Ghazal 102, Verse 2


thak thak ke har maqaam pah do chaar rah gaye
teraa pataa nah paa))e;N to naa-chaar kyaa kare;N

1) having gradually grown tired, at every place/station a few stayed [behind]
2) if we/they wouldn't find your trace/address, then, helpless(ly), what would we/they do?


maqaam : 'Place of residence, or of encamping or halting; residence, abode, dwelling, mansion; station; place, site; position, situation; ground, or basis... state, condition'. (Platts p.1054)


pataa : 'Sign, mark, signal, symptom, token, trace, clue, hint, direction, specification, particular mention; address (of a person)'. (Platts p.223)


naa-chaar : 'adj. & adv. Without remedy, remediless; constrained; helpless, destitute, abandoned, forlorn, distressed, poor, miserable; —by force, against the inclination; inevitably, as a necessary consequence; of course'. (Platts p.1110)


By maqaam is meant stages in the mystical path [maqaamaat-e saluuk-o-ma((rifat]. In this verse there is a .zil((a of do chaar and naa-chaar . (109)

== Nazm page 109

Bekhud Mohani:

Somebody has grown tired at one stage of mystical knowledge, somebody at another. When we don't have your trace/address, then what can we do? That is, there's no lack of searchers. If there's no access to you, then so be it. This was beyond their strength to achieve. From this verse it can be learned that it's impossible to traverse the path of mystical knowledge. (210)


Although this verse can be taken as worldly [majaaz], it seems better to take it as mystical [;haqiiqat]. He says, oh Ghalib! since You are not visible anywhere, anybody at all who sets out to search for You grows tired and stops before reaching the goal. (543)



The word maqaam is conveniently multivalent (see the definition above): it can refer to a house, a camp, a situation, and as the commentators especially emphasize, a state of being-- a stage on the great mystical path that the Sufi orders so systematically delineate. This certainly feels like a verse addressed to a divine rather than a human beloved; for more such, see {20,10}.

Because the subject is omitted from the second line, it could apply to a 'we' (all the seekers, including the speaker), or to a 'they' (as the speaker, from some vantage point, compassionately watches the weak stragglers).

But this is also a verse with conspicuous wordplay; and for once Nazm at least, and some of the other commentators (probably following him) agree. The relationship between do chaar , 'two [or] four', and naa-chaar (see the definition above) has an aptness that goes beyond the phonetic echo. 'Three or four' people (as we would say in English) form a very small group to peel off from a caravan on a long journey, and it's all too easy to imagine them as 'helpless', or as 'helplessly' exhausted and 'without recourse'.

Compare {32,1}, which plays more centrally on do chaar honaa .

The fact that the first line is opaque until the second is heard; and that the punch-word, naa-chaar , is withheld until the last possible moment; and that then the verse suddenly explodes into full meaning-- these qualities make this a fine mushairah verse too.

For a similar view of the role of religions, compare the striking {93,3x}.