us .sanaa))i(( kaa us badaa))i(( kaa
kuchh ta((ajjub nahii;N ;xudaa))ii hai

1) of/about that 'arts/devices', of/about that 'wonders/rarities'
2) there's no surprise-- it is lordship/divinity/creation



.sanaa))i(( : 'Arts, crafts, &c.; artifices, contrivances; wonderful works, miracles'. (Platts p.746)


badaa))i(( : 'Rare, or wonderful, things; rarities; wonders'. (Platts p.139)


.sanaa))i(( badaa))i(( : 'Rare and wonderful works of art; skilful and ingenious constructions (of language); rhetorical flourishes and ornaments; figures of speech'. (Platts p.746)


;xudaa))ii : 'Godship, godhead, divinity, providence; almighty power, omnipotence; —creation, nature, the world'. (Platts p.487)

S. R. Faruqi:

The first point that should be considered is that the speaker is praising the Lord, but in it is a slightly patronizing air. As if he's saying, 'Undoubtedly, God is the Artisan of artisans, and the Causer of causes, but we who recognize this-- that too is no ordinary thing!'. A second point is that the phrase .sanaa))i((-badaa))i(( is usually used, and through it the verse aims at those beauties that are related to devices [.san((at] of words or meaning. That is, .sanaa))i((-badaa))i(( is of course important in the creative action of humans, but in the field of the universe and the cosmos, where suns in the hundreds of millions and worlds in the hundreds of millions would be wandering and spinning around-- there, what significance can these verbal things have?

Possibly you might think that in Mir's time there wasn't the knowledge about the extent of the universe that there is today, so how does there come to be in Mir's mind a vision in which our solar system is no more than a grain of dust? First of all, a poet's mind and thought have no need of science. In Mir and Ghalib there are other examples as well in which nowadays a scientific proof is available, and the poet's imagination had arrived there long ago. But a second point is that in Mir's time the vision of the universe may not have been what it is today, but in this regard in his time our small world and its solar system had the rank of being extremely grand and glorious, almost limitless, and more or less completely mysterious. In the twentieth century we learned that some stars (or rather, many stars) are such that they are hundreds of thousands of times brighter than our sun. But they are so far away that their light not only appears dim, but reaches us after a delay. This research became possible because in the twentieth century the speed of light could be measured, and it could be proved that nothing moves, or can move, faster than light.

Now listen to Ghalib [in Persian]:

'My status cannot be seen by any eye but mine,
Because of its height, my star cannot be seen.'

When I read this verse the hairs on my body always stand on end-- that two hundred fifty years ago a Delhi navab's son, who had spent most of his life going around in the streets and lanes of Delhi and Agra-- how did this thought occur to him? (This verse is in a tarkib-band composed in praise of Hazrat Ali. This tarkib-band is included in the first edition of the diivaan-e ;Gaalib faarsii , published in 1837/8. See the kulliyaat-e ;Gaalib faarsii , vol. 3, edited by Murtaza Husain Fazil Lakhnavi.) But a poet's imagination looks at scientific truths in a divinely-given way. Thus it will be no cause for surprise if Mir might have felt the breadth and the endless vastness of the universe. In any case, however the cosmos may have appeared in Mir's eyes, it would not have appeared to be such that it could be called a collection of .sanaa))i(( and badaa))i(( merely dismissively. Especially when he is presenting those .sanaa))i(( and badaa))i(( as a manifest proof.

For .sanaa))i((-badaa))i(( is a proof of human imaginative power. The point of this verse seems to be that this creative power, and its expression in words, is not of any commonplace level. The whole universe can be called a collection of .sanaa))i((-badaa))i(( . Wherever creative power might be, whatever it might be like, it is of one single kind/species. Perhaps for this reason, according to Iqbal, God Most High has called himself the best of creators. In any case, if the whole universe is a collection of .sanaa))i((-badaa))i(( , then in the words of Baudelaire the children of Noah are travelers in a 'forest of symbols'. The .sanaa))i((-badaa))i(( are there to enjoy, to understand; they are there so that their depths/layers would be opened up, so that their subtleties would be expressed. The kind of amazement that is in the tone of this verse can be called 'admirable amazement'. But in it glimmers some innocent amazement too, as if some child had for the first time seen some novel thing and would remain wonderstruck.

It should be kept in mind that for us there are two kinds of amazement, 'admirable amazement' [;hairat-e ma;hmuud] and 'despicable amazement' [;hairat-e ma;zmuum]. An example of the former, Hazrat Shah Varis Hasan has given like this: if some accomplished architect would see the Taj Mahal, then he would be able to understand the entirety of its beautiful craftsmanship, its achievements and wonders, and would be amazed at the skilful perfection of its geometry. That is, he would be amazed at those very things that are truly, from an intellectual and artisanal standpoint, worthy of amazement. This is 'admirable amazement'. And if some ordinary person would see the Taj Mahal and be wonderstruck and say 'Vah-- what an accomplished building it is!', then this is 'despicable amazement', because he will have no discrimination of the true excellences of the Taj Mahal-- and even if he would have any, he will not manage to express it.

