Friday, January 31, 2014

Aaye Hain Paraha-e-Jigar … Ghalib’s Unpublished Ghazal

This is one of the earliest ghazals written by Ghalib. Written in 1812, when he was just around 15 years of age, this ghazal was rejected by Ghalib when he was compiling his deewan for publication. While it has some interesting metaphors, none of the she’rs really stands out for their brilliance. The choice of a noun – ashk (tears) - for the radeef (refrain), in a way, restricts the various themes that can be addressed in this ghazal, but one must give it to the poet for still trying to avoid the beaten path. What I find a bit unusual is the use of a particular word in 3 out of the 7 she’rs. This word – Mizhgaan/Mizha (eyelashes) – seems to have been quite a favourite of Ghalib’s as it appears with alarming regularity in his poems, more so in his unpublished ones. But I haven’t yet come across another instance where it makes an appearance multiple times in the same ghazal.

Honestly, I don’t find this ghazal very exciting, but, for what it’s worth, one curious feature of this ghazal is that in reference to ‘tears’, Ghalib invokes several body parts in each of the sher’s. There’s liver, hand, tongue, heart, foot (by implication), and of course, eyes and eyelashes.

आये हैं पाराहा-ए-जिगर दरमयान-ए-अश्क
लाया है लाल-ए-बेश बहा कारवान-ए-अश्क

(पाराहा-ए-जिगर = pieces of liver/heart/spirit; दरमयान = in between; लाल-ए-बेश = precious ruby; कारवान = caravan)

The image of a sufferer crying tears of blood in extreme distress is quite common in the ghazal world. This couplet uses the same metaphor except that the level of distress is even higher, so much so that pieces of liver, the source of fresh blood in the ghazal physiology, make their way into the tears. And red as they are, they appear like precious rubies. The use of the word कारवान is interesting in that it can be used to specifically refer to a large company of ‘merchants’ – meaning that gels well with the metaphor of precious rubies.

ज़ाहिर करे है जुम्बिश-ए-मिश्हगान से मुद्द'
तिफ़लाना हाथ का है इशारा ज़ुबान-ए-अश्क

(जुम्बिश = movement; मिश्हगान = eye lashes; मुद्द'आ = wish, desire; तिफ़लाना = childish)

How do tears express themselves? Just like children who are yet to start speaking express themselves by gesticulating, tears do so by moving the eyelashes. I can’t find anything more than this in this couplet, and hence it leaves me totally dissatisfied.

मैं वादी-ए-तलब में हुआ जुम्लातन ग़रक़
अज़ बसकि सर्फ़-ए-क़तराज़नी था बसान-ए-अश्क

(वादी = channel of a river, valley; तलब = desire; जुम्लातन = totally; ग़रक़ = drowned; अज़ बसकि = extremely; सर्फ़ = to spend, to use; क़तराज़नी = running; बसान = like, resembling)

In this couplet, Ghalib equates a characteristic of tears with his own condition. Just like tears keep running all the time, he too is running here and there in the valley of desire. Probably in the frustrating quest of the object of his desire, or may be in the excitement of having found what he desired. And in this uncontrolled running around, what did he get drowned in? His own sweat that resulted from this non-stop ‘exercise’ or in desire itself, which grew stronger and stronger (or deeper and deeper) as time progressed?

रोने ने ताक़त इतनी न छोड़ी कि एक बार
मिश्हगाँ को दूँ फ़िशार पै-ए-इम्तिहान-ए-अश्क

(मिश्हगाँ = eyelashes; फिशार = squeeze; पै = on account of)

This is another fairly straightforward couplet. The lover has cried so much that he’s completely worn out and his eyes might have dried up. He doesn’t even have the strength left to squeeze his eyelashes to test if any tears are left.

दिलख़स्तगाँ को है तरब-ए-सद-चमन बहार
बाग़-ए-ब-ख़ूँ तपीदन-ओ-आब-ए-रवान-ए-अश्क

(दिलख़स्तगाँ = those with a wounded heart; तरब = joy; सद-चमन = 100 gardens; ब-ख़ूँ तपीदन = agitating/rolling in blood; आब-ए-रवान = flowing water)

This couplet hints at the masochistic tendencies of the lovers that populate the ghazal world. They relish the extreme pain that the failure/non-reciprocity/ tyranny of love causes. For them the ground where the tyrannical beloved has crushed them under her feet and left them writhing in blood is like a garden, a garden that is irrigated by endless tears. And the joy they experience in this extreme torture is equal to the joy of experiencing the blooming of a hundred gardens.

सैल-ए-बिना-ए-मस्ती-ए-शबनम है आफ़ताब
छोड़े न चश्म में तपिश-ए-दिल निशान-ए-अश्क

(सैल-ए-बिना = a torrent that shakes the foundation of something; मस्ती = intoxication, pride; शबनम = dew; आफ़ताब = sun; चश्म = eyes; तपिश = heat)

The meaning of this couplet is fairly ordinary. The poet is equating tears to dewdrops and sun to the burning of the heart. Just like the heat of the sun evaporates the dewdrops, the extreme pain cause the heart to burn, which dries up the tears. The only thing that I find somewhat interesting in this couplet is the use of the word सैल (a torrent), which is literally antithetical to dryness. Also curious is the use of the word मस्ती. The sun destroys the pride of the dewdrops by evaporating them. Is the burning of the heart doing the same to the tears?

हंगाम-ए-इंतज़ार-ए-क़ुदूम-ए-बुताँ असद
है बर सर-ए-मिश्हा निगराँ दीदबान-ए-अश्क

(हंगाम = time; क़ुदूम = arrival; बुताँ = beloved; मिश्हा = eyelash; निगराँ = one who watches; दीदबान = sentinel, guard)

It is the beloved’s nature to make the lover wait endlessly. This endless wait makes the lover cry in desperation. A routine thought, but Ghalib gives it a delicious flavor by equating the tears to a watch guard. In his imagination tears are like sentinels that sit on the eyelashes, so that they can inform the lover as soon as they witness the arrival of the beloved. So the tears are not only a result of the distress caused by an endless wait, they also have a purpose – a purpose that could eventually lead to their end. Consider this – the beloved arrives, the tears inform the lover, the lover is happy, and the ‘guards’ are withdrawn from their position so that the beloved can enter the lover’s heart through his eyes.


  1. Deewan-e-Ghalib Kaamil Nuskhah-e-Gupta Raza, Tareekhi Tarteeb Se by Kalidas Gupta ‘Raza’
  2. Tafseer-e-Ghalib az Gyan Chand by Dr. Gyan Chand Jain