hastii hai apne :taur pah juu;N ba;hr josh me;N
gird-aab kaisaa mauj kahaa;N hai ;habaab kyaa

1) existence is, in its own style/manner, like the sea, in ebullition/turmoil
2) what kind of whirlpool?! where is a wave?! what is a bubble?!



josh : 'Boiling, ebullition; effervescence; heat, excitement, passion, emotion; lust; fervour, ardour, zeal; vehemence; enthusiasm; frenzy'. (Platts p.397)


gird-aab : 'Whirlpool, abyss, gulf, vortex'. (Platts p.903)

S. R. Faruqi:

One interpretation is that although existence is a sea, it's its own kind of sea: its waves and whirlpools and bubbles are not visible. Another interpretation is that existence, in its own way, is in turmoil like a sea: it's a kind of sea in which whirlpool, wave, and bubble all seem to be one. If it had been a small sea, then perhaps these things would be separately visible; but the sea is vast, and in such turmoil that everything appears to be one.

The meaning of josh can also be 'a crowd, an assault' [hujuum]. 'Existence' can be the presence of one man, or else the whole human world and the whole manifest world as well. Whether it be the existence of one man or that of the whole world, it never has stability. And if it's viewed with detachment, then all this instability of the universe, all its acts and movements, seem to be devoid of meaning like the roiling and turbulence of a sea.

By using the words hastii and josh , what a fine picture of inclusiveness and comprehensiveness he's captured! And equal to it is the craftsmanship with which he's divided the second line into three parts and thus given credibility to the effect of abundance and movement. N. M. Rashid too has used images of this kind very successfully in his nazm called ay samundar :

ay samundar

mai;N ginuu;Ngaa

daanah daanah tere aa;Nsuu

jin me;N ik za;xaarbe hastii kaa shor!

[oh ocean

I will count

every drop of your tears

in which is the turmoil of an overflowing existence!]



What a deadly clever poet the man is! In the first line we learn that existence is in turmoil 'like the sea'-- but 'in its own way'. Depending on where we place the emphasis, we could conclude either that existence mimics the characteristic, tumultuous behavior of the sea as best it can, or else that existence resembles the sea only in the limited and rather vague sense of being 'in turmoil'.

Under mushairah performance conditions, we have to wait and hope for enlightenment from the second line. And what we find there is the baffling hall-of-mirrors, radically insha'iyah effects of kyaa and its only slightly less powerful cousins, kaise and kahaa;N . As so often, there are thus three basic readings:

=exclamatory or admiring amazement: 'what a whirlpool it is! can this really be called a wave?! what a bubble!'

=bewildered or indignant negation: 'what kind of a whirlpool is that? as if this is a wave! do you call that a bubble?'

=genuine, serious inquiry: 'what is a whirlpool? where is the wave? what is a bubble?'

And of course, the speaker could be trying to compare existence to the sea, or trying to understand existence in its own terms. He could be speaking visually (about things he was seeing) or philosophically (about ideas of these things). The multivalent word josh itself can refer to physical motion (like the 'boiling' of hot water) or emotion ('fervor, enthusiasm'); see the definition above. If a verse like this doesn't plunge the reader into a 'turmoil' of reflections about the nature of life, what will?

Compare Ghalib's very similar interrogation of the parts of the sea: