Ghazal 136, Verse 3


lipa;Tnaa parniyaa;N me;N shu((lah-e aatish kaa aasaa;N hai
vale mushkil hai ;hikmat dil me;N soz-e ;Gam chhupaane kii

1) the becoming-wrapped-up of a flame of fire in painted-silk is easy
2) but the skill/art of hiding the burning of grief in the heart is difficult


lipa;Tnaa : 'To be embraced; to be wrapped or folded (in), to be encased; to be enclosed, be encased (in)'. (Platts p.950)


parniyaan : 'A kind of fine painted silk (from China); garments made of this silk'. (Platts p.255)


;hikmat : 'Wisdom; knowledge, science; philosophy; --mystery; miracle; --cleverness, skill, art, contrivance, ingenuity'. (Platts p.480)


It's obvious that flame can't remain wrapped in silk, and it flames up. But nevertheless, it's easier than to hide the burning of grief in the heart. The meaning of saying 'easy' is that the heart is more delicate than painted silk, and the burning of grief is even more headstrong than fire. (146)

== Nazm page 146

Bekhud Dihlavi:

He says, to wrap a flame in a silk robe, which is impossible, is considered possible-- compared to keeping the burning of grief hidden in the heart. The meaning is that the lover's heart is more delicate than painted silk, and the burning of the grief of passion is even more headstrong than fire. (200-01)

Bekhud Mohani:

That is, the heart is more delicate than silk, and the burning of grief is even more fiery than a flame. (268)



The semantic parallelism of the lines is conspicuous: the 'flame of fire' corresponds to the 'burning of grief'; 'in painted silk' corresponds to 'in the heart'; 'to be wrapped' corresponds to 'to hide'; 'easy' corresponds to 'difficult' (for opposites are not only very similar, but in fact dependent on each other). What elements in the two lines are not parallel? Only two: the little 'but' that sets up the logical relationship of the two lines, and the 'skill' in the second line.

Once we consider the 'skill', we're also led to notice the grammar of the lines: lipa;Tnaa is an intransitive verb, giving no suggestion that there's necessarily an agent involved; while chhupaanaa is a transitive verb, making it clear that someone would be actively doing something. The first line, grammatically, is about something easy that just happens; the second line is about something contrasted to that by being difficult and requiring the action of an agent with 'skill'. Which makes it all the more piquant that the first line is about a fancy handmade product of skill, and even an expensive one imported from far away, and about its being used in a quite impossible way. (The word parniyaa;N is intriguing in its own right, and deserves 'fresh word' credit; this is its only occurrence in the divan.)

The process in the first line thus seems to flow, intransitively and unproblematically. Both 'difficulty' and 'skill' are reserved for describing the task in the second line: that of (actively) hiding the burning of grief in the heart. The word ;hikmat is a cleverly multivalent one: it can refer to knowledge, magical lore, some mysterious or miraculous power; or, of course, some ordinary human contrivance, the fruit of craft and ingenuity (see the definition above). Whatever the exact nature of the 'skill' may be, it far outranks any of the skills involved in making painted Chinese silk and then in somehow arranging for it to enfold a flame of fire.