Ghazal 185, Verse 4x


hangaam-e ta.savvur huu;N daryuuzah-gar-e bosah
yih kaasah-e zaanuu bhii ik jaam-e gadaa))ii hai

1) in the time of thought/imagination, I am a beggar for kisses
2) even/also this kneecap/'bowl of the knee' is a single/particular/unique/excellent begging-cup


hangaam : 'Season, time, period'. (Platts p.1238)


ta.savvur : 'Imaging or picturing (a thing) to the mind; imagination, fancy; reflection, contemplation, meditation; forming an idea; idea, conception, perception, apprehension'. (Platts p.326)


daryuuzah : 'Begging, &c.' (Platts p.515)


kaasah : 'A cup, goblet, bowl... — kaasah-e sar, s.m. The skull'. (Platts p.801)


jaam : 'Goblet, bowl, cup, glass, drinking-vessel'. (Platts p.372)


At the time of the thought/imagination of the beloved, when I sit with head on knee [sar bah zaanuu], then, so to speak, I am asking for alms of kisses; and this 'bowl of the knee' [kaasah-e zaanuu] is for me a begging-cup. Since I bow my head on my knee and think of the beloved's kisses, the 'bowl of the knee' is a begging-bowl.

== Asi, p. 230


He had to call the 'bowl of the knee' (that is, the kneecap [ghu;Tne kii chapnii]) a begging-bowl, and the knee is a necessity of thought and imagination-- from this he has pulled out the theme that in thought/imagination I beg for alms of kisses (from the beloved).

== Zamin, p. 347

Gyan Chand:

The knee is like an inverted cup. The head is placed on the knee when thinking. At the time of thought/imagination, there's a search for kisses from the beloved. In this way the 'bowl of the knee' becomes a begging-bowl.

== Gyan Chand, p. 353



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 For more on Ghalib's unpublished verses, see the discussion in {4,8x}.

The kneecap or 'bowl of the knee' as a begging-bowl-- who would have guessed that?! Not me, that's for sure. (Thank you, Zamin, for your clarity and specificity.) The zaanuu or knee is certainly associated with sorrow and (melancholy) reflection, as a place to rest the lowered head (for more on the imagery of zaanuu , see {32,2}). But the kneecap itself is very small, and not really bowl-shaped. Worst of all, when a person sits with head resting on a bent knee, any bowlishness the kneecap has is turned upside down, which makes it a very poor begging-vessel in which to collect alms. But-- whatever! The kneecap as begging bowl may be less common, but it's not more bizarre than other ghazal imagery. Ghalib is nothing if not hyperbolically imaginative.

See also {298x,3}, in which the kneecap is a 'peacock's egg', as part of a position of creative poetic thought.

The real problem with the verse is not the kneecap as a begging bowl, but the unmotivatedness of the 'kisses' in the first line. Why kisses in particular, at such a time, rather than any other kind of favor? No doubt the idea is that they could resemble individual small coins, the kind that might be given to a beggar. Still, the connection between the lines is not very satisfactory.