Ghazal 81, Verse 4

{81,4}

.zu((f se hai ne qanaa((at se yih tark-e just-juu
hai;N vabaal-e takyah-gaah-e himmat-e mardaanah ham

1a) from weakness, not contentment, is this abandonment of searching
1b) [neither] from weakness, nor from contentment, is this abandonment of searching

2) we are a blight/burden on the resting-place of manly courage/spirit

Notes:

.zu((f : 'Weakness, feebleness, debility, infirmity, imbecility (of mind or body), unsoundness; feeble action (of the heart, &c.); fainting, a fainting-fit, swoon'. (Platts p.749)

 

ne is really nah , and is written this way so it can count as a long syllable.

 

qanaa((at : 'Content, contentment; resignation; tranquillity; --abstinence; ability to do without'. (Platts p.795)

 

just-juu : 'Searching, seeking; search, inquiry, quest, scrutiny, examination, investigation'. (Platts p.381)

 

vabaal : 'An unhealthy climate or atmosphere; --anything painful or distressing; bane, pest, plague; --a crime, sin, fault'. (Platts p. 1178)

 

takiyah : 'A pillow, bolster, cushion; anything upon which one leans, prop, support; reliance, trust; the reserve of an army; a place of repose; the stand or abode of a faqiir'. (Platts p.352)

 

himmat : 'Mind, thought; anxious thought, solicitude; attention, care; —inclination, desire, intention, resolution, purpose, design; —magnanimity; lofty aspiration; ambition; —liberality; —enterprise; spirit, courage, bravery; —power, strength, ability; —auspices, grace, favour'. (Platts p.1235)

Nazm:

That is, manly courage rests when it finds contentment, and contentment ought to be the cause for renunciation of the world-- not that the world is renounced, but only because of weakness of courage. If weakness is the cause of the renunciation of the search, then such renunciation of the search is a blight to manly courage. (82)

== Nazm page 82

Bekhud Dihlavi:

He says, if we've renounced the search, we didn't do this because of contentment; rather, no strength for the search has remained in us. In this respect we have become a blight on the resting-place of manly courage. The meaning is that the task of men is that they should make courage their resting-place, but here a contrary situation has been presented. (131)

Bekhud Mohani:

If we've renounced the search for a livelihood [ma((aash], the pity is that it is not because of contentment. Rather, it's because of lack of courage. (171)

Josh:

If we've renounced the search for the friend, then the reason is not contentment. That is, don't consider that we have adopted patience/fortitude; rather, the reason is weakness. We no longer even have the strength for the search. People consider manly courage to be their resting-place, but we have become a burden on that resting-place. That is, manly courage has become disaffected with us. (168)

Mihr:

The claim of 'manliness' was that we would obtain control over longings, and be content with the least possible amount. (276)

FWP:

SETS == FILL-IN

In his divan Ghalib only used the word mard three times: {7,1} (passion depicted as a warrior and 'seeker of men'); {7,7} (the dead Ghalib as a 'strangely free man'); and {57,7} (passion imagined as 'man-killing' wine). Apart from {7,7} with its implicit renunciation, the other two both have contexts of battle or struggle, as does the present verse, and a sense that virility or even machismo is the quality desired.

This 'manly courage' eventually halts at a 'resting-place' of some sort, where it stops and recuperates, or relaxes, or makes a stand, etc. But it only stops when it reaches a point of 'contentment' (or tranquillity, or abstinence). For the speaker to stop on false pretenses-- to stop out of mere exhaustion and weakness, not contentment-- would make him a blight or burden on the mood ('manly courage') or place (a general 'resting-place', or a faqir's hospice) where he stops. Or, if we read the i.zaafat differently, 'manly courage' itself can constitute a 'resting-place', and what he is a blight on is 'the resting-place that is manly courage'.

But it's also common in idiomatic usage for the 'neither-nor' construction to be truncated from nah yih nah vuh to yih nah vuh . How do we know the same thing isn't going on, at least as a secondary reading, in the first line? As far as I can see, we don't know. This more complex reading would set up not (1a) with its two possible reasons to stop searching (that is, either weakness or contentment), but (1b) with its three (that is, weakness, or contentment, or some more idiosyncratic lack of courage/spirit).

In any case, what kind of 'search' is it, and what kind of a 'resting-place' is there, and what kind of 'contentment' can one find? We don't know, and the commentators don't know either: Nazm turns a renunciation of the search into a renunciation of the world; Bekhud Dihlavi suggests a pursuit of courage itself; Bekhud Mohani proposes a search for a livelihood; Josh understands the search to be for the 'friend' or beloved (human or divine); Mihr maintains that 'manliness' means contentment in austerity. My own inclination is to link it to the kind of desperate, ardent, exhausting search envisioned in {93,3x}.

The ultimate appeal of the verse is its cryptic abstractness and undecideability. The multiple meanings of the key words (see the definitions above) permit readings that are religious or worldly, romantic or martial, specific or general, pragmatic or moral. It's another of those verses in which we have to fill in the blanks ourselves.

I always envision a takiyah-gah as like the 'Damascus Room' in the Met, with its red velvet sitting-cushions and bolsters: