Ghazal 12, Verse 5x


sharar-fur.sat nigah saamaan-e yak-((aalam chiraa;Gaa;N hai
bah qadr-e rang yaa;N gardish me;N hai paimaanah ma;hfil kaa

1) a spark-durationed glance is the equipment of a 'whole-world' lamp-show
2) with the proportion/degree/fate of the 'color', here, the wineglass/'measure' of the gathering is in circulation


qadr : 'Greatness, dignity, honour, rank, power; importance, consequence; worth, merit; estimation, appreciation, account; value, price; --measure; degree; quantity; magnitude; bulk, size; portion, part; --whatever is fixed or ordained of God, divine providence, fate, destiny'. (Platts p.788)


rang : 'Colour, colouring matter, pigment, paint, dye; colour, tint, hue, complexion; beauty, bloom; expression, countenance, appearance, aspect; fashion, style; character, nature; mood, mode, manner, method; kind, sort; state, condition; ... --a place of public amusement or for dramatic exhibition, theatre, stage; dancing; singing; acting; sport, entertainment, amusement, merriment, pleasure, enjoyment'. (Platts p.601)


paimaanah : 'A measure (for dry or wet goods); measure (of length, or capacity, &c.); ... a cup, bowl, goblet'. (Platts p.301)


The gaze is bright, and lamps are bright. Having first called the gaze a spark, he thus has now called it a 'whole-world lamp-show'. For rang there are many meanings; here the intention is the equipment for pleasure.

He says that although the interval of our opened eye (life) is not greater than a spark, nevertheless in this little lifetime we have the equipment to bestow radiance on the whole world, and the capability to turn the whole world into a lamp-show with the light of our wisdom/knowledge. The way in the gathering the wineglass can circulate to the extent that there would be wine in the cask and flagon ( bah qadr-e rang ), in the same way however much worthiness and wisdom/knowledge has been given to a person, to that extent the person can bring benefit to the world, and can himself also attain fame and presence in the world (like a lamp-show).

== Zamin, p. 60

Gyan Chand:

Man's life is as brief as a spark, and he intends to make the whole world a lamp-show! This isn't possible. To whatever extent the color/festivity of the gathering exists, to that extent the flagon of wine is making the rounds in the gathering. That is, the amount of brilliance that a man's here-today-gone-tomorrow life can acquire in the world-- according to that is the extent of his joy. Since this brilliance is very brief, joy too is brief.

If 'color' would be taken to mean wine, the meaning will be that however much wine there is, that much is the circulation of the flagon. From the first line it seems that man's life is as brief as a spark, and his property of enjoyment is as narrow as a spark-- which can't become a lamp-show in the whole world. Thus if wine, color/festivity, or equipment of enjoyment are very scanty, then the period of joy too will accordingly be brief.

== Gyan Chand, pp. 96-97


WINE: {49,1}

For background see S. R. Faruqi's choices. This verse is NOT one of his choices; I thought it was interesting and have added it myself. For more on Ghalib's unpublished verses, see the discussion in {4,8x}.

For discussion of expressions like yak-((aalam , see {11,1}. On the nature of a chiraa;Gaa;N , see {5,5}. On noun compounds like sharar-fur.sat , see {129,6x}.

Here's just one more example of the brilliance of this great poet, who can say so many different things to different minds. Gyan Chand reads the verse with immediate, unquestioning pessimism: since it's impossible for a brief glance, no longer in duration than a spark, to give rise to a worldwide lamp-show, then it follows that man's life is sadly brief, he can't achieve much enjoyment in his little wine-house, etc. And that's a possible interpretation. But it's achieved only by reading the first line as sarcastic-- as meaning the opposite of what it says.

Because what the line actually asserts is the power and impact of that spark-durationed glance: that glance is the equipment of a 'whole-world lamp-show'. It's like a spark in a room full of fireworks; its effect is extraordinarily disproportionate to its tiny size and brief life. This is how Zamin reads it.

As is so often the case with Ghalib, we have to decide for ourselves what the connection is between the two lines. In the case of this verse, it works very well to take the two lines as two metaphorical descriptions of the same situation. And on this reading, there are two key words in the second line: qadr , which has immense possibilities including 'proportion, extent', 'dignity', and 'fate' (see the definition above), and then 'color' [rang], with its almost inexhaustible range of meanings. With regard to the 'greatness', 'honor', 'importance', 'magnitude', or 'fate', of its 'color', 'aspect', 'style', 'character', or 'enjoyment', is the circulation of the wine-flagon in the gathering, 'here' (in this world).

Thus there's a clear warrant for saying that just as the brief but fiery little glance has a cosmic explosive power, so the greatness, importance, dignity, fate of its 'color' or mood, is what governs the gathering of human sociability, intoxication, and enjoyment. Life may be momentary 'here' in this world, but that's not what's most significant about it. The spark-glance that lights the 'whole-world lamp-show' is momentary too; but that fact, far from being the end of its story, is scarcely the beginning. Similarly, it's qadr and rang , not duration, that govern human beings' intoxication, and their shared joy in the world.