ba;h;s aa pa;Re jo lab se tumhaare to chup raho
kuchh bolnaa nahii;N tumhe;N is guft-guu ke biich

1) if discussion would take place about/with your lips, then keep quiet!
2) you shouldn't say anything in the midst of this conversation



ba;h;s : 'Disputation, discussion, controversy, argument, debate, dispute; altercation, wrangling, contention'. (Platts p.137)

S. R. Faruqi:

There can be several aspects of lab se ba;h;s aa pa;Rnaa : (1) there would be an account of the beauty of the beloved's lips; (2) by putting one's lips on the lips of the beloved there would be a 'discussion'-- that is, it would be an entirely direct thing; (3) 'by means of the beloved's lips' would mean direct address to her.

The original meaning of ba;h;s is 'to dig, to scratch'. Thus the interpretation of joining one's mouth to the beloved's mouth in order to have ba;h;s with her lips seems most fitting. It's obvious that in such a situation, the poor beloved-- how can she speak at all? Now the mischievousness of the second line becomes more clearly evident. First he's closed her mouth, then he's said, 'you keep quiet, it's not the occasion for you to speak'.

If the mouth-upon-mouth interpretation is not accepted, then it can be said that when the conversation would be about the beloved's lips, then to forbid her to move her lips is also a form of mischief-- that the one who is being praised would not be authorized to speak (that is, to prove that that praise is true).



Speaking of lips, this verse reminds me of the famous


with its charming simplicity and all that. In that verse the delicacy of her lip is evoked by a rose-petal, with kyaa kahiye for the word- and meaning-play of lips and speech and the inexpressibility trope. It's a short meter of course, and it gets its good brief punch in effectively.

The nature of her lips is even more vividly invoked, through their decisive role in dispute-resolution, in


for it's the movement of her lips that will settle the question of whether they are rubies or rose-leaves.

But the present verse is so much wittier and more enjoyable than either of these! It's more open-ended. Perhaps the beloved shouldn't speak because her lips are being used as evidence by the discussants, and the evidence should not be disturbed. But there are other possibilities as well. Certainly the beloved is being praised and teased-- with an extra hint of erotic suggestiveness thrown in as well.

But most amusingly, in that second line she is also being instructed, or enjoined. For it's just the kind of thing a parent might warn a child about: 'If that happens, you must just keep quiet, you must not interrupt ( biich bolnaa can mean 'to interrupt'), do you understand?!' This instruction might even be an implicit scolding: if the child had interrupted or behaved improperly in the past, an injunction for the future might take exactly this form. When her lips are the topic of discussion, she should not disrupt things by opening them.