Ghazal 42, Verse 3


shauq hai saamaa;N-:taraaz-e naazish-e arbaab-e ((ajz
;zarrah .sa;hraa-dast-gaah-o-qa:trah daryaa-aashnaa

1) ardor is the equipment-adorner of the glory/boasting/coquetry of the lords/possessors of weakness
2) the sand-grain is a desert-{power/knowledge/'hand-place'} and the drop is a sea-{friend/swimmer}


naazish : 'Glory, exaltation, eminence; boasting; dissimulation, blandishment; importunity.' (Steingass p. 1371)


dast-gaah : 'Power, strength, ability, means; understanding; intellect; knowledge'. (Platts p.516)


aashnaa : 'Acquaintance; friend; associate; intimate friend, familiar; lover, sweetheart'. (Platts p.58)


aashnaa : 'A friend, companion, comrade, acquaintance; swimming, floating; a swimmer'. (Steingass p.66)


The property of the weak ones is the coquetry of ardor, through which the sand-grain says 'I am the desert' and the drop says 'I am the sea'. (39)

== Nazm page 39

Bekhud Dihlavi:

He says, the property of the lords of weakness-- that is, humans who are made of dust-- is the coquetry of passion, by reason of which a nothing of a sand-grain becomes the desert and an insubstantial drop becomes the sea. The meaning is that humans who are made of dust and have an insubstantial existence, make such progress that... they obtain access to the Exalted Divine Court, thanks to passion. (78)


The arrangement of the words is worth noticing. How beautiful and memorable are the constructions! To search out such a grouping of words is no easy task. (111)


DESERT: {3,1}
DROP/OCEAN: {21,8}
ZARRAH: {15,1}

Here's another in the set of drop/ocean verses, with an elegant wordplay based on aashnaa . This time we also have the sand-grain and the desert; on this pair, see {16,4}. The sand-grain figured in the preceding verse, {42,2}, too, though in a very different relationship.

Yet after all, is the relationship really so different? In the preceding verse, every sand-grain was said to be a wine-glass in a wine-house of powerful-- and possibly dangerous-- wonder and enchantment. In other words, each sand-grain was a vessel full of intoxicating power. In the present verse, the sand-grain appears to be boasting: claiming to possess the whole power of the desert, just as the drop boasts of being on friendly, familiar terms [aashnaa] with the sea-- reinforced by the brilliant (Persian) wordplay of aashnaa as 'swimmer' (see the definitions above). The obvious question is, are these boastful claims by the tiny, helpless sand-grain and water-drop justified? The imagery of {42,2} suggests that they might be.

But of course it's also possible that they might not be. After all, the meanings of naazish (see the definition above) include both legitimate and false forms of pride. For the sand-grain and the drop are referred to as possessors-- or 'lords'; arbaab is the plural of rab , a term often applied to God-- of 'weakness'. Is a term like 'lords' meant ironically? What does it mean to call someone a 'lord of weakness'? The sand-grains' and the water-drops' pretensions to glory are derived from their 'ardor'. Does 'ardor' constitute a legitimating claim? Or is it a fraudulent, false denial of their actual helplessness? Or could it show an admirably gallant (or pathetic?) aspiration to reach beyond themselves?

Naturally, Ghalib makes it impossible for us to decide among these alternatives. The second line simply reports on the nature of their claims or boasts-- or does it actually describe their reality, in the matter-of-fact tone of a reliable narrator? It depends, doesn't it, on what we think to be the nature of 'ardor'.