gul ko ma;hbuub ham qiyaas kiyaa
farq niklaa bahut jo baas kiyaa

1) we reasoned/estimated/guessed the rose to be the beloved

2a) there turned out to be a lot of difference, when we smelled it
2b) there turned out to be a difference, when we smelled it a lot



qiyaas : 'Reasoning, ratiocination; a syllogism; —regular form, analogy, rule; judgment, opinion; thought, conception; fancy; theory; supposition, conjecture, guess'. (Platts p.796)

baas : 'Perfume, fragrance, scent, smell, odour; offensive smell, stench; trace, sign, particle'. (Platts p.122)

S. R. Faruqi:

There are a number of meanings in the verse. Many meanings result from a dexterous employment of grammar and usage. We guessed that the flower was our beloved. That is, having seen the flower we made an error: 'this is the beloved'. Or, we imagined that, 'if it's not the beloved, then let it not be-- we'll suppose the flower itself to be the beloved'. Or, when we saw the flower to be the object of everybody's desire (the beloved), then we guessed that in it there would probably be some trace of our beloved as well. But when we smelled the flower, then there turned out to be much difference. Or when we smelled it a good deal, there turned out to be a difference.

The reason for the difference can be that the beloved's perfume was less than the flower's perfume. It can also be that the beloved's perfume was of a different kind, and the flower's perfume turned out to be a different kind. The reason can also be that the scent that was in the beloved (the scent of love, the scent of pride)-- how would it be found in a flower? Between the beloved and the flower, the cause of similitude is scent; he hasn't expressed this, only suggested it. This is the limit of eloquence [balaa;Gat]. As a translation of [the Persian] buu kardan , earlier generations used to write buu karnaa and baas karnaa , but this didn't come into general use.

Jur'at, having adopted this theme, has created such an excellent image in his second line that justice must be done to his artistic temperament:

kahaa;N hai gul me;N .safaa))ii tire badan kii sii
bharii suhaag kii tis par yih buu dulhan kii sii

[where in the rose is a purity like that of your body?
and in addition, this scent full of 'wedded-bliss' like that of a bride]

[See also {1123,1}; {1373,5}.]



This verse hovers on the edge of what I call 'grotesquerie', because the rose is so proverbial for its sweet scent that when we read the second line, the thought at once comes to mind that it's an ironic or euphemistic way of saying that the beloved smells bad, or at least smells very little like a rose. (Probably our modern obsession with hygiene makes us hypersensitive to questions of body odor.) We might also think of Shakespeare's Sonnet 130:

My mistress' eyes are nothing like the sun;
Coral is far more red, than her lips red....
And in some perfumes is there more delight
Than in the breath that from my mistress reeks....
And yet by heaven, I think my love as rare,
As any she belied with false compare.

Shakespeare here actually is denigrating his mistress's breath, among many other deficiencies in her beauty, and then reaching a defiantly (if ambiguously) romantic conclusion.

But in the world of the ghazal, the beloved doesn't have bad breath; it's sort of metaphysically impossible. That's why SRF doesn't spend a single moment warning us against such thoughts. Mir certainly didn't mean for us, as we consider the verse, to be playing with that possibility. But might he have meant for us to have a tiny frisson of shock and horror, before we get hold of ourselves and react more appropriately? Perhaps he meant for us to react the way people react to an accidental obscenity that's innocently uttered by a language-learner.

If he did, then he surely meant to give a little extra zest to the immediate, heightened pleasure of considering how and why it actually did turn out that there was a great deal of difference between the rose and the beloved. SRF suggests some possible kinds, all of which are only the preludes to further questions that we must answer for ourselves.

The positioning of bahut as a kind of 'midpoint' means that it can be read, as SRf points out, with either the phrase before it (2a), or the one after it (2b). If we read (2b), the sense is that there did turn out to be a difference between the rose and the beloved, but it was a very subtle one: only after the speaker had smelled and smelled at the rose was he able to distinguish it. So the rose on that reading seems to smell almost like the beloved? Maybe like her, but lacking some extra touch of aroma (wine? blood?).

No matter how we frame and answer these questions, we're here being invited to unpack one of the primal metaphors at the foundations of the ghazal world. Everybody knows the beloved is like the rose-- or to put it in correct ghazal perspective, the rose is like the beloved; but how is the rose NOT like the beloved? Perhaps when we got close enough to smell the rose, we then noticed-- what? It's left up to us to decide.

Note for grammar fans: In the first line, there's another of those ne omissions that Mir could get by with. But notice that, as always, the invisible ne still affects verb agreement.