the speaker perhaps a bit mad after all?