Ghazal 169, Verse 14x


ho kar shahiid ((ishq me;N paa))e hazaar jism
har mauj-e gard-e raah mire sar ko dosh hai

1) having become a martyr, in passion, one would obtain/'find' a thousand bodies
2) every wave of the dust of the road is a harm/'shoulder' to my head


jism : 'The body (with the limbs and members); a body or material substance, a solid'. (Platts p.382)


dosh : 'Fault, vice, defect, bad or noxious quality, blemish; blame, accusation, reproach, calumny; badness, wickedness, sinfulness; offence, transgression, wrong, sin, guilt, crime; damage, harm, detriment; bad consequence'. (Platts p.534)


dosh : 'The arm, the shoulder'. (Platts p.534)


ROAD: {10,12}

For background see S. R. Faruqi's choices. This verse is NOT one of his choices; I felt sorry for it (the only omitted one out of fourteen verses!) and have added it myself. For more on Ghalib's unpublished verses, see the discussion in {4,8x}.

The commentators ignore this one, and who can blame then? It can't be considered anything so special, but it's not without interest either. It's a mushairah verse of course; the first line is not only uninterpretable, but almost paradoxical: the martyr is one who loses his body in death-- so how would he 'find' a thousand bodies? We wait in suspense through the obligatory mushairah formalities of presentation.

Even when we are allowed to hear the second line, not until the last possible moment, with the punch-word dosh , can we make much sense of it. Even then, the sense is of a labored, less-than-witty kind. Martyred lovers' bodies are particularly likely to turn entirely into dust-- because the martyrs of passion are so self-transcendent, so self-abandoning, such wanderers (on this see {61,7}). If the martyred lover's body turns to dust and blows along in the wind, it might be said that every dust-grain on the road is a former atom of the lover's body. Thus after death he seems to have 'a thousand bodies', and every wind-driven or foot-generated billow of dust on the road seems to fling him around heedlessly in a way that is a 'harm' or 'offense'[dosh] to his dusty, much-trampled 'head'.

But the other meaning of dosh as 'shoulder' (see the definitions above) is also activated in the verse. If the martyred lover would have a thousand bodies', he would surely have two thousand 'shoulders' for his head, since every wave or billow of dust can act as such a 'shoulder'. For more on such instances of 'doubly activated' wordplay, see {120,3}.