Ghazal 38, Verse 7


jaarii thii asad daa;G-e jigar se mirii ta;h.siil
aatish-kadah jaagiir-e samandar nah hu))aa thaa

1) my collecting/profit/attainment had issued/operated, Asad, from the wound of the liver
2) the fire-{place/temple} had not become the estate of the Salamander


jaarii honaa : 'To flow, to issue (from, se ), to be issued, be enacted; to be current... to circulate; to be in force, prevail; to proceed (as business), be in progress, to come into operation'. (Platts p.370)


ta;h.siil : 'Getting, acquiring; collecting; gain, acquisition, profit, attainment; learning; collection (particularly of revenues or rents); the revenue jurisdiction of a ta;h.siil-daar '. (Platts p.312)


aatish-kadah : 'Furnace; grate; chimney; fire-worshippers' temple'. (Platts p.16)

jaagiir : 'Land and villages given by government as a reward for services or as a fee, a rent-free grant, a free-hold, a pension'. (Platts p.371)


In this construction he has used the Salamander for his dominion, and the fireplace for the wound. And he has given priority to the wound: from it authority issues. That is, because of it, those sighs and laments that ceaselessly emerge, they are my jurisdiction, so it's as if the wound in the heart is my estate, when the Salamander did not obtain this benefit from the fireplace. (37)

== Nazm page 37


Urdu text: Vajid 1902 {38}

Bekhud Dihlavi:

The Salamander is spoken of as a creature like the mongoose, but it is somewhat smaller than the mongoose. It is born in fire. Mirza Sahib says, through the wound in my liver I've held dominion, since a time when in the fireplace the Salamander hadn't even been born. That is, when the Salamander didn't even exist. (74)

Bekhud Mohani:

I was acquiring courage from the wound in my liver at a time when the Salamander had not even been born, and the fireplace was collecting the wherewithal for burning from the wound in my liver. That is, the wound in my liver gave rise to fire, fireplace, and Salamander. (91)


The Salamander is an animal the size of a large rat, about which in Persian and Urdu literature the story is famous that it is born in fire and lives there, the way fish and other water creatures live in water, and if [they] take [it] out of the fire then it dies. Some declare it to be a winged creature, and its other name is 'fire-eater bird'.... As yet, no such animal or bird has been found. (148)


JIGAR: {2,1}

BUREAUCRATIC: {1,1}; {16,1}; {38,7}; {45,5}; {57,2}; {61,5}; {81,5}; {88,1}; {109,3x}; {137,1}; {164,9-13}; {228,4}

The Salamander in the ghazal tradition is a mythical creature who dwells in fire; he may not even be a lizard at all. The verse presents us with 'A,B' lines, and it's for us to decide their relationship. If we take the lines as representing parallel situations, then I am like the Salamander, and the wound/scar of my liver is like a fire-place. This works elegantly, because my heart and liver are always fiery and hot, burning with passion; no normal person could even endure such heat, but I the true lover, like the Salamander in fire, can live in no other environment. To invoke the liver instead of the heart works well, because the liver is associated with endurance, and the verse emphasizes the long continuation of my fiery state. (For more on the liver, see {30,2}.)

The enjoyable bureaucratic wordplay adds a touch of humor to the verse. I have a ta;h.siil , while the Salamander has a jaagiir . That makes me a ta;h.siil-daar and him a jaagiir-daar . Anybody who knows anything about British Indian history will recognize these two colonial administrative categories. The former officer is more of a revenue collector, the latter more of a landlord, but there could be considerable overlap. Certainly Ghalib's audience would have known both categories very well. Is it better to have revenue-collecting rights based on a liver-wound, or residential rights in a fire-place?

My rights also antedate those of the Salamander. Since the Salamander has been living in fire for centuries, my claim must go very far back indeed; I speak as the archetypal passionate lover, and gloat over my ancient patent of nobility. My writ has run seemingly forever: I and my liver-wound go back farther than anyone can remember. Was there ever a time when I was not a lover-- when I didn't suffer, and didn't glory in the suffering?

Nazm reads the second line as an even stronger claim: by virtue of the wound of the liver, I hold my rights and perquisites very legitimately; by contrast, the lowly Salamander has never become an estate-holder at all. Through my wounded liver I suffer for my rights, I pay for them in blood, so that they're powerfully established. By contrast, the Salamander is perfectly happy in fire, and never endures any pain at all, so that his claim is much weaker.

The meaning of aatish-kadah as 'fire-temple' is also a possibility; on this, see {173,10}. On this reading, my rights of collection and acquisition (of money? of 'attainment'? of learning?) are grounded in the almost sacred status of my wounded liver. My estate is thus a quasi-religious space, and is secured by my own inner struggle and suffering. By contrast, the petty and frivolous Salamander doesn't get to have such a sacred space as a 'fire-temple' for his estate at all: perhaps he's only allowed to visit it, not to claim it; or perhaps he's denied access to it entirely. On this reading, there's fire-- and then there's sacred fire.

Compare Mir's similar claim of ancient rights and sufferings: he was a 'consecrated lamp' even before the winds were created: M{456,8}.