ay aahuvaan-e ka((bah nah ai;N;Do ;haram ke gard
khaa))o kisuu kii te;G kisuu ke shikaar ho

1) oh deer [plural] of the Ka'bah, don't strut/loll/lounge around the sanctuary!
2) fall to someone's sword, become someone's prey!



ai;N;Dnaa : 'To strut, stalk, swagger ... ; to roll or turn from side to side, to roll about (as in bed); to stagger or reel (like a drunkard); to lie idle, loll about'. (Platts p.116)


;haram : 'The sacred territory of Mecca; the temple of Mecca, or the court of the temple; a sanctuary'. (Platts p.476)


gard : 'Going round, revolving; traversing, travelling or wandering over, or through, or in'. (Platts p.903)


te;G khaanaa : 'To receive a sword-cut'. (Platts p.352)

S. R. Faruqi:

Because of its qalandar-like dignity, its insha'iyah style of expression, and its theme (that if there would be no sympathy/compassion in the heart, then even a pure creature like the deer of the sanctuary is incomplete), this verse is deservedly famous.

The first point is that those people who have a traditional kind of mechanical acquaintance with the principles of eloquence [balaa;Gat] maintain that in the second line there's 'padding' [;hashv], because (in their opinion) 'fall to someone's sword' and 'become someone's prey' have the same meaning. At the most, it will be said that since this repetition creates pleasure, there is padding, but it's 'piquant' [malii;h]. (A word that's entirely useless is 'vile padding' [;hashv-e qabii;h]; a word that's neither effective nor useless is 'mediocre padding' [;hashv-e mutavassi:t]; a word that's repeated, but brings no benefit, is 'piquant stuffing' [;hashv-e malii;h].)

The truth is that in this verse there's no 'padding'. And a second important point is that the categories of 'piquant padding' and 'mediocre padding' are in fact meaningless. If any word is useless than it is 'padding', and if it's effective than it's not 'padding'. In a poem there will either be padding, or there will not be padding. For example, in the line under discussion 'fall to someone's sword' and 'become someone's prey' have different dimensions and modes of meaning.

To 'fall to a sword' alludes to a physical and bodily action. To 'become a prey' has the sense of being captured, or being helpless, or being harmed by somebody, or being subjugated. To become someone's prey, or to become the prey of circumstances, does not have the same meaning as to fall to someone's sword or to fall to the sword of circumstances. (The 'sword of circumstances' is more or less meaningless.) Or for example, 'weak people are the prey of strong people' doesn't have the same interpretation as 'weak people fall to the swords of strong people'. Thus Mir's line absolutely doesn't have 'padding'.

Let's consider the next point. After falling to someone's sword, or becoming someone's prey, what will be the result? This has been left up to fate. Thus a sequence of possibilities has been created:

(1) then you will be worth something
(2) then you will be able to become complete; as yet, you are incomplete
(3) then you will know what passion is
(4) then you will know what kind of thing life is

To see this theme in a very different style, see:


In the shikaar-naamah-e duvvum , he has composed this idea in a slightly light style:

u;Thaa kar nah yak za;xm-e shamshiir us kaa
;Gazaal-e ;haram ne u;Thaa))ii malaamat

[having borne not one wound of her sword
the gazelle of the sanctuary bore blame]

In the present verse, the word ai;N;Do is very fine. For ai;N;Dnaa has the common meaning of 'to strut, to preen', or 'to show arrogance, vanity, conceit'. Since the yawning done by an intoxicated person is also called ai;N;Dnaa , this word has usually been versified with a theme of intoxication and gazing. Sauda:

bah rang-e taak ai;N;Dtaa phire hai jahaa;N to baa;G-e jahaa;N me;N saudaa
mai;N kyaa kahuu;N vaa;N se vuh vuh siyyaar kar ga))e hai;N gu;zaar apnaa

[wherever by way of viewing I saunter/strut around, then in the garden of the world, Sauda
what can I say-- after taking what-all strolls, my passing through there!]

chaman nah tanhaa jinho;N ke ;Gam se hanuuz chhaatii pah khaa))e hai gul
rakhe hai ab tak hazaar jaa se ravish bhii siinah figaar apnaa

[it's not the garden alone that now {cauterizes itself / 'eats roses'} in grief for that one
even/also the path, by now, has wounded its breast in a thousand places]


ai;N;Dtaa thaa tere masto;N kii :tara;h se baa;G me;N
.saa;hib-e kaifiyat apne silsile me;N taak thaa

[it strutted/yawned like your intoxicated ones-- in the garden
oh possessor of 'mood', in connection with you, there was watching]

As is evident, in both poets' verses the meaning has fully appeared, but there's no new direction or depth. Mir, by showing the ai;N;Dnaa of the deer of the Ka'bah, has also shown their pride and coquetry. He has also made it clear that all this strutting and arrogance is false, because (1) if they had fallen to someone's sword, they would have forgotten all this strutting; or (2) if they had fallen to the sword and then strutted then that would have been something else, it would have been the occasion for pride and glory; now, it's only empty arrogance.

The phrase ;haram ke gard is also fine. Because as long as the deer of the Ka'bah remain within the sanctuary, they will be protected. Thus they should first emerge from the area of the sanctuary, then wander in streets and deserts, then become worthy of being hunted down. In the true sense, it's a great verse.

Al-e Ahmad Surur, discussing this verse, has written,

For 'humaneness' [insaaniyat], Mir made use of a term well known in his day, 'passion'-- which takes a man out of the circle of self-interested pursuits and makes him familiar with a large purpose or mission or pathway, and from the heat/enthusiasm of which, in a purposeless life, a heat is generated that at length becomes a light of his life.

Surur Sahib's point expresses one aspect of the meaning of this verse, but the amount of moral pressure/weight that Surur Sahib has seen in this verse is probably greater than what's really there. In any case, it won't be proper to limit the verse to a single meaning. This verse is about the experience of life-- of which a purpose, a mission, a pathway is only one part.



What exactly are the deer being reproached for? Depending on where we place the emphasis in the first line, there would seem to be several possible reproaches:

=Don't strut, loll, lounge around (don't pretentiously flaunt your idleness and your protected status).

=Don't strut around within the sanctuary (but rather, leave this narrow space).

=Don't strut around in the sanctuary (but rather, go out to where you have no guaranteed safety).

It's a doubly insha'iyah challenge to the deer-- maybe to their ethical sense, maybe to their personal courage, maybe to their honor, maybe to their mystical longings or romantic dreams of transcendence. Not only should they give up their special privileges and go out into the larger world where they are vulnerable-- but they should do so in a way that turns them into lovers, and sets them up for one or another kind of appropriately lover-like doom.

But then, as SRF points out, 'fall to someone's sword' and 'become someone's prey' are not necessarily the same thing. How exactly do they differ, and which (if any) differences are significant? Do the significant differences involve swords versus arrows, or voluntary surrender versus being hunted down, or literal versus metaphorical death? All this is, as so often, left for us to decide.

Note for translation fans: What a pity that we can't really say 'eat someone's sword' in English! Of course, I could have said it anyway, because my dear English is willing to cut me some slack (and so are you, I hope). I've seen 'He might eat his gun' used idiomatically in English, but that refers to suicide, whereas the Urdu phrase proposes a kind of quasi-suicide-by-murderer. But finally I decided to go with 'fall to someone's sword', because there's no wordplay about 'eating' in the verse.