Ghazal 49, Verse 6

{49,6}

jis qadar ruu;h-e nabaatii hai jigar-tishnah-e naaz
de hai taskii;N bah dam-e aab-e baqaa mauj-e sharaab

1) to the extent that the vegetative soul is thirsty-livered for/with/through coquetry
2) [it] gives peace with a drink of the 'water of eternity', the wave of wine

Notes:

ruu;h : 'The soul, spirit, life, the vital principle, the breath of life; the spirit or essence (of anything)'. (Platts p.604)

 

nabaat : 'Vegetation; herb, vegetable; plant, grass'. (Platts p.1120)

 

de hai is an archaic form of detii hai ; GRAMMAR.

 

taskiin : 'Consolation, comfort, mitigation, rest, assurance, peace (of mind)'. (Platts p.324)

 

dam : 'Breath, vital air, life; --a moment, an instant; --breath or blast (of a furnace or oven); a puff, whiff, pull, draw (of a ;huqqah ); a draught (of water)'. (Platts p.525)

 

baqaa : 'Remaining; duration, permanence; eternity; immortality'. (Platts p.159)

Nazm:

By 'vegetative soul' is meant the power of growth, which is in humans too. The meaning is that the longing and turbulence that arises in us through wine is the action of the power of growth. That is, wine works for the power of growth the way rain works for plants. And here, 'coquetry' means to swagger and spread oneself, which is the necessary part of pride and coquetry, and the special feature of growth. (45)

== Nazm page 45

Bekhud Dihlavi:

He says that the extent to which trees have the power of growth in the rainy season, in the same way in the hearts of wine-drinkers longing and turmoil are begotten. That is, wine is a kind of power of growth which generates in people's hearts not only growth and flourishingness, but also pride and coquetry. (88)

Bekhud Mohani:

To the extent that the vegetative soul of mankind is coquettish, the wave of wine gives it exactly that many sips of the water of eternity and brings it peace. That is, according to the longing for the strength of growth, the wave of wine gives help in flourishingness and increase. The meaning is that the way vegetation, etc., flourishes because of rain, in the same way human strength flourishes because of wine. (112)

FWP:

SETS == IZAFAT
JIGAR: {2,1}
WINE: {49,1}

The 'vegetative soul' is deeply thirsty, thirsty all the way down to its liver, and the wave of wine comforts it with a drink of the water of eternity; that much is clear.

Is the 'water of eternity' the same as the proverbial 'water of life' [aab-e ;hayaat] that looms so large in the stories of Khizr and Alexander? (On this subject see {215,9}, and the glorious M{1741,3}.) It may indeed be the same, since {266x,3} links Khizr explicitly with the chashmah-e aab-e baqaa . There's also {413x,8}, in which Gyan Chand explicitly equates the two. But in any case the question doesn't seem very important with regard to the present verse.

The word nabaatii comes from an Arabic root for 'to grow', and growth both seeks its own enhancement, and somehow subliminally looks for its limits. Is there (or isn't there) something that the principle of growth is growing toward? The excellent ambiguities of the i.zaafat make it impossible for us to pin things down. Is the 'vegetative soul' thirsting (1) to display coquetry (by showing off its verdure and luxuriance); or (2) to submit to coquetry (by encountering a 'beloved' who has a power and glory greatly superior to its own)? The commentators prefer the first meaning, but I would emphasize the second as well. For an example of such a longing to experience naaz from a beloved, see {71,5}.

By offering the water of eternity, the wave of wine perhaps reassures the 'vegetative soul' that its radiant, adorable growth is powerful and indeed almost infinite, since it is nourished by the water of eternity. Alternatively, it perhaps gives it the calming, settling assurance that its merely finite, this-worldly growth is bounded by the limits of time, and that it is held in check by an even more adorable and irresistible vitality and will that are outside time altogether, so that it can prepare to make a (comforting, reassuring) submission to its destiny. Swinburne, in 'The Garden of Proserpine', captures the latter mood:

From too much love of living,
    From hope and fear set free,
We thank with brief thanksgiving
    Whatever gods may be
That no life lives for ever;
That dead men rise up never;
That even the weariest river
    Winds somewhere safe to sea.

Do I even need to say that surely Ghalib means for us to entertain both possibilities, together and/or in alternation? The 'wave of wine' is the perfect medium for the conveying of such a double-edged vision, since wine helps to reconcile us to life, and also to death.