Ghazal 28, Verse 4x


zuhd gar diidan hai gird-e ;xaanah'haa-e mun((imaa;N
daanah-e tasbii;h se mai;N muhrah dar-shashdar hu))aa

1) if piety is the seeing/experiencing of the rounds of the houses of generous ones
2) like a bead of the prayer-beads, I became a piece/bead that was checkmated/perplexed


diidan : 'To see, look, observe; to perceive, feel, experience; —seeing; experiencing, &c.'. (Platts p.556)


;xaanah : 'House, dwelling, place; receptacle, socket, drawer, partition, compartment; pigeon-hole (of a desk); square (of a chess-board, &c.)'. (Platts p.486)


mun((im : 'Beneficent, liberal, generous, gracious; —a benefactor'. (Platts p.1078)


muhrah : 'A bead (of glass, or coral); ... —a piece, or man (at chess, backgammon, &c.); a counter (for playing any game)'. (Platts p.1100)


shashdar : ''Six doors'; a cube, a die; —a point of the table at the game of nard from which one cannot extricate himself: —adj. ... confounded, amazed, perplexed'. (Platts p.727)


The meaning of zuhd is only this: that I would walk in circles around the houses of some generous ones. Ever since I took up prayer-beads, I have become a 'bead' that becomes trapped in a checkmate. It should be noted that when a 'bead' becomes trapped in a checkmate, then release becomes impossible and it cannot again emerge, except when the other player himself would bring it out.

== Asi, p. 69


That is, the going-around of the beads in the prayer-beads of the pious ones amazed me, and I arrived at the conclusion that through piety those people's goal was to circumambulate [:tavaaf karnaa] the houses of important men (and also to ask for alms there), and everything else was trivial. But this conclusion-- that the moving of the beads of prayer-beads has the special goal of circumambulating the houses of the rich-- was not a correct, sound conclusion.

The idea seems to have been taken from this [Persian] verse of Mirza Bedil's:

sub;hah-e zuhhaad raa diidam dilam aamad bah dard
markaz-e iin qaum sar-gardaanii-e purkaar buud

[seeing the prayer-beads of the pious ones my heart felt pain
the focus of this community was a skilful bewilderment]

Bedil has construed the going-around of the prayer-beads as a kind of bewilderment [literally, 'going-around of the head'], or futile action; and Ghalib wanted to cast it as beggary, but was not able to do so.

== Zamin, p. 73

Gyan Chand:

muhrah dar shashdar honaa = In the game of chausar , for the piece/bead to be trapped in a checkmate, so that it cannot easily be brought out. The poet says that piety is synonymous with the making of circles around the houses of the rich. The proof? When I took a bead of the prayer-beads in my hand, it seemed that someone's 'bead' would be trapped in a checkmate. The 'houses' [in the game] allotted to others that are nearby are like the houses of generous ones, and we are their friends and companions. Since the bead of the prayer-beads has a similitude with a game-piece, the poet has wanted to convey the proof of his idea.

The reality is that living in the world, one cannot subsist merely by rotating prayer-beads. One is obliged also to see the faces of others among the wealthy. Thus sadhus and faqirs keep making the rounds of the houses of the rich and elite. By means of a bead of the prayer-beads, a person becomes a checkmated piece/bead, and remains ineffective. For this reason, in achieving every kind of task, one is obliged to obtain help from others.

== Gyan Chand, p. 108


ISLAMIC: {10,2}

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 first line proposes a possible, suppositional definition: perhaps 'piety' might mean making the rounds of generous people's houses, seeking alms. The second line not only doesn't affirm this possible definition, but even finds it explicitly confusing or confounding. For if this definition of piety is true, then the speaker is doubly bewildered, 'like a bead of the prayer-beads'. First, as Zamin points out, he is in effect sar-gardaan like a bead, with his head 'going round' the way the beads are 'going round' when prayer-beads are being used. And second, he is stupefied, frozen in place, like a piece/'bead' on a game-board that has been 'checkmated' and rendered unable to move. In either case, being either dizzy or immovable, the hapless speaker seems to be unable to practice this kind of piety.

Why is this definition of piety so confusing or confounding? As so often, we're left to decide for ourselves. The verse itself gives us no information whatsoever; we can't tell what moral position the speaker is taking, or even whether he's taking a moral position at all. We learn that he's flummoxed, but we're left to decide for ourselves why this is so.

The verse of course offers, as its chief charm, elegant networks of interlocking wordplay. In the realm of game-playing (perhaps of chausar , or chaupar ) we have ;xaanah (see the definition above), muhra , shashdar . In the realm of 'beads' we have daanah , tasbii;h , muhrah . And in the religious realm we have zuhd , tasbii;h , and gird with its overtones of 'circumambulation' (Zamin explicitly uses the word :tavaaf ). Then, as icing on the cake, we have ;xaanah and shashdar (literally, 'six doors').

Compare {96,6}, in which the speaker considers the 'spectacle' of the 'people of generosity'.