Transation - Ya Mujhe Afsar (Zafar)

This ghazal though part of the TV serial "Mirza Ghalib" was not written by Ghalib. Instead it was by Bahadur Shah Zafar, the last Mughal emperor of India. He himself was a poet of no less repute and his Delhi court was home to several known Urdu poets of that age like Ghalib, Momin & Zauq.

ya mujhe afsar-e-shahana banaya hota,
ya mera taj gadayana banaya hota

Line 1/2 - You should have made me the chief of the kings or instead you should have given me a crown that a beggar may wear. The exact interpretations could be many, but the one that seems most convincing to me is that Zafar knowing that his crown is just a namesake for British rule the whole of India, he laments what use this titular crown of his is. A crown that beggars wear would have been better then this name-piece. I am a chief of nobody. No brave kings follow me. No empires bow before me.

khaksaari ke liye garche banaya tha mujhe,
kaaash sang-e-dar-e-jaanana banaya hota

Line 3/4 - The poet says if I was meant to be humbled to the insignificant dust (and covered with dust), then I wish I am turned to dust and strewn over the stepping stone at my beloved's door. The first line (khaksaari = service) could also mean that if was made only for service, then my only wish is to be strewn over my beloved's door stone.

nasha-e-ishq ka gar zarf diya tha mujh ko,
umr ka tang na paimana banaya hota

Line 5/6 - The poet says, that I have been given such temperament to tolerate/accept the severe intoxication of love. T have endless limits to bear that. I wish the cup (measure) of my life was not this limited. The poet wishes for a long life, a life not bounded by limits.

dil-e-sid chaak banaya to bala se lekin,
zulf-e-maskeen ka teri shaanah banaya hota

Line 7/8 - I have not been able to interpret these two lines, So i will just hazard a guess. The poet says I do not care if my heart is being split apart by this love of yours, for i wish i become the comb on the lock of hairs on your head (the lover referred here as maskeen - someone who is humble). This explanation of mine is highly interpretive and could be wrong.

sufion ke jo na tha laeq-e-sohbat to mujhe,
qaabil-e-jalsa-e-rindaana banaya hota

Line 9/10 - The poet says that if I am not worthy of the company of the sufi saints, then make me capable of leading a throng/crowd of base revelers. The poet says if i was not suitable to be someone supernal, then at least make me someone earthly and carnal who knows how to enjoy his life (a vague reference to maybe liquor & women).

tha jalana hii agar douri-e-saqi se mujhe,
to chiraag-e-dar-e-mai khana banaya hota

Line 11/12 - If I am to burn alone, in isolation, without the benefit of the grace/company of the bartender. Then instead make me a tavern lamp that is burning outside at the tavern door.

apna deewana banaya mujhe hota tune
kyun khiradmand banaya na banaya hota

Line 13/14 - The poet laments that you should have made me your lover (admirer), instead you made me a wise and intelligent person which you shouldn't have made me. The poet again ponders over what-if scenarios.. which is the recurring theme in this ghazal. All along the weight of a king's demeanor and desires of living free unfettered comes across again and again.

sholaa-e-husn chaman mein na dikhaaya us ne
varanaa bulbul ko bhii parwana banayaa hota

Line 15/16 - The poet says that the fiery beauty did not showed herself in the garden, otherwise it would have turned the nightingale into a impassioned moth enamored by her radiance.

roz maamura-e-duniya mein kharabi hain "zafar",
aisi basti ko to veerana banaya hota!

Line 17/18 - O! Zafar, there is something always wrong in this hustle bustle of daily life of this mundane world. O! you should have made it a barren and desolate place instead of this inhabited place. The poet laments that everyday living will always have its never-ending problems, I wish it was a barren place devoid of habitation.

Meaning of difficult words :-
afsar-e-shahana = chief of kings
taj gadayana = hermit like crown
khaksari = covered with dust, service
garche = if
sang-e-dar-e-janana = stepping stone at the beloved's door
zurf = capacity to bear or tolerate
chaak = split, torn
maskeen = humble,downtrodden
shaanah = comb
laeq = worth
rindaana = revelers
khiradmand = wise, intelligent
maamura = routine

Read more posts on Ghalib.


  1. Thanks Negi ji for the explanation...

  2. Khiradmand - refers to the one who seeks/expects gesture, love.

    Zamana ahle khirad se ho cuka mayoos
    Ajab nahi koi diwana kam karjaye

    Saqi - this word is interpreted to the one who fills your cup but it refers to beloved

    Cup of life - life span, limiting the life

  3. Superb explanation. Hum apke bhi Murid hue jaate hai