Ghazal 91, Verse 8


hai nang-e siinah dil agar aatish-kadah nah ho
hai ((aar-e dil nafas agar aa;zar-fishaa;N nahii;N

1) it is a disgrace/shame to the breast, if the heart would not be a fire-{place/temple}
2) it is a reproach/shame to the heart, if the breath is not fire-scattering


nang : 'Shame, disgrace, infamy, ignominy'. (Platts p.1156)


aatish-kadah : 'Furnace; grate; chimney; fire-worshippers' temple'. (Platts p.16)


((aar : 'Disgrace, reproach, ignominy, shame'. (Platts p.756)


aa;zar : 'Fire'. (Platts p.37)


[See his comments on this verse in {91,7}.]

== Nazm page 90

Bekhud Dihlavi:

He says, is it a breast at all, in which there isn't a burning heart? And is it a heart at all, of which the breath doesn't scatter fire? (142)

Bekhud Mohani:

If a heart is not a fire-place because of the fire of love, then it's a cause of disgrace/shame to the breast; and if the sigh doesn't scatter sparks, then it's a cause of shame to the heart. That is, such a heart is not worthy of remaining in the breast, nor such a sigh in the heart. (186)


A verse of Zauq's is in this same theme and of this same style:

jo chashm kih be-nam ho vuh ho kor to bahtar
jo dil kih ho be-daa;G vuh jal jaa))e to achchhaa

[that fountain that would be without moisture, it would be better for it to be unused
that heart that would be without a wound, it would be good for it to burn up]. (182)



This verse is treated by some commentators as the second half of a sort of unofficial verse-set that begins with the previous verse, {91,7}. Whether or not the two verses should really be considered so tightly bound together, they have notable affinities of structure and theme. In {91,7} too, we move from the breast to the heart.

The strikingly parallel structures of the two lines feature centrally placed nouns, 'heart' and 'breath'. Both are so positioned that they can be read with either the clause before ('the X [itself] is a shame if') or the clause after ('it [in general] is a shame if the X'). The difference in meaning is of course not great, but still the back-and-forth oscillation of the possible readings is a small pleasure in its own right.

The word aatish-kadah not only means a 'fire-place' of some unspecified kind, but also has a well-established meaning of 'fire-temple', in a Zoroastrian sense; for discussion of this usage, see {173,10}. The opposition between 'disgrace' in the first half of the line, and the honored or revered status of a fire-temple in the second half, gives an extra touch of piquancy to the verse. The use of the conspicuously Persian aa;zar for 'fire' in the second line also strengthens the (Iranian) Zoroastrian connection; in the same metrical space Ghalib could easily have used aatish instead.

The progression from the breast to the heart, and from the heart to the breath, is what really energizes the verse: the parallel structures also become sequential. And the whole sequence leads to the breath, and emphasizes its central, and perhaps even religious, importance. (If nafas seems confusing, see {15,6}.)