Ghazal 214, Verse 7


naa-kaamii-e nigaah hai barq-e na:zaarah-soz
tuu vuh nahii;N kih tujh ko tamaashaa kare ko))ii

1a) the failure of vision is gaze-burning lightning
1b) gaze-burning lightning is the failure of vision

2) you are not {such a / 'that'} one, that anyone would/might 'make you a spectacle'


tamaashaa karnaa : 'To see; to take a walk; to make sport or fun; to exhibit, play, act a part; to poke fun (at), make fun (of), to jeer, jest'. (Platts p.336)


He says that you can't even be seen. That lightning-bolt on Mount Tur that burned the gaze-- that was not you. Rather, our failure of vision turned into lightning and fell on us. And tamashaa karnaa , that is, 'to see', is a phrase translated from Persian. (243)

== Nazm page 243

Bekhud Dihlavi:

He says, the lightning-bolt on Mount Tur that fell and created dazzledness in the gaze-- that was not your glory/appearance. Rather, our failure of vision had turned into lightning and fallen on Mount Tur. You and your glory/appearance are not such that they would be able to come within the vision of anyone ardent for beauty. The meaning is that neither did Moses see your glory/appearance, nor can anyone else see you. (301)

Bekhud Mohani:

The glory that burned up the gaze was not your glory. Rather, it was our failure of vision. You are not such that anyone would see you. That is, to say that Moses on Mount Tur saw the radiance and fainted, is not correct. The truth is that in his very gaze there wasn't the strength [taab] for vision. The gist of it is, as if anyone could see you! -- when [even] he can't see your glory/appearance. (436)


Compare {53,2}, {152,5}, {158,7}. (196, 262, 276-77, 307)


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


GAZE: {10,12}
TAMASHA: {8,1}

The commentators rush to invoke Mount Tur and Moses and praise of the Divine beloved. Only Faruqi treats the verse as multivalent. He's right, of course; and there are even more multivalences than he mentions.

In the first line, the reading 'A is B' (1a) suggests an inner torment (someone's own failure of vision burns him up the way lightning does). In this regard, compare {230,3}. But the equally possible 'symmetrical' reading 'B is A' (1b) suggests an external onslaught (lightning falls on someone and that's what wrecks his vision).

Moreover, the second line is worded so cleverly that it may or may not introduce a comparison of the addressee with some other person or entity. The most obvious reading for vuh nahii;N to be taken, quite colloquially, as an emphasizer, something like the English usage in 'You're not the one to put up with that'. But the phrase can also be read literally, as 'you are not that one', with the clear sense that 'that one' can (at least potentially) be made a spectacle, whereas you cannot. (In this connection see {31,3}, in which it appears that God is easier of access than the beloved.) For an even more elegantly multivalent use of this grammatical structure, see {214,10}.

Nazm insists that 'to make a spectacle' [tamaashaa karnaa] is simply a Persianized way of saying 'to see', but as an Urdu expression it has acquired a much richer set of meanings of its own (see the definition above). The effect is to increase the contrast: people may think to make of you not just an object of sight in a general way, but a 'spectacle', a source of amusement and casual entertainment. Oh those rash fools, sticking their hands into a tiger's jaws! They'll learn the hard way, when their vision is blasted and burnt out, that you're not the one to be treated with such disrespect. (But is there another one, 'that one', who can be safely so treated? The question lingers, unresolvably.)

The best of Arshi's comparison verses is {152,5}, which itself is intriguingly ambiguous about the nature and effects of the beloved's beauty. Compare also {235x,3}, in which the veiling consists of people's 'blind eyes'.