Ghazal 66, Verse 5


haa;N ai falak-e piir javaa;N thaa abhii ((aarif
kyaa teraa biga;Rtaa jo nah martaa ko))ii din aur

1) indeed, oh ancient/venerable Sky, Arif was still young
2) what harm would it have done you, if he hadn't died for a few days more?


piir : 'An old man; a saint; a spiritual guide or father; a priest; founder or head of a religious order'. (Platts p.298)


((aarif : 'Knowing, wise, sagacious, ingenious; skilled in divine matters, possessing knowledge of God and of his kingdom and of the way of dealing well with him; pious, devout.' (Platts pp.756-57)


biga;Rnaa : 'To be changed for the worse, to become worse; to be impaired, deteriorated, defaced, disfigured, distorted; to take harm, be damaged, injured, marred, spoiled, corrupted, vitiated, ruined, destroyed; to fall off; to fail, miscarry; to break down; to go or turn bad; to get out of order'. (Platts p.162)


In this verse haa;N is not in its own place-- it's the place of kyuu;N . (66)

== Nazm page 66

Bekhud Dihlavi:

In this verse the word haa;N has been used by way of an attention-getter, before addressing the Sky. This haa;N has no connection with affirmation; that is, it's not the opposite of nahii;N . He wanted to make to the Sky the complaint that the one dying was young, he hadn't reached his natural lifespan. 'If he had remained alive for some days more, what harm would it have done you?' (114)

Bekhud Mohani:

[Contrary to Nazm's assertion,] in this verse haa;N has been used in its own place. From it, sir, we learn the absorption and immersion in mourning. As though some people would be seated, and the master of the house would be absorbed in some thought. When his absorption lessened, he would begin his speech with haa;N .... It also sometimes happens that if sophisticated people complain to someone of some important matter, then they don't begin all at once; first they speak of this and that, then often they begin the complaint with haa;N . (147)


SKY {15,7}

For general comments on this most unusual ghazal, see {66,1}.

This is one of the very rare times in the whole divan that a 'real person' (rather than a literary or symbolic figure) is mentioned by name. A few verses later, in {66,8}, we find another such reference, to Arif's friend Naiyar.

The Sky's ancientness and Arif's youth are juxtaposed as forcefully as possible: in the first line, we find the cleverly framed sequence 'ancient young' [piir javaa;N]. The term piir also has associations of venerableness and mystic insight. It is the proper role of a piir to teach and guide the young, not to cut them off in their prime. These associations are further emphasized through the name Arif; an ((aarif is a possessor of (mystical) knowledge.

The idiomatic haa;N charms the commentators, though they struggle to express its exact nuances. I was taught to consider it as something like 'indeed'-- a way of introducing a new subject, or a new aspect of a previous subject, such that it feels like another stage of an ongoing discussion. Thus this introductory haa;N turns the verse into part of a continuing dialogue between Ghalib and the Sky; it gives the air of pressing home with an additional argument some other point that has already been urged.

Note for grammar fans: teraa kyaa biga;Rtaa is an idiomatic expression that seems to have a missing masculine noun, like kaam or mu((aamalah . Compare {100,1}, in which baat biga;Rnaa appears; and also {36,8}, in which biga;Rnaa is used without an object.