Ghazal 68, Verse 5

{68,5}*

nah puuchh vus((at-e mai-;xaanah-e junuu;N ;Gaalib
jahaa;N yih kaasah-e garduu;N hai ek ;xaak-andaaz

1) don't ask about the extent/capacity of the wine-house of madness, Ghalib
2) where this bowl of the heavens/'wheel' is a mere/single/particular/unique/excellent dust-bin

Notes:

vus((at : 'Latitude; amplitude; spaciousness; capacity; space, extent; space covered, area; dimensions; bulk; --convenience, ease; opportunity, leisure'. (Platts p.1192)

 

garduu;N : 'A wheel; the heavens, the firmament, the celestial globe or sphere; chance, fortune (and her revolving wheel)'. (Platts p.903)

 

ek : 'One, single, sole, alone, only, a, an; the same, identical; only one; a certain one; single of its kind, unique, singular, preƫminent, excellent'. (Platts p.113)

 

;xaak-andaaz : 'A shovel; loop-hole; a sling; fringe or skirt of a tent; a magician.' (Steingass p.441)

 

;xaak-daan : 'A receptacle or pit for dust, earth, ashes, &c.; a place where rubbish is placed, a dust-bin; --(met.) the world'. (Platts pp.484-85)

Nazm:

[The bowl of the sky is compared to a dustbin] and the ground of similitude is that the dust-bin is enclosed. And the point is that it is only filled with dust. That is, the bowl of the sky too is in the respect limited to a dust-receptacle, full of dust like a dust-bin. The point is that even in the wine-house of madness of the bowl of the sky, there isn't even enough scope for it to be numbered among bowls of wine; rather, it is only a dust-bin. The word 'single' [ek] in Urdu [here conveys diminution and contempt]. (67-68)

== Nazm page 67; Nazm page 68

Bekhud Dihlavi:

He says, oh Ghalib, don't ask me about the extent/capacity of the wine-house of madness. I tell you in a few words, that there the bowl of the sky is like a receptacle for throwing away rubbish. (117)

Bekhud Mohani:

How can I express the extent/capacity of the wine-house of passion! Where the sky, despite so much extent, is considered to have the capacity of a dust-bin. That is, there it is not even counted among the wine-glasses, but rather treated as a dust-bin. That is, the people of passion and mystic knowledge consider the world, and creation, as trifles. (151)

FWP:

SETS == EK; HUMOR; INEXPRESSIBILITY
MADNESS: {14,3}
SKY {15,7}
WINE-HOUSE: {33,6}

What an amusing, witty, vivid verse-- and so classically Ghalibian! Among verses earlier in the divan, one obvious parallel would be {10,1}, in which the whole heavenly Garden of Rizvan is reduced to a mere trifling bouquet lying forgotten in some dusty niche in the house of 'us self-less ones'. (For other dismissive-- or not-- uses of the roundness of the sky, see {138,1} and {217,4}, in which it's imagined as an egg; and compare also {147,3}.)

The 'wine-house of madness' is nonpareil because of its vus((at -- its scope, spaciousness, capacity, 'convenience, ease, opportunity, leisure' (see the definition above). It not only puts the 'bowl of the sky' to shame, but actually puts it to use-- as a dust-bin, a small round container stuck discreetly in a corner and used for removing swept-up dirt and flinging away things no longer desired.

As Nazm points out, calling the sky not just 'a', but ek , dustbin can give the sense of 'mere'. And it's a wonderful sense-- how much more deft, offhand, and insouciant can a put-down be! But it's impossible (and undesirable) to rule out the other senses of ek , for they too become variously piquant in their own right: see the definition above for the range of possibilities.

Literally, ;xaak-andaaz means 'dust-thrower'. In Persian, as can be seen from the Steingass definition above, it retains appropriate related meanings. But in Urdu, the commentators without exception take it to be a dust-bin, and I think it's clear that Ghalib does too, since otherwise the whole punch of the verse is lost. Here is one more example of the independent evolution of Urdu, as Persian words take on new, autonomous meanings. For a related usage in Urdu to which ;xaak-andaaz might have been assimilated, see ;xaak-daan above.

In a pinch, the Persian sense of 'fringe or skirt of a tent' could also be invoked as an alternative possibility for wordplay, since it works so well with vus((at . But since the roundness imagery of kaasah and garduu;N -- and jahaa;N , in its wordplay-evoked sense of 'world'-- would then become irrelevant, this sense can only remain secondary.

In the ghazal world, the mad, drunken lover is of course also the mystic knower, mocking the limited, limiting externalness of the world we live in (and, in this case, of the physical universe itself). Who wouldn't prefer a spacious, capacious, convenient wine-house, over a small, peculiar dustbin lying off in one corner of it?