Ghazal 140, Verse 6

{140,6}*

har yak makaan ko hai makii;N se sharaf asad
majnuu;N jo mar gayaa hai to jangal udaas hai

1) every single dwelling has nobility/dignity through its dweller, Asad
2) in that Majnun has died, the wilderness is indifferent/solitary/sad

Notes:

sharaf : 'Highness of rank, &c., exaltation, eminence, excellence, rank, grandeur, glory, honour, dignity, nobility'. (Platts p.725)

 

jangal : 'A jungle, wood, forest, thicket; forest land; waste land; land or country overgrown with long grass and weeds; a wild or uninhabited part'. (Platts p.392)

 

udaas : 'Indifferent (to, - se ), unconcerned, apathetic; unsettled in mind; retired, lone, solitary; forlorn, dejected, sad, sorrowful; dull, dispirited, cast-down; grieved'. (Platts p.31)

Nazm:

That is, this is the reason that the wilderness is udaas ; otherwise, it would not have been udaas . (151)

== Nazm page 151

Bekhud Dihlavi:

He says, oh Asad, every dwelling receives honor/rank from the dweller. The inhabitedness/liveability [aabaadii] of the wilderness was dependent upon Majnun. After his death, the wilderness has become udaas . (208)

Bekhud Mohani:

The prestige/respect of a house is from the master of the house alone. Just look-- after Majnun's death, how udaasii spread over the wilderness, and what a 'howling wilderness' [sannaa;Taa] it has become! From this the point emerges that only Majnun was a lover, and all the rest is a mere imitation/show [naql]. (275)

FWP:

SETS == WORD
DESERT: {3,1}
HOME: {14,9}

Many editions have har ik instead of har yak ; as always I follow Arshi. His is definitely the better reading, because the tendency with har ik is to read it with word-grafting, which here would be unmetrical; ditto for har ek .

The first line offers a kind of dry, abstract, general statement, one that is destined, in the ghazal world, to be backed up by a 'proof', or illustrated by an example of some kind. Naturally, we are curious to hear the second line. And when we get the second line-- after, under mushairah conditions, a suitably piquant delay-- we are so devastatingly rewarded with its gorgeous sound effects and rich range of meanings.

This is one of Ghalib's brilliant verses of what I call 'word-exploration'. Monier Williams in his Sanskrit-English Dictionary defines udaas (literally, 'aside' + 'sit') as 'to sit separate or away from, sit on one side or apart; to abstain from participating in; to take no interest in, be unconcerned about, be indifferent or passive' (Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 1974 [1899], p.185). As can be seen from Platts's definition above, the meanings that have accrued to it over time all come directly from that primary concept of being seated apart, with its implications of sadness, indifference, isolation. Here are some of the possible readings:

=Because Majnun has died, the wilderness has been in mourning; it has been paying the tribute of grief to the one whose residence gave it the 'nobility' to feel such honorable emotions.

=Because Majnun has died, the wilderness is sad; it knows it will now be an empty shell, like an abandoned house; it will no longer have the kind of prestige and honor that it did when he dwelt in it.

=Because Majnun has died, the wilderness is indifferent and solitary; it now holds itself aloof from human affairs, as is appropriate for one of high rank who will tolerate no inferior company.

=Because Majnun has died, the wilderness is now neglected and ignored; nobody cares about it any more, since it's of no more value than a long-abandoned house.

=The reason that the wilderness is so wild, desolate, remote, forbidding, is that Majnun has died; otherwise, it would not have been so. (This is Nazm's reading.)

This verse can thus also be considered, on this last reading, a witty example of 'elegance in assigning a cause': the obvious fact that the wilderness-- and jangal in Urdu is much broader than the English derivative 'jungle'-- is wild, desolate, etc., is no mere happenstance of nature, but rather a direct result of Majnun's death.

Surely the second line is one of the most resonant and haunting ones in the whole divan. But when I try to analyze the reasons, I find it hard to put my finger any single one. Maybe it's not just sound effects, but also a case of mood. There's also the fact that the semantic structure of the line fits with complete perfection into the metrical foot pattern. And the sound effects are there: all the resonant long vowels, contrasted powerfully with the three clipped, short-a consonantal syllables mar and jan and gal . Try it yourself-- see if this line isn't very easy to memorize, and wonderfully resonant to recite.

A wonderful verse for comparison is {18,3}, another meditation on Majnun's wilderness 'house'. Also compare {4,15x}, on the relation between the 'owner' and the 'house'.