sar hii se sarvaad yih sab hai hijr kii us ke kulfat me;N
sar ko kaa;T ke haath pah rakkhe aap hii milne jaa))uu;Ngaa

1) from only/emphatically the head is all this poetry/triviality, in the hardship/trouble of separation from her,
2) having cut off the head, having placed it upon the palm, I myself will go to meet her



sarvaad : 'Poesy, ode, song; vain, idle talk'. (Steingass p.679)

S. R. Faruqi:

sarvaad = poetry, storytelling, trivialities

Asi, and (probably following him) Kalb-e Ali Khan Fa'iq, have written sarvaah . Asi has given its meaning as 'headache', but I have never found this word as such in any dictionary. There is certainly a saying [which will be explained below], sar se sarvaahaa hai or sar se sarvaah hai , but in it the meaning has no connection with 'headache'. In Persian sarvaa and sarvaad certainly exist, in [the dictionaries] burhaan-e qaa:ta(( and Steingass; the meanings those dictionaries have given are even very suitable, although, as with the 'headache' meaning, their meaningfulness is not at once evident.

There is madness in the head, and on that basis separation creates suffering. As a result of that suffering in the head poetry, story-telling, magic spells, or rather, trivial/vain ideas arise. That is, poetry in fact arises in the head, and since the suffering of separation in the head is great, we are compelled to endure this constant babbling. Expressing his ideas over and over, the speaker has become bored/irritated; now he thinks, if there would be no head, then neither would there be this verbal talking and expressing. I'll cut off my head and put it on my palm, and myself go to meet her, and whatever is to happen I will undergo right there.

If the meaning of 'headache' is adopted, then no interpretation emerges for 'I myself will go to meet her'. The point is that up till now I used to send to the beloved my poetry and nonsense; nothing came of that. But as long as there's the head, poetry-composition will continue; so I'll cut off my head and go myself and experience whatever is destined for me. He's composed a fine verse.

In the second line, there's the mood of 'vexation-- onward to the battlefield!' [tang aamad bah jang aamad], but the quarrel/battle [jang] is against himself-- thus it's especially terrifying. Through sar kaa;T ke haath par rakhe the image of 'to place one's life in the palm of the hand and bear it away' [jaan hathelii par rakh kar le jaanaa] also arises.

There's a famous story about the martyrdom of Sarmad; the mind is led towards it as well. It's said that when Sarmad began to be slain, he recited this [Persian] verse:

'The ardor that was our friend has caused our head to be separated from our body,
Come on, let's make a long story short; otherwise, it's a great headache.'

They say that after his head had been cut off, Sarmad, carrying it in his hands, descended the steps of the Jama Masjid and went toward the bazaar. A panic arose among the people. Then from the invisible [((adam] came the voice of his Pir [murshid], 'Sarmad, what are you doing?' Then his head fell from his hands, and he himself fell to the ground. It's said that the place beneath the steps of the Jama Masjid where he is buried, is the very place where he had fallen. Whether the story is true or not, there can be no doubt of its dramatic effect. Mir's line too, like this story, is dramatic. It wouldn't be strange if at the time of composing it, Mir had had in his mind this account of the martyrdom of Sarmad.

Another possibility is that Mir might in fact have written sarvaah , but it's not probable that he would have meant by it 'headache'. There's a verse in the third divan [{1289,2}]:

nah afsar hai ne dard-e sar ne kulah
kih yaa;N jaisaa sar vaisaa sarvaah hai

[there's neither a crown, nor a headache, nor a faqir's-cap,
for here, as is the head, so is the headgear/equipment(?)]

The meaning of sar se sarvaahaa or sar se sarvaah is: 'all goods and possessions are because of the chief'. For example, if there's a master, then there are servants too; if there's a husband, then there's a wife too; if there's a turban, then it's because of the head, etc. It's possible that the meaning of sarvaah might have been 'turban', as appears from Platts and the farhang-e aa.sifiyah , but this individual word is not in those dictionaries.

In any case, as far as {1289,2} goes, we'll have to assume for sarvaah the meaning of 'goods and possessions', 'arrangements', etc., because in that verse this meaning seems appropriate, and the proverb too has been more or less versified, and the rhyme too is gaah , raah , etc. In the nuur ul-lu;Gaat there's no entry for sarvaah , but sarvaahaa meaning 'goods and possessions' has been entered.

But in the present verse, I give preference to sarvaad over sarvaah . If we consider it a Persian word, the meaning that I understand for the verse is also many levels better than that of sarvaah . Mir had a great ardor for using unfamiliar Arabic and Persian words; this we have already seen. We have already seen, too, that he has always used these words in their correct meanings. Thus there's no reason for us to assume that in the present verse Mir wrote sarvaah and misconstrued its meaning.

[See also {350,8}.]



The phrase hijr kii us ke takliif me;N also plays a special role: it's what I call, for want of a better name, a 'midpoint'. It can be read adverbially either with the clause before it (the earlier part of the first line), or with the second line.

This is certainly a verse of 'dramatic' imagery, as SRF notes. It seems also to be a clear sign of madness on the part of the speaker. His plan to cut off his own head and carry it by hand to the beloved is just as insane as that of the would-be lover who plans to scar himself with flowers in


Note for meter fans: The spelling of rakkhe , with its tashdiid , is required by the meter, and is a permissible variation in such cases.