((aalam me;N aab-o-gil ke kyuu;N-kar nibaah hogaa
asbaab gir pa;Raa hai saaraa miraa safar me;N

1) in the world of 'water and earth', how will my maintenance/support be?
2) all my baggage/equipment has fallen/dropped/collapsed in the journey



nibaah : 'Carrying on or through, conducting, managing; bringing to an end; completion, end; —accomplishing, accomplishment, execution, performance (of), fulfilment, keeping a promise or engagement; success; keeping, guarding; supporting, maintaining, providing means (for); —support, maintenance, livelihood; supply, sufficiency (of), adequacy; accommodation;—spending, passing (time); ... —steadfastness, constancy, perseverance'. (Platts p.1120)


asbaab : '(sing.) Implements, tools, instruments, apparatus, materials; goods, chattels, effects, property; furniture; articles, things; commodities, appliances, machinery; stores, provision; funds; necessaries; baggage, luggage; cargo'. (Platts p.47)

S. R. Faruqi:

The mystery of this verse is such that despite a thousand commentaries its atmosphere remains mist-shrouded. See:


in which the idea is comparatively clear. Wherever Mir has used the metaphor of baggage and a journey, he has used it with an extraordinary intensity. If we compare him to Mus'hafi, then the difference is clearly felt. Mus'hafi:

mulk-e hastii se jo jaate hai;N jariidah ho kar
raah me;N apnaa sab asbaab lu;Taa jaate hai;N

[when people go from the land of existence, unencumbered
they go, having caused all their baggage to be looted on the road]

safar-e ((ishq se ;Gaarat-zadah aayaa huu;N nah puuchh
raah me;N meraa bhii asbaab lu;Taa kyaa kyaa kuchh

[I have come plundered from the journey of passion-- don't ask
what-all baggage of mine was looted on the road]

In Mus'hafi's two verses, 'baggage' does no special work. By contrast, in Mir's verse 'baggage' bears the kind of special intensity that it does in this [Persian] verse of Naziri's:

'No harm can come to the property of the prudent Naziri,
For he himself is in the valley, and his goods have arrived at the destination.'

In both Naziri and Mir, the state of affairs is mysterious, and the nature of the baggage is not revealed. In Naziri's verse perhaps there's also some sarcasm directed at himself. In Mir's verse there's perhaps a mention of humans' fundamental and ultimate loneliness-- that the kind of 'baggage' that a person must have in order to pass his life in this world, is not vouchsafed to him.

What is this 'baggage'? It can be intelligence and wisdom, or a kind of constructive madness, or stability, or the wealth of attention to the Divine Creator, or the road to union with the divine-- any thing or things at all on the basis of which there would be some purpose in life, or some meaningfulness, or at least some means for confronting the difficulties and troubles of this world, and if possible of controlling and resolving them.

Rashid's peerless nazm safar-naamah seems to be based on Mir's verse. In this nazm the Lord makes man his viceroy and sends him to earth, but man is sent so hastily that all the necessary baggage/equipment for life is left behind there. In Rashid's nazm, mankind is presented by means of the metaphor of an astronaut. The Lord is, so to speak, the sponsor and organizer of this space journey. And mankind is the astronaut who is being sent on God's behalf to populate the earth like some new dwelling place, and to subdue it.

But in the conversation of the sponsor of the journey, and in his assiduity for his scheme, their attention was so intensely taken up by him that the astronauts didn't have time for full preparation. So much so that the hour for departure came, and they were forced to go to subdue a new world without full equipment:

ba;Rii bhaag-dau;R me;N
ham jahaaz paka;R sake
isii intishaar me;N kitnii chiize;N
hamaarii ((arsh pah rah ga))ii;N
vuh tamaam ((ishq __ vuh ;hau.sle
vuh musarrate;N __ vuh tamaam ;xvaab
jo suu;T-keso;N me;N band the !

[in a great rush and hurry
we were able to catch the airship
in this confusion how many things
of ours remained on high
all that passion - that enthusiasm
those joys - all those dreams
that were shut up in the suitcases!]

Ghalib, in one of his [Persian] verses, has made left-behind baggage a metaphor for the experiences of life in which we harm ourselves through our own hunger and haste. How valuable, and how trifling, a thing life is; how much trouble we take for it; and how suddenly it is finished; and our property and goods, that were a means for the journey of life, remain lying there:

'I am that traveler, Ghalib, who drowned while slaking his thirst.
The provisions left lying by the bank of the river are my sign/trace.'

That is, that lifeless baggage that will remain anonymous-- that is the speaker's sign/trace [nishaan]. In Mir's verse the speaker is present, but he has no equipment. Both of these are symbols of mankind's ignoredness, helplessness, and disregardedness.

If in Ghalib's verse there's an intensity of melancholy, then in Mir's verse there's mourning and sarcasm at the confusion that is part of the arrangement of the universe. In Rashid's nazm there is, so to speak, a commentary on Mir's verse; but in Rashid's verse the bitterness of the sarcasm is more intense.

[See also {20,5}; {1480,3}; {1852,3}.]



The traveler has lost all his baggage 'in the journey'-- but what kind of a journey was it? SRF cites {11,3} as offering a clearer statement of the same theme; in that verse the journey takes place 'here', in this world, and nobody gets out 'from' or beyond the halting-place of the horizons without being looted of everything. Yet SRF also calls Rashid's famous nazm a 'commentary' on Mir's verse, and in that nazm the journey is one that ends in arrival in this world, after the traveler's baggage has already been left behind in the high heavens. These two situations seem very different, though both seem possible as contexts for the verse.

The case for the through-this-world journey is richer and more piquant, since we can vividly and multifariously imagine the journey through this life, but can hardly scrape up any vision of a pre-birth journey. Moreover, the journey through this world is a far more common metaphor in the classical ghazal universe. All the other ghazal verses cited by SRF (and for what it's worth, those that I can recall) envision such journeys through this world, with death as a final halting-place (and/or a jumping-off point for further travel).

Making a case for the to-this-world journey, Rashid's verse can also evoke a famous ghazal verse by Iqbal:

baa;G-e bihisht se mujhe ;hukm-e safar diyaa hai kyuu;N
kaar-e jahaa;N daraaz hai ab miraa inti:zaar kar

[from the garden of Paradise, why have you given me the order to travel?
the work of the world is long-- now, wait for me!]

These two modern poets are developing a theme, the pre-birth journey from Paradise to earth, that is far less common in the classical tradition.

If the traveler is making a journey through this world, then he is dismayed because in the course of the journey he has abruptly (it seems) lost all his baggage. Now that he has lost it, how will he manage in this physical world, 'this world of water and earth', without it? How will he sustain himself in the future (thus the future tense, hogaa )? The tone in this insha'iyah line could be despairing, matter-of-fact, mildly melancholy, indifferent, and so on. The question could be serious ('Can their be a way to maintain myself now?'), or it could be rhetorical ('As if there could be a way to maintain myself now!').

The truly compelling thing about this verse is gir pa;Rnaa , an 'intensive' form of girnaa that gives a sense of abruptness, suddenness, violence. For this traveler's baggage has not been looted or stolen by highwaymen on the road, which in ghazal verses is the usual form of its loss. Here, we can't tell what has happened. Was the traveler careless in arranging and securing his baggage? Was the terrain mountainous, so that he and his pack animals tripped, and the baggage was flung down a crevasse? Has the baggage abruptly fallen away or unaccountably vanished (the way people suddenly notice one day that they're no longer young)? The verse invites us to fill in nature of the 'baggage' or 'equipment' for ourselves.