In the West too there is a vision of amazement, but this is mostly a child-like, innocent amazement. [Examples of such amazement from Goethe and Wordsworth are discussed.] The second line of Mir's present verse seems to allude to such an amazament-- one such that words are not found to express it. The speaker falls silent after saying only that it's no surprise if such things should exist; after all, it's the workshop of lordship/divinity. But in the first line, by saying that the universal appearance is like .sanaa))i((-badaa))i(( he has shown full awareness. The innocent amazement in the second line is not really so 'innocent'. He has said with great cleverness/trickiness that creative power will be common to both humans and the Lord, but the Lord's creation is ;xudaa))ii , or has ;xudaa))ii in it.

Now let's also consider the fact that he has not said .sanaa))i((-badaa))i(( together, but rather has said each one separately. That is, .sanaa))i(( is one thing, and badaa))i(( is another. That is, it's not at all necessary that we here imagine the human-made .sanaa))i((-badaa))i(( . For.sanaa))i(( is the plural of .sanaa((at , meaning 'a thing made with skill/craftsmanship'; and badaa))i(( is the plural of badii(( , meaning 'a new, fresh thing'. The root of .sanaa))i(( is .s - n - (( , meaning 'to make'; and the root of badaa))i(( is b - d - (( , meaning 'to invent'. Thus the deeds and ways of God Most High are (1) done with skill/craftsmanship, and (2) filled with inventiveness. So when this craftsmanship and this inventiveness are active in the whole universe, it will have to be called a divine wonder/miracle. What cause for surprise is there in this? He is a Creator, and an Artist too.

There are still one or two points more. The real power of this verse is in its informal, everyday-conversational style. For this reason the speaker has described the .sanaa))i(( and badaa))i(( with us , although since they are plurals they ought to have had un before them. By saying us he has made the tone very immediate, very informal and idiomatic. Then, the repetition of us has endowed the colloquialness with even more strength. As if someone is mentioning the Lord the way in ordinary life he might mention something visible, or something operative and influential that had taken on bodily form. It's a wonder of God! Such a verse would not have been possible in Western or Chinese cultures. 'There is no power but in God!'

Then, he has said ;xudaa))ii -- that is, this is the Lord's ;xudaa))ii , its strength is existence-creating. But another meaning is also possible: that whatever the Lord might wish, he would simply do. He is the great Doer; whatever he might wish, he does; in whatever way he wishes, he does things; who are you and I to intervene? A third meaning is also possible: that in the first line the words would be assumed to be factory or business words-- that is, in a factory full of such .sanaa))i(( and such badaa))i(( , what cause for surprise can there be? It is after all a Divine (factory).



I've rarely been as perplexed by SRF's commentary as in the case of this verse. I kept asking myself, how did we get into the details of the solar system, and the stars, and outer space-- much less get into giving Mir credit for anticipating modern astronomical ideas? No doubt SRF was using what Platts considers to be the third meaning of ;xudaa))ii -- 'creation, nature, the world'-- but still! Nor could I see why we needed to contemplate the twofold nature of amazement [;hairat], when the verse contained only the less drastic idea of 'surprise' [ta((ajjub]. Plainly the verse spoke to him very differently from the way it spoke to me.

For when I first looked at the verse, it struck me at once that it was most probably about poetry-- about literary 'devices' and rarities, and how when a master poet-- like Mir himself, of course, who often boasted about his poetic powers-- exercised his skill at the highest level, the result was (a sign of) 'lordship', or even 'divinity'. I was inclined to read 'this' rather than 'that' at both points in the first line, for greater immediacy. (Both readings are equally possible; the reader can and must choose.) And of course Mir himself was often called the 'Lord of Poetry' [;xudaa-e su;xan], so why would the fruit of his creative work not be considered to be at least 'lordship', if not 'divinity'? For more on Mir's 'lordship of poetry', see SRF's article (from the introduction to SSA, volume 1) on this subject.

When I looked around for more ;xudaa))ii examples, I found another Mir one, in which the usage is highly ambiguous, from the first divan:


and also a Ghalib one that specifically concerned the (dubious) 'divinity of Namrud':


So the present verse ranks as a classic example of what I call a 'fill-in' verse. Plainly, ;xudaa))ii is a very flexible quality. Moreover, .sanaa))i(( and badaa))i(( too are highly multivalent (see the definitions abovel). And the grammar links the three terms in as basic, simple a way as possible: 'From A, from B, there's no surprise-- it's C'. (One might well ask, what exactly is C; but of course no answer would be forthcoming.)

The result is a verse that the reader can take to be praising almost anything that involves skill, imagination, and creativity, whether on the part of humans or of God. The reader can-- and in fact must-- 'fill in' his or her own choice of meaning, to a degree unusually radical even for Mir.