Ghazal 16, Verse 7x


kis kaa junuun-e diid tamannaa-shikaar thaa
aa))iinah-;xaanah vaadii-e jauhar-;Gubaar thaa

1) whose madness of/for sight was a hunter/prey of longing?

2a) the mirror-chamber was a valley of polishmarks-dust
2b) the valley of polishmarks-dust was a mirror-chamber


shikaar : 'Hunting, the chase; prey, game; plunder, booty, pillage, spoil; --perquisites'. (Platts p.729)


jauhar : 'Absolute or essential property; skill, knowledge, accomplishment, art; excellence, worth, merit, virtue; ...the diversified wavy marks, streaks, or grain of a well-tempered sword'. (Platts p.399)


After all, whose madness of/for sight was this, that was hunting down longing? Because of which the mirror-chamber seemed to be a kind of valley in which the dust of polish-marks was flying around.

== Asi, p. 63


This verse has two aspects. If we consider the valley to be the object of similitude and the mirror to be the simile, then the meaning will be that the ardor of/for sight, which had arrived at the limit of madness, had borne the ardent one off toward the jungle/wilderness with its layers upon layers of dust that had the simile of the polish-lines of a mirror. That is, in the state of madness to his gaze the dust looked deceptively like polishmarks, and the ridges of the valley had become a mirror and had begun to show the form of the beloved....

Another aspect is that we would declare the mirror to be the object of similitude and the valley to be the simile. In that case, the meaning will be that our wildness/madness in such a mirror-chamber, in which really the reflection and likeness of the beloved were nowhere present, wanted to search for her and make her the prey of our longings. This was our mad thought which in our gaze made a mirror-chamber with polish-lines into a valley full of dust.

== Zamin, p. 57

Gyan Chand:

In a metal mirror, the polish-marks are usually in the form of spots and dots; thus they are likened to dust. The verse can have two meanings:

1) When a hunter dashes into some valley in search of prey, then in every direction dust will spread. The valley of the mirror is full of the dust of polish-marks. It seems that here someone has been hunting. The hunter is the beloved's madness for mirror-regarding, and it has made prey of the lover's longings.

2) In the tradition of Urdu poetry, in the state of madness one goes into the wilderness and makes a commotion ['kicks up dust', ;xaak u;Raanaa]. The mirror is mad to see the beloved, and this madness has finished off all the mirror's other longings. Because the mirror-chamber is full of dust, it's clear that here somebody's madness for sight has been in action!

The first meaning is more probable, because in the second reading tamannaa shikaar is broken into fragments.

== Gyan Chand, p. 93

Satyanarayana Hegde:

An unpublished discussion of this verse has been provided by the author (Jan. 2015) for this website: Satyanarayana Hegde on {16,7x}.


GAZE: {10,12}
JAUHAR: {5,4}
MADNESS: {14,3}
MIRROR: {8,3}

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}.

The divan version of the ghazal has no opening-verse; but when the ghazal was originally composed, according to Raza's sequencing {16,6x} was its opening-verse, and the present verse followed it as a second opening-verse.

Well, in this verse it seems that somebody or something has been hunting somebody or something else. One of these entities is junuun-e diid , either the madness 'of' sight (seeing something so intensely beautiful (?) drives the viewer crazy) or the madness 'for' sight (intense longing for a sight of something drives the desirer crazy). This 'madness of sight' was either 'longing-hunting' (it was pursuing its prey, a 'longing'), or 'longing-hunted' ('longing' was pursuing it, to overpower it and make prey of it); the grammar of the compound tamannaa-shikaar can go either way. Whose 'madness of sight' is this, asks the first line. Needless to say, we haven't a clue; we can only turn to the second line in the hope of some clarification.

As so often, the grammar and imagery start completely afresh. And there's obviously what I call 'symmetry' operating: we can read either 'A was B' (2a), or 'B was A' (2b). In this particular verse, because of the ambiguity of 'polishmarks-dust', these are actually quite different choices. The first alternative (2a) locates the setting in a mirror-chamber, and then likens the polish-marks on the mirrors to the dust kicked up in a narrow valley by a vigorous hunter and a desperate prey. The second alternative (2b) locates the setting in a narrow valley full of dust churned up by a vigorous hunter and a desperate prey, and then likens this dust to the polish-marks on mirrors in a mirror-chamber.

In either case, there's a down-to-earth problem in the imagery that apparently doesn't even register in the stylized world of the ghazal. For a 'mirror-chamber' is inset with small mirror fragments made of glass; various examples survive in early-modern Mughal and Rajasthani palaces. For more on mirror-chambers, see {10,5}. Naturally such bits of glass have no 'polish-marks', for these are created only by the scouring and polishing of a metal mirror, to keep the verdigris off it. For more on glass versus metal mirrors, see {16,2}.

Apparently we first notice the scene depicted in the second line: either a mirror-chamber full of the 'clouds of dust' of polish-marked mirrors, or a narrow valley full of clouds of dust that suggests a mirror-chamber full of polish-marked mirrors. In either case, we conclude that a hunt has been in progress, and we wonder about the identity of the chief personage involved, the one who harbors the 'madness of sight'. Can we narrow the chase scene down any more than that? I don't think so, really. It's a profoundly interrogative, inshaa))iyah verse: asking the question is really its chief intention.

After all, exactly this technique goes all the way back to {1,1}; the present verse is only a bit more obscure than that first one. That bit of greater obscurity is a crucial one, however, and makes for an overly indeterminate verse. The previous verse, {16,6x}, has a similar structure but manages to be somewhat less open-ended.

Note for grammar fans: The noun compounds tamannaa-shikaar and jauhar-;Gubaar are 'reversed i.zaafat ' constructions; for more on these, see {129,6x}. And aa))iinah-;xaanah could be considered one too, except that it has become a sort of petrified phrase in its own right.