Ghazal 226, Verse 5


;Gam aa;Gosh-e balaa me;N parvarish detaa hai ((aashiq ko
chiraa;G-e raushan apnaa qulzum-e .sar.sar kaa marjaa;N hai

1) grief in the embrace of disaster gives nurture/support to the lover
2) his/one's own lighted/radiant lamp is the coral of a 'Red Sea' of wind


parvarish : 'Fostering, rearing, breeding, patronizing; nourishment, nutrition; maintenance, support, protection, nurture, education; patronage'. (Platts p.256)


qulzum : '(for ba;hr-e qulzum ), the Red Sea'. (Platts p.794)


.sar.sar : 'A cold boisterous wind'. (Platts p.744)


For a lamp, the wind is a calamity and a disaster; but the way a lamp of coral is not extinguished in the buffeting of the sea, in the same way the lover's lamp remains lighted in the wind of