Ghazal 214, Verse 2


((aalam ;Gubaar-e va;hshat-e majnuu;N hai sar-ba-sar
kab tak ;xayaal-e :turrah-e lail;aa kare ko))ii

1) the world is the dust of the desert/wildness/madness of Majnun, entirely/'head to head'
2) how long would anyone give thought to the curl-crest of Laila?!


va;hshat : 'A desert, solitude, dreary place; --loneliness, solitariness, dreariness; --sadness, grief, care; --wildness, fierceness, ferocity, savageness; barbarity, barbarism; --timidity, fear, fright, dread, terror, horror; --distraction, madness'. (Platts p.1183)


:turrah : 'Hair, or a fringe of hair, on the forehead; a forelock; a curl, ringlet; an ornament worn in the turban; an ornamental tassel, or border, &c.; a plume of feathers, a crest; a nosegay; (met.) the best, or the cream (of a thing)'. (Platts p.752)


That is, the world is the appearance of a mirage; how long would we consider it to be the wave of a sea? (242)

== Nazm page 242

Bekhud Dihlavi:

He says, the existence of the world is the appearance of a mirage-- how long will we be deceived and consider it to be the wave of a sea? (300)

Bekhud Mohani:

The world has become, from end to end, the dust of the madness of Majnun. In such a situation, not to pay attention to it and to think about the curls of Laila is a good thing. (434)


An early analysis of this verse from 'A Ghazal by Ghalib', in The Secret Mirror, 1981.


CURLS: {14,6}
DESERT: {3,1}
MADNESS: {14,3}

The inshaa))iyah structure of the second line, especially through its clever, witty use of kab tak and ko))ii , opens up several bizarre and enjoyable possibilities. The fact that Laila's 'curl-crest' can be either a sort of top-knot or crest-jewel, or else her curls themselves (see the definition above), offers a wide range of imagery. The presence of ko))ii enables the line to be read either as referring either to Majnun himself in a sort of generalized awe-struck way ('How can anyone do such things?'), or to anybody at all. Nor do we know the relationship between the two lines, since this is an 'A,B' verse: we can't tell whether the world's state is simply an observed fact (flatly reported in the first line), or is to be ascribed to Majnun's meditation on the curl-crest of Laila.

In particular, the kab tak has almost the same range as the 'kya effect'. Here are some of the complex rhetorical possibilities that result:

=The inquiring question: An observer notices that Majnun's obsession has already turned the world into a dust-storm, and inquires: 'What's going on here? How strange! How does he do it? How much longer will he continue with it? If his madness continues, what will he do to the world next?'

=The rhetorical question: How long would/could Majnun, or anybody else, go on doing such a thing?! Because:
==it's amazing that he's been able to keep it up so long, and that he's achieved such powerful effects!
==he ought to stop at once-- by thinking of Laila's curls to the point of madness, Majnun has already reduced the whole world to a desert or wilderness!
==he ought to stop at once-- by thinking of Laila's long, dark, tangled curls, Majnun has covered the world with a dark, swirling dust-storm!

=The negative rhetorical question (with a petulant effect): how long can Majnun, or anybody else, be expected to go on doing such a thing? Naturally, he would stop! The implication is that Laila's curl-crest might not be thought of (or taken care of, or protected) much longer, either by Majnun or by anybody else. Here are some possible reasons:
==the world is wildness; Laila's curl-crest is delicate and vulnerable.
==the world is madness; meditation on Laila's curl-crest requires focused, sane thought.
==the world is dust from end to end; Laila's distinctive curl-crest would be invisible.
==the world is itself an illusion of Majnun's; Laila's curl-crest thus has an even more contingent existence.

As Faruqi observes, the wordplay of sar-ba-sar , literally 'head to head', is also a treat. And at the heart of the whole verse is a brilliant evocation of the word va;hshat , with its multiple senses-- 'desert', 'wildness', 'madness', etc.-- every one of which is richly appropriate.

Compare the rhetorical structure of this verse to that of {214,6} and {214,9}.

Compare also Mir's meditation on lovers and the cosmic dust they kick up: M{1419,1}.