ai dil tamaam naf’a hai sauda-e-ishq mein,

ik jaan ka ziyaan hai so aisa ziyaan nahin - Mufti Sadruddin ‘Aazurda’

ऐ दिल तमाम नफ़ा है सौदा-ए-इश्क़ में

इक जान का ज़ियाँ है, सो ऐसा ज़ियाँ नहीं

A rough and ready rendering into English would be...

O heart! it’s gain/profit (naf’a) all the way in the deal/transaction of love

The only loss (ziyaaN) in the bargain is one’s life, but that’s not such a big loss...

Using the metaphor of a deal or transaction, ‘Aazurda’, a master of irony and inversion, describes love as a profitable exercise, in the first line of the shair. He turns this statement on its head in the second line saying that the only thing you could lose in the bargain, is your life!

A close friend and associate of the redoubtable Mirza Ghalib, ‘Aazurda’ was the Chief Mufti of Delhi. There are several interesting anecdotes centering around Ghalib in which ‘Aazurda’ figures prominently. It must be remembered that he belonged to the golden epoch in Urdu poetry which saw the efflorescence of the Ghazal.

Mufti Saheb is widely described by literary historians to have been a man of letters of an exceptional calibre with a liberal temper. He was a front-ranking poet in the tradition of the classical masters of Persian and Urdu. Here’s another shair from the same Ghazal by the master, laden with irony, accentuated by inversion with telling effect:

afsurda dil na ho, dar-e-rehmat nahiN hai band

kis din khula hua dar-e-piir-e-muGhaaN nahiN

(अफ़सुरदा दिल न हो, दर-ए-रहमत नहीं है बंद

किस दिन खुला हुआ दर-ए-पीर-ए-मुग़ान नहीं)

In the first line, the poet says "do not feel dispirited/despondent, the door of kindness is not shut." This leads us to think that he referring to the Almighty and His Grace. In the second line, he inverts this thought completely--"when is the door of the tavern keeper (piir-e-muGhaaN) not open? The "door of kindness" he alludes to in the first line, is to the surprise of the reader, that of the tavern-keeper!

Also Read: Urdu Couplet Of the Day 21