Ghazal 214, Verse 5


chaak-e jigar se jab rah-e pursish nah vaa hu))ii
kyaa faa))idah kih jeb ko rusvaa kare ko))ii

1) when from the tearing of the liver the 'road of inquiry' did not become open
2) what benefit, that anyone would make disgraced/revealed the collar/heart/breast?


jeb : 'The opening at the neck and bosom (of a shirt, &c.); the breast-collar (of a garment); the heart; the bosom; (the Arabs often carry things within the bosom of the shirt, &c.; and hence the word is now applied by them to) 'a pocket'. (Platts p.412)


rusvaa : 'Dishonoured, disgraced, infamous, ignominious; humiliated; open, notorious; accused; one held up to public view, as an example to deter'. (Steingass p.576)


We tore our liver, but the 'road of inquiry' did not become open; that is, no one inquired about our state. Now what's the benefit, if anyone would tear his collar and disgrace himself? (242)

== Nazm page 242

Bekhud Dihlavi:

He says, 'In passion we had torn our liver so that she would see our situation and inquire about us. This did not occur. Now what's the benefit of tearing our collar, and making it disgraced and notorious?' (301)

Bekhud Mohani:

From this verse there necessarily emerges the meaning that the real thing is what's important, and a mere display is nothing. (435)


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


JIGAR: {2,1}
ROAD: {10,12}

This little verse is energized by several different kinds of wordplay, image-play, and meaning-play. The idea of something long and straight, and its 'becoming open', unites the otherwise incongruous comparison between a torn collar-opening (meaning of course the kind of slit collar that a kurta has, not the kind with lapels) and the 'road of inquiry'-- the process of making friendly, or at least polite, inquiries about a sick person. (Compare the 'road of speech' in {214,1}; see also the 'foot of' discussion in {152,3}.) The lover in the ghazal world conventionally tears open his collar (for discussion see {17,9}); but here not even the tearing of his liver has had any effect on the cruel beloved, so why would he, or anyone, bother with a small thing like a collar?

The word jeb also has a secondary meaning of 'heart' or 'breast'. This sense yields another enjoyable reading: when tearing the liver brings no results, it is proper to renounce the practice: why would anyone bother to rip open, and thus 'disgrace', his heart or breast any further, when the extravagant public gesture is so clearly a failure? (On the relationship between the heart and the liver in the ghazal world, see {30,2}.)

There's also the clever presence within rusvaa , 'disgraced', of vaa , 'open' (as well as its meaning of 'open' to public notoriety; see the definition above). And when the verse is recited, not only are there the two sound-occurrences of vaa , but the placement of jab in the first line, and jeb in the second line, at exactly the same metrical point, also contributes to the sense of rhythm and connection.