jii ;Duubtaa hai us guhar-e tar kii yaad me;N
paayaan kaar ((ishq me;N ham marjiye hu))e

1) the inner-self submerges/drowns in the memory of that fresh/'moist' pearl
2) finally, in passion, we became a diver



;Duubnaa : 'To dive; to sink, drown, be drowned; to drown oneself; to be immersed, be submerged'. (Platts p.568)


paayaan : 'End, extremity, extreme; termination, completion'. (Platts p.222)


kaar : 'Act, action; work, operation, labour, occupation, service, business, function, duty, profession; affair, matter; use, practice'. (Platts p.799)


marjiyaa : 'A diver'. (Platts p.1021)

S. R. Faruqi:

marjiye = diver

In this verse there's a 'hot market' of ambiguity and wordplay. And this verse proves once again that in classical ghazal the creative use of theme and language has a fundamental importance. 'Emotional truth', 'to make one's own story into the world's story', 'to bring the heart's grief to the lips', etc. have no place in classical poetics. These things are not indispensable to a verse. But rareness of theme and creative use of language are such necessities that the poet has no recourse other than to provide them.

First, let's look at the second line. The meaning of the Arabic marjiyaa is 'diver' (especially someone who would dive into the sea and fetch up pearls). But because it contains mar and jiye , some people [including certain dictionary-compilers] have erroneously thought that it also means 'weak, downhearted, cowardly, someone saved from dying', and so on. [Discussion of such definitions in various dictionaries.] Thus it has a powerful 'iham of sound' [iihaam-e .saut]-- that in the word the illusion of two entirely different words is created.

Then, in paayaan kaar too there's an iham, because paayaan means 'limit, end, edge', but here paayaan kaar means 'finally' [aa;xir kaar]. And the sea, ocean, etc. is called be-paayaa;N (in order to convey its breadth), as for example in ba;hr-e be-paayaa;N . In this respect too, there's wordplay among paayaa;N , marjiyaa , ;Duubtaa .

In the first line the most beautiful thing is the affinity of the words. Because of the affinity with jii ;Duubtaa , he has said guhar-e tar . For example, a line of this form was possible:

(1) jii ;Duubtaa hai us gul-e ;xuubii kii yaad me;N

Now the theme is the same, but because the affinity is less, the pleasure of the line has diminished. It should be kept in mind that both guhar and tar are words with affinity. For one meaning of aab is 'shining, glistening', so that a shining pearl is called a guhar-e tar . Thus the affinity of tar with ;Duubtaa , guhar , marjiyaa is clear. If the line had been like this:

(2) jii ;Duubtaa hai gauhar-e ;xuubii kii yaad me;N

only half the pleasure would remain, because only half of the affinity remained. It should be kept in mind that the characteristic of 'affinity' is that when it's present it's often not so noticeable, but when it's not there then the lack of it is vexatious. For example, the practiced reader/hearer will at once say that the line lacks affinity.

By contrast, the characteristic of wordplay is that when it is present then usually the eye falls on it, but when it's not there then the lack of it is not vexatious. For example, in the present verse, to establish the meaning of ;Duubtaa and marjiyaa it's not necessary to say paayaan kaar . Any ward that would convey the meaning of ultimately, finally, etc., would be enough. For example, the line could have been like this:

(3) aa;xir ko us ke ((ishq me;N ham marjiye hu))e

It's quite clear that in this line the lack is not vexatious the way it is in example (1). But it's also clear that the actual line is much better, because through the creation of the wordplay of paayaan , the pleasure of the verse has been doubled.

Janab Abd ul-Rashid has called to my attention the fact that Qazi Mahmud Bahri has used a word marjiyaa;N . [An extensive discussion of various forms of marjiyaa and the definitions and examples given by different dictionaries; the conclusion is that meanings based on 'die and live' are erroneous, and the basic meaning of 'diver' is the only correct one.]

Now let's reflect further on the verse. In the first line, if we consider yaad to be a metaphor, then it's as if there's an ocean in which the heart is drowning. And if we take it in the dictionary meaning, then jii ;Duubtaa hai will be considered a metaphor. This is a wondrous tension in the line. The meaningfulness of marjiyaa remains in any case.

And in any case it's also proved that the speakier is not saying some 'pathetic' verse, but rather is churning up the possibilities of language and showing us what poetic mastery/power [qaadir ul-kalaamii] really is. (We have now become so ignorant of the meaning of this word that we call a poet like Josh, prey to disconnectedness and lack of affinity, a masterful poet, only because he had the power to collect in his lines various kinds of words. In such an era, how can people be convinced of the poetic mastery of Mir and Mir Anis?)



Really the verse creates a superb setting for that final punch-word, marjiye . Though the whole verse is so full of splendidly rich wordplay (beautifully explicated by SRF) that it's no mere 'mushairah verse'; its final punch-word provides the perfect culmination, but doesn't overpower the rest of the verse. The remarkable fact that this single word juxtaposes within itself the idea of 'die' and 'live' is a coincidence in one sense-- since, as SRF demonstrates at length, there exists no real alternative meaning for the word that is about dying and living. But in another sense it's no coincidence, since surely the word was chosen in the first place for its potent resonance with ;Duubnaa , which can mean something neutral or even sometimes desirable ('to be immersed, to be submerged')-- or, of course 'to drown'.

As SRF also notes, the Arabic marjiye is so uncommon a word that dictionaries have to guess (often erroneously) at its meaning. In Ghalib's divan it never appears at all. So it certainly deserves credit as a 'fresh word'.

Then, the 'diver' is in pursuit of the 'moist' and shining 'pearl'. But what exactly is the nature of his search? When 'finally', in the end-stage of passion, he becomes a diver, is he diving down into his 'memory' of that pearl-beloved in order to 'immerse' himself entirely in rapturous absorption? Or is he diving down suicidally, in order to 'drown' in the depths of memory and passion, and never to come back up to the sterility of life on land?

Note for grammar fans: We have it on the authority of SRF that paayaan kaar is an adverbial phrase, like aa;xir kaar and with basically the same meaning. But even otherwise, if we were to read paayaan-e kaar-e ((ishq me;N (which is metrically quite possible), we would have the perfectly satisfactory 'in the end/extremity of the practice of passion'.