Ghazal 92, Verse 1


maana((-e dasht-navardii ko))ii tadbiir nahii;N
ek chakkar hai mire paa;Nv me;N zanjiir nahii;N

1) no contrivance/skill is a forbidder of desert-{wandering / 'going round'}
2) a single/particular/unique/excellent circle/'round' is on/in my feet, not a chain


tadbiir : 'Forethought, judgment; deliberation, counsel; opinion, advice; expedient, contrivance, plan, device; provision, management, arrangement, ordering, conduct, regulation; policy, prudence; skill'. (Platts p.314)


chakkar : 'A circle, a ring; circumference; a circular road or course; a circular position; ... revolving in a circle, revolution, whirl; round, circuit; circumambulation; ... anything revolving in a circle'. (Platts p.435)


The same meaning that has already been expressed in the first line-- how excellently he has expressed it in a new aspect in the second line.... it is perfect rhetoric [balaa;Gat].

==Urdu text: Yadgar-e Ghalib, p. 146


That is, if they put chains on, then so what? Would I leave off desert-wandering? The chains turned to 'rounds' on my feet. (91)

== Nazm page 91

Bekhud Mohani:

In madness, I've come to have an ardor for wandering all over. No scheme can erase it. Friends put chains on me, thinking that now I would stay seated in a corner. But since the chains were put on my feet, I wander even somewhat more than before.

If 'chain' is taken to represent physical and worldly relationships, then the verse's meaning will be that although Nature has tied down the spirit in such chains, its restlessness, its freedom, are in no way reduced. (187)


Compare {7,6}. (220)


BONDAGE: {1,5}
DESERT: {3,1}

Consider {1,5}, which is such a similar verse: in that one too, the first line asserts a general fact-- the lover's incorrigible restlessness even when physically chained up-- and the second line makes a related word/meaning play. In {1,5} the basis is fire: the speaker is 'hot-footed' with restlessness, so that each link of his chain is a burnt hair.

In the present verse, the basis is sheer roundness: there's no way to prevent the speaker from wandering or, literally, 'going round' in the desert. Because the chain on his feet, composed of round links that should fetter him, is really nothing but a chakkar , a 'circle' or 'round' (as in 'making the rounds'). But of course, it's ek chakkar too, with all the multivalent possibilities, dismissive or laudatory or particularizing, of that ek .

Both these verses are excellent, and very similar, examples of vintage Ghalibian wordplay. There's nothing much else going on in them except a classic ghazal theme (almost identical in both verses) expressed in carefully chosen words that add conceptual richness. But in a two-line verse, isn't such wordplay enough? The lines have a strong and multivalent connection that is a great source of pleasure to the mind, the eye, and (if they're recited) to the ear as well.