Ghazal 212, Verse 5x


;xvud-faroshiihaa-e hastii baskih jaa-e ;xandah hai
har shikast-e qiimat-e dil me;N .sadaa-e ;xandah hai

1) {although / to such an extent} the self-sellings of Existence are an occasion for a smile/laugh
2) in every breaking/cheapening of the value/price of a heart is the echo/sound of a smile/laugh


shikast : 'Breaking, breakage, fracture; a breach; defeat, rout; deficiency, loss, damage'. (Platts p.730)


qiimat : 'Price, value, worth'. (Platts p.797)


.sadaa : 'Echo; sound, noise; voice, tone, cry, call'. (Platts p.743)

Gyan Chand:

In a state of heedlessness, man sells his existence or his heart/mind [.zamiir] into the hands of others. But every such action is an occasion for laughter. At the time when a man sells himself, the value of his self, which he diminishes-- that too is an occasion for regret. One meaning of shikast is 'to make the value less' [qiimat kam karnaa], and the other meaning is for something to break. The sound that comes at the time of breaking, he has called the sound of laughter. By the value of the heart is meant the value of life itself. (380)



For background see S. R. Faruqi's choices.

The 'self-sellings of Existence' provide one more example of Ghalib's love both for pluralized abstractions (on these, see {1,2}) and for abstract personifications. It would seem that after existence had sold itself once, it shouldn't have been able to sell itself again. (Readers of the Mahabharat will remember Draupadi's clever-- and successful-- argument along these lines during the famous dice-game scene.) Or perhaps the 'self-selling' deals themselves were a kind of heartbreaking (and heartbroken) scam to begin with, and that's what made them laughable?

As so often, both senses of baskih work beautifully, in their different ways, with the second line. The 'although' reading contrasts a general claim (all the self-sellings of Existence are, in principle, laughable) with a particularly extraordinary and extreme instance (the cheapening/breaking of the value of a heart actually makes the sound of a laugh). And of course the 'to such an extent' reading presents the first line as a claim, and the second line as a proof or illustration of it.

For another verse that evokes the shikast-e qiimat-e dil and (the possibility of) a .sadaa , see {21,10}. That verse also includes discussion of the range of meanings of shikast .