Ghazal 97, Verse 8


mai;N aur ;ha:z:z-e ;xudaa-saaz baat hai
jaa;N na;zr denii bhuul gayaa i.z:tiraab me;N

1) I, and the joy of union?! it's the handiwork of the Lord!
2) I forgot to offer up my life, in agitation


;ha:z:z has its extra :z because of the following i.zaafat .


na;zr : 'A vow; an offering, anything offered or dedicated; a gift or present (from an inferior to a superior)'. (Platts p. 1128)


i.z:tiraab : 'Agitation, perturbation, restlessness, distraction, anxiety, anguish, trouble, chagrin; precipitation; flurry'. (Platts. p.59)


That is, I-- and the joy of union would be obtained? It is said as an expression of surprise at such an improbable event. The omission of the verb is according to idiom. In this way on an occasion of rhetorical exaggeration too they leave the verb omitted [;ha;zaf karnaa]. (99)

== Nazm page 99

Bekhud Dihlavi:

A 'letter of union' [;xa:tt-e] is that letter in which a promise of union would be written. He says, It's my fortune that she would write and send to me a promise of union in a letter. It seems that God Most High accomplished my desire. Upon this letter, I ought to sacrifice my life. In the ebullience of happiness, I forgot to do so. (149)

Bekhud Mohani:

God, God!-- where am I, and where the pleasure of union! This is the Lord's power, and His handiwork alone. I was so agitated that I forgot to offer up my life. That is, union with the beloved is such a blessing that it's astonishing that I didn't die of happiness. (195)


What an extraordinary and unique theme it is! (190)



Bekhud Dihlavi has misread the verse in a thoroughly understandable way. The only difference between the very common word 'letter' [;xa:t] and the very uncommon word 'joy' [;ha:z] is not even the presence or absence of a single dot, but the dot's placement a tiny bit to the left or right. And both words fit the situation (though undoubtedly the latter fits it better). I sympathize, because I originally misread the word that way too. It makes me feel better that even a native speaker like Bekhud could make such a mistake.

The word na;zr is drawn directly from medieval Persianized court etiquette. When you appeared in the ruler's presence, you humbly presented [na;zr denaa], as 'from an inferior to a superior', an offering as elegant and valuable as you could provide. If the ruler deigned to accept it, he would in turn present you with something far more valuable, usually a 'robe of honor' [;xil((at] that ideally and in theory would contain among its many components some garment that the ruler himself had actually worn (or at least had caused to be momentarily draped over his shoulders). This symbolic incorporation would seal your loyalty to him as ruler, and his gracious protection of you as subject.

This seems to be one of those paradoxical verses in which the most glorious gift of one's whole life is also felt as the bringer of death. Not that the lover even notices! After rapturizing in the first line, his only concern in the second line is that he has been (temporarily?) oblivious of the proprieties. He has received a gracious invitation from a superior, and he must make a proper return-- and in his judgment, when he is offered 'union' the only suitable response is to at once offer up his life, as a fitting gesture of appreciation. He feels himself remiss in not (yet) having done so. Will he therefore at once proceed to drop dead-- out of either bliss, or courtly etiquette?

Maybe not. This verse reminds me of {20,2}, in which the lover says he has lived on the beloved's promise even though he knew it was false-- because wouldn't he have died of happiness, if he had really trusted it? Look at the range of meanings that i.z:tiraab can have-- within that general sense of 'agitation' there's scope for 'anxiety' and 'anguish' and 'trouble'. Did he fail to drop dead because he really knew deep down that the promise was false, so that his effusive delight could only be vain or chimerical? (Do we think he doth protest too much?) Does he plan to rectify his faux pas, or does he sadly realize that his heart's failure to stop beating shows a deeper knowledge than his mind can bring itself to accept? As usual, we're left with subtle and complex questions, and no way to answer them except out of our own intuition and our own experience of the world.