Ghazal 188, Verse 1


hai hijr ((aalam-e tamkiin-o-.zab:t me;N
ma((shuuq-e sho;x-o-((aashiq-e diivaanah chaahiye

1) {union is separation / separation is union} in a state/world of dignity and restraint
2) a mischievous beloved and a mad lover are needed


tamkiin : 'Gravity, dignity, majesty, grandeur, greatness, authority, power'. (Platts p.337)


.zab:t : 'Keeping, taking care of, guarding, defending, watching over, ruling, governing; regulation, government, direction, discipline; restraint, control, check'. (Platts p.748)


That is, if in the beloved's nature there would be self-regard and dignity, and in the lover's temperament there would be restraint and endurance, then even in union there's a separation-like unenjoyment [be-lu:tfii]. The pleasure is when she would be mischievous and shameless, and he would be mad and insolent [gustaa;x]. (209-10)

== Nazm page 209 ; Nazm page 210

Bekhud Dihlavi:

He says, 'If in the beloved's nature there's self-regard and dignity, and in the lover's temperament there's the quality of endurance and restraint, then even in union itself there will be a kind of unenjoyment, like separation'. The pleasure in this is that a mischievous and shameless beloved, and a mad and insolent lover, would be able to enjoy the delight of life. (269)

Bekhud Mohani:

The beloved thinks of her glory, her dignity. The lover, out of regard for courtesy or the grandeur of the beloved, is controlling his ardor. The result of this was that even union turned into separation. In our view, the beloved ought to have mischievousness, and the lover ought to be mad through an extreme of ardor. Thus the pleasure of union is that the beloved would be mischievous, and the lover would be restless, shameless, insolent. (367)


MADNESS: {14,3}
'UNION': {5,2}

This is one of only a handful of ghazals from which Faruqi has selected every divan verse as superior. (Of course, in its divan form it has only two verses anyway.)

Here's another Ghalibian gem of many facets and multivalent meanings. In the first line, we can read either 'A is B' or 'B is A', in the kind of 'symmetry' that Ghalib so often creates and exploits. We also notice that the qualities of 'dignity' and 'restraint' are basically desirable ones (in general, and in Indo-Muslim elite culture in particular); though of course they might not be so in the context of this particular verse.

So in a state or world of dignity and restraint, perhaps 'union' is 'separation', because those very qualities form a barrier to uninhibitedness and self-surrender (as the commentators, following Nazm, generally agree). But is this state of affairs desirable, or undesirable? The line gives us no clue.

Or perhaps, in such a state of dignity and restraint, 'separation' is 'union'. This might be so because lover and beloved have a mutual belief in the importance of dignity and restraint, so that these common values become a deep bond, a form of 'union', between them. Or it might be so because, given their attitudes, 'separation' is all the 'union' they'll ever know, so they don't regret (or even realize?) the loss of (conventional, vulgar, bodily) 'union'.

The two lines are semantically independent, and we're given no clue as to how to connect them. The commentators maintain that the second line describes something oppositional to the first line, a correction of its error: lover and beloved ought not to be full of dignity and restraint, but rather the beloved ought to be mischievous and the lover mad. This reading is certainly possible.

But it's equally possible to read the second line as describing conditions necessary to achieve the situation described in the first line. If it's desirable for lover and beloved to have 'dignity' and 'restraint', in order to achieve some special and remarkable kind of union/separation, then perhaps the maintenance of such 'dignity' and 'restraint' in fact constitutes a supreme, paradoxical degree of 'mischief' and 'madness'. Think of Donne's denigration, in 'A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning', of the mere physicality of 'dull sublunary lovers' love', compared to the much more subtle and cosmic union that is 'inter-assured of the mind'.

The aloof, non-touching, lovers, who exchange perhaps only the briefest glances, may experience a kind of deeply rapturous communion that no ordinary physical 'union' can come close to matching. Who can tell? Anybody can have physical sex, but how many people can manage (or endure) to raise the emotional stakes so mystically high that what they have makes physical sex unnecessary, or even irrelevant?