ta;hriik chalne kii hai jo dekho nigaah kar
hai))at ko apnii maujo;N me;N aab-e ravaa;N ke biich

1) the agitation/instigation/plan of moving is-- when you would look, and observe
2) your own face/aspect/style, in the waves, amidst the flowing water



ta;hriik : 'Putting in motion; motion, movement, agitation, commotion; incitement, stimulus, encouragement, excitement, instigation, temptation'. (Platts p.312)


nigaah karnaa : 'To look (at), to observe, view, regard, notice; —to overlook [=look over], to inspect'. (Platts p.1151)


hai))at : 'Face, countenance; aspect; figure; exterior form; —state, quality; —manner, mode, style, fashion'. (Platts p.1244)

S. R. Faruqi:

Many things and many events in the world give mankind the lesson that life is short. In order to present this hackneyed ['trodden-underfoot', pesh-paa-uftaadah] idea, Mir has searched out the peerless image of the constantly appearing and disappearing forms reflected in flowing water.

From this kind of verses, a feature of our poetics becomes clear: that with us there are two visions of 'originality'. One is that of 'theme-creation', and the other is that of searching out a new metaphor for some worn-out [paa-maal] theme. This latter too is an aspect of 'theme-creation'.

In western poetics too (probably under eastern influence) this idea was current for a considerable time. Mario Praz, in an essay on John Donne, has given examples from various languages of a single theme: that the beloved would come in a dream, but before the lover can speak to her or act on his wish, his eyes open (by coincidence, the Persian poets too have used this theme well). The vision of 'originality' in which the idea would be one that no one had ever expressed before, is in truth a Romantic vision, and has come to us from nineteenth-century Europe.

In the present verse, the ambiguity of the word ta;hriik is also fine, because it can mean 'to set in motion, to move', but in Urdu it usually appears in the sense of 'stimulation, instigation' or 'view, plan'.



You wouldn't just 'look' [dekhnaa], you'd also 'observe' [nigaah karnaa]-- so you'd probably be looking intently or contemplating, surely over some period of time. Yet the longer you contemplated or observed yourself in the flowing water, the more you'd see endless dissolves and fragmentations, so that you could hardly become familiar with even your 'own' face.

But what kind of an insight (or failure of insight) would this process generate? The verse tells us that this process is ta;hriik chalne kii , which could almost be translated as 'the movement of moving', giving rise to spectacular word- and meaning-play (and a crazy, dizzying sense of instability).

Of course, it could also be read as 'the instigation/incitement of movement [by you]'-- that is, when you see how your reflection in running water is ceaselessly moving, the sight stimulates you yourself to keep moving too (out of desperation? out of blind imitation? with resigned melancholy? out of a detached sense of the instability of life?).

Or it could be read as 'the agitation of movement [by you]'-- which could mean that watching your face in the water creates either a literal agitation (you fidget restlessly, you shift from foot to foot) or a metaphorical one (the sight makes you anxious or excited).

Or instead, the 'movement' could be not that of the viewer, but that of the water, or the reflection, or an idea in the viewer's head ('this is what movement is'), so that the viewer might be learning the nature of movement in a more abstract way. (The viewer might then similarly contemplate a rock, to learn what 'stability' is.)

In short, it's a multiply moving verse about the movement of moving. Its mood can be anything you like. It will flow like water, reflecting your own moving moods.

A personal note: Today happens to be my birthday. This verse is a perfect birthday verse. (Pratt, I'm so glad to share it with you.)