Ghazal 20, Verse 3


tirii naazukii se jaanaa kih ba;Ndhaa thaa ((ahd bodaa
kabhii tuu nah to;R saktaa agar ustuvaar hotaa

1) from your delicacy [I/we] knew that the vow/promise had been made/'bound' weak/loose
2) you could never have broken it, if it had been strong/firm


((ahd ba;Ndhnaa : for a vow to be made, or literally 'bound'. (Cf. Platts p.767)


bodaa : 'Weak, feeble; soft, faint-hearted, low-spirited, timid; low, mean, trifling, trivial, worthless'. (Platts p.174)


ustuvaar : 'Strong, powerful; stable, firm; even, level, equal; straight'. (Platts p.50)


The subject of 'knew' [jaanaa], ham ne , is omitted; and naazukii means nazaakat . (20)

== Nazm page 20

Bekhud Dihlavi:

Your delicacy [nazaakat] forbids promise-breaking. With such delicacy, when you broke the promise, then we realized that the promise had been loosely tied. If it had been strongly tied, then you couldn't have broken it. How excellently he has reproached the beloved for promise-breaking, and comforted his heart. (42)

Bekhud Mohani:

Since you're delicate, your vow too was delicate. This fact we knew because if the vow had been strong, then you could hardly have broken it. In connection with the beloved's promise-breaking, he has shown her delicacy through a beautiful aspect. (49)


VOWS: {20,2}

THE BELOVED SEEMS NOT TO BE GOD: This verse has, to my mind, one more claim to fame. It provides a refutation to critics who allege that, in principle, any verse of classical ghazal can be addressed just as well to a Divine beloved as to a human one, and should be so interpreted. This verse would be extremely hard to read as addressed to God. God might be as cruel, fickle, capricious, disdainful, etc. as any human beloved; we might even consider God just as likely to be a promise-breaker. But can we really tease God for being so 'delicate' and weak that He could only break a promise that had not been firmly 'tied' in the first place? It does seem a bit devoid of theological tact. Some other examples of verses that it's hard to imagine as addressed to or evoking a divine beloved: {24,10x}*; {31,3}; {32,1}; {34,8}; {65,1}; {83,2}; {97,7}; {111,7}; {115,8}; {116,1}; {116,3}; {124,6}; {196,7}; {205,8}; {231,8}.

In the same group should also be included the verses in which the beloved is imagined as falling in love (for examples, see {13,2}); and those in which she is teasingly said to have 'no mouth' ({91,4}) or 'no waist' ({99,4}). Conversely, there are also verses that apparently can only be addressed to God, not to a human beloved: see {20,10} for examples.

This verse continues to tease the beloved as a notorious promise-breaker, a theme carried over from {20,2}. Its wittiness is based on the sudden reactivation of the literal meaning of a petrified expression, 'to make-- literally, to bind, to tie-- an oath'. Thus to 'break'-- to;Rnaa -- the oath can be imagined as a physical act, like ripping open a knotted cord. This the beloved is too naazuk , too delicate or frail, to accomplish, so she must have 'bound' the oath loosely in the first place. We have enough comparable English idioms-- we are 'bound' by oaths (especially by 'binding' ones), and we too 'break' vows-- so that the wordplay is not at all remote.

This verse plays with the literal and metaphorical possibilities of ba;Ndhnaa -- for a similar trick with khaanaa , see {89,3}.

Compare Mir's way of teasing the beloved for her delicacy: M{1548,8}.