Ghazal 195, Verse 1


;xa:tar hai rishtah-e ulfat rag-e gardan nah ho jaave
;Guruur-e dostii aafat hai tuu dushman nah ho jaave

1) there's a danger-- may the relationship/thread of love not become arrogance/'a neck-vein'!
2) the pride/arrogance of friendship/lovership is a disaster-- may you not become an enemy!


rishtah : 'Thread, string, line; series; connexion, relationship, kin; relation by blood or marriage; alliance, affinity'. (Platts p.593)


rag-e gardan : 'Vein of the neck; (fig.) pride'. (Platts p.598)


He addresses the beloved: 'You've come to have a frightful amount of pride over my friendship-- may it not be that it would turn toward enmity, and this relationship/thread of friendship would become a neck-vein for you!' And they call pride a 'neck-vein'-- that is, may it not be that in pride you would, like an enemy, hold your head aloft and look down your nose [gardan ;Te;Rhii rahnaa] at me. And 'there's a danger'-- that is, there's this danger to me. And the omission of 'this' [yih] in the line undoubtedly seems bad. (219)

== Nazm page 219

Bekhud Dihlavi:

In a state of pride and arrogance and anger and wrath the neck-vein always swells. He says, 'The beloved is so proud over my friendship that now I've begun to fear that, God forbid, the relationship/thread of love might become a neck-vein-- that is, love would turn to enmity'. (278)

Bekhud Mohani:

I fear lest the relationship/thread of affection might become for me a neck-vein. That is, I fear that I might become proud over your love; and in love, for pride to come about is an extremely bad thing. May it not be that you would become an enemy! The fear of your becoming an enemy is for two reasons: one, that pride is not pleasing to the Lord, so that he might somehow punish the pride. The second is that he is proud of the fact that the beloved loves him. May it not be that this attitude would displease the beloved, so that she would consider it an insult to her beauty and become my enemy! (385)


[Disagreeing with Nazm and Hasrat Mohani:] Why would the beloved be proud that her lover (that is, the speaker) is faithful? To be proud of the lover's faithfulness is not among the customs of the beloved in the ghazal. The beloved can be proud that her lovers are many, but to her the lover's faithfulness and endurance of hardship are meaningless.... The second difficulty is that on this reading the connection between the two lines becomes very weak.... unless we also assume that the beloved's pride at the lover's faithfulness will in the future turn into love. And in assuming this there are several difficulties. In the verse there's nothing that gives us a basis for assuming that the beloved's pride will turn to love. The second difficulty is that 'pride' and 'neck-vein' are the same thing; thus they seem to be redundant. To say that the pride of friendship is a disaster, there's a danger that the relationship of affection might turn to pride, is to labor the point beyond all necessity. Thus the meaning of this verse that Bekhud Mohani has given is better....

Now please consider 'neck-vein'. This is a metaphor / idiom. Its meaning is 'pride'; with regard to the dictionary meaning there is wordplay between rishtah and rag . With regard to the dictionary meaning, the meaning also emerges that the rishtah-e ulfat (because of pride) can become a noose for the neck. That is, the rishtah-e ulfat turned into pride, and on that basis we earned your enmity, and this rishtah became a noose for our neck. To use a metaphor in the dictionary meaning, and to keep the metaphorical meaning established as well-- this is the special style of Ghalib and Mir.

== (1989: 320-22) [2006: 349-51]



Faruqi's analysis is excellent; I can't think of anything to add to it. But other than the wordplay and meaning-play based on rishtah (as relationship, as vein in the neck, as the cord of a noose for the neck), there doesn't seem to be anything else going on in the verse. Of course, such elaborate multi-layered wordplay might seem to be a quite sufficient achievement for a poem about twenty words long; but this is Ghalib, and we know how much more he can do with those twenty words when he's really cookin'.

Compare the similar imagery of {109,5x}.