Ghazal 109, Verse 5x

{109,5x}

bah zaahidaa;N rag-e gardan hai rishtah-e zunnaar
sar-e bah paa-e but-e naa-nihaadah rakhte hai;N

1) with the Ascetics, {pride / the neck-vein} is the string of the sacred-thread
2) we keep a head that is on the foot of the idol that is non-{placed/appointed/formed}

Notes:

rag-e gardan : 'Vein of the neck; (fig.) pride'. (Platts p.598)

 

nihaadah : 'Placed; appointed'. (Steingass p.1437)

 

nihaad : 'Nature, disposition, temperament, constitution; —form; habit; —stature ; —quality; essence; —mind; heart; —original; family, stock, race'. (Platts 1161)

Gyan Chand:

rag-e gardan = pride and arrogance [sar-kashii]. The Ascetics' neck-vein always remains stiffly extended, as if this sign of haughtiness has bound them in infidelity [kufr] like a sacred-thread. For humans, the admirable thing is that the head would be placed at the foot of some idol. But the Ascetics have the kind of head that was not placed at the foot of an idol. From this let there be no misunderstanding that they are free from bondage to the sacred-thread. This pride and haughtiness is itself a sacred-thread. (274)

FWP:

SETS
IDOL: {8,1}
RELIGIONS: {60,2}

For background see S. R. Faruqi's choices.

Having a stiffly extended 'neck-vein' is a sign of pride because it suggests that one holds his head high. Thus also pride as sar-kashii , the 'pulling [up] of the head', which Gyan Chand uses in his commentary. The long thin neck-vein is thought of as string-like, so it can evoke the Brahminical sacred thread (which is worn over the shoulder and hanging down across the chest).

Thus the Ascetics are stiff-neckedly and high-headedly proud of their Islamic religious attainments; and this very arrogance becomes a sign of idolatry, like a sacred-thread. The speaker's situation is contrasted in every way: his head is down as low as possible, it is at the feet of an idol-- and yet, the verse strongly implies, he is the one with genuine mystical insight.

For after all, his idol is naa-nihaadah . On the surface this might be dismissive ('not appointed to any high rank or position'), which is perhaps how the Ascetics would think of it. But it might also mean something like 'formless, uncreated, quality-less'-- in other words, sharing many of the attributes of the true God.

Compare {195,1}, which uses a similar pattern of imagery.