Ghazal 13, Verse 1


ma;hram nahii;N hai tuu hii navaahaa-e raaz kaa
yaa;N varnah jo ;hijaab hai pardah hai saaz kaa

1) only/emphatically you are not intimate with voices/sounds of the secret/mystery
2) otherwise, that which here is a curtain/veil, is the veil/tone of a [musical] instrument/concord


ma;hram : 'Spouse, consort; anyone to whom the ;haram or women's apartments are open (as a father, or a son, &c.); —a confidant, an intimate friend'. (Platts p.1008)


navaa : 'Voice, sound; modulation; song; air; --a certain musical tone or mood; riches, opulence, wealth, plenty; subsistence; --prosperity; goodness or splendour of circumstances; --a splendid situation; --a happy life'. (Platts p.1157)


;hijaab : 'A veil; a curtain; —concealment; —modesty, bashfulness, shame;


pardah : 'A curtain, screen, cover, veil ... secret, mystery, reticence, reserve; screen, shelter, pretext, pretence; a musical tone or mode; a note of the gamut; the frets of a guitar, &c'. (Platts p.246)


saaz : 'Ornament; concord, harmony; a musical instrument'. (Platts p.265)


That is to say, you alone are unfamiliar with the melodies of the mystery; otherwise, in the world, that which outwardly looks like a veil is also speaking, is resonating like the string of an instrument, and is expressing divine secrets.

==Urdu text: Yadgar-e Ghalib, p. 139


That is, the thing that you consider a veil of the world of divine reality [;haqiiqat], it is the string of a rabab [rabaab], from which melodies of the mystery of divine reality arise. But it's you who cannot experience the pleasure of its rhythm and tone. (13)

== Nazm page 13


Urdu text: Vajid 1902 {13}

Bekhud Dihlavi:

He says, you yourself are not acquainted with the melodies of the mystery. Otherwise, in the world what looks outwardly like a veil is speaking and resonating like the string of an instrument and is expressing the divine mysteries. He has written a peerless verse. (27)


MUSIC: {10,3}
VEIL: {6,1}

This is a famous and widely known verse. It comes in handy as a (relatively) polite putdown when people fail to understand things. Bekhud Mohani uses it that way, for example, in {1,1}.

The remarkable wordplay involving pardah is a kind of iihaam , and is the heart of the verse. It's a perfect illustration of what Faruqi means when he says that wordplay is meaning-play as well. In its meaning of 'musical tone, or note, or fret of an instrument', it goes with 'voices' or 'sounds' [navaahaa]. As Vasmi Abidi points out, 'eardrum' is kaan kaa pardah, so that one could imagine the eardrum itself as a vibrating membrane like the head of a drum. And thanks to its cleverly exploited doubleness of meaning, pardah as 'veil' or 'mystery' or 'secret' also participates in a play of affinities involving ma;hram (an 'intimate' before whom a woman does not keep pardah ), raaz ('secret' or 'mystery'), and ;hijaab ('veil'). For other such cases of 'double activation', see {120,3}.

Why is the intimate tuu used for 'you'? Presumably the poet is talking to himself, expounding to himself from a position of maximum closeness the mysteries of Sufism. Or could it be that to talk to someone intimately about his lack of intimate access creates a layer of intriguingly deliberate paradox as well? (And in practical terms, as Vasmi Abidi also points out, the kaa ending for the opening-verse line can be generated only by tuu; accommodating tum would mean recasting the whole line.)

The verse is also a textbook case of the very valuable ambiguity of hii . It can be exclusive (only you are ignorant, everybody else knows), or merely emphatic (you the one who is ignorant, it's not the fault of the harmony-filled world around you).

For other evocations of (super?)natural mysteriousness in the world around us 'here,' see {40,4x} and {45,1}. For a very different use of pardah-e saaz , see {71,1}.