Ghazal 224, Verse 3x


zaahid kih junuu;N sub;hah-e ta;hqiiq hai yaa rab
zanjiirii-e .sad ;halqah-e beruun-e dar aave

1) the Ascetic-- since (his) madness is the 'prayer-beads of precision'-- oh Lord,
2) may he come as a prisoner of a hundred 'circles outside the door'!


zaahid : 'Abstinent, religious, devout; — one who shuns the world and exercises himself in acts of devotion, a devotee, a monk, recluse, hermit; a zealot'. (Platts p.614)


ta;hqiiq : 'Ascertaining, verifying the truth (of); ascertainment, inquiry, investigation, trial, verification; exactness, precision; truth, fact, certainty; — adj. Carefully ascertained or verified, well-established; authentic, true, actual, real, indubitable, sure, certain'. (Platts p.312)

Gyan Chand:

What is meant by .sub;hah-e ta;hqiiq ? If it is an idiom, it is not mentioned in any dictionary. In the course of a conversation with Qazi Abd ul-Vadud, I inquired about this construction, and about the meaning of the verse. He too expressed his unacquaintance with the construction. This means that it is not any kind of idiom. Obviously this is a place for ta;hqiiq-e .sub;hah , but the meter of the verse did not allow it. It's possible that Ghalib might have wanted to write here .sub;hah kii ta;hqiiq , and the kii might have been lost in transmission. Through that kii , the meter of the verse remains established, and the meaning too becomes clear. In his handwritten manuscript divan, .sub;hah ta;hqiiq is written; on the .sub;hah no i.zaafat marker appears, so that scope for kii remains.

In any case, the meaning of the verse is: The Advisor is madly desirous to know whether people make use of their prayer-beads or not-- that is, whether they adhere to the practices of the faith or not. Thus he wanders around rattling the chains on doors, and inquiring. If only he would be bound in chains, and would come before me! Which chains? Those of the 'circles outside the door', which he rattles to cause the door to be opened, and then he investigates like a morals policeman [mu;htasib]. For wordplay with the 'prayer-beads' the poet has brought in the 'hundred circles outside the door', because in prayer-beads there are usually a hundred beads.

== Gyan Chand, pp. 480-481


BONDAGE: {1,5}
ISLAMIC: {10,2}
MADNESS: {14,3}

For background see S. R. Faruqi's choices. This verse is NOT one of his choices; I thought it was interesting and have added it myself. For more on Ghalib's unpublished verses, see the discussion in {4,8x}.

For discussion of the phrase ;halqah-e beruun-e dar , see {54,1}.

Gyan Chand has obviously worked on this obscurely intriguing verse with both scholarship and ingenuity. I salute him with real admiration and appreciation. But as he himself acknowledges, his reading obliges the Ascetic to assume the exotic (and uncharacteristic) role of a morals policeman [mu;htasib]-- and a remarkably inefficient one at that, since rattling people's door-chains, and then inquiring, would hardly be an effective way to learn whether people made use of their prayer-beads or not.

So let me push off instead along different lines of conjecture. I take the nature of the Ascetic's madness to be the 'prayer-beads of precision', in the sense that he's obsessed with perfect performance of acts of religious discipline. He's constantly running through his head, like mental prayer-beads, the number and details of his austerities, since their precise performance is to him what prayers are to ordinary believers. He turns his faith into a regimen of endurance training, as he contemplates the number and rigor of the religious austerities on which he prides himself.

Thus in the second line the speaker calls down upon the Ascetic a suitable punishment: since he's obsessed with counting out the (round, linked) 'prayer-beads' of mere external observances, may be be confined by a hundred (round, linked) 'circles outside the door', in the form of links of the chain that keeps the door of insight closed against him. For the real Divine presence is only in the space within the heart. The outer disciplines on which the Ascetic prides himself are useless in opening the door to inner mystical awareness.

For another (and more effective) verse about the uses of prayer-beads, see {204,7}.