Ghazal 145, Verse 6x


bah sa;xtiihaa-e qaid-e zindagii ma((luum aazaadii
sharar bhii .said-e daam-e rishtah-e rag'haa-e ;xaaraa hai

1) through/from the harshnesses of the prison of life, freedom-- 'known' [not to exist]!
2) even/also a spark is a prey of the net/snare of connection/thread of the veins of a rock


sa;xtii : 'Hardness, stiffness, rigidity, firmness; tightness; stinginess; obduracy, obstinacy; intenseness, intensity, vehemence, severity; harshness, asperity; sternness, austereness; violence, atrocity; cruelty; grievance, hardship; adversity, indigence, distress, difficulty, evil, calamity'. (Platts p.644)


rishtah : 'Thread, string, line; series; connexion, relationship, ... ; alliance, affinity'. (Platts p.593)


;xaaraa : 'A hard stone, a flint'. (Platts p.483)


From the harshnesses of the prison of life, freedom, while alive, is nonsensical and impossible. Look at the spark, that is bound within the net of the threads of the rock-veins (those lines that exist in rock) and cannot be free. In the same way, no person, while alive, can find freedom from the prison of harshness. In one place, in a philosophical style, he says, {115,5}.

== Asi, p. 239


He says that the harshnesses of life are such that within them freedom cannot be vouchsafed. As long as a spark is in the prison of life, it too is a captive of the net of the veins of the rock. sa;xtii , ;xaaraa , qaid , aazaadii , band , daam , rishtah , rage;N -- all these words have an affinity. The basic theme too is true-- that in the world freedom is not vouchsafed to anyone....

But the example that has been given, the proof he has given for the claim, has no application to the claim. The poet considers the spark to be a prisoner for life within the stone, although the birth of the spark and its becoming free from the stone occur at the same moment; for this reason to say that it is a prisoner in the threads of the veins of the rock is not correct.

== Zamin, p. 363

Gyan Chand:

Through/from the harshness of the prison of existence, freedom is not possible. Outwardly, a spark seems to be very free and active. But even it is imprisoned in the net of the harsh veins of stone. For this reason, it cannot be free according to its longing. It is an abstract simile, but harmonious.

== Gyan Chand, p. 371


BONDAGE: {1,5}

For background see S. R. Faruqi's choices. For more on Ghalib's unpublished verses, see the discussion in {4,8x}.

For more on this colloquial use of ma((luum , see {4,3}.

Sparks are said to flow in the 'veins' of rocks the way blood flows in human veins-- after all, when you strike a human you get blood, and when you strike a rock you get a spark. This is the normal logic of the metaphor; for more on verses about sparks and rocks, see {20,6}.

In this verse, however, the veins of a rock are presented as a ramifying network, reticulated like a net; thus they're suitably shaped to suggest the trapping of a hunter's prey, usually a bird or small animal, inside a net. The spark is trapped within this net of rock-veins, with its rough 'harshnesses', for as long as it lives; if it emerges into the outer world, it's only to die at once.

With the same irrevocability, humans are trapped within the 'harshnesses' of the (social? biological?) network of life. They have no more chance of escaping than the spark does-- and then, only on the same terms.

As Zamin notes, the dense wordplay itself forms a kind of network of affinities.

As Asi notes, an excellent verse for comparison is {115,5}.