Ghazal 53, Verse 4


((ishq me;N bedaad-e rashk-e ;Gair ne maaraa mujhe
kushtah-e dushman huu;N aa;xir garchih thaa biimaar-e dost

1) in passion, the injustice/iniquity of the envy/jealousy of the Other struck me down
2) I am [in a state of having been] killed by the enemy, finally, although I was sick over/through the friend/beloved


rashk : 'Envy, emulation, jealousy, grudge, spite, malice'. (Platts p.594)


The cause of being sick over the friend is passion, and the cause of being killed by the enemy is that the envy/jealousy of the enemy slew me. (48)

== Nazm page 48

Bekhud Dihlavi:

He says, absorbed in the beloved, I had been sick for some time with the sufferings of passion. I was already only half-alive; now the injustice of the envy/jealousy of the enemy gradually slew me. Previously I was sick due to the friend; now I have been slain due to the enemy. Alas, that I came to no good end. (92)

Bekhud Mohani:

The injustice of the envy/jealousy of the Other took my life. (117)



ABOUT rashk : As can be seen from the definition above, rashk is a versatile word. In principle, 'envy' is a broad term for the pain caused by non-possession: the fact that someone else has something that you don't have but want to have (as in {116,10}). And 'jealousy' is a kind of pain caused by possession: the fear of losing someone (or something) that you have, to someone else (as in {99,2}). The word rashk can not only cover both (if indeed they can really be kept apart), but can include more general possibilities of 'grudge, spite, malice' as well.

Needless to say, Ghalib pushes a concept like this to its limits. He reflects on rashk involving envy/jealousy of: testing {4,9x}; faithfulness {12,3x}; a sword {60,4}; a bird {123,5}; a sacred thread {173,7}. He also considers it that it might be mutual {42,5}; or directed against oneself {153,1}; or even rejected entirely {198,1}. On jalnaa as 'to burn with jealousy/envy', see {60,1}. (By contrast, ;hasad has the sense of 'envy, malice', but no such overtones of jealousy.)

Here the dead lover speaks, and analyzes the circumstances of his demise. (For other verses in which the dead lover speaks, see {57,1}.) His death was caused by 'the injustice/iniquity of the envy/jealousy of the Other'.

In the present verse, thanks to the versatility of the i.zaafat , the 'envy/jealousy of the Other' [rashk-e ;Gair] can mean two opposite things: either 'my envy of the Other', that is, the envy/jealousy felt by me toward the Other; or 'the Other's envy/jealousy of me', that is, the envy felt by the Other toward me. Either way, the second line provides further wordplay: it was the speaker's ironic fate to be finally struck down by the 'enemy', even though he was initially made sick (with love) by the 'friend'.

If it was his envy of the Other that finished him off, the reason must be that the beloved was far kinder to the Other than she ever was to him. Even while he was sick with love for her, she seemed to have eyes only for the (false, fickle) Other. How could the experience of this extra injustice, this desperate and futile envy of his rival, not be the last straw, the shock that finally ended his wretched life?

It is equally possible, however, that the envy the Other felt for the speaker was what killed him. And why should the Other not envy him? After all, he had the honor of being half-dead anyway, sick with love, and thus proving his passion beyond all doubt. Perhaps the beloved had even done something to provoke his love-sickness. Perhaps the beloved seemed to look on this state of sickness with a small amount of favor (or at least, with less disfavor than usual). Even the smallest such sign from her would turn the jealous Rival green with envy. In the speaker's weakened condition, why wouldn't the injustice and anger of his envy be the last fatal stroke?

In either case, the envy is characterized by not just cruelty but, literally, 'injustice' [bedaad]. The final irony is that whichever of the two Rivals is envying the other, the envy is misplaced, inappropriate, unjust. Because the beloved is so fundamentally untrustworthy that in fact her favor can't be counted on by anyone; this is surely part of what makes the jealousy so unbearable and killing. For a more explicit analysis of the lover's envy and the beloved's fickleness, see {42,1}.