Ghazal 190, Verse 11x


bastan-e ((ahd-e mu;habbat hamah naa-daanii thaa
chashm-e nakshuudah rahaa ((uqdah-e paimaa;N mujh se

1) the binding of the vow of love was wholly foolishness
2) the knot of pledge/compact remained an unopened eye, through/toward me


bastan : 'To bind, shut, close up; to contract, get, acquire, incur; to congeal, coagulate, clot; to copulate, have sexual intercourse; to form seed-buds, to fructify'. (Steingass p.186)


kushuudah : 'Opened; open'. (Steingass p. 1034)


((uqdah : 'A knot, tie, bond... ; an entanglement, a complication; entangled things, perplexed affairs, confused words; a knotty problem; a secret, mystery, enigma'. (Platts p.763)


paimaan : 'Measuring; —agreement, compact, convention, treaty, stipulation, pledge, promise; security; confirmation; asseveration, oath'. (Platts p.301)


The tying of the vow of love was entirely based on my foolishness. No result came from it; rather, that knot that was tied at the time of making the vow became and remained an unopened eye. That is, the beloved didn't even take a good look at me, and the vow proved useless. (236)


He could have said baa;Ndhnaa ((ahd-e mu;habbat kaa thaa ik naa-daanii , but Persianness is so dominant [;Gaalib] that even by force he makes 'Rekhtah the envy of Persian' [as in {116,10}]. Well, this is his language, and it is especially for him. The meaning of the verse is that the vow of love that she made to me-- well, it was made (the knot remained), but like a closed eye. Not to open the eye in some direction is neglect/superciliousness. (356)

Gyan Chand:

chashm-nakshuudah : That person who, with his eyes closed, ties [baa;Ndhnaa] a vow of love with somebody. This was stupidity, because the knot of that vow remained like a closed eye-- it was never able to open, it was never able to be resolved.

== Gyan Chand, p. 364


EYES {3,1}
VOWS: {20,2}

For background see S. R. Faruqi's choices. For more on Ghalib's unpublished verses, see the discussion in {4,8x}.

In Urdu of course one 'ties' a vow [((ahd baa;Ndhnaa], which opens up all kinds of metaphoric possibilities of the vow's being loosely tied (as in {20,3}), or the vow's becoming a tangle, as in {8,2} (where other 'knot' verses are also discussed). Similarly in English we're 'bound' by a vow. In this verse Ghalib has adopted the Persian infinitive bastan , 'to bind', in place of baa;Ndhnaa . (How Nazm would have enjoyed complaining about this! But Zamin takes up his role.)

Who made the vow of love? The verse carefully doesn't tell us. It might have been the beloved-- in which case she was foolishly inconsistent, since she didn't even open her eyes and take a good look at the lover. The eyeball is round like a knot. Eyes can be opened, and knots can be opened (in the sense of being loosened or untied). To open an eye is good-- but to 'open' the knot of the vow would mean to break the vow (as in {20,3}). So on this reading the imagery becomes somewhat incoherent. But Asi and Zamin, who endorse this reading, don't seem to feel any awkwardness in the imagery.

Alternatively, it might more plausibly have been the lover who made the vow, in which case he was just plain foolish, since his vow didn't even induce the beloved to take a good look at him. But we can also ask, more subtly, how much the lover's vow might have depended on his own 'closed eye' of foolish ignorance, or on the even more tightly closed eye of a refusal to see.

Note for meter fans: It really ought to be naa-kushuudah ('non-opened'), parallel to naa-daan ('non-wise'), which might perhaps then be shortened to na-kushuudah . But in order the make the line scan, we must not only spell it as na-kushuudah , but also scan it as nak-shuu-dah . I don't care for this kind of thing, but naturally Ghalib gets to do as he pleases.

I also don't care much for this comparably abstruse wordplay with eyes and knots by Mir: M{233,16}.