Ghazal 24, Verse 2


nah ho ;husn-e tamaashaa-dost rusvaa be-vafaa))ii kaa
bah muhr-e .sad-na:zar ;saabit hai da((v;aa paarsaa))ii kaa

1a) may spectacle-friendly Beauty not be disgraced for faithlessness!
1b) would spectacle-friendly Beauty not be disgraced for faithlessness?
1c) spectacle-friendly Beauty would not be disgraced for faithlessness

2) with the seal of a hundred gazes the claim of purity/chastity is proved


rusvaa : 'Dishonoured, disgraced, infamous, ignominious; humiliated; open, notorious; accused; one held up to public view, as an example to deter'. (Steingass p.576)


paarsaa))ii : 'Abstinence, temperateness, continence, chastity, purity, virtue, holiness'. (Platts p.217)


The poet taunts the wandering beloved-- why, who can call you faithless? If a hundred men's glances are on you, then it's as if there are a hundred seals affirming that you are pure. And the opposite interpretation of this taunt is that by being a lover of spectacles and gazing at the Others, where is the purity, and how can you escape from the disgrace and ill repute of treachery and faithlessness? (25)

== Nazm page 25


Urdu text: Vajid 1902 {24}

Bekhud Dihlavi:

By 'spectacle-friendly Beauty' is meant that Beauty whose radiance/appearance can be seen in every grain of sand and every leaf, and the beholders think, 'Our friend is showing his glory in every place, every mood, every substance'. And then he's not present anywhere. He doesn't establish himself anywhere. At the same time, the reproach of faithlessness cannot be lodged against him. The gazes of hundreds of beholders put, and have put, the stamp on this theme: that 'we were not able to obtain access even to his curtain'. That is, purity exists to this extent: that no glance has obtained access even as far as the curtain. So who can challenge the truth of the claim of purity? (49)

Naiyar Masud:

In my opinion the verse's true interpretation is, to put it briefly, that spectacle-friendly Beauty is pure, is not unfaithful, but can be disgraced. (152)

[Since Beauty is spectacle-friendly, it looks at others and, as a result, others look at Beauty.] Simply through being spectacle-friendly, this glance of Beauty's will be innocent; that is, in that glance the claim of purity will be present, and this uncontaminated intention-free glance itself will put the seal of truthfulness on that claim. And this very glance will make even the one who falls in love with Beauty, a believer in Beauty's purity....

Because of Beauty's love of spectacle, this will happen to many. That is, the number of her lovers, and of testifiers to her purity, will grow very large. And every testifier among them will be convinced of Beauty's kindness to him.

....Now can there be any doubt that Beauty's unfaithfulness will become well known? And the reason for that disgrace will be that same intention-free glance that is the proof of her purity, but that makes others her lovers.

== (1973: 158-59)


GAZE: {10,12}
TAMASHA: {8,1}

Formally speaking, this is a second, supererogatory opening-verse. In fact, it's the opening-verse of the other of the two ghazals from which Ghalib originally chose the verses that he combined into a new ghazal and published in his divan. Both opening-verses use the same rhyme-word. Obviously Ghalib had no objection to re-using rhyme words in the same ghazal; this is only a particularly clear example among a number of other such repetitions.

This verse also continues the paradoxical line of thought of the previous verse, {24,1}, in which a 'claim of purity'-- a daav;aa paarsaa)ii kaa -- is imagined as having 'writhed in blood'.

The first line is inshaa))iyah and multivalent in Ghalib's usual style, in ways that we have seen so often: (1a) expresses a hope, (1b) asks a question, and (1c) makes a (contingent) statement.

And of course, we can't interpret the first line until we've been made to wait (under mushairah performance conditions) for the second. In the typical Ghalibian manner, the second line turns out to evoke, and wryly or amusingly address, all three possible readings of the first line. Beauty loves show and spectacle-- loves showing itself, seeing everything, being at the center of the action. It thus seems to be at risk for accusations of faithlessness, fickleness, some kind of visual promiscuity.

Beauty's defense against the charge is a document under seal, upon which many witnesses have stamped their personal seals, just as would be appropriate for a court proceeding. But in this case, instead of applying a round personal seal to the document, the witnesses have applied their round eyes, leaving marks of their gazes. Does this count as a defense, or a proof of guilt? The commentators have explored some of the ramifications and implications. For more on the connection of eyes and seals, see {61,5}.

Moreover, the 'spectacle' [tamaashaa] that Beauty loves can have mystical as well as this-worldly dimensions. For discussion of these implications, see {8,1}.