ab ke vi.saal qaraar diyaa hai hijr hii kii sii ;haalat hai
ek samai;N me;N dil be-jaa thaa to bhii ham ve yak-jaa the

1) this time/occasion, we have determined/established to be 'union'; the condition is like that of only/emphatically separation
2) at one time, the heart was out of place; even/also then we were the same steadfast/'one-place' one



qaraar denaa : 'To fix, establish, settle; to determine, decide; to lay down; to adjudge; to receive, admit (as correct)'. (Platts p.789)


;haalat : 'State, condition, &c. (= ;haal ); nature, constitution'. (Platts p.473)


be-jaa : 'Out of place, ill-placed, misplaced, ill-timed; unbecoming, improper, amiss, unlawful, unjustifiable; unreasonable, absurd; foreign to the purpose, irrelevant; inaccurate, wrong, objectionable'. (Platts p.202)

S. R. Faruqi:

This theme Bedil often composed [in Persian], and it's possible that it's chiefly because of Bedil that it became accepted in Urdu, because we see it again and again in Mir's own poetry, and modern Urdu poets too have used it. Some of Bedil's verses are proverbially famous:

'During our whole life we drank glass after glass with you, and the pain of thirst/'hangover' did not depart,
What a Doomsday, that you never arrived from our side, to beside us! [z kinaar-e maa bah kinaar-e maa]

'We are absorbed in the beloved, and we still have a longing.
Our union is like a waiting.'

Mir Asar too has well said [in Persian],

'You came, and I had gone from myself,
My waiting still continued.'

In Mir Asar's verse there's a beautiful mingling of 'affair-evocation' and 'meaning-creation'. Mir has composed this theme with a bit of trickiness, in the first divan [{78,2}]:

hosh jaataa nahii;N rahaa lekin
jab vuh aataa hai tab nahii;N aataa

[awareness did not keep on departing, but
when it/she comes, then it/she does not come]

The theme of the present verse, Mir twisted and turned in various ways. For example:




But in the present verse the idea is different, for he has expressed the whole story/dastan of passion-- the tumult and commotion of the beginning, the bad state as it sinks in, and the bitterness of the outcome-- all of it. Moreover, in the tone there's no complaint; rather, there's a kind of acceptance, that this is what the game of life is like.

Faiz too has well composed this theme. In his verse there's a strange, inexperienced surprise, because of which the verse's speaker seems to be a newcomer not only to the experience of passion, but also to the experience of life:

judaa the ham to muyassar thii;N qurbate;N kitnii
baham hu))e to pa;Rii hai;N judaa))iyaa;N kyaa kyaa

[when we were separated, how many nearnesses were available!
when we came to be together, then what-all separations befell!]

In contrast to Faiz's verse, Khalil ul-Rahman Azmi's verse has in it the bitterness of experience:

aisii raate;N bhii ham pah gu;zrii hai;N
tere pahluu me;N terii yaad aa))ii

[even/also such nights have passed for me,
into your place by my side, your memory came]

Both have benefitted from Mir (chronologically, Khalil ul-Rahman Azmi's verse precedes Faiz's). But neither of them has Mir's complexity and deceptive craftsmanship. (I have also discussed Bedil and Mir Asar and Khalil ul-Rahman Azmi in {1040,2}.)

Now let's consider the following points about the present verse:

(1) The meaning of vi.saal qaraar diyaa hai is that the speaker has established this time as the time of union. That is, it's possible that in reality it might not be the time of union, but the speaker has assumed it to be so. It's clear that this can be a time in which both union and separation would be mental conditions, not real and physical ones.

(2) Or if the meaning is taken to be that the speaker has declared that now there will certainly be union (that is, she will certainly meet him, will be in the same place with him), then the idea will be that union and separation are, to one extent or another, in the speaker's own hands.

(3) It's clear that the speaker and the beloved are in one place, or will be in one place, and the speaker is giving to this occasion the meaning of 'union'. But he's also saying that a state like that of separation exists. In this there are the following possibilities:

(4) Meeting, coming together, everything is there, but the heart is not filled/satisfied.

(5) Now there's not the former kind of spiritual and mental oneness.

(6) Everything is just as it used to be, but still somehow there's something lacking, such that in union there's a 'mood' like that of separation. Zafar Iqbal:

yuu;N to kis chiiz kii kamii hai
har shai lekin bikhar ga))ii hai

[somehow, what thing is lacking?
but every substance has been disordered]

(7) Meeting, coming together is there, but that informality, that candid treatment, no longer remains. In contrast to this, there was a time when 'the heart was out of place', but we were both in one place. Mir himself has used dil be-jaa honaa to mean 'for the heart to be restless or out of control'; see


But this is not found in [the dictionaries] urduu lu;Gat taarii;xii u.suul par , or the nuur , or Barkati, or even ma;xzan ul-mu;haavaraat . In any case, between dil be-jaa thaa and ham yak-jaa the the pleasure of a zila should also be kept in mind. Then, among vi.saal , and qaraar (in the sense of fixity, confidence) and be-jaa (meaning separate from place) too is the relationship of a zila. And dil be-jaa thaa can also mean that the heart was not in its place: the heart was with the beloved, and the beloved's heart was with the speaker (in such a situation, despite the distance, to be yak-jaa is certainly necessary).

