Ghazal 10, Verse 5


kiyaa aa))iinah-;xaane kaa vuh naqshah tere jalve ne
kare jo partav-e ;xvurshiid ((aalam shabnamistaa;N kaa

1) your glory/appearance made of the mirror-chamber that picture/aspect/state--
2) the scene/aspect/state that a ray of the sun would make of a land of dew


naqshah : 'A delineation; a portrait; a picture; —a design; a plan; a model, pattern, an exemplar; —a map, chart; —a sketch, draught; ... —a prospect; state of affairs or things; condition'. (Platts p.1145)

jalvah : 'Manifestation, publicity, conspicuousness; splendour, lustre, effulgence'. (Platts p.387)

((aalam : 'The world, the universe; ... state, condition, case, circumstances; a state of beauty; a beautiful sight or scene'. (Platts p.757)


staa;N : 'Place, situation, station... [used as a noun suffix]; if the subst. terminate in a consonant, the affix takes the form istaan , e.g. reg-istaan , 'place of sand,''. (Platts p.637)


That is, the way dew cannot endure before the sun, the mirror cannot endure your glory. (11)

== Nazm page 11


Urdu text: Vajid 1902 {10}


[The commentator Asi says:] From a ray of the sun, every drop of dew glitters. In the same way, the mirror-chamber shone from your glory. (34)


The real problem of this verse is, what state does a ray of the sun make of a land of dew? In this connection the various points made by Suha Mujaddadi, Baqir, Asi, and so on are all correct in their way. (1) The way dew cannot remain before the sun, in the same way before the glory of the beloved the mirror turned to water and flowed away. (In this explanation there's also the point, which the commentators have not noticed, that the dew becomes vapor and flies off. The mirror first became water (melted), then became vapor (disappeared). Between the mirror and water there's also an affinity of meaning.) (2) The dew suddenly glitters; the mirror too suddenly glitters. (3) The dew fades; the mirror too fades.

There are only two points toward which attention has not been directed. One is verbal: that is, the wordplay between naqshah and ((aalam ; and the second pertains to meaning: that is, that every drop of dew reflects the sun, and in that way itself becomes the sun. The glory of the beloved was reflected in this way in every mirror, so that in unity the aspect of variety began to show itself.

A few other small points are worth noticing. In the whole verse there are words related to light: aa))iinah , jalvah , partav , ;xvurshiid , shabnamistaa;N . The word jalvah is especially worthy of attention. It not only means 'manifestation, appearance', but is also used for a 'radiant appearance'; and one of its qualities is that it is rapidly changing. All these ideas point toward commonalities between the beloved's beauty and the sun.

== (1989: 34) [2006: 44-45]

Owen Cornwall:

[A special commentary page on several verses.]


JALVAH: {7,4}
MIRROR: {8,3}

SUN verses: {3,14x}; {10,5}; {24,3}; {38,2}: {61,1}; {62,8}; {67,1}, on the 'crack of dawn'; {68,4}; {74,1}; {78,5}; {81,7x}; {87,3}; {95,3}; {97,11}; {105,2}; {110,6}; {113,6}; {115,3}; {124,3}; {128,1}; {138,2}; {152,1}; {154,7x}; {174,1}; {190,8}; {194,4}; {230,9} // {246x,6}; {264x,4}; {286x,1}; {299x,3}; {303x,5}; {305x,6}; {306x,5}; {307x,4}; {312x,4}; {320x,4}; {321x,3}; {344x,2}; {354x,3}; {355x,1}; {364x,7}; {365x,2}; {376x,3}; {376x,6}; {378x,1}; {380x,4}; {405x,6}; {421x,4}


The sun striking a field full of dewdrops makes every single drop glitter; the dazzle of the beloved's glory would light up a roomful of mirrors. Then instantly the sun vaporizes the dewdrops into nothingness; her radiance would perhaps even cause the mirrors themselves to melt with shame at their own inability to capture and display such beauty.

The word for 'dew', shabnam , literally means 'night-moisture'-- and thus concisely evokes exactly the two conditions always banished by the the sun.

I thank my student Avni Majithia for alerting me (Mar. 2009) to the full possibilities of the apparently awkward grammar in the second line. After meditating on her well-thought-out objections both to the commentators and to my own previous reading, I've come up with this as a prose order:

tire jalve ne aa))iinah-;xaane kaa vuh naqshah kiyaa
jo ((aalam partav-e ;xvurshiid shabnam-istaa;N kaa kare

your glory made of the mirror that aspect/appearance [vuh naqshah]
which aspect/appearance [jo ((aalam] a ray of sun would make of a land of dew

On this reading, naqshah and ((aalam are being treated not necessarily as identical, but as referring to the same situation. The awkwardness comes because the jo and the ((aalam are placed so far apart in the line;but other readings become awkward in different ways, so it's really only a question of which kind of awkwardness we choose.

As another way of dealing with the awkwardness, some people want to read the second line with an i.zaafat after ;xvurshiid . Arshi doesn't show such an i.zaafat , but there's no metrical reason one can't be put in there. It would result in 'a ray of the sun of the world' creating the naqshah referred to in the first line 'out of a land of dew'. At first I was inclined to think that then the phrase 'of the world' would be mere padding, because we already know that about the sun. But then I realized that the beloved could be considered the sun of her own mirror-chamber realm, just as the outward sun is the sun of the dew-field realm. So that meaning too takes us in new directions (though I still think it a secondary one).

Are naqshah and ((aalam meant to be taken as (virtually) identical, or as significantly different? As usual, Ghalib has left us to decide for ourselves: their meanings have real overlaps, but also real differences (see the definitions above).

ABOUT THE 'MIRROR-CHAMBER': A 'mirror-chamber' ( aa))iinah-;xaanah ) is one of those mostly windowless 'Shish Mahal' [shiish-mahal] rooms that exist in many Mughal and Rajput palaces, with walls and ceilings tiled with small variously angled inlaid mirror fragments, or shiny glass or mirrored tiles, so that a torch or even a candle carried into the room creates a series of shifting, dancing, endlessly self-reflecting flashes of radiance. Other evocations of a 'mirror-chamber': {12,4x}; {16,6x}; {82,2x}; {104,3x}; {190,4}; {217,3} // {241x,5}; {258x,8}; {281x,4}; {341x,2}. How does it compare with the ornamental 'mirror-binding' in {246x,6}? It's hard to tell.

Compare Mir's more abstract mirror-chamber: M{190,3}.

Here's a view of the Agra Fort's shiish-mahal , dramatically lighted for visitors by a guide: