Ghazal 86, Verse 7


ik sharar dil me;N hai us se ko))ii ghabraa))egaa kyaa
aag ma:tluub hai ham ko jo havaa kahte hai;N

1) a single/particular/excellent/unique spark is in the heart; what-- will anybody be perturbed by it?
2) 'fire' is sought/meant by us, when we say 'wind'/desire


ma:tluub : 'Sought, required, demanded, desired, longed for; wanted, needed, necessary; --s.m. A quest; a desire; an object, a purpose'. (Platts p.1044)


havaa : 'Air, wind, gentle gale;... —affection, favour, love, mind, desire, passionate fondness; lust, carnal desire, concupiscence'. (Platts p.1239)


That is, it ought not to be thought that humans are made to take a breath through being perturbed by the heat of the animal spirit [ruu;h-e ;hevaanii] that is in the heart. Rather, it is the vital spirit [], and merging into it is desired.... The author has versified this theme in the manner of a poetic account. But since the question of the circulation of blood has been proved, it is actually thus.... From this verse the author's philosophical temperament can be estimated. (85)

== Nazm page 85

Bekhud Dihlavi:

In accordance with modern philosophy (since the problem of the flow of blood has recently been proved) he has composed this verse, from which the philosophical capability of Hazrat the author can be learned. By the 'spark' is intended the animal spirit, which is present in human beings. He says, humans are not obliged to take a breath through the heat of the animal spirit; rather, through the wind/desire of every breath the mingling with the vital spirit is sought. (136)

Bekhud Mohani:

The heat of love in the heart is not something that anyone would be perturbed about. Rather, when the word wind [havaa] is constantly on our tongue, it's wrong to think that this means that we are perturbed about the heat of this fire. Rather, we need wind in order to make of this small ember a burning flame. (176)


It's a philosophical verse. By 'spark' is meant the vital spirit [;haraarat ((aziizii]. Because of this spirit perturbation is created. This perturbation seizes hold of wind. And the act of respiration is set in motion. Mirza says that the vital spirit is only a single spark. Why will anyone be perturbed by it? For its progress only wind is effective, and from respiration only wind increases its vitality. As if what they call 'wind' is in reality fire, which we constantly seek in order to establish life, so that more perturbation would be created and respiration would constantly continue. (172-73)


[A related verse of Mir's, that might have been an influence [M{847,11}]:

afsurdagii-e so;xtah-jaanaa;N hai qahr miir
daaman ko ;Tuk hilaa kih dilo;N kii bujhii hai aag

[The sadness/coldness of the burnt-out ones is a calamity, Mir!
just wave the garment-hem a bit, for the fire in the hearts has gone out]....

A single spark is in the heart-- a state of confinement, a demand for wind. Because the intermediate state is not expressed, there's a feeling of illogic. A single spark took birth in the heart. Now the hope was that the spark, steadily growing, would bring first the heart, then the whole body, within its range. But it's confined; the spark is not finding the opportunity to grow and flourish. I call out, 'Wind! Wind!'. People think that I am anxious about my spark and am demanding wind so that it would extinguish it. Thus-- what the hell [bhalaa], is a spark anything to be anxious about? I am seeking wind so that it would give the spark more strength.

A second point is that the coming and going of breath within the body becomes a means of vitality. This same breath, within the heart, will give more force. As if this very breath that helps to sustain life in reality also cuts off life, because if the spark burns the heart, then it will finish off the whole existence. In this way the eternity [baqaa] of the breath, which is a cause of length of life, in reality conducts it to the stage of mystical knowledge and eternity [baqaa] where the whole existence turns to fire. [As in this verse of Mir's M{15,9}:]

aag-sii ik dil me;N sulge hai kabhuu ba;Rkii to miir
degii merii ha;D;Diyo;N kaa ;Dher juu;N ii;Ndhan jalaa

[a fire-like thing is kindled in the heart; if it ever flares up, Mir,
it will burn up the heap of my bones like fuel]....

Zafar Iqbal has adopted Ghalib's theme very excellently:

aag bha;Rke to sahii taab-e tamaashaa hai bahut
khol kar siinah havaa detaa huu;N chingaarii ko

[so what if the fire would flare up! I have plenty of endurance for the spectacle--
opening my breast, I give air to the ember]. (1989: 106-08) [2006: 129-31]


SPEAKING: {14,4}

This verse plays elegantly on the ambiguity of pointing to a spark, and calling for wind-- is the intention to extinguish the spark, or fan it into a flame? Knowing the lover as we do, we know it will be the latter-- even though the second half of the first line does sound just a bit hollow, just a bit full of false bravado. For we know that even a tiny spark has tremendous incendiary power, just as a tiny drop of a sigh that's left in the heart turns into a typhoon in {6,6}.

The commentators offer various traditional physiological theories of the vital breath, the spark of life, etc. These are not very clearly presented. But it seems quite probable that Ghalib enjoyed invoking such concepts too. Why settle for fewer meanings, when you could have more? The verses of Mir's cited by Faruqi are also helpful, and the Zafar Iqbal one is indeed a worthy successor in the tradition.

As we've seen in other verses, havaa is a very convenient word: it has not only the meaning of 'wind', but also that of 'desire', which here enjoyably echoes words like 'heart' and 'fire'. The word ma:tluub literally means 'sought' or 'desired'. Thus when we say 'wind', what is sought or desired by us is 'fire', so that the wind will be a means to an end, a fanner of the original spark.

Moreover, the structure of the second line offers us an additional reading as well. The second line could be taken to suggest that when we say 'wind', we mean 'fire'-- as though it were a question of clarifying a definition, as for example when we mean 'airs and graces', but find it necessary when speaking simply to the uninitiated to say 'knife and dagger' instead, in {59,6}. Or it might be some kind of clever euphemism ('fire' might scare people, but 'wind' sounds more reassuring). Or it might be sheer obsession-- other people say 'wind' and mean the spring breeze, but my world is such that even when I say 'wind' I mean 'fire'. (As in {15,7}, when from earth to sky my world is a mass of burning.)

And in fact it's the second line that's the killer, isn't it? It almost glows in the dark. It's so punchy, so cryptic, so mysterious-sounding, so echoing. A contrast is set up: three of the first four words in the line are cut off abruptly by final consonants. All the remaining five words end in those sonorous, evocative long vowels. And right in the middle, the rhymed set of ko jo that both marks a semantic break, and helps to bridge it.