kohkan-o-majnuu;N kii ;xaa:tir dasht-o-koh me;N ham nah ga))e
((ishq me;N ham ko miir nihaayat paas-e ((izzat-daaraa;N hai

1) for the regard/sake of Kohkan and Majnun, we didn't go into the desert and mountains
2) in passion we have, Mir, extreme respect/care for the honor-possessing ones



paas : 'Watching, guarding, taking care (of), observing; observance, consideration, attention (to), regard, respect'. (Platts p.217)


((izzat : 'Might, power, grandeur, glory, honour, dignity, respect, esteem, reputation, good name'. (Platts p.761)

S. R. Faruqi:

The foundation of this theme is on a [Persian] verse by Shaikh Ali Hazin:

baraa-e ;xaa:tir-e majnuun-o-kohkan zinhaar
bah koh-o-dasht nah burdiim dast bar-kaare

'I showed care for the honor of the craftsmanship of Farhad,
When on the road of passion I did not turn my hand to any task.'

In Hazin's verse the 'craftsmanship' and 'to turn the hand to a task' have an extreme affinity with Farhad. And Hazin has the honor of primacy in the theme. To light a lamp that could burn in the presence of this one was difficult. Mir first of all tried in his Persian divan:

'Being concerned about respect for Majnun and Kohkan,
In mountain and desert, we did not lay a hand to any task.'

It's clear that our present verse is almost a translation of Mir's Persian verse. As we have seen previously too, Mir had a very fine capability in Persian, but his Persian verse and prose (his verse more than his prose) were devoid of the trimness and appropriateness and masterful command over language that is there in (for example) Sauda's Persian poetry. Qazi Abd ul-Vadud Sahib once said to Gyan Chand, 'Sauda was a barbarous person, his words are not a "warrant." Indeed, if you have any words by Mir, then bring them out.' Thus there's no doubt that Mir's intellectual [((ilmii] worth was greater than Sauda's. But the affinity Sauda had for the writing of Persian poetry, Mir did not have.

In this case too, Mir's Persian verse noted above is, despite being apparently correct in every way, lacking in force. One reason for this is that the theme is weak. Hazin, having said that on the road of passion he did no work, maintained the idea-- because to do no work, or for no work to be done, while on the road is not improper. Mir ignored the need to create an affinity between Kohkan and Majnun, desert and mountain. Or he didn't remember that in the desert and mountains there's no occasion to do work-- so that to say 'out of respect for Majnun and Kohkan, in the desert and mountains I did no work' is an unlooked-for thing.

The Urdu verse (that is, the present verse) is much better than Mir's Persian verse, and also than Hazin's verse, because it makes no mention of work. Rather, with masterful eloquence is has said only that 'we have great respect for the honorable ones, thus we didn't go into the desert and the mountains'. Mir composed this theme one more time, but there the thread of ambiguity slipped from his hand. In the third divan [{1220,10}]:

dasht-o-koh me;N miir phiro tum lekin ek adab ke saath
kohkan-o-majnuu;N bhii the us naa;hye me;N diivaane do

[wander in desert and mountains, Mir, but with a single/particular/unique/excellent courtesy
even/also Kohkan and Majnun were, in that region, two madmen]

In the fourth divan, in one verse Mir has made Farhad and Majnun targets of sarcasm, and has composed a good verse; but it doesn't have the double meaning of the present verse [{1495,4}]:

nisbat kyaa un logo;N se ham ko shahrii hai;N diivaane ham
hai farhaad ik aadam-e kohii majnuu;N ik .sa;hraa))ii hai

[what comparison with those people! -- we are an urban madman
Farhad is a particular mountain-man, Majnun is a particular desert man]

In the present verse, both meanings have come in. One meaning is that we adopted madness in the city because if we went to the desert and mountains, then the pretension/presumption of the madness of Kohkan and Qais would be exposed, and their honor would go down into the dust. We do not want them to be slighted/disdained; otherwise, our madness is of a higher/better order than theirs.

The other meaning is that when revered people like Majnun in the desert and Farhad in the mountains are already present, then our going there is contrary to the honor of their status. In both cases, the ironic tension is fine-- that the ordinary people of the world consider Qais and Farhad to be vagabonds and house-wreckers and contemptible madmen, but in the world of passion these very people are the honored ones.

Sayyid Muhammad Khan Rind has versified each meaning separately, and has thus created something like a commentary on Mir's verse:

majnuu;N kaa sataanaa hame;N man:zuur nahii;N hai
uu va;hshat-e dil qa.sd-e bayaabaa;N nah kare;Nge

[we do not wish to tease/torment Majnun
oh madness of the heart, we will not set out for the desert]

qais-o-farhaad ke qab.ze me;N hai;N koh-o-.sa;hraa
ham kidhar josh-e junuu;N ;xaak u;Raate jaate

[mountain and desert are in the grip of Qais and Farhad
in which direction, oh ebullience of madness, should we have gone kicking up the dust?]

Both verses are clean/clear, but where is there a dignity and an ambiguity like Mir's?



An elegantly oblique verse. As SRF makes clear, the two possible interpretations of the speaker's relationship to Kohkan and Majnun are both perfectly available, powerful, creditable to the speaker, and enjoyable to us. As so often, the question of how to choose between them remains, by no coincidence at all, entirely unresolvable.