Ghazal 20, Verse 10


use kaun dekh saktaa kih yagaanah hai vuh yaktaa
jo duu))ii kii buu bhii hotii to kahii;N do chaar hotaa

1) who would have been able to see him? --for it is unique, that Oneness

2a) if there had been even a whiff of twoness [in Him], we would have met [Him] somewhere
2b) if there had been even a whiff of twoness, then somehow [He] would be 'two or three'


buu : 'Odour, scent, smell; trace, soup├žon, small portion, particle'. (Platts p.173)


do-chaar : ''Two or four,' a few' (= do-tiin ). (Platts p.529)


do chaar honaa : 'To meet, to have an interview'. (Platts p.529)


do chaar honaa means to become visible. (21)

== Nazm page 21

Bekhud Dihlavi:

Mirza Sahib has given a proof of the oneness of the True Beloved from his not being meet-able [do-chaar]. That is, if he were not a oneness, and there were even the smallest glimpse of twoness, then certainly he would have been visible somewhere. (43)

Bekhud Mohani:

This theme is in the Noble Qur'an, in the verse that says... 'If in the sky and earth there were more Gods in addition to God, there would certainly be turmoil'. (51)


[See his comments on Mir's M{1779,13}.]



THE BELOVED SEEMS TO BE GOD: This verse is, in one respect, a mirror image of {20,3} and the other verses discussed there. While those verses cannot appropriately be addressed to God, this one cannot appropriately be addressed to any human beloved, but can only make sense if it's addressed to God. Some other examples of such verses: {98,2}; {100,3}; {102,2}; {110, 3-7} (some verses of which have also been said to be addressed to the Prophet); {143,4}; {162,4}; {163,5}; {163,6}; {196,3} // {349x,8}; {424x}, tujh se . For verses in which the beloved seems explicitly not to be God, see {20,3}.

This is one verse in which I find the commentators truly irritating. Not one of them even mentions the chief piquancy of the verse: its wonderful number-play. yagaanah and yaktaa both have the root of ek in its variant form yak; just as 'oneness' and 'unique' in English have the same Latin root and related meanings. Similarly, in the second line duu))ii as 'twoness' actually shares the root of our 'duality'.

Then the crowning touch is of course the idiom do chaar honaa , literally 'to be two-four', but colloquially, 'to meet, to come face to face with' (see the definition above). As is his wont, Ghalib has used the expression in both its idiomatic sense and its dictionary sense. (For another example of enjoyable number-play, see {132,6}.)

It's also a great 'mushairah verse'. From the first line we listeners can't at all tell where the verse is going; under mushairah performance conditions we are made to wait, in speculation and anticipation, to hear the second line. Then when we do hear it, we still can't interpret it (except for quickly noting the numbers wordplay) until suddenly, at the last possible moment, do-chaar hotaa completes the sound and wordplay and sense in a single delightful rush.

There are so many untranslatable verses in Ghalib, but this is one of the toughest cases, because there are such numerous (so to speak) puns, and they are simply not capturable, since they require the unifying punch of do chaar honaa to become fully operative. Other conspicuous untranslatables, among many: {15,10}; {21,1}.

And just consider the great sound effects! The internal rhyme in the first line between saktaa and yaktaa , right at the (quasi-)caesura break; with hotii and hotaa in the same positions in the second line. The verse's effect of simplicity and colloquialness is enhanced by its swingy structuring of the four half-lines as semantic units that correspond perfectly to the metrical units.

All the words are so simple, too, so Indic (almost all, anyway), and so conversational. Yet the theology is impeccable, and also witty. What more could anyone ask?

Note for meter fans: duu))ii is here scanned as - = ; but not, as we might guess, because the abstract-noun suffix is treated as separate from the root word itself. Rather, it's because duu))ii is like the much more common ko))ii : both very helpfully (to the poet, at least) have a scansion of 'x x' (two flexible syllables).

For another verse with wordplay involving do chaar , see {102,2}.

And here's Mir's clever use of number imagery, in M{825,7}:

shash jihat ab to tang hai ham par
us se hote nah ham do chaar ai kaash

[the six directions are now narrow upon us
oh if only we hadn't met/'two-four'ed her!]