Ghazal 9, Verse 1


dahr me;N naqsh-e vafaa vaj'h-e tasallii nah hu))aa
hai yih vuh laf:z kih sharmindah-e ma((nii nah hu))aa

1) in the world, the image/impression of 'faithfulness' did not become a cause for comfort
2) this is {such a / 'that'} word, that did not become ashamed/embarrassed before Meaning


naqsh : 'A painting, a picture; portrait; drawing; a print; a carving, an engraving, ... an impression; a stamp; a mark'. (Platts p.1145)

tasallii : 'Consolation, comfort, solace; assurance; contentment, satisfaction'. (Platts p.324)

sharmindah : 'Ashamed, abashed, shamefaced, bashful, modest, blushing'. (Platts p.726)


That is, when lovers in the world are faithful, it means that they want comfort. When they are faithful and don't receive comfort, then the word 'faithfulness' is left meaningless and vain. The conclusion is that lovers' faithfulness is a meaningless thing. (9)

== Nazm page 9


Urdu text: Vajid 1902 {9}

Bekhud Dihlavi:

He says that when in the world people, through faithfulness, stamp the mark [naqsh] of faithfulness on someone's heart, it's as if they waste their time in a useless task. (21)

Bekhud Mohani:

In the world, no peace could be gained from the word 'faithfulness'. This is the word which has never placed itself under obligation to meaning; that is, this is a meaningless word. (16)



INDEPENDENCE verses: {3,10x}; {9,1}; {9,5}; {9,9x}; {12,4x}*; {18,4}; {24,5}; {24,9x}; {26,1}*, Sufistic anecdote; {39,4}; {44,1}; {64,5}; {77,7}; {84,6x}*; [{88,7x}]; {92,4}; {96,7x}, true autonomy is rare; {99,6}; {105,3x}, wealth; {110,8}, servitude; {115,7}; {119,5}; {119,7}*; {119,8}; {130,1}*; {130,2}, an inescapable burden; {130,3}**, very clear; {148,5}*; {149,2}; {154,2}; {159,6}; {167,10}, a particularly complex case; {175,6}, on his poetry; {182,1}; {189,2}; {190,2}*; {192,7x}; {198,1}; {222,2x}; {222,4x}*, very clear; {228,11x}; {230,11} // {285x,1}, warning; {298x,3}, poetic creativity; {321x,4}, loss of it; {322x,5}, the 'uncreated garden' one; {378x,7}*, death as release; {404x,7}; {441x,5}

ABOUT THE 'INDEPENDENCE' VERSES: The equation between being 'beholden' and being 'ashamed' is very deeply Ghalibian. In others of what I call his 'independence verses', he both extends and strengthens this notion. He also applies it clearly to human life, as a strong philosophical, or esthetic, or even moral, imperative. I was surprised to notice how many such 'independence verses' there are, and how firm and consistent is their advice.

For example, in {9,5}, the beloved's never speaking kindly to the lover means that his ear is not 'indebted' to good news. In {18,4}, Beauty is disgracefully 'pledged' to henna. In {39,4}, the lover rejoices in his freedom from minnat to digestive fluid (yes, really). By contrast, {44,1} depicts Ghalib's poetry as available for free-- except for the weight of (indebtedness to) his kindness that the buyer must bear. More abstractly, {64,5} makes it clear that the path to one's ardently desired 'own truth/reality' requires confiding oneself to oblivion. In {92,4} the lover is glad that his lament does not 'abase itself' before 'Effect'-- which is to say, it has no effect. In {130,3} a door is described as 'bent over' under the weight of minnat to the worker who made it, and the lover is enjoined not to accept favors from anyone. And in {148,5} the edict is laid down, in so many words, that one should accept only what comes 'from one's own existence', since one's own heedlessness is to be preferred to awareness borrowed from others. And so on; there are a number of other examples listed above.

This counsel of self-reliance at all costs, and non-beholdenness at all costs, is in a class by itself as an explicit principle that leaps out at the reader from Ghalib's poetry. In the whole of the divan, no other such principle appears, as far as I can see. And I certainly didn't go looking to find any such principles, including this one. I don't think any serious reader of Ghalib could fail to notice it.

There does actually seem to be a counterpart Mirian attitude: a hatred of being 'mixed in' with others. For discussion and examples, see M{977,5}. Mir also scorns the doing of minnat , as in M{15,6}.

According to the present verse, not only is there no faithfulness, there's not even any real meaning for the concept. The word 'faithfulness' itself is not beholden to meaning-- it does not blush with the embarrassment or shame of indebtedness when it meets Meaning on the street. For a similar use of minnat-kash , see {9,5}.

The literal meaning of sharmindah , 'shame-affected', works here to a fine double purpose. On the one hand, to avoid the shame of indebtedness sounds like a virtue. But then, why do all the other words have meanings, and 'faithfulness' is the single one that does not? And of course, by being devoid of meaning the so-called word/quality of 'faithfulness' is shameless-- in fact, entirely lost to shame.

Compare Mir's treatment of meaningless words: M{1370,5}.