Ghazal 137, Verse 4x


.sad rang gul katarnaa dar pardah qatl karnaa
te;G-e adaa nahii;N hai paaband-e be-niyaamii

1) in a hundred ways, to slander/'cut down'; secretly/'within a veil', to murder
2) the sword of coquetry is not constrained/'bound' by sheathlessness


gul katarnaa : 'To snuff (a candle); to trim (a lamp); — to calumniate'. (Platts p.911)


katarnaa : 'To cut, clip, pare, lop, prune, trim; to cut out; to cut up, to hew'. (Platts p.812)


dar-pardah : 'Concealed, veiled, hidden, secret; — secretly, privately, in private; in disguise, by innuendo, by implication, indirectly'. (Platts p.509)


paa-band : 'To be clogged or fettered, &c.; to be bound (by), be ruled or guided (by), to observe, follow, conform (to)'. (Platts p.213)


niyaam : 'A sheath, scabbard'. (Platts p.1164)


In hundreds of ways, the sword of coquetry causes the rose to open/bloom-- and, remaining within the veil, murders it. In this regard, there's no necessity for it to be without a sheath. Then it would be able to accomplish things; or rather, while remaining within the veil it raises up a Doomsday.

== Asi, p. 217


gul katarnaa = To set off fireworks, to do something that would create mischief and turmoil.

The meaning is that your sword of coquetry is not bound to come outside of the sheath. Rather, while staying inside it keeps setting off such fireworks that they would finish off the lover, and it would not even be known who had killed him.

== Zamin, p. 321

Gyan Chand:

gul katarnaa = To make decorations/ornaments [naqsh-o-nigaar]. be-niyaamii = For a sword to emerge from the sheath.

Your sword of coquetry has no need to emerge from the sheath. It seemingly makes many kinds of attractive flowers and sprigs, but within the veil, it murders.

== Gyan Chand, p. 333


SWORD: {1,3}
VEIL: {6,1}

For background see S. R. Faruqi's choices. This verse is NOT one of his choices; I thought it was interesting and have added it myself. For more on Ghalib's unpublished verses, see the discussion in {4,8x}.

In classic mushairah-verse style, the first line is quite uninterpretable (it doesn't even have a verb, and in fact constitutes a small two-item 'list'). And of course, the suddenly revelatory 'punch-word' be-niyaamii is withheld until the last possible moment. But then-- what a word! It's the proverbial 'fresh word' that can energize a whole verse. It's so fresh that according to Steingass and Platts, it doesn't even exist.

Moreover it's part of the larger phrase paaband-e be-niyaamii . And the idea of being 'foot-bound by sheathlessness' is so peculiar, so paradoxical, that it takes a minute to figure it out. After all, to be 'bound' suggests confinement, constraint, inability to move freely-- that is, the condition of a sheathed sword; while 'sheathlessness' suggests full freedom of movement and action. It's not a real paradox, because the i.zaafat gives us enough wiggle-room to work it out: the activity of the sword of coquetry is not confined to, restricted to, the condition of being out of its sheath. Or, if we prefer a slightly less literal sense of paaband (see the definition above), the sword of coquetry is not accustomed to operating in a state of sheathlessness; as a rule it operates within a sheath. By no coincidence, any such reading works chillingly well with the actions of the sword of coquetry that are enumerated in the first line.