nazdiik ((aashiqo;N ke zamii;N hai qaraar-e ((ishq
aur aasmaa;N ;Gubaar-e sar-e rah-gu;zaar-e ((ishq

1a) according/'near' to lovers, the ground is the settlement/dwelling/fixity of passion
1b) according/'near' to lovers, the settlement/dwelling/fixity of passion is the ground

2a) and the sky, the dust of the [edge of the] highway of passion
2b) and the dust of the [edge of the] highway of passion, the sky



nazdiik : 'Near (to, -ke ), hard (by), close (to or by), not far (from), adjoining, contiguous (to); ... —in the opinion (of), in the estimation (of);—in the possession (of), with, by'. (Platts 1136)


qaraar : 'Dwelling, residence; fixing (one's) abode (in), settling; resting; fixedness, fixity; permanence; consistency; stability, firmness, constancy; tenacity (of purpose); —rest, repose, quietness, quiet, peace, tranquillity; quietude, patient waiting, patience; —settlement, determination, confirmation; conclusion; ratification; agreement, engagement; —reality, certainty, truth'. (Platts p.789)

S. R. Faruqi:

It's obvious that every person sees everything, and especially objects and scenes, in the light of his own individuality. It was for this reason that Nietzsche said that the reality of every thing changes with the viewer. But now look at Mir-- in this light, how supreme an image he constructs! He assumes the ground to be fixed, and assumes the sky to be revolving. Thus in the lovers' view, the ground is the dwelling of passion.

That is, if in passion the place of wildness and disarray would come to have fixity, then, so to speak, it would be endowed with a firmness and settledness like that of the ground. Or another interpretation is that when there would come to be fixity in passion then lovers feel that now their feet have been anchored in the ground. A third interpretation is that if the lover is asked 'What is this ground, this solid expanse?', then he will answer that this is the dwelling of passion. That is, ground is not ground; rather, it's the state in passion when instead of disarray and agitatedness, peace and solidity come. The final interpretation is that in the lovers' view, the fixity and peace of passion has an underlying quality like the ground.

In contrast to this, since the sky keeps revolving, and dust too keeps revolving, in the lovers' view the sky has no reality except that it's the dust of the highway of passion. In this there's also the implication that the highway of passion has such a lofty rank that the sky is its dust. Another interpretation is that the dust of the roadside of passion is so lofty, and so swiftly revolving, that it seems to be the sky. In this interpretation there's also the implication that the flying dust of the roadside of passion (which can be the lovers' dust) cannot be grasped by anyone, it is distant like the sky.

For rah-gu;zaar-e ((ishq there are two meanings. One is the highway that's the highway of passion; that is, it's the name of some place, some situation. The second meaning is, the highway that goes toward passion. And if we take the phrase as a proper name, then the meaning becomes 'that highway of which the name is Passion'. In the same way we can take qaraar in the meaning of 'assigned the name of' [qaul-o-qaraar]. Now the interpretation of the first line has become that according to lovers, the declaration/decree of passion is as fixed and firm as the ground. In short, wherever we focus our attention, a world comes into view. He's composed a complete and rich [mukammal-o-bharpuur] verse.



The ghazals with the 'passion' refrain are indeed an unusual set. An inventory can be found in {837,1}.

This verse makes consummately powerful use of what I call 'symmetry' (the Urdu grammatical fact that if A=B, then B=A). If the 'ground' is the 'settlement of passion', then it's equally true that the 'settlement of passion' is the 'ground'. And the same of course applies to the 'sky' and the 'dust of the highway of passion' in the second line. Already the interpretive possibilities can be seen to be all but inexhaustible.

And then, they are augmented by the multivalent possibilities of the izafat constructions: 'the X of Y' can mean 'the X that belongs to Y', 'the X that pertains to Y' (in some other, unspecified way), or 'the X that is Y'.

Then, all these complexities are further augmented by the splendidly versatile word qaraar (see the definition above). Just slotting its various possibilities one after another into the verse, multiplies its interpretive possibilities manyfold.

A further clever item of word- and meaning-play is ke nazdiik , for its abstract sense of 'in the opinion of' is an extension of its literal meaning, 'near' (see the definition above). The literal sense suggests that the key variable is proximity: where the lovers are, there the ground and the sky have special properties. While the abstract sense of course opens the possibility that the lovers are simply crazy, and that their wild claims merely reflect their madness.

SRF has rung some of the changes on these possibilities, and I could easily conjure up more. But what's the point? I'm sure you can (and will) do the job for yourself, dear reader. And we will each of us do it afresh every time we read the verse. What a miracle to create such endless and brilliant effects in fourteen or so words!

Compare Ghalib's slightly twistier meditation on lovers and the dust they kick up:


Note for grammar fans: The sar-e literally of course means 'the edge of' (or even more literally, and with excellent wordplay, the 'head' of), but in an idiomatic usage transferred from Persian it can also just be a bit emphatic or even decorative: 'the edge of the highway' can mean basically 'the highway'. So we can either give it importance, or just leave it untranslated-- another choice provided by this complex verse.