Thursday, 19 April 2007

Ghalib - Dil-e-nadaan tujhe

One of Ghalib's most celebrated works, it is notable for the (un-Ghalib like?) colloquial simplicity of many of its shers. The refrain क्या है permits Ghalib to make masterly use of his typical इन्शाईयाह style (the use of non-refutable statements, usually in interrogative or subjunctive mood) by making a series of interrogative exclamations, which consciously wear an air of studied, almost mocking, naivete.

--नादान तुझे हुआ क्या है
आख़िर इस दर्द कि दवा क्या है

"o silly heart, what's happened to you?
what medicine, after all, is there for this pain?"

हम हैं मुश्ताक और वो बेज़ार
या इलाही ये माजरा क्या है

"I am full of ardour, and (yet) she (remains) displeased
dear god,what is this going on?"

मैं भी मुँह मे ज़बान रखता हूँ
काश पूछो कि मुद्दा क्या है

"i too have a tongue in my mouth
if only you'd ask what the issue/intent is"

जब कि तुझ बिन नही कोई मौजूद
फिर ये हंगामा खुदा क्या है

" when nobody but you is present (exists)
what, dear god, is this din?"

This outstanding couplet begins a 'set' of four related shers (an occasionally-permitted break from the otherwise mandatory independence of shers in the strict ghazal form), which quite clearly seem to be addressed to the celestial (as opposed to an earthly) beloved.

With an endearingly confused air (or, equally possibly, with delightfully naughty sarcasm), the poet asks the almighty that if He is the only true entity in creation [in keeping with the Sufi belief that God exists in solitary splendour in the universe, everything else being illusory], then why is there such a (captivating) commotion of sights, sounds and experiences all around the poet, which holds him fascinated. He then goes on, in the next three shers, to substantiate this point by listing some of the things which, in his opinion, pose a fairly credible challenge to the exclusive existence of the almighty!

ये परी चेहरा लोग कैसे हैं
गमज़ा--इष्वा--अदा क्या है

"how are these fairy-faced people (here)?
these sidelong glances, this coquetry, these graces, what is (all) this?"

Once again, either an honestly innocent desire for clarification, or a deliberately needling challenge to the creator... 'you say you are the only one, but look at these fascinating creatures, at their compelling wiles - for something that doesn't exist, they seem pretty powerful!'

शिकन--ज़ुल्फ़--अम्बारी क्यों है
निगाह--चश्म--सुर्मा-सा क्या है

"why is the curl in the fragrant tresses there?
glances from kajol-lined eyes, what are these?"

More of the same ... that heart-stopping curl in the tangled tresses of the beloved, not to mention a glance from her smouldering eyes, surely deserves an equal stature in the existential scheme of things as the (monotonously invisible) Creator...!

सब्ज़ा--गुल कहाँ से आये हैं
अब्र क्या चीज़ है हवा क्या है

"where have leaves and blooms come from?
what sort of thing is a cloud, what is the breeze?"

It is probably a telling comment on Ghalib's priorities that the more 'natural' contenders to challenge God's claim to exclusive existence, i.e. clouds, wind, vegetation, etc., are cited after the beloved's angel-faced coquetry or the inveigling locks of her hair!

हमको उनसे वफ़ा की है उम्मीद
जो नहीं जानते वफ़ा क्या है

"I (live in) hope of faithfullness from someone
who doesn't (even) know what faithfullness is"

So intensely trite, that it actually DOES achieve a sort of a stark beauty in its hopelessness...

हाँ भला कर तेरा भला होगा
और दरवेश की सदा क्या है

"do good to others, and good will be done to you
what else does the (saintly) beggar preach?"

a gem! While it has almost nothing to say in itself (except the tritest of moral platitudes), the sher evokes a delicious situational context where the poet is opportunistically drawing the Beloved's attention to the (typical) calls of a wandering mendicant, and pointing out that 'even the darvesh is telling you to be nice to me, for that is the only way you will receive rewards in life'... the implication being that she she should give generously of her charms, to the (schemingly?) abject poet!

जान तुम पर निसार करता हूँ
मैं नहीं जानता दुआ क्या है

"i offer my life to you
i don't know what benedictions are"

Once again, a seemingly trite statement, but sweet if seen in a context where the poet is trying to defend himself against a charge of lack of social graces (of the sort that are shown by timely transmission of good wishes etc.) by an annoyed Beloved.

मैंने माना कि कुछ नहीं ग़ालिब
मुफ़्त हाथ आये तो बुरा क्या

"granted that Ghalib is nothing special
but if you get him free, how is it a bad deal?!"

Finally, the sort of self-confident, almost arrogant, modesty that only someone who knows himself to be at the pinnacle of his art can sport. Ghalib, more than anybody else, knew well that in popular as well as critical esteem, he was very very far from being 'nothing special'. Hence this maqta must have got an especially explosive round of applause when first heard in a mushaiira context!

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