Ghazal 51, Verse 4


nahii;N gar sar-o-barg-e idraak-e ma((nii
tamaashaa-e nairang-e .suurat salaamat

1) if there is no equipment/desire for the perception/comprehension of meaning

2a) the spectacle of the wonder/trick/magic of form/appearance-- bravo, wellbeing [to it]!
2b) the spectacle of the wonder/trick/magic of form/appearance-- may it be safe/well!


sar-o-barg : 'Apparatus; means of subsistence; desire, lust'. (Steingass p.667)


idraak : 'Perception, apprehension, understanding, comprehension'. (Platts p.32)


tamaashaa : 'Walking abroad for recreation; entertainment, exhibition, show, sight, spectacle; sport, amusement, pleasure, fun, jest, joke; anything strange or curious'. (Platts p.336)


nairang : 'Fascination, bewitching arts, wiles; magic, sorcery; deception; --deceit; trick; pretence; evasion; --freak; --a wonderful performance, a miracle; anything new or strange'. (Platts p.1166)


salaamat : 'Safety, salvation; tranquillity, peace, rest, repose; immunity; liberty; soundness; recovery; health; --adj. & adv. (used predicatively) Safe, sound, well; --in safety, safely, securely'. (Platts p.668)


If there's no access to the world of meaning, then let it be so. May the miracle and revolving of the world of appearance remain well, for it is a mirror of the Beloved of meaning. (48)

== Nazm page 48

Bekhud Dihlavi:

He says, if I did not obtain a sight of the High Court of God Himself, and did not obtain a perception fit for the Essence, then so be it. Seeing the colorful aspects of the physical world, I have obtained perfect belief in the existence of God Most High, for someone is the creator of this world. (91)


Compare {9,4}....

Two interpretations of the verse under discussion have been set forth. In both cases, the word 'spectacle' [tamaashaa] bears a crucial importance. For Ghalib, 'spectacle' is both a Sufi term, and a poetic term of his own. As a poetic term, 'spectacle' means 'those attractive and colorful scenes and manifestations that continually appear in the material world, and that attract the poet's attention because they are both captivating and grief- and thought-provoking'. In this way, 'spectacle' becomes a symbol for the beauty and pleasures of the material world. In Sufi terminology, 'spectacle' is used for a scene of mystical knowledge that is visible only to the eye of the heart, and that can be seen only by closing or rejecting the eye of the senses.

In the present verse 'spectacle' is a symbol for the beautiful things of the material world. But along with this the word 'wonder' [nairang] (meaning 'trick, deceit') has also been used, which points to the fact that although things in the external world are beautiful, they are also deceit and illusion. If it is impossible to obtain access to an inner understanding of the reality of the universe, then so be it. The external manifestations are not less attractive; in fact, they are so attractive that despite being a deceit, they have the power of 'spectacle' (meaning mystic knowledge). The deceit of these manifestations is that despite being a deceit, it seems to be reality. To arrive at meaning is not within the power of everyone, but to arrive at appearances is something every person can do. In this way this verse at the same time establishes the reality of the inner universe, proves its difficulty of access, and maintains the validity of the external world. [There is also the Sufistic aspect of 'appearance' versus 'reality'.] ....

In the world salaamat there is a sarcastic attraction that is Ghalib's special mode. The characteristic of external things is that they have no stability and well-being [salamatii]. Here they are being given the prayer/blessing of well-being. Or it is being said that if meaning is not attained, then so be it; appearance is satisfactory [salamat], we'll manage with that.

Ghalib has enclosed these opposite meanings within a tiny verse. If Rekhtah is to reach the rank of a miracle, then what other aspect can it have than this?

== (1989: 62-64) [2006: 79-81]


TAMASHA: {8,1}

Faruqi's explication of the possible readings of tamaashaa is very helpful.

The two meanings of the second line both work excellently with the first line, as Faruqi also points out. (2a) is an expression of defiant contentment within the limits of the equivocal, even deceptive, material world-- and thus parallel to the thought in {9,4}. It's somewhat like a toast-- 'To its health!' And (2b) is a prayer or hope or blessing that seeks to secure the well-being of this insubstantial, ungrounded world that we need so badly-- this world that we love because it's all we have. The speaker says anxiously, perhaps with a bit of foreboding, 'may it be safe, secure, well!'.

Both readings are readily available because salaamat has no grammar accompanying it, so its nuances are created only by the tone in which it's read-- and that, as so often, is left for us to decide for ourselves. We're forced into choosing among modes that are all inshaa))iyah and emotional and more or less exclamatory. This kind of double reading of salaamat is invoked in some of the other, unpublished verses in the ghazal as well: see {51,5x}, {51,6x}, {51,7x}, {51,9x}.