Junaid has sent this classic ghazal by one of the earlier, eclectic poets of Urdu language, Siraj Aurangabadi. The best part of his email is the translation by his relative – a Toronto based poet – Anis Zuberi. The translation is amazing as it delves into the deeper meanings of this great ghazal.

Anis Zuberi writes:

It is hard to translate classical poets. This ghazal of Siraj is like a flower, full of beauty and fragrance that one should smell and enjoy and not dissect. …Siraj Aurangabadi was one of the earlier poets of Urdu who came after Wali Dukkani. According to his biography for years, he was in a state of trance and used to remain naked. Khabar e-tahayyur-e-ishq is one of the his most famous Ghazals.

Khabar-e-tahayyur-e-ishq sunn, na junoon raha na pari rahi
Na toh tu raha na toh mein raha, jo rahi so be-khabari rahi

Learn oh absorbing love that neither the obsession (for the beloved) is left nor and the object (pari) of love survived. The only thing that is left is a state of self-unconsciousness: where neither you exist nor I exist.

Shah-e-bekhudi ne ataa kia, mujhay ab libas-e-barahanagi
Na khirad ki bakhiyagari rahi, na junoon ki pardadari rahi

My beloved (shah-e-bekhudi is a reference to the beloved. Knowing what little I know about Siraj I am leaning towards God as his object of love rather then a worldly being) has bestowed me with a dress of nakedness (libas-e-barahanagi). Neither the intellect (khirad) can repair it nor does the insanity (junoon) rip it. Meaning what a dress (nakedness) my beloved has conferred upon me! I am now free from the trouble of ripping it or mending it (depending on the mental state I am in). My focus is my beloved not my own appearance or even existence.

Chali simt-e-ghaib se aik hava, ke chaman zahoor ka jal gaya
Magar aik shakh-e-nihal-e-gham, jise dil kahe so hari rahi

A breeze came from the outer space (simt-e-ghaib) and burned the entire garden of existence (zahoor) but a branch of the tree of sorrow (nihal-e-gham) that is called heart remained green. Since in the first line poet is referring to a wind coming from the direction of God (ghaib) that has burned the whole existence (chaman) it can be assumed that tree of sorrow is a symbol of the poets own being. In the burned garden of existence he stood like a sad tree. Nothing grows on that tree except sadness, caused by the separation from his beloved. Now that entire existence is gone, only the abode of the beloved (heart) is survived.

Nazar-e-taghaful-e-yaar ka, gila kis zuban se bayan karoon
Ke sharab-e-sad-qadaah aarzu, khum-e-dil mein thi so bhari rahi

I am speechless (kis zuban). How can I complain the indifferent and uncaring glances (nazar-e-taghaful-e-yaar) of my beloved? After reading, the second line it is clear that he trying to say that I cannot complain about those cold looks or eyes that have granted me so much. I am indebted to those eyes. Why? My heart is brimming with his desire (aarzu) as if a vessel (khum) is filled with hundred goblets of wine (sharaab-e-sad-qadaah).

Woh ajab ghari thi mein jis ghari, liya dars nuskha-e-ishq ka
Ke kitab aql ki taaq main, jyun dhari thi tyun hi dhari rahi

In Urdu poetry, reason (aql-o-khirad) the product of mind is considered a source of selfishness and as it causes a person to make calculated move; as against altruistic emotions that come out of heart. A thoughtful person thinks about the consequences before taking any action. That is why it is assumed that a selfless love is motivated by heart and not mind. For that reason love and brain are just incompatible. Mind is deceitful, untrustworthy, selfish and devious whereas heart is pure, untainted and selfless. As Iqbal said:
bekhatar kuud para aatishe-namrood mein ishq
aql thi mehvi-tamasha-e-lab-baam abhi

That is what Siraj is saying that at that strange moment when I started taking lesson in love (dars-e-nuskha-e-ishq) I left my intellect or brain (kitaab-e-aql- book is synonymous with intellect as one needs brain to read or write) in an alcove, where it is lying ever since.

Tere josh-e-hairat-e-husn ka, asar iss qadar so yahan hua
Ke na aayine main jila rahi, na pari kuun jalva gari rahi

Bewildered by your beauty (Josh-e-hairat-e-husn), I had such a mark on my heart (yahan is a pointer towards the heart) that the heart (aayina means heart) has lost all its shine (the basic quality of a mirror) and angel (pari is used as simile to refer profound beauty) had no beauty left to reveal. (“so” means se and “kuun” means ko).

Kiya khak-e-aatish-e-ishq ne dil-e-benava-e-Siraj ko
Na khatar raha na hazar raha, magar aik be-khatari rahi

The fire of love (aatish-e-ishq) has burned the voiceless heart (dil-e-benava) of Siraj to the ashes. There is no feeling of vulnerability or threat left. Only freedom from fear (be-khatari) is left. (As Iqbal has used the word bekhatar: bekhatar kood para aatish-e-namrood mein ishq.)