Ghazal 159, Verse 6


laazim nahii;N kih ;xi.zr kii ham pai-ravii kare;N
jaanaa kih ik buzurg hame;N ham-safar mile

1) it's not necessary that we would follow in Khizr's footsteps
2) we considered that we had acquired a single/particular/excellent/unique venerable-elder as a fellow-traveler



That is, our rank too, as a traveler on the Sufi path [martabah-e suluuk], is not a bit less than that of Khizr. (172)

== Nazm page 172

Bekhud Dihlavi:

He says, on the Sufi path we are equal to Khizr, but on the path of instruction we want to take lessons from him. Therefore we consider him a venerable elder. But we fall short of following in his footsteps. In this verse Mirza Sahib's mischievousness of temperament is manifest. (228)

Bekhud Mohani:

It's not incumbent upon us to follow in Hazrat Khizr's footsteps. If we meet Khizr along the way, then we consider that a venerable elder has become our fellow-traveler. That is, in the True Path, we are not less than Khizr. (308)



Khizr is, according to tradition, a guide to wanderers and the lost. So to say that we don't need to follow him is to strike a typically Ghalibian note of independence. But it's the second line that adds the wonderful touch of patronizing non-recognition. Not only don't we need to follow Khizr as a valuable guide-- we also don't even need to know who he is, and apparently don't know.

So when he turns up along the road, we just think, 'oh, there's some [ik] elderly gentlemen who's a fellow-traveller'. The phrasing makes it appear that we're already on the road, already going in our chosen direction, and Khizr just happens to turn up and join the party. It's also quite possible that he's following us-- and that could equally well be why, as the first line points out, it's not necessary for us to follow him. On the complex possibilities of jaan'naa , see {16,5}.

Of course, that protean ik could also have many favorable implications. But even an 'excellent' or a 'unique' fellow-traveler doesn't at all have to be a guide; those terms themselves can have a kind of jolly and amused (and thus patronizing) flavor of the kind that gives the verse its real relish.

The wordplay is also a treat: pai-ravii , jaanaa (which also, cleverly, means 'to go'), and ham-safar mesh together enjoyably.

Compare Mir's even more conspicuously patronizing look at Khizr: M{1800,4}.