Ghazal 114, Verse 5

{114,5}*

;xayaal-e jalvah-e gul se ;xaraab hai;N mai-kash
sharaab-;xaane ke diivaar-o-dar me;N ;xaak nahii;N

1) from the thought of the glory/appearance of the rose the wine-drinkers are 'wrecked'
2) in the door and walls of the wine-house-- nothing at all!

Notes:

;xaraab : 'Ruined, spoiled, depopulated, wasted, deserted, desolate; abandoned, lost, miserable, wretched; bad, worthless, vitiated, corrupt, reprobrate, noxious, vicious, depraved'. (Platts p.487)

Nazm:

That is, from the miraculous power of intoxication, a mustard flower has blomed [sarson phuulii hai] in the eyes. Otherwise, what is there in a wine-house? (123)

== Nazm page 123

Bekhud Dihlavi:

He says, the thought of the glory/appearance of the rose means that thanks to intoxication, the wine-drinkers are becoming very drunk.... The meaning of the verse is that the thing that makes life enjoyable is love of God; otherwise, what good is this unstable world? (174)

Bekhud Mohani:

To the wine-drinkers, in their intoxication, nothing but springtime is visible everywhere; otherwise, what good is a wine-house?

[Or:] It's a praise of springtime, that nowadays the rakish drinkers are intoxicated only with the thought of the glory/appearance of the rose. Their intoxication is not due to wine. (231)

FWP:

SETS == A,B; GENERATORS; WORDPLAY
JALVAH: {7,4}
WINE: {49,1}
WINE-HOUSE: {33,6}

This verse is one of his marvels. Just consider some of the possibilities. In the first line, what is the status of the 'wine-drinkers' who are 'wrecked'-- or, idiomatically, 'extremely drunk'? Here are some possibilities:

=they are 'wine-drinkers' because they have already drunk a great deal of wine (thus their wild visions)
=they are 'wine-drinkers' because they used to frequent the wine-house in former times (though now they no longer need it)
=they are only 'wine'-drinkers metaphorically; the real 'wine' they drink is different

And what is the nature of their intoxication? Here are some possibilities:

=the drinkers are intoxicated from the mere process of thought itself
=the drinkers are intoxicated from visualizing a particular kind of glory/manifestation of the beloved
=the drinkers are intoxicated because of the Rose itself, even if it's present only in thought

Then when we try to put the two independent lines together, that too we have to do on our own, with no grammatical guidance from the verse itself. If we read (1) as prior to (2), we deduce that the winehouse is empty because the fickle (former) drinkers have now abandoned it in favor of a different form of intoxication. If we read (2) as prior to (1), we find that the winehouse is so worthless (there's nothing there for us!) that the drinkers have been forced to look elsewhere.

Thus the second line can have all these senses, and surely a few more besides:

=the physical wine-house is now empty of customers and of wine
=the physical wine-house is now desolate, ruined, shut down
=the physical wine-house is contemptible and worthless
=the 'door and walls' of the wine-house are worthless (only what is within them has value)
=the wine-house is not necessary for intoxication ('there's nothing in it!')
=wine itself, the wine-house's stock in trade, is not necessary for intoxication

The radical undecideability of this verse comes from the unknown relationships among several multivalent notions. The first line invokes both 'wine-drinkers' and a form of intoxication apparently quite independent of wine. The second line perhaps merely describes a condition of (physical) emptiness, or even ruin, of the wine-house door and walls; or perhaps it strongly disparages the wine-house door and walls, or the whole wine-house itself, or even wine itself. We, the readers, get to choose-- and in fact have to choose, since as usual Ghalib has cleverly denied us any guidance. How better to turn a little two-line verse into almost an encyclopedia of possible thoughts about drunkenness and wine?

And all this before we even consider the particularly complex, fascinating wordplay! At the heart of it is ;xaraab . If we pair it with sharaab in the second line, we get two almost identical-looking words with close associations. If we pair it with diivar-o-dar and ;xaak and the colloquial ;xaak nahii;N (for more on this idiomatic usage see {114,1}), we get images of ruins and utter physical destruction. Then just as a perfect finishing touch, we can't help but think of its plural form ;xaraabaat , meaning literally 'ruins, desolate place', but commonly, in Urdu, 'tavern' (Platts p.488). For an example of its use in this latter sense, see {131,1}.

Ghalib has a special fondness for juxtaposing dust and jalvah ; for examples, see {7,4}.

This verse reminds me of {169,5}, which is a more explicit (and therefore less piquant) treatment of the idea that 'thought' is a (or even 'the'?) supreme intoxication.