Ghazal 15, Verse 6


yaa;N nafas kartaa thaa raushan sham((a-e bazm-e be-;xvudii
jalvah-e gul vaa;N bisaa:t-e .su;hbat-e a;hbaab thaa

1) here, the breath used to make radiant the candle of the gathering of self-lessness
2) the glory/appearance of the rose, there, was the carpet of the company of friends


nafas : Breath, respiration; --the voice or sound from the breast; --a moment, an instant (syn. dam )'. (Platts p.1144)


That is, in our gathering the candle of sighs was lit; and in the company there, there was a carpet of flowers. By 'friends' the beloved's friends are meant. (16)

== Nazm page 16


Urdu text: Vajid 1902 {15}

Bekhud Dihlavi:

Here, my hot sighs, like a candle, had become illumined. From my lips flames were emerging together with breath, and those flames kept augmenting my self-lessness of passion. (32)

Bekhud Mohani:

Here, our breath was lighting the candle in the gathering of self-lessness; that is, here we were always on the verge of fainting. And there, there was a gathering of companions, and there were so many flowers that it was as if a carpet of flowers had been spread. (35)


BEKHUDI: {21,6}
CANDLE: {39,1}
JALVAH: {7,4}

ABOUT nafas : This is not really a complex or 'multivalent word', but students often think it is, so I want to clarify it. People are often tripped up by the word nafas versus the word nafs . Casual students of the ghazal may be confused between the two, but meter-knowers realize instantly which is intended, since the different scansions ( - = , na-fas, versus = - , naf-s) tell us clearly and reliably. (It's just one of the many rewards for paying close attention to meter.) The two words are spelled in the same way, but differ considerably in meaning. The one Ghalib uses, nafas , is basically 'breath' with some extended meanings (see the definition above) and also some well-developed metaphorical possibilities, including fieriness and spark-shedding. Some other examples of nafas : {24,6}; {28,1}; {29,9x}; {76,2}; {81,1}; {91,8}; {114,4}; {143,2}; {156,2x}; {156,3x}; {173,9}; {175,4}; {233,4} // {278x,2}

By contrast, nafs is in principle wildly versatile: it means 'Breath (of life), animal life; --soul; spirit, self, person; substance, essence, individual thing itself; a person, an individual; --mind, thought; will, pleasure, desire; --body; flesh; blood; --fact, truth, reality; --text (of a work); --concupiscence, carnal or inordinate desire, sensuality, lust, sexual passion; --sperm; --penis; --pride; grandeur, magnificence, pomp; --envy; vice, fault, blemish' (Platts p.1144). In practice, in modern usage, it has associations of lust and sensuality. No ghazal in the divan uses nafs .

This verse is another part of a quasi-'verse-set' that begins with {15,2}.

The beloved has the company of friends, in a gathering so radiant that it's carpeted with roses. Meanwhile the lover, in his state of self-transcendence or devoid-of-self-ness , doesn't even have himself. But he still has a 'gathering' [bazm] of some kind, and in mystical or Sufistic terms it may be greatly superior to hers.

The breath as lighting the candle is in one sense paradoxical, since in the real world breath can only extinguish a candle. But for the sufistically inclined, fanaa or oblivion may be a truer 'illumination' than life in this transitory and unstable world. Since the lover not only is alone, but has also lost even his 'self', an extinguished candle may in fact be the most appropriate light for his 'gathering'. Ghalib's candles are not exactly naturalistic in any case; not only is this one lit by breath, but another one is lit by lightning ({81,1}).

Moreover, the lover himself may be a candle. As Bekhud Dihlavi points out, the lover's sighs are hot from the flames in his heart, so they are fiery; in addition, a candle melts away while burning, and so does the lover. In the beloved's world radiance and luxury are so exquisite that the rose itself is a mere carpet; in the lover's world the redness and radiance come only from his own burning, so that through his breath he is his own candle.