miir jahaa;N hai muqaamir-;xaanah paidaa yaa;N kaa nah paidaa hai
aa))o yahaa;N to daa))o nu;xustii;N apne ta))ii;N bhii kho jaa))o

1) Mir, the world is a gambling-house-- [what is] created/acquired here is not created/acquired
2) when you would come here, then with the first play you would lose even/also yourself



muqaamir : 'An antagonist at a game of hazard; —a dice-player'. (Platts p.1054)


paidaa : 'Born, created, generated, produced; invented, discovered, manifested, manifest, exhibited; procured, acquired, earned, gained'. (Platts p.298)


daa))o : 'Stratagem, feint, &c.'. (Platts p.504)


nu;xustiin : 'The first'. (Steingass p.1392)


nu;xust : 'Beginning; principle; —the first'. (Platts p.1126)

S. R. Faruqi:

nu;xustii;N = first

In several places Mir has called the world a qimaar-;xaanah or a muqaamir-;xaanah . See


where several verses are noted. Despite the existence of these verses, it was necessary to select the present verse, because in it are various things that are not found in the other verses.

The first point is, why has he called the world such a gambling-house? One of which the paidaa (manifest) is nah paidaa (non-manifest)? Several replies to this are possible. The first reply is that the world is in any case an appearance (a deception). It can be seen, but actually does not exist.

The second reply is that a professional gambling house is always arranged in such a way that the owner would profit-- because if the owner of the gambling house made no profit, why would he run the games? Thus the game is so arranged that some people may win, but all the people would not win all the time. On the face of it, everything is entirely correct; but on the inside, the arrangement is such that the gambling house cannot lose.

Third, in some gambling houses there is also a very subtle trickery, such that if the arrangement for profit would begin to fail, then this trickery would be activated.

The fourth reply is that the basis of playing is ignorance. What is in the hand of your opponent, you do not know; or on the next play how the dice will fall, where the spinning wheel will stop, you do not know. You make a wager, but you don't know what will be the result of this play.

The final point is that Baudelaire has well said that he who would gamble with the age would lose:

Souviens-toi que le Temps est un joueur avide
Qui gagne sans tricher --  à tout coup! C'est la loi!

[Keep in mind that Time's a rabid gambler
Who wins always without cheating -- every time! It's the law!]

In Baudelaire's view, the age has a cold and uninterested murderousness. It doesn't have any concern with who wins and who loses-- everybody has to lose. Mir's verse is by comparison not less murderous, for here with the very first play a man causes himself to lose. In both cases, creation, or the age, or the Lord is a mindless power, such as we see in the novels of Kafka.

Now the question is, what is the meaning of the speaker's causing himself to be defeated? One reply is that when a person comes into the world then he loses his holiness and purity; from the lofty/celestial world he comes into the low/ignoble world, and loses his spiritual qualities. This theme Mir has composed a number of times; see:




A second reply is that having come into the world, a human loses his very humaneness [insaaniyat]. A third reply is that having come into the world, a person loses his heart and life to some beloved; and when heart and life have been lost, then it's as if he has lost his very self.

The reading I have given for the first line [[SSA has naa-paidaa hai instead of nah paidaa hai]] has 32 metrical syllables [maatraa))e;N]. Some metrical scholars have tried to make it 'proper' [by changing yaa;N to yahaa;N and removing the negative]; it's obvious that in this form the line is meaningless. Asi has guessed:

miir jahaa;N hai muqaamir-;xaanah paidaa yahaa;N kaa nah paidaa hai

Now the meaning is correct, but the harmony [aahang] has been much injured. [Further discussion of the metrical issues involved.] Thus I consider the reading that I have given to be correct; through it the meaning is proper, and the harmony too is fine:

miir jahaa;N hai muqaamir-;xaanah paidaa yaa;N kaa naa-paidaa hai

In this ghazal there are three verses; all three have been included in the intikhab. Another such overflowing [bhar-puur] ghazal that has only three verses would be difficult to find. The present verse is, for 'tumult-arousingness', in a class by itself.

The theme of the present verse Qa'im has taken up, but he was not able to make use of all its possibilities. His style too is a bit convoluted. But indeed, the opposition between jaa))e and chale is fine:

is juve-;xaane se mat puuchh kih jaa))e kyuu;N-kar
puu;Njii laa))e the kuchh ik daur se yaa;N haar chale

[from this gaming-house don't ask 'why/how would one go?'
the capital that we had brought-- from a single round, we lost here and left]

[See also {423,11}; and the introduction to SSA, volume 1, p. 167.]



SRF uses for the first line in SSA, naa-paidaa instead of nah paidaa . As always, I follow the reading of the Kulliyat (which of course SRF himself helped to edit, so it certainly represents his best, later judgment).

Well, here is the literal form of a paradox: the paidaa of this world is not paidaa . (This paradox doesn't arise so directly in the SSA text.) If we consider all the possibilities, we have 'what is born, created, generated, produced; invented, discovered, manifested, manifest, exhibited; procured, acquired, earned, gained in this world is not born, created, generated, produced; invented, discovered, manifested, manifest, exhibited; procured, acquired, earned, gained'. It seems most plausible (though not at all compulsory) to take this as a description of cosmic illusion. Everything is only a mirage, nothing is real; it's all just like chips that come and go constantly and meaninglessly within a gambling-house-- but you can never cash them in.

This is a thrilling way for the first line to end. Under mushairah performance conditions, it leaves us in suspense, eager for clarification. Are things really so dire? Then when we finally hear the second line, it actually sharpens the first line into a more specific vision of sudden complete loss, from the very beginning-- when you lose the very first play, your entire stake is abruptly snatched away from you. And the play can't even continue, because your initial stake includes 'yourself'. The whole question of cosmic illusion (whether we can actually cash in our chips or not) doesn't even have time to arise.

Note for meter fans: The metrical 'Hindi meter' problem discussed by SRF applies to the SSA reading, not to the one given on this website, so it hasn't been presented in full. If you're seriously interested in such metrical questions, you should of course get hold of SSA and read the original discussion.