Ghazal 87, Verse 5


raunaq-e hastii hai ((ishq-e ;xaanah-viiraa;N-saaz se
anjuman be-sham((a hai gar barq ;xirman me;N nahii;N

1) the radiance/splendor of existence is from house-desolate-making passion
2) the gathering is without a candle if lightning is not in the harvest


raunaq : 'Lustre, water (of a sword, &c.); brightness, splendour, beauty, elegance, grace, ornament; freshness, prime; colour, complexion; flourishing state or condition'. (Platts p.608)


viiraan : 'Laid waste, depopulated, ruined; waste, desolate, desert; dreary, dismal'. (Platts p.1209)


That is to say, the radiance and hustle and bustle of the whole world is thanks to passion and love, whether it be the love of woman and children, or wealth and riches, or sovereignty and community, or some other thing. Thus if there's no lightning in the harvest-- that is, love in hearts-- then the image for it is of a gathering without the radiance of a candle. (145)

==Urdu text: Yadgar-e Ghalib, p. 145


That is, if the lightning of passion would not be in the harvest of existence, then existence, like a gathering without a candle, is devoid of radiance. (86)

== Nazm page 86

Bekhud Mohani:

Although passion levels worldly enjoyment and luxury to the dust, nevertheless without it there's nothing in the world. The phrase 'house-wrecking' gestures toward this meaning.

[Or:] until the lightning of passion falls on the harvest of worldly relationships, life is worthless. That is, only through passion can a person renounce worldly relationships. (178)


CANDLE: {39,1}

This is another one of those verses in which the relationship(s) of the two lines are crucial-- and are not revealed to us by the grammar. So we are left to figure them out for ourselves. The first, obvious question is whether the two lines refer to the same situation, or to two different ones.

If the two lines refer to the same situation, then the 'radiance of existence' is equated with a 'gathering', and 'passion' with 'lightning'. The radiance of existence comes from 'house-desolating' passion; the candle of the gathering comes from the harvest-destroying lightning. The verse thus maintains, broadly speaking, that what we value most in our lives is dependent on forces that destroy many (other?) things that we value.

If the two lines refer to two different situations, then we should look at each line separately before we try to put them together. In the first line, raunaq is an especially appropriate word, for even today Urdu speakers use ghar kaa raunaq to refer to a situation in which a house is crowded with people and activity--full of comings and going, hustle and bustle. It took me a while to realize what a powerful traditional cultural value this situation represents. Such raunaq in a house is the exact opposite of desolation [viiraanii]-- but it's also dependent on 'passion the house-desolate-maker', so that the paradox is pressed home (sorry, couldn't help it) as unignorably as possible. The glory of life is 'from' or 'with' or 'by means of' [se] passion. How does something as destructive as passion cause such glory? The little word se is not really enough to explain the situation.

In the second line, it's clear that if there's no lightning in the harvest, there's no candle in the gathering. But what exactly is the nature of the connection? If it's cause-and-effect, then we might say that there's an implicit se involved: because the lightning strikes the harvest, the candle lights the gathering. (Again, as in the first line, with no clear mechanism provided.)

Or perhaps lightning and candle might be not cause and effect, but two effects of the same cause. That is, the force that causes lightning to strike the harvest-- the force of passion, we might guess-- also causes the candle to light the gathering, and it never does one without doing the other as well. For more discussion of similar verses about lightning in the harvest, see {10,6}.

Or perhaps lightning might itself be the candle. When we humans have our gatherings, what really illumines them is the blazing, lightning-stricken harvest. For more exploration of the possible relationships between lightning and candles, see {81,1}.

Since there are several possible readings of the second line, it's not clear how precisely it's meant to offer a parallel to the first line. Ghalib is leaving us in limbo again. So what else is new? But I love this verse for its air of mystery, especially in the second line. The more straightforwardly paradoxical first line is merely a setup for the enigmatically, elliptically paradoxical second line. Oh, that second line! The penumbra of possibilities gives the whole line a glow around it-- a glow like a nearby candle, or a far-off blazing harvest.