Ghazal 36, Verse 6


yuusuf us ko kahuu;N aur kuchh nah kahe ;xair hu))ii
gar biga;R bai;The to mai;N laa))iq-e ta((ziir bhii thaa

1) if I would call her 'Joseph' and she would say nothing-- well-being occurred!
2) if she would insist on quarreling, then I was even/also worthy of punishment


;xair : 'Good; goodness; benefit; good fortune, prosperity, welfare, well-being, weal; health; happiness'. (Platts p.498)


biga;Rnaa : 'To disagree, be at variance, be estranged, to quarrel; to get out of temper, become angry or enraged; to become vicious, wicked, or unruly; to rebel, revolt, mutiny'. (Platts p.162)


ta((ziir : 'Punishment, correction, reproof, censure, reprimand'. (Platts p.327)


That is, if she gets angry at the idea that I have made her into a slave, then it's proper. (36)

== Nazm page 36

Bekhud Dihlavi:

He says, I called her Joseph (that is, made her into a slave); it was very fortunate that, hearing this praise from me, she fell silent. If she had become angry, then I deserved punishment for calling her Joseph. (71)

Bekhud Mohani:

Or this, that she is somewhat more beautiful than Joseph, and to call her 'Joseph' is to denigrate her. The subtle implication is also in the verse that the beloved might be angry because he has considered someone else (even if it's Yusuf) to be her equal. (87)


I called her Joseph (that is, Zulaikha bought Joseph from the bazaar as a slave), and she didn't take it amiss; I consider it my good fortune. (104)


With regard to the principles of style and theme-creation, this verse is of a very high level. How captivatingly he has proved the beloved to be of even greater beauty than Hazrat Joseph! (364)


SPEAKING: {14,4}

Joseph is proverbial of course for beauty, and also for cruelty to his lover (he refused the advances of Zulaikha, even though he went to prison for it). His being a slave is temporary and adventitious, and is far more than cancelled out by many other aspects of his life; the commentators are surely wrong to highlight his period of enslavement, since if the lover thought of the identification that way he'd hardly have used such an epithet, when addressing the beloved, in the first place.

In fact the lover almost certainly used the epithet because Yusuf's beauty is so proverbially great; to call the beloved a 'second Joseph' is a common compliment in the ghazal world. (Ghalib uses the epithet affectionately for his brother Joseph in {202,9}.) This is a verse in which the beloved seems not to be God; for others, see {20,3}.

But after all, as Bekhud Mohani points out, such a compliment might also be perceived as limiting: the beloved might feel that she is actually quite a bit more beautiful than Joseph, and thus might take the comparison as an insult. Or perhaps she's arrogant and ill-tempered, and tired of a steady diet of extravagant compliments anyway. Or perhaps she's vexed with the lover for something, and inclined to take amiss anything that he would say. Or perhaps he has no right or permission to speak to her at all, so that anything he says is a great liberty.

For whatever reason, the best possible response that the lover can anticipate seems to be silence on her part: that 'she would say nothing'. So if he compliments the beloved extravagantly and she doesn't take it amiss, then-- 'whew, I lucked out!'. But if she takes his compliment amiss, then-- 'sorry, sorry, I did wrong, I deserve to be punished!'. The idea that she might respond favorably doesn't seem even to cross his mind.

Note for grammar fans: The use of bai;Thnaa as a compounder suggests stubbornness, abruptness, determination.