Ghazal 163, Verse 6


haa;N ahl-e :talab kaun sune :ta((nah-e naa-yaaft
dekhaa kih vuh miltaa nahii;N apne hii ko kho aa))e

1) indeed, oh people of the search, who would listen to a taunt of 'not-to-be-found'?
2) we saw that she/He/it is not to be found-- having lost only/emphatically our own self, we came back


:talab : 'Search, quest; wish, desire; inquiry, request, demand, application, solicitation; sending for, summons; an object of quest, or of desire'. (Platts p.753)


naa-yaaft : 'Not to be found, undiscoverable; missing'. (Platts p.1111)


That is, when I didn't find mystical knowledge, then I lost my own self. Who would listen to the taunt that 'he searched, and didn't find it'? (176)

== Nazm page 176

Bekhud Dihlavi:

He says, who would listen to the taunt that 'for years he left no stone unturned in the search, and then he didn't find her/him-- he came back unsuccessful and empty-handed'? When we saw that the hidden mystery of Divine mystical knowledge cannot be searched out, and there's no trace of it anywhere, we lost outselves and came back. That is, having passed beyond awareness and senses, we became intoxicated and carried away. (235)

Bekhud Mohani:

Indeed, oh people of mystical knowledge, are you listening? Who would listen to 'he went out to search for the Lord-- and after all, he didn't find Him'. Thus since the divine Self was not able to be searched out, we lost our own self. That is, when the mystery of the Lord's existence didn't come within our understanding, then we forgot our own existence. We abandoned our sense of self. This verse is somewhat superior to {148,5}. (316)



The first line is a classic rhetorical question, addressed apparently to a sympathetic audience of fellow searchers, appealing to their general agreement: 'who would willingly be taunted for failure in a search?' Obviously, anyone would try to avoid such a sneer. As so often, we can't tell who or what is under discussion until we've waited-- and of course waited, under mushairah performance conditions, as long as conveniently possible.

When we hear the second line, at first it seems to be a sensible sequel to the first. When we saw that the search was proving fruitless, that the object of search was simply not turning up-- well, naturally we'd take some kind of preventive action, so we wouldn't have to come home to a chorus of taunts and jeers.

But what does this action consist of? Why, losing our own selves, of course! And then, peculiarly enough, coming back. The grammar is clear: kho kar aa))e , with the colloquial omission of kar : 'having lost, came'. This spectacularly counterintuitive strategy has one great advantage: we are now immune to being taunted. For since we ourself are not really 'there', who is there to listen to the taunts?

Thus, with a jolt, we now re-experience the first line. What we thought was a rhetorical question is now also a literal one-- indeed, who would listen, since we're not there? Perhaps the taunt will fall flat for want of an audience, or perhaps it won't even be spoken at all. Or alternatively, perhaps the taunt would have been made on the road, by the other 'people of the search', and by going 'back', we've confessed our failure and escaped their jeers.

There's even a more enjoyably radical reading, if we take 'he/she/it' [vuh] to refer to the speaker's own self. Perhaps we went out in search of our own lost, strayed, or stolen self, but we couldn't find it anywhere; having recognized that we've well and truly lost it, we had to return without it. Thus we may, alas, be subjected to taunts for having lost it, but what choice do we have? We simply can't find it anywhere!

One way or another, the verse obviously enjoys playing with paradox. There's also the clever almost-doubling of ko kho .