Now the question is, how and why did such an inversion come about, such that even being far away the beloved was near, and now even in nearness there is distance? Since a cause has not been mentioned, a world of possibilities has been incorporated within this verse. From va.sl me;N shauq kaa zavaal [[a reference to G{116,9}]] to a mental, spiritual closed-off-ness and unmanliness, the reason can be anything at all.

In the sixth divan Mir composed an extraordinary verse [{1903,5}]:

va.sl-o-firaaq dono;N be-;haalii hii me;N gu;zre
ab tak mizaaj kii mai;N paataa nahii;N bah-;haalii

[union and separation both passed in unwellness
as yet, I do not find a wellness of temperament]

But the main point is that the tone is devoid of complaint and even of sorrow. In a [Persian] verse by Saidi Tehrani, a theme similar to the present theme has been well versified: that in nearness too there is distance. But all of Saidi's emphasis is on 'theme-creation'-- or rather, 'thought-binding'-- and apparently he has no concern with the melancholy possibilities of the situation:

'Look at the shortfall of fortune, that I and the beloved, like two eyes,
Are neighbors, and neither has seen the other's house.'

In Mir's present verse, among its many other excellences one is that he has said nothing, or has said very little, and has expressed the whole melancholy of the life of passion.

By comparison, poor Firaq Sahib, who on the strength of a mixture of more or less English and more or less Urdu, set out to bring about a revolution-- take a look at him as well. About this verse of Firaq's Askari Sahib has said that it 'contains unfathomable astonishment':

vi.saal ko bhii banaa de jo ((ain dard-e firaq
usii se chhuu;Tne kaa ;Gam sahaa nahii;N jaataa

[the very pain of separation-- make even/also it into union
the grief of parting from only/emphatically her is not endurable]

After Firaq's verse Askari Sahib cites that verse of Bedil's that I have presented above:

'During our whole life we drank glass after glass with you, and the pain of thirst/'hangover' did not depart,
What a Doomsday, that you never arrived from our side, to beside us!

Then Askari Sahib says, 'Bedil too, according to his capacity, expressed this idea; rather, he embedded it. Otherwise, in Bedil's verse the phrase chih qiyaamatii is entirely an advertisement for 'Miss Frontier Mail'.' In reply to this it can be said that in Firaq's verse ((ain dard seems to be entirely an inflammation of the eyes. In this discussion, of all the verses that have been mentioned, the limpest, the weakest verse is Firaq's. (Here I want to make it clear that Askari Sahib's essay from which I have taken this quotation has the date of March 1952; Askari Sahib later came to have a very high opinion of Bedil. His lofty opinion of Firaq Sahib will have gradually become lower, I hope.)

For further discussion, see


[See also {1545,2}.]



What a radically ambiguous verse it is. Right at the beginning of the first line, what colloquially-omitted word does ab ke modify? Two top candidates present themselves: vaqt , 'time', and mauqa(( , 'occasion'. Although their range of meanings can be made to overlap, at the ends of the spectrum they are not the same. For if the speaker has decided that a certain chunk of 'time' is to be considered as 'union', the range of possibilities is wide and highly introspective; if it is a certain 'occasion', the suggestion is one of more specificity, something like an event, something that has a fixed beginning and a fixed end. The difference may sound small, but we are afloat in a sea of ambiguity here, and every plank that drifts by must be noticed. Even then, in what sense has he done the qaraar in the first place-- has he 'established' the situation to be one of 'union' through his own will and personal choice, or has he 'determined' it to be so through some kind of external evidence?

Then of course the second half of the first line is equally ambiguous. The ;haalat is a 'state' or 'condition', and the line gives no indication whether it is the lover's alone, or that of the 'occasion' of meeting between lover and beloved. So it's still quite impossible to tell whether the first line is about something happening in the lover's (crazed?) mind, or some real event.

The second line starts afresh: at one time (apparently in contrast to the 'time' in the first line) the speaker's heart was 'out of place'-- apparently misbehaving (see the definition above) in some unspecified way; or perhaps it had left its proper place in order to go to the beloved. Even so, the speaker claims, he was ve -- 'that same', or idiomatically 'such a'-- yak-jaa person, steadfast, unmoving, unchanging, always in 'one place'.

In any case, since it's an 'A,B' verse, it's left up to us to decide how the two lines fit together. Do they describe two opposite situations (Now the lover is miserable even with (?) the beloved; he used to be crazily faithful even without her)? Do they describe two similar situations (Nowadays he constantly imagines her presence; in the old days his heart was crazed with steadfast love for her)? Does the second line provide a cause (He was always so crazed with love for her), and the first line an effect (Even now he fantasizes about being with her)? Do they describe two different situations, independent stages in the development of passion (This is what he does nowadays; that is what he used to do then)?

Whatever choices we make, it's clear that the verse plays with contrasts of time and place, and also of inner versus outer circumstances. And if we can't reach any clear resolution about what's going on in it, that's after all exactly how Mir contrived it to be.

After such claims of unchangingness and visions of 'union', however, there's just one more verse in the ghazal, the closing-verse {1526,5}; it starkly presents the lover's increasing wretchedness:

kyaa hotaa jo paas apne ai miir kabhuu ve aa jaate
((aashiq the darvesh the aa;xir be-kas bhii the tanhaa the

[what would there have been, oh Mir, that she would ever have come near us?
we were a lover; we were a darvesh; finally we were even/also friendless, we were alone].