Ghazal 173, Verse 10


aatish-kadah hai siinah miraa raaz-e nihaa;N se
ai vaa))e agar ma((ri.z-e i:zhaar me;N aave

1) my breast is a fire-temple, through a hidden mystery/secret
2) oh alas-- if it would come into the place of manifestation/disclosure!


aatish-kadah : 'Furnace; grate; chimney; fire-worshippers' temple'. (Platts p.16)


ay vaa))e : 'Ah! alas! woe is me!'. (Platts p.111)


ma((ri.z : 'Place of the appearance, or occurrence, or manifestation (of a thing); scene (of); place of meeting'. (Platts p.1048)


aave is an archaic form of aa))e (GRAMMAR)


The secret that has made the breast into a fire-temple-- if it would become manifest, then what places would it not set on fire? (194)

== Nazm page 194

Bekhud Dihlavi:

He says, 'From the heat of a hidden secret my breast has become a fire-temple. If that secret would become manifest, then no telling where fires will be started.' (250)

Bekhud Mohani:

The secret of love, from the hiding of which the heart is becoming a fire-temple-- if it would become manifest, then what would happen? In the whole world a fire would be seen leaping up. (340)



The idea of the lover's burning, secret passion as a fire is a fundamental metaphor of the ghazal world; to call the lover's breast a 'fireplace' or 'furnace' would be nothing out of the ordinary. But in this verse the context of the 'hidden mystery/secret' makes it clear that the speaker takes his breast to be (like) a Zoroastrian 'fire-temple' (see the definition above); this is a fine twist, and enables the line to play cleverly with several theological niceties.

First, only Zoroastrians are allowed to tend and visit the sacred fire, so that the fire-temple too, like the lover's breast, is a private place, the repository of a powerful mystery/secret that must not be allowed to emerge. Second, to Zoroastrians fire is pure, and must not be polluted by the touch of certain ritually defiling things; it must be kept away from the many contaminants of the outer world, the way the lover too must shelter his passion from the 'people of the world'. Third, a fire-temple is where the initiated go to worship and commune with the fire, and humbly learn its mysteries; which is just how the lover treats his passion.

The second line, inshaa))iyah of course, is a vigorous exclamation of dismay, of foreboding-- so energetic that it's easy to lose sight of how completely unspecific it really is. The commentators are sure that what the lover fears is that the fire in the breast, if released, would become a conflagration that would consume the world. Yet that's only one possible foreboding; there are several others:

=The fire/mystery is now secret-- it might become public knowledge.
=The fire/mystery is now pure-- it might be rendered impure.
=The fire/mystery is now mystical or transcendent-- it might become merely physical.
=The fire/mystery is now in the hands of reverent initiates-- it might become available to the ignorant and the exploitative.

And just to add to the complexity of what I call 'stress-shifting'-- is it the fire-temple, the breast, or the mystery/secret that is in danger of becoming manifest? The grammar would permit any of them to fill that role. And when the lover exclaims in dismay at the prospect of 'manifestation', is he worried about the effects on one of those three entities, or on himself, or on the beloved, or on the world at large?

There are also the sound effects of juxtaposing ma((ri.z and i:zhaar -- especially after the first line has given us miraa raaz . Although they all look quite different on the page, to the ear they sound almost like transpositions of each other.

Other, more ambiguous uses of aatish-kadah : {38,7}; {91,8}.