Ghazal 164, Verse 3


qiblah-e maq.sad-e nigaah-e niyaaz
phir vuhii pardah-e ((amaarii hai

1) Qiblah of the purpose/object of the gaze of prayer/offering/humility

2a) then/again [it] is only/emphatically that veil/curtain of the canopied-litter
2b) then/again only/emphatically that is the veil/curtain of the canopied-litter


maq.sad : 'Intended sense (of), meaning, purport; —thing aimed at, or intended, or purposed; object of aim or pursuit; intention, design, purpose; desire, wish; object, aim, scope'. (Platts p.1056)


niyaaz : 'Petition, supplication, prayer; —inclination, wish, eager desire, longing; need, necessity; indigence, poverty; —a gift, present; —an offering, a thing dedicated; —assignment of revenue for the relief of the indigent'. (Platts p.1164)


((amaarii : 'A litter or seat with a canopy, to ride in (on an elephant)'. (Platts p.765)


He has considered the curtain of the elephant-litter to be the curtain of the Ka'bah. (177)

== Nazm page 177

Bekhud Dihlavi:

He says, again/still the prayer-direction of the gaze of humility has become that very curtain of the elephant-litter in which the beloved is manifest. The meaning is that like Laila, our beloved too has come to have an ardor for riding in a litter [ma;hmil]. (237)

Bekhud Mohani:

Again/still the curtain of the litter [ma;hmil] has become the prayer-direction of the purpose of the gaze of humility. That is, again/still all the hopes are bound up with the curtain of the beloved's litter. (318)


Since Ka'bah too can also come, then why shouldn't Ka'bah itself be said? And if we don't consider a curtain to be removed from it, then along with the word ((amaarii the word pardah becomes useless. It's better that the word Ka'bah would be there, and in the second line the word pardah would not appear:

ka((bah-e maq.sad-e nigaah-e niyaaz
phir kisii kii vuhii ((amaarii hai

[the Ka'bah of the goal of the gaze of humility
then/again is only/emphatically that canopied-litter of someone's] (475)


GAZE: {10,12}
VEIL: {6,1}

Here's a strikingly clever 'mushairah verse'. The first line consists of absolutely nothing except four nouns joined by three i.zaafat constructions, so it's quite literally uninterpretable. The fact that the first word is qiblah does, however, set up in us an expectation of religious imagery to come.

When we're finally, after the usual delay created under mushairah performance conditions, allowed to hear the second line, at first our expectation of religious imagery is fulfilled. There's an emphasis on continuity and repetition through 'then/again' [phir] and 'that very' [vuhii]. By the time we hear pardah , we can hardly fail to think of the curtain of the Ka'bah, which is the prime and ultimate Qiblah.

But then in classic mushairah-verse style, at the very last possible moment, in the rhyme-word itself, we discover that the curtain belongs not to the Qiblah, but to the beloved's fancy canopied elephant-litter. All the sense of piety and humility and devotion over time that the verse had carefully evoked, is now with a single word transferred to the beloved. (Which of course, given the ghazal's usual human-divine slipperiness, may not ultimately be much of a transfer-- but then again, it may.)

The normal word for a litter is ma;hmil , the word that the commentators use when explaining the verse; for discussion and illustrations of litters, see {147,7x}. The word ((amaarii is much less common, and the verse makes no use at all of its specialized meaning as a canopied elephant-litter. For the value of the word lies elsewhere: it enables the 'punch-word' of the verse to be deferred until the very last moment, since it can be positioned as the rhyme-word in a way that ma;hmil cannot.

Note for grammar fans: We could read the two lines as end-stopped, so that the first line would be an exclamation or vocative of some kind, while the second would report the presence of the canopied litter. But we could also read them with enjambement, so that they would form a single utterance (the Qiblah is the canopied-litter). In the second line, we also have two ways to read the vuhii . It does make a difference which readings we choose, but the verse is so abstract that it's hard to decide exactly what that difference is.