Ghazal 166, Verse 6x

{166,6x}

bah juz diivaanagii hotaa nah anjaam-e ;xvud-aaraa))ii
agar paidaa nah kartaa aa))inah zanjiir jauhar kii

1) apart from madness, there would be no [other] result of self-adornment
2) if the mirror did not create a chain/shackle of polish-lines

Notes:

anjaam : 'End, termination, completion, accomplishment, conclusion; result, upshot; accident; vexation'. (Platts p.88)

Asi:

The result of self-adornment is [habitually] madness, but the mirror has prepared, out of polish-lines, a single chain that has halted and restrained that madness and that wildness. (224)

Zamin:

He says that at two times even the most serious person acts like a madman. One is in playing with small children, and the other is when looking into a mirror, especially when he would be alone. It's possible that at some time Mirza Sahib too, looking into a mirror, tried out expressions to see which ones pleased him, then reflected that this was madness. From just this, the theme of this verse came into his mind.

There can also be another aspect: that the mirror itself was self-adorning; self-adornment engendered amazement, and amazement is one kind of madness. But the chain of polish-lines stopped the amazement from progressing to the point of madness.

In both cases, there can be an objection: that the chain does not protect one from the disease of madness, but rather halts and restrains the mad actions of the madman.

Now one more aspect can emerge: that if on the mirror there were no polish-lines, then the mirror would be plain/simple; simplicity is stupidity; stupidity is harm to the intelligence-- and this harm is madness, to whatever extent it may occur. In any case, the verse is a pleasantry/witticism [la:tiifah], whether it is meaningful or meaningless! (333-34)

Gyan Chand:

The beloved sat before the mirror and adorned herself. Seeing her adorned face, the mirror would have become mad, and in its wildness would have run off somewhere-- but the polish-lines on the mirror did the work of a chain/shackle, and they halted the mad running around of the mirror. Along with its hands and feet its mind too remained in control, and it was saved from madness. The polish-lines on a metal mirror are seen in the form of connected dots or lines; thus they can be given the similitude of a chain.

== Gyan Chand, p. 342

FWP:

SETS
MADNESS: {14,3}
MIRROR: {8,3}

For background see S. R. Faruqi's choices. This verse is NOT one of his choices; I thought it was interesting and have added it myself. For more on Ghalib's unpublished verses, see the discussion in {4,8x}.

On the nature of jauhar , see {5,4}.

Zamin is right to note the obvious 'objection' that chains or shackles don't prevent the occurrence of madness, they only restrains the madman. Yet he still considers the verse to be some kind of pleasantry or witticism, whether or not it has meaning, rather than condemning it outright as he so often does with problematical verses.

That first line is the intriguing, thought-provoking part: might 'self-adornment' in fact drive one crazy? And I think I see a way to rescue the verse from the 'objection' to the second line. When someone looks into a mirror, it's really the gaze that strikes or touches the mirror. Perhaps it's the gaze that is trapped and chained or shackled by the mesh of tiny polish-lines, so that it cannot somehow fall into the mirror and create a self-reflexive madness in the self-adorner. Perhaps only the imperfection or impenetrability of the mirror rescues the self-adorner from a kind of solipsistic insanity.

The self-adorner could obviously be the beloved (since she's the one obsessed with her own beauty), but it could also be the lover, since in the ghazal world there's so much mystical and philosophical use of mirror imagery (for the classical example, see {208,6}).

Metal mirrors like these were sometimes used in Japan for scrying: