Ghazal 4, Verse 15x


hai nagii;N kii paa-daarii naam-e .saa;hib-e ;xaanah
ham se tere kuuche ne naqsh-e mudda((aa paayaa

1a) the 'name' of the lord of the house is [from] the establishedness of the {signet/sealing}-ring
1b) the establishedness of the {signet/sealing}-ring is [from] the 'name' of the lord of the house

2) through us, your street found the claimed/desired stamp/mark/impression


nagii;N : 'A precious stone; --a precious stone set in a ring; --a ring, (esp.) a signet-ring; --what fits or sits well'. (Platts p.1152)


paa-daarii is here used for paa))edaarii , 'Durability, permanence'. (Platts p.222)


naam : 'Name, appellation, designation, title; --good name, repute, reputation, character, fame, honour, renown'. (Platts p.1117)


naqsh : 'A print; a carving, an engraving; a map, or plan (com. naqshah ); a design; --an impression; a stamp; a mark'. (Plats p.1145)


mudda((aa : 'Asserted as a claim, claimed, sued for; alleged; pretended; meant; --what is claimed, or alleged, or pretended, or meant; desire, wish; suit; meaning, object, view; scope, tenor, drift'. (Platts p.1015)


The meaning is that to the extent that the house-dweller would remain fixed-- that is, as long as the house is inhabited-- for so long the owner of the house too has a 'name'. If we were not there, your street would not be inhabited, nor would your 'name' or the 'name' of your street exist. (33)

Gyan Chand:

nagii;N = the stone of a ring, on which a name is usually inscribed, and which is used for the purpose of a seal.

The esteem given to a signet-ring is through the esteem of the owner of the seal. We constantly lie fallen in your street, through which we've become the 'lord of the house' of that street. Apart from us, nobody else was settled in that street. In this way your street, from our being settled there, obtained its goal, and people began to call the street by our name.

== Gyan Chand, p. 70



For background see S. R. Faruqi's choices. For more on Ghalib's unpublished verses, see the discussion in {4,8x}.

Verses that play with the importance of signet-rings: {4,15x}; {28,3x}; {95,2}. Also, compare {50,2} with its evocation of a plain, ordinary ring.

The 'establishedness'-- not just durability, but also acceptedness, respectedness, venerability, validity, esteem-- of a signet-ring or seal depends on the name of the owner of the 'house' or estate that includes the ring (1b). And, if we also read the line in reverse, as we equally well can and should: the 'name' and honor and prestige of the owner of the 'house' or estate that includes the signet-ring depends on the 'establishedness' (in all the above senses) of the signet-ring or seal itself (1a).

In short, (1b) says the signet-ring won't be esteemed unless its owner is; and (1a) says the owner won't be esteemed unless the signet-ring is. Both these highly abstract pieces of general information are bestowed on us by the first line. Needless to say, they give us not a clue as to where the verse is going.

The second line, as so often, starts afresh in grammar and vocabulary, so that we're forced to figure out for ourselves how to put the two together. Here are two basic ways in which the relationship could be configured:

(1a): We used to lie prostrate and flat in your street, like a piece of paper stamped with the impression of your seal or signet-ring; or else we used to lie so flatly in the dust that we marked it with our 'stamp, impression' as though we were a seal or signet-ring; this visible 'seal of approval' established your claim to ownership of the whole street (including us).

(1b): Because of your established ownership of the whole street, we were able to constantly remain there like a specially marked token or signet-ring; people recognized us as yours, and were delighted to recognize your rights of ownership by accepting our presence.

A further layer of complexity comes from the many possible readings of naqsh-e mudda((aa . A naqsh can be not only a stamp or seal-impression (the sense that most strongly connects with the first line), but also a picture or image or shape of many kinds (which would leave the sense of 'stamp' as a form of wordplay).

But even more to the point, whose is the mudda))aa , who is it who has 'claimed' or 'alleged' or 'desired' that particular image or appearance? We tend to take it as the beloved, but it could equally be the street itself, wishing to establish or confirm its own prestige. Or it could even be the speaker himself, wanting to make sure that everything about the street contributed to the beloved's further glory. For another example of such complex uses, see {4,1}.

For a beautifully apposite verse, compare {140,6} with its equally abstract first line.