Sunday, 13 May 2007

Zauq - Laayi hayaat aaye

Ok... 'Zauq' now.

Zauq had already been the official court poet of Bahadur Shah Zafar for several years before Ghalib began to receive the patronage of the Emperor. Reportedly, the two men didn't share the best of vibes - Zauq is said to have disapproved of Ghalib's 'dissolute lifestyle', and Ghalib (typically!) didn't think much of Zauq's poetry.

Despite Ghalib's opinion of him, Zauq did write some pretty nifty stuff – like this one, for instance, which has long been one of my favourites. A set of melancholy observations, loaded with 'quiet wisdom' and preaching a mixture of detachment and fatalism... very nice!

लाई हयात आये, कज़ा ले चली चले

अपनी खुशी ना आये, ना अपनी खुशी चले

'Existence brought, (and we) came; death/destiny took away, (and we) went

Neither did (we) come of our own accord, nor did (we) go of our own accord'

A gem of a sher, that encapsulates the central tragedy of existence - namely, the sheer lack of control over it - in a uniquely conversational style!

बेहतर तो है यही के ना दुनिया से दिल लगे

पर क्या करें जो काम ना बेदिल्लगी चले

'It is best, of course, that the heart does not get involved with the world

but what is one to do if one can't make do without involvements?'

What indeed?!

The eternal dilemma - the inability of the heart to remain detached from the vagaries of life; despite every saint and godman worth his cloth having blamed these attachments as the root of all sorrow! It was Jefferson who said 'The price of freedom is eternal vigilance', wasn't it?

हो उम्र-ए-खिज़्र भी तो कहेंगे बवक्त-ए-मर्ग

हम क्या रहे यहाँ अभी आये अभी चले

'Even if one has the lifespan of Khizr, one would (still) say at the time of death

(but) we barely lived here; we had just arrived, and now we leave'


We spoke about the legend of Khizr in an earlier post... the immortal travelling saint...

This sher so wryly captures the fundamental insatiability of human nature... No matter how wretched one's existence might have been, when the end approaches, life begins to seem unfairly ephemeral...!

दुनिया ने किस का राह-ए-फ़ना में दिया है साथ

तुम भी चले चलो यूं ही जब तक चली चले

'Whom has the world accompanied on the way to oblivion?

You too; just continue walking until (the path) goes on'

Sound advice! Look not for companions on life's path... it's an expedition that has to be undertaken alone...

Shades of Tagore's 'Ekla chalo re'?

नाज़ां ना हो खिरद पे, जो होना है वो ही हो

दानिश तेरी ना कुछ मेरी दानिश्वरी चले

'Don't be arrogant about (your) intelligence; whatever has to happen, happens

Neither your knowledge, nor my learning, makes any difference'

'Que sera, sera!!'...A mantra that every 'control freak' should probably frame and put up on his wall!

कम होंगे इस बिसात पे हम जैसे बदकिमार

जो चाल हम चले वो निहायत बुरी चले

'on this chessboard, there must be very few novices (incompetents) like me

whatever move i played, it was extremely badly played!'

Don't you just love this one... it has such an endearing helplessness to it!

A 'qimaar' is literally a gambler or player, with 'badqimaar' normally used for beginners at the game...

While the ghazal universe would typically place the sher in the mouth of someone who has lost in love, the sheer 'contextless-ness' of the actual words makes it easy for us to invoke it as an 'internal lament' in any situation of personal defeat!

जाते हवा-ए-शौक़ में हैं इस चमन से 'ज़ौक'

अपनी बला से बाद-ए-सबा कहीं चले

'In the winds of longing/desire (I) leave this garden, Zauq

who cares (anymore) if the morning breeze blows somewhere!'

After having craved (as per ghazal stylisation) for the 'baad-e-sabaa' for so long, there is a lovely sense of the poet's disillusionment in the second line's "to hell with it" attitude! As long as one can be wafted off on the gusts of one's desires, who needs to stick around in the garden for the eternally awaited zephyrs?

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