Ghazal 145, Verse 13x


nihaa;N hai gauhar-e maq.suud jeb-e ;xvud-shinaasii me;N
kih yaa;N ;Gavvaa.s hai tim;saal aur aa))iinah daryaa hai

1) the sought-for pearl is hidden in the breast/heart/'neck-opening' of self-knowing

2a) kih here the pearl-diver is an image and the mirror is a sea
2b) kih here the image is a pearl-diver and the sea is a mirror


maq.suud : 'Intended, meant; purposed, designed; proposed; desired, wished, sought; —s.m. Intent, intention, design, purpose, drift, aim, view, desire, object, scope (syn. maq.sad )'. (Platts p.1056)


jeb : 'The opening at the neck and bosom (of a shirt, &c.); the breast-collar (of a garment); the heart; the bosom; (the Arabs often carry things within the bosom of the shirt, &c.; and hence the word is now applied by them to) a pocket'. (Platts p.412)


;Gavvaa.s : 'One who dives (in the sea) for pearls'. (Platts p.773)


tim;saal : 'Resemblance, likeness, picture, portrait, image, effigy'. (Platts p.336)


In self-knowing, a pearl is not the desire. That is, self-knowing is itself the desired pearl that is obtained through looking into the mirror, since from looking into a mirror a person recognizes his or her face. The poet's desire is to versify this saying of Hazrat Amir [the Prophet], [the claimed hadith] that 'Whoever knows himself knows his Lord'. But instead of the desired pearl being an allusion to divine mystical knowledge, the example of the mirror and the reflection has been given. And that too doesn't emerge properly, because the one who has attained self-knowing is the mirror-using person, but from the words the meaning emerges that if the image dives into the mirror then it becomes self-knowing, and this is an event that does not occur. (361)

Gyan Chand:

The pearl of desire/seeking is present in the neck-opening of self-knowing. Consider the mirror to be a sea. In it the human form dives, when it brings up the pearl of self-knowing. From looking at one's form in a mirror, awareness about oneself is after all obtained.

== Gyan Chand, p. 368


MIRROR: {8,3}

For background see S. R. Faruqi's choices. For more on Ghalib's unpublished verses, see the discussion in {4,8x}. This verse is from a different, unpublished, formally identical ghazal, {359x}, and is included for comparison. On the presentation of verses from unpublished ghazals like this one along with formally identical divan ghazals, see {145,5x}.

The first line cleverly misdirects us, because with that 'neck-opening' we at once think of the lover's tearing open of his collar [chaak-e garebaa;N]; for discussion of this motif, see {17,9}. If the sought-for pearl is hidden in the 'neck-opening' of self-knowing, wouldn't the next step be to tear open that neck-opening in order to reveal it? We readily begin to speculate about where the second line will take this pattern of imagery; and of course, under mushairah performance conditions we're given as much time as conveniently possible to speculate, before we're allowed to hear the second line.

Then, the second line starts entirely afresh, with a new set of images: of a pearl-diver and the sea, and/or of an image and the mirror. Thanks to what I call 'symmetry', the two 'A is B' equations (2a) can equally well be read as 'B is A' (2b). Moreover, the most lucidly parallel reading would perhaps be a combination: 'the pearl-diver is an image and the sea is a mirror', and/or 'the image is a pearl-diver and the mirror is a sea'. But as in the previous verse, since the level of abstraction is so high, how much difference does it really make? How can we make more sense of one reading than of any other?

In addition, this verse deploys the possibilities of kih in the same flexible, widely ramifying way that the previous verse, {145,12x}, does as well. Since I've tried to slice and dice all the possibilities for that verse, I won't repeat the whole process here.

Even the little word yaa;N adds further ambiguities. As a rule it means something like 'where the lover is', or else 'in this mortal world'. In the present verse, it could be either of these. But since the first line seems to set up a special realm of mystical quest, it could also mean 'in the special realm of the pursuit of self-knowing'.

Each line is striking in its own way, but is there really that much connection between them? Does the imagery really work together to make a whole greater than the sum of its parts?