Ghazal 15, Verse 10


maqdam-e sailaab se dil kyaa nashaa:t-aahang hai
;xaanah-e ((aashiq magar saaz-e .sadaa-e aab thaa

1a) from the coming of the flood how joy-harmonied the heart is!
1b) as if from the coming of the flood, the heart is joy-harmonied!
1c) from the coming of the flood, is the heart joy-harmonied?

2a) perhaps the lover's house was the musical-instrument of the voice/echo of the water
2b) but/however, the lover's house was the musical-instrument of the voice/echo of the water


nashaa:t : 'Liveliness, sprightliness, cheerfulness, gladness, glee, joy, pleasure, exultation, triumph'. (Platts p.1139)


aahang : 'Design, purpose, intention; method, manner; sound, concord, melody'. (Platts p.111)


magar : 'If not, unless, except, save, save only, but; besides, however, moreover; --perhaps, perchance, peradventure, by chance, haply, probably, possibly; in case'. (Platts p.1061)


saaz : 'Apparatus; instrument, implement; harness; furniture; ornament; concord, harmony; a musical instrument'. (Platts p.625)


That is, from the coming of the flood, the lover's house became an instrument of the voice of the waters, hearing which the heart feels joy and delight. The word 'harmony' has an affinity with the word 'instrument'. In short, the lover feels pleasure at his own house-wrecked state. (16)

== Nazm page 16


Urdu text: Vajid 1902 {15}

Bekhud Dihlavi:

By '[musical] instrument' is here meant the jal-tarang , which is played by putting water in seven china cups and using a small reed [to strike the edges]. (33)

Bekhud Mohani:

In this verse he has drawn a picture of the ardor for oblivion, and worship of difficulty, of the 'people of the heart' [ahl-e dil]. (36)


HOME: {14,9}
MUSIC: {10,3}

KYA verses: {7,5}, on the idiomatic negative use of ko))ii ; {10,2}; {14,4}; {15,10}***; {15,11}, with a list of kyaa kahuu;N verses; {18,3}, similar use of kaun ; ghazals {19}, {21}*, refrain of kyaa ; {22,1}; {31,2}; {32,1}; {32,3}; {36,10}**, omitted but required; {39,2}, kis qadar ; {45,3}; {45,7x}; {46}, refrain of kyaa ; {64,3}*; {46,5}, only a negative rhetorical question; {72,8x}, kab ; {77,1}**, discussion; {77,2}, kis qadar , Nazm affirms; {78,3}; {84,5x}; {87,10}*, four options; {91,9}, implied but assumed; {98,7}*; {99,7}; {107,7}; {111,1}; {117,5x}; {119,9}; {120,1}; {120,11}; {123,2}; {126,8}; {137,5x}, implied but required; {138,1}*; {148,3}*; {149,9x}, taa chand ; {150,1}; {151,9}*, four options; {162} (most verses); {163,9}*; {165,2}; {167,5}; {178,5}; {178,6}; {180,5}; {183,3}; {202,7}; {205,5}*; {209,11}**; {228,10}; {231,3}; {231,7}; {232,4} // {320x,1}

ABOUT THE 'KYA EFFECT': Ghalib loves to create undecideability, and often forces our minds into ricochet mode, as he does in this verse. One of his finest tools for achieving this effect, the little word kyaa , is here displayed to full advantage. Deployed as it is here, kyaa can generate three meanings: it can create (1) an exclamation of emphatic affirmation for which we have an English counterpart in 'How joyous!'; (2) an exclamation of emphatic denial for which we have no exact English counterpart ('What-- joyous?! -- Nothing of the kind! The very idea!'); and (3) a yes-or-no question . The result is three distinct, unforced, legitimate interpretations of the first line. I've discussed this in Nets of Awareness, Chapter 8, p. 107. Depending on the grammatical context of the line, there may sometimes be even four or more theoretical possibilities; see for example {111,1}, or the insanely multivalent {32,1}. There is also the strange and fascinating case of {36,10}, in which kyaa is not present at all but must be inserted in order to make the verse intelligible. And there's {46,5}, in which the only possible reading is as an emphatic denial.

In the case of the present verse, it's also very convenient that magar means both 'perhaps' and 'but'. Thus two different logical relationships between the lines are effortlessly provided, and can be combined with the three possibilities of the first line in a variety of suitable ways; for more on such usages, see {35,7}. When the verse also contains words like 'heart' and 'house', and 'water' and 'flood', all of which are conjoinable and opposable in multiple ways among themselves, the possibilities become astonishing.

Let me try to chart out a few of the basic ones:

(1a) and (2a): The flood plays the lover's house (body?) like an instrument, a jal-tarang perhaps: it delights the lover's heart with its siren song of the dissolution of normal life and all its sufferings.

(1a) and (2b): The heart is delighted to welcome the flood, even though it will lose the house (body?) that the flood had been using as an instrument for its entertainment.

(1b) and (2a): The heart is sorrowful at the coming of the flood, perhaps because it will lose the house (body?) that the flood had been using to entertain it with.

(1b) and (2b): The heart is sorrowful at the coming of the flood, even though it will be able to hear the music that the flood makes when it uses its house (body?) as an instrument.

(1c) and (2a): Is the heart happy at the coming of the flood, or not? Perhaps its house (body?) was the flood's instrument, and it will be glad to hear more and louder music as the flood approaches? Or perhaps its house (body?) will be swept away, and it will be sad (or glad?) to hear no more music at all?

(1c) and (2b): Is the heart happy at the coming of the flood, or not? But in any case, it's clear that the house (body?) was the flood's instrument.

And then, of course, for 'happy' substitude the more evocative 'joy-harmonied', with its strong musical associations (not to say overtones), for further mystical nuances between heart and flood.

And also, notice the clever tense shift between the verses, such that it's hard to tell when the flood played music on the house (always? as it approached? as it swept the house away? after it swept the house away?). We are given no guidance at all here. Obviously, how we interpret the sequence of events-- playing music in relation to wrecking, losing, and/or drowning-- will multiply the range of reactions, and thus also the interpretations of the verse. And of course Sufistic possibilities are constantly welling up (sorry, sorry) from the interpretive depths.

Then if we still have any interpretive energy left, the i.zaafat constructions in the second line provide further variability. ;xaanah-e ((aashiq can be read as either 'the lover's house' or 'the house that is the lover'. And the final sequence can be read as either ( saaz-e .sadaa )-e aab , the 'voice-instrument of the water', or as saaz-e ( .sadaa-e aab ) , the 'instrument of the water-voice'. Further changes can of course be rung on these as well, and various interpretive subtleties teased out of them.

It makes your head spin, doesn't it? At least, it does mine. And that, I submit, is the real punch of the verse, the real reason people would say vaah vaah!' when they heard it. That is also, of course, why verses like this are entirely untranslatable. They are really little meaning-generators, and the blur of indeterminacy that surrounds the orbits of the meanings is a large part of their enjoyableness.

For a somewhat less complex but quite similar use of this same theme, see {211,5x}.