milaa jo ((ishq ke jangal me;N ;xi.zr mai;N ne kahaa
kih ;xauf-e sher hai ma;xduum yaa;N kidhar aayaa

1) when I encountered Khizr in the wilderness/'jungle' of passion, I said,
2) 'There's a danger of tigers-- from which direction did Your Lordship come here?!'



ma;xduum : 'One who is served, a master, lord; —a Muhammadan priest; an abbot'. (Platts p.1012)

S. R. Faruqi:

This verse is such an example of implication and 'understatement' [subuk-bayaanii yaa kam-bayaanii]-- or rather, of an ascetic simplicity, and in that simplicity a hidden grandeur and apparently guileless but actually very carefully considered sarcasm-- that its equal can be found only in Mir's own poetry.

Hazrat Khizr, after all, constantly keeps roaming through the jungle, because his task is to show the road to lost travelers. But what does Hazrat Khizr know about how jungles are of different kinds, and what does he know about what kinds of dangerous and heart-piercing stages the wanderers of passion pass through? To those people, the path shown by the guidance of Hazrat Khizr is as if someone would go out for a pleasurable stroll.

After all, the lover lives in the desert of passion, and to him the dangers and difficulties of that place are like domestic things. If Khizr by chance comes that way, then the lover (or someone who's a dweller in the desert of passion) speaks to him in this way, the way people talk to children or very elderly and feeble people. To address Hazrat Khizr as ma;xduum is the height of sarcasm, because this word is suitable to his rank, and by means of this very word the speaker also makes it clear that in his view Hazrat Khizr's status is nothing more than that of a weak old piece of straw-- the kind of person whose venerable age entitles him to respect, but also diminishes his mental powers and largely deprives him of judgment. Hazrat Khizr's wandering into the desert of passion is itself proof that he has become more or less weak-minded; otherwise why does he even come into such a jungle, where there's a fear of tigers?

Then, there's the enjoyable touch that Hazrat Khizr constantly wanders around in deserts, he must often have had to deal with wild animals. But the tigers that are in the desert of passion seem to be of some other kind entirely. To use the tiger as a metaphor for the difficult stages of passion, or for passion itself, is eloquent; and like Mir's characteristic metaphors and images, it is also close to everyday life. Instead of presenting the tiger directly, to merely mention him-- and that too only as a possibility-- is a very subtle style. Because in this way the hyperbole remains in the expression, and even so the expression becomes close to ordinary life and common matters.

In the whole verse there's an air of appropriateness and dramaticness. There's also the implication that perhaps Hazrat Khizr too has been struck down by passion; thus he's gone off into this desert and is not yet fully aware of its dangers.

The theme of the terrifyingness of the desert of passion, he has versified extremely well at one place in the first divan:


But Khizr and the 'fear of tigers' he has versified again in the sixth divan [{1878,2}]:

;xi.zr dasht-e ((ishq me;N mat jaa kih vaa;N
har qadam ma;xduum ;xauf-e sher hai

[Khizr, don't go into the desert of passion, for there
at every footstep, Your Lordship, there's a danger of tigers]

It's clear that in {1878,2} the same idea hasn't been able to appear, because in this verse, despite the word ma;xduum , there's no aspect of sarcasm and 'understatement'. This fact also proves that not only the words, but rather also the style of using words, are the life of the verse. However meaningful the words would be made, that's how good the verse is.

In the sixth divan, Mir made one more attempt with this image, but in this verse the artificiality of the addressee has made the image ineffective [{1726,3}]:

yih baadiyah-e ((ishq hai albattah udhar se
bach kar nikaal ay sail kih yaa;N sher kaa ;Dar hai

[this is the wilderness of passion, indeed, from that direction
escape and emerge, oh flood, for here there's a fear of tigers]

The late Abbasi has read piil [elephant] instead of sail , but not even that does the trick. The case remains the same: that as long as all the words don't have an 'affinity', the verse is not meaningful. What can an image do by itself, when the important words of the verse are in conflict with it?

In a verse from the first divan too, because of the murderousness and terrifyingness of the desert of passion, Khizr's avoidance of that desert has been very well expressed: see


In the face of all these verses, how flabby is this verse of Zamin Ali Jalal-- although it's entirely clear that Jalal has tried to profit from Mir's verse:

nah puuchh kuuchah-e ulfat kii sa;xtiyaa;N ay ;xi.zr
qadam qadam pah hai ;Thokar shikastah-paa))ii cho;T

[don't ask about the harshnesses of the street of love, oh Khizr!
at every step is a stumble, an infirmity, an injury]

Jalal's style is fabricated to be a vocative, in his verse there's no trace of an image. Then, the three things that he's mentioned in the second line have no sequence.

But it's possible that this peerless [Persian] verse of Sahabi Astarabadi might have been before Mir's eyes:

'It's Divine love, don't consider it worldly love--
It's a tiger's tail, don't grab hold of it for fun!'

The second line calls to mind the English saying that 'he who rides a tiger cannot then dismount'. Mir's accomplishment is that instead of adopting a didactic style like Sahabi's, he adopted a dramatic and insha'iyah style.



The really irresistible thing about the verse is the speaker's obvious, alarmed concern for the welfare of Khizr. SRF points out that it may be snide and intended as a putdown, but surely that's secondary. The main thing is, clearly, to figure out what's going on with this elderly gentleman and to try to get him to a place of safety; to view him in such terms is in itself a supreme putdown, even if entirely unconscious and unintended by the speaker.

Even the solicitous inquiry about 'from which direction' Khizr has reached the place feels more like an expression of consternation ('How in the world did you get here?' 'What in the world are you doing here?') than an actual request for information. But of course its form suggests 'by what path?', and thus reminds us in an enjoyably piquant way both that pointing out paths is the function of Khizr himself, and that the speaker's consternation is such that he's totally indifferent to any such function on Khizr's part.

The only thing the speaker is concerned with is getting this hapless elderly civilian out of the line of fire. After all, there are tigers here! And the speaker seems to feel that the tigers of the 'jungle of passion' would make quick work of Khizr's famous immortality.

Compare Ghalib's less drastic belittling of Khizr: