Ghazal 63, Verse 3x

{63,3x}

hilaal aasaa tihii rah gar kushaadan'haa-e dil chaahe
hu))a mah ka;srat-e sarmaayah-andozii se tang aa;xir

1) remain empty like the crescent-moon, if you would want openings/cheerfulnesses of the heart
2) the moon became, through abundance of property-acquisition, contracted/vexed, finally

Notes:

hilaal : 'The new moon; crescent-moon; the first and last two or three days of the moon (whether when new or on the wane; during the rest of the month it is called qamar )'. (Platts p.1231)

 

tihii : 'Empty, void, vacant'. (Platts p.349)

 

kushaadah : 'Opened, ... expanded, spread out, ... open, spacious, wide, ample, capacious, extensive; loose, lax; free, frank, cheerful, glad, happy; serene'. (Platts p.835)

 

andoz : 'Acquiring, gaining (used as last member of compounds)'. (Platts p.90)

 

tang : 'Contracted, straitened, confined, strait, narrow, tight; wanting, scarce, scanty, stinted, barren; distressed, poor, badly off; distracted, troubled, vexed; dejected, sad, sick (at heart)'. (Platts p.340)

Asi:

If you long for the opening of the heart, then remain empty-handed like the crescent moon. Compared to it, look at the moon-- that is, the full moon-- what a state it is in from the property-acquisition of light. Its openness has entirely kept on going away, and it has become contracted. Contracted in one sense, that in it no scope for openness has remained; in another sense, that it is sorrowful and vexed. (117)

Zamin:

The crescent moon is inwardly empty-- that is, its heart remains open. To whatever extent it increases, to that same extent its heart keeps filling up-- that is, it becomes contracted/vexed. An opened heart is the opposite of a contracted/vexed heart.

The meaning is that if you want an open heart, then like the crescent moon keep it empty (of lust and desire); otherwise, its state will be like that of the full moon-- that as its property goes on increasing, its contraction/vexation of heart will go on increasing.

This is a verse fit to be passed over. The theme was good, but the construction is extremely wretched. The expression kushaadan'haa-e cannot be spoken in either Persian or Urdu; its nominative and plural form is only for the sake of the meter, and is contrary to idiomatic speech. (169)

Gyan Chand:

For the heart to be opened is a symbol of happiness; and for the heart to be contracted, of vexation. The crescent moon's stomach remains very much opened-- that is, its heart is open and it is happy. The full moon is entirely filled up; so to speak, its heart too is closed/bound and contracted and dejected. Now the verse's meaning has become, 'Like the crescent moon, remain empty and lightless, if you want your heart to remain happy'. The full moon collected a good deal of property, and for this reason became contracted/vexed and dejected.

== Gyan Chand, p. 205

FWP:

SETS

For background see S. R. Faruqi's choices. This verse is NOT one of his choices; I thought it was interesting and have added it myself. For more on Ghalib's unpublished verses, see the discussion in {4,8x}.

The verse is built on the idea that the crescent moon looks like an 'open' kind of semicircle rather than the 'closed' circle of the full moon. And kushaadah means both 'open' and by extension 'opened out in happiness', while tang means both 'contracted, narrow' and by extension 'vexed, sad' (see the definitions above). Thus the two states can be juxtaposed for allegorical effect.

But surely the most striking thing about the allegorical imagery here is that in a strict sense the moral (?) advice is useless. The crescent moon is constantly, steadily, in the process of filling its stomach and thus turning itself inexorably into something like a rich but discontented capitalist. But of course, once it reaches its maximum state of engorgement it begins its equally inexorable return to being lean and hungry (and thus, apparently, contented); then the whole process continues indefinitely.

Zamin is right about the clunky and unidiomatic kushaadan'haa ; the same complaint, on the same grounds, could be made about ;xamiidan'haa in {63,4x}. But in the case of the present verse there could be an ingenius defense of kushaadan'haa , on the grounds that it recognizes exactly this endless lunar procession: it assumes that many 'openings of the heart' are what you might want-- and in any case, what you would certainly get. But then the advice to 'remain empty' would become nonsensical, since it could not be followed. So the verse might be taken as a coded way of showing, wryly or cynically or fatalistically, that nothing we humans can do would ever be able to keep us in any steady state of happiness.