tab the sipaahi ab hai;N jogii aah javaanii yuu;N kaa;Tii
aisii tho;Rii raat me;N ham ne kyaa kyaa svaa;Ng banaa))e hai;N

1) then we were a soldier, now we are a jogi -- ah, we spent our youth {vainly / casually / 'like this'}
2) in such a brief night, what-all performances have we made?!



yuu;N : 'Thus, in this wise, in this manner; —just so, for no particular reason; without just ground, vainly, idly, causelessly, gratuitously; to please oneself'. (Platts p.1253)


jogii : 'One who performs the kind of religious exercise called jog , a contemplative saint; a devotee, an ascetic, a hermit; one supposed to have obtained supernatural powers, a magician, a conjurer'. (Platts p.398)


svaa;Ng : 'Imitation, mimicry, &c.'. (Platts p.692)


saa;Ng : 'Imitation, acting, mimicry, disguise, impersonation; mockery, sham, farce; a play, representation; a scene, show; a part in a play, a character'. (Platts p.629)

S. R. Faruqi:

This verse has been composed in reply, so to speak, to


He has called himself a jogii a number of times; for example, see




But here the 'mood' is unprecedented. To become a soldier was a 'performance', and to become a jogi is also a 'performance'. He spent the night of youth in those very ''performances'. He neither made his true nature clear to himself, nor let it be made clear to anyone else. In the verse there's melancholy, but even now there's no intention of establishing and making clear his true self. This too is its own kind of mystery.

Youth is a night in any case, but by saying tho;Rii raat he has created the implication that (1) youth is truly very brief; or (2) it seemed to be very short. That is, youth passed as if, so to speak, it was very brief and was over very quickly. If in the first line there's regret, then in the second line there's also a certain amount of praise for himself.

There's also the point that before commenting on something, people in olden times used to write aah , or some word like it. In this regard aah is like a word of commentary. That is, javaanii yuu;N kaa;Tii is commentary on 'then we were a soldier, now we are a jogi'. It should also be kept in mind that being a soldier or becoming a jogi are actions of 'night', not of day.



On the source of these verses see {1853x,1}.

The word svaa;Ng is an older variant of saa;Ng (Wikipedia), a form of North Indian folk-opera also known as nau;Ta;Nkii (Wikipedia). But of course, the term can also be taken more generally, as a 'show' or spectacle, or a 'dramatic performance'.

Thus the speaker could be saying that he really did become a soldier, then later a mendicant or ascetic of some kind-- but that he now realizes the shallow and limited nature of such pursuits, and no longer defines himself in such terms. Or he could be suggesting that he merely acted the part first of a soldier, then of an ascetic, in some kind of folk-drama-- that he only 'became' a soldier in the sense that John Wayne 'became' a cowboy.

Thanks especially to the 'kya effect', there's also the question of tone: is the speaker reflecting sorrowfully, or sarcastically, or ruefully, or nostalgically, or wonderingly-- or with a certain pride in his own dramatic creativity?