Ghazal 204, Verse 8


pa;Raa rah ai dil-e vaa-bastah betaabii se kyaa ;haa.sil
magar phir taab-e zulf-e pur-shikan kii aazmaa))ish hai

1) remain prostrate, oh restrained/'bound' heart-- what gain is there from agitation?
2) but/perhaps then/again it's a test of the heat/endurance of the {'twist-filled' / 'city-overthrowing'} tresses


vaa-bastah : 'Bound; restrained; --referred back (to); related, connected (with), depending (on)'. (Platts p.1171)


betaabii : 'Faintness; agitation, restlessness, uneasiness, impatience; lack of splendour or lustre'. (Platts p.201)


taab : 'Heat, warmth; burning, inflaming; pain, affliction, grief; anger, indignation, wrath, rage; light, radiance, lustre, splendour; strength, power, ability, capability; endurance, brooking; --bending, twisting (by heat); bend, twist, contortion; curling, curl'. (Platts p. 303)


pur : 'Full, full of, laden, charged, complete, abounding in'. (Platts p.234)


pur : 'Fortified town, castle, city, town; village, hamlet'. (Platts p.234)


shikan : 'Breaking, crushing, overthrowing, routing;... curl; a ply, fold, plait'. (Platts p.731)


Perhaps you want to again taste the relish of the coils [phande] of tresses, since you're writhing? Enough-- just keep on lying there, tied up. May it not be that from your writhing the coils would be drawn even tighter! (231)

== Nazm page 231

Bekhud Dihlavi:

He says, 'Oh heart, keep on lying there like this, don't writhe. If you writhe and struggle, then the coils of the tresses will become even tighter. What-- are you testing with your agitation the coils of the curled tresses? As if they're going to loosen because of your agitation!' (288)

Bekhud Mohani:

The word vaa-bastah , for the heart, makes it clear that the heart is not merely ensnared, but also tightly pinioned, and because of being tightly pinioned it has been caused to writhe for relief. From phir it appears that such an attempt has already been made previously as well. From betaabii se kyaa ;haa.sil the strength of the coils, and the prisoner's despair of release, is revealed. (408)


BONDAGE: {1,5}
CURLS: {14,6}
TESTING: {4,4}

The wonderfully complex use of taab -- enhanced of course by betaabii -- makes this a verse of what might be called word-exploration. The first line urges a helpless, captive heart to lie still and not struggle, for what's the use of struggle? We wait for the second line to give us a plausible interpretive context: will the exhortation to the captive continue, or will some other relevant information about his condition be provided to explain the exhortation? Then, as so often, the second line provides us with a host of possibilities, and no way to choose among them. The captive should lie still, since struggle is fruitless--

=but then, it's not surprising if the heart suffers-- it's undergoing a test of its power of endurance [taab] in bondage amidst the beloved's twisting, coiling curls.

=but then, it's not surprising if the heart suffers-- it's undergoing a test consisting of torture by the heat/pain [taab] of the beloved's twisting curls.

=perhaps, the lover explains to his heart, it's the the furious radiance [taab] of her curls that is undergoing a test, as she once again checks out its potency by using it on us.

Moreover, all the important words are mutually tangled in coils of wordplay. We have a heart that is vaa-bastah -- literally 'bound' like a captive, or else 'dependent' like a slave. We have tresses that are pur-shikan -- either 'full of twists', or 'city-overthrowing' like conquerors who sweep all before them (see the definitions above). We have betaabii , the lack of taab or endurance-- an agitation that would cause one to writhe and twist. And through it all, we have taab with all its meanings: heat, radiance, endurance, twisting, curl.