nang-e ;xalq kiyaa hai ham ko aa;xir dast-e ;xaalii ne
((aalam me;N asbaab ke hai kyaa shorish be-asbaabii kii

1) it made us a disgrace/shame among people, finally, our empty hand
2) in the world/state/condition of property, what tumult/disturbance/bitterness there is of propertylessness!



nang : '(Persian) Honour, esteem, reputation; —shame, disgrace, infamy, ignominy'. (Platts p.1156)


nang , nangaa : '(Hindi) Naked, nude; bare; ... —shameless; —s.m. A naked person; a shameless person; —a disgraced person'. (Platts p.1156)


be-nang : 'Shameless'. (Platts p.204)


nang-o-naamuus : 'Honour, esteem; —shame, disgrace'. (Platts p.1150)


naamuus : 'Reputation, fame, renown; esteem, honour, grace, dignity; —disgrace, reproach, shame —the female part of a family'. (Platts p.1118)


asbaab : 'Causes, motives, means; resources; —s.m. 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)


shorish : 'Commotion, confusion, tumult, disturbance, insurrection, &c.; —brackishness, saltness'. (Platts p.736)

S. R. Faruqi:

On themes of property and propertylessness Mir has composed a number of verses-- for example,



In addition, look at the following verses. From the first divan [{438,3}]:

kyaa shahr me;N gunjaa))ish mujh be-sar-o-paa ko ho
ab ba;Rh ga))e hai;N mere asbaab-e kam-asbaabii

[what scope, in the city, would there be for me, the headless-and-footless one?!
now my resources of resourcelessness have increased]

From the fourth divan [{1349,5}]:

marte nah the ham ((ishq ke raftah be-kafanii se ya((nii miir
der muyassar is ((aalam me;N marne kaa asbaab hu))aa

[carried off by passion, we did not die, because of shroudlessness-- that is, Mir
in this world, the equipment for dying became available late]

Despite the existence of these verses, the present verse very much deserves attention. He has directed a fine sarcasm toward the ((aalam-e asbaab (that is, the world)-- that it is a world of property, so that it makes the speaker ashamed at his propertylessness. Then, ((aalam-e asbaab is of course a religious term-- that in the world nothing is without a cause, without a means. Only God, who is the Causer of Causes, has direct control over creativity. But since asbaab is also used for 'possessions, equipment', Mir has made this meaning into a sarcastic metaphor for the ((aalam-e asbaab as materialistic, gold-worshipping, and pursuing worldly means.

In the first line nang-e ;xalq must be read with an izafat [for metrical reasons]. In this regard nang-e ;xalq and dast-e ;xaalii have the relationship of a zila, since there's no hair on the palm of the hand, so that the empty hand will always be naked [nangaa]. In the [Persian dictionary] aanand raaj it says that a woman without a man, and a man without a woman, are also called [in Persian] ;xaalii . This meaning is interesting here, for an empty hand is incomplete, like a person with no spouse. Spouses are for each other the means to the 'property' of children and the 'property' of living and the increase of life. But being deprived of a spouse is a cause of solitariness. When the moon is in a position with no stars around, it's called ;xaalii sair .

Here the speaker's being without a spouse/partner and having little property create the nang kii shorish . If we look at this aspect of it, then this verse is not only about poverty and the lack of wealth and property, and the theme of the resulting disgrace/humiliation. It also speaks of an individual's fundamental solitariness, and also of the 'alienation' that results from this solitariness.

The image of the empty hand, Mir has versified in the sixth divan itself, with a bit of detail and in a superficial style [{1803,5}]:

phire bastii me;N ruuyat kuchh nahii;N aflaas se apnii
il;aahii hove mu;Nh kaalaa shitaab is dast-e ;xaalii kaa

[in the town may no perception spread about my poverty--
oh God, may the face be swiftly blackened, of this empty hand!



On the theme of poverty, here's one more relevant verse:


And it's useful to compare Ghalib's more abstract meditation on the theme:


In Mir's present verse, if we take the speaker to be a faqir or darvesh, some kind of wandering religious mendicant, then further interpretive possibilities open out. For in the ordinary 'world of property', it is truly shocking, truly scandalous and even potentially a bit of a challenge to the system, when people deliberately renounce property in favor of 'propertylessness'. This renunciant reading makes the shorish much more comprehensible, since it would represent the 'tumult' or 'disturbance' or even 'bitterness' ('brackishness, saltiness') created by a challenge to worldly values.

Otherwise, if the speaker is simply one poor, property-less man among many others, why would that condition result in any kind of 'commotion, confusion, insurrection' (see the definition above)? Compare the scandalous, anti-property nakedness of Qais in this famous verse of Ghalib's:


HONOR/SHAME: In this context the word nang is also particularly conspicuous. As can be seen from the definitions above, there are two words, the Persian nang , 'honor/shame', and the Indic nang or nangaa , 'naked'. In the present verse the word is firmly incorporated into a metrically required izafat phrase, which is not supposed to be done to Indic-side words, so it seems that Mir means for us to think chiefly of the Persian-derived word meaning both 'shame' and 'honor'. There is some overlap of meaning, though, since the Indic word by extension means 'shameless', because to be 'naked' is a sign of shamelessness. And SRF points out (in urduu ;Gazal ke aham mo;R ) that nang-e sounds to a listener like nange , 'naked', so there is also some wordplay linking the two terms.

For a fairly detailed discussion of the two opposite-seeming meanings of the Persian-side nang , see


There I showed that in the case of Ghalib the negative meaning of 'shame' is more prevalent, but the other half of the coin, the 'honor' meaning, is certainly not absent. This seems to be true of Mir as well. Here is an example in which the paradoxical 'transvaluation of values' in passion is explicitly described [{220,4}]:

jitnii ho ;zillat ;xalq me;N utnii hai ((izzat ((ishq me;N
naamuus se aa dar-gu;zar be-nang ho kar naam kar

[as much lowness as there is among people, just that much prestige there is, in passion
come, bypass reputation/honor-- become shameless, and make a name for yourself!]

In this verse be-nang clearly means 'shameless'; thus to be a nang-e ;xalq is bad in worldly terms, but to be a be-nang is also bad in worldly terms. Here's a verse that seems to play on the paradoxical slipperiness of the term [{564,1}]:

go nang us ko aave hai ((aashiq ke naam se
hai miir kaam mere ta))ii;N apne kaam se

[although honor/disgrace comes to her through the name of a lover
Mir, my work/desire gets done through work/desire]

And here's another example [{1185,3}]:

ham ko majnuu;N ko ((ishq me;N mat buujh
nang us ;xaandaa;N ke ham bhii hai;N

[do not consider us, in passion, to be Majnun
an honor/disgrace of that family, we too are]

This is a really elegant effect! If we take the 'family' to be Majnun's earthly, normal family, then he was certainly a disgrace to it. But if we take the 'family' to be the lineage of lovers, down through the centuries, then Majnun was a credit to that family, and the speaker claims to be just such another. Thus in the present verse too, becoming a nang-e ;xalq may be a part of the initiation ritual for the new lover-- something that drives ordinary people from the 'world of property' crazy, that creates a shorish of hostility among them, and in the process catapults the lover into the world of passion, where his real honor is now to be found.

Compare also the use of naamuus in