Ghazal 210, Verse 1


rone se aur ((ishq me;N be-baak ho ga))e
dho))e ga))e ham itne kih bas paak ho ga))e

1) from weeping, in passion we became more impudent/bold
2) we were 'washed' to this extent, that-- enough! we became pure/clean/innocent


be-baak : 'Fearless, bold, daring' (Platts p.201)


be-baak : 'Fearless, intrepid, bold; impudent' (Steingass p.214).


paak : 'Pure, clear, clean, holy, spotless, blameless, innocent, free (from, se ), undefiled, unpolluted, immaculate'. (Platts p.218)


The meaning is that until tears emerged from the eyes, we respected and observed the fact that the secret of love should not be revealed to anybody. But when weeping could not be restrained and tears began constantly to fall, then we forgot about concealing the secret of passion, and became so shameless and immodest that we played an open game, like free ones or debauchees. To express this meaning in these words [of the line] is the limit case of rhetoric [balaa;Gat] and beauty of expression.

==Urdu text: Yadgar-e Ghalib, p. 163


Shame and modesty were all washed away, we became openly a debauchee. The word aur has the meaning of 'excess'. (238)

== Nazm page 238

Bekhud Mohani:

There were shamelessnesses earlier as well, but from weeping we have become even more shameless. In short, we were so much washed to such an extent that, enough! -- we became pure. That is, purely shameless [paak be-;hayaa]-- we became entirely shameless.

At first, the people of love weep silently and secretly. When some people see, then the curtain and veil gradually go. (467)


[See his comments on M{1450,5}.]



That brilliantly colloquial, impatient, expressive bas is the nerve center of the verse. It gives us at least two ways to read the second line:

=The lover was washed so much that, {enough said / to summarize / to put it in a nutshell}, he became pure/clean.

=The lover was washed so much that he said (or thought), 'Enough! We've become pure/clean!'

The first reading is the more usual one: inserting bas , literally 'enough', into a sentence like this creates a break in the discourse, and announces a compression: an intention to to wrap things up, to summarize, to 'cut to the chase'. It also has an irresistibly informal, energetic effect. Moreover, it's positioned perfectly for a mushairah-verse: in the penultimate position, right before the unexpected, delicious 'punch'-word. Compare the almost identical placing and use of it in {210,6}.

The second reading relies on the common use of kih to introduce quoted speech. The lover's own tears washed him so much that he got sick of it, he said to himself impatiently, 'Enough already! No more tears, no more guilt! We're now as clean as a whistle!'.

Either way, the thought is amusing. Tears show repentance and sorrow, so they're well known to 'wash' or 'cleanse' the weeper. But what do the lover's tears show? They may show sorrow (and/or frustration, desperation, madness, etc.), but they apparently don't show repentance. For their effect is to enhance the very passion-- and we all know, in the ghazal world, that it's an illicit, sinful, doomed passion-- that evoked them in the first place. There's also the idiomatic meaning of dhoyaa jaanaa as 'to become shameless', specifically applied to the present verse by Faruqi in his discussion of M{1450,5}.

The lover's tears make him more 'impudent' or 'shameless'. Platts doesn't include that exact sense of be-baak , but Steingass does; and it's easy to see from the commentators' readings how prominent the sense is in actual Urdu usage. The contrastive juxtaposition of be-baak with paak also reinforces the sense of moral dubiousness associated with the former.

The tears make the lover 'more shameless' by virtue of making him more 'pure', or 'clean', or 'innocent'. It's that latter possibility that gives the reader pause-- and gives the verse most of its complexity. A baby is 'shameless', and cries loudly and unabashedly for whatever it wants-- because it's 'innocent' and doesn't know any better. It's shameless, but not culpably so: innocence is 'shameless' in a way, because it has nothing to be ashamed of, nothing to hide.

The lover, on the contrary, has all too much to hide. So what does it mean for the lover, washed clean and pure by his tears, to return refreshed (and even vindicated?) to his passion, to become even more shameless? He will behave sinfully and shamelessly, he will weep constantly and bitterly-- and his weeping will renew and enhance his ability to behave sinfully and shamelessly. The lover plumes himself so naively and amusingly on his experience-- who could fail to get a kick out of it? But then-- are we laughing at his naivete, or is he laughing at our own gullibility in being so easily disarmed?

Compare the following verse, {210,2}, in which we find similarly ingenuous-- or ingenious-- claims of renewed 'purity' after sinful behavior.

My students also cited (spring 2009) the (modern) idiom kisii kii dhulaa))ii honaa , literally 'for someone's washing to take place', meaning for somebody to be thoroughly chastised and chastened.

This verse also enjoyably, and paradoxically, reverses the usual logic of tears as associated with 'wet-hemmedness' [tar-daamanii] or sinfulness, versus 'pure-hemmedness' [paak-daamanii] or virtue; on this see {38,6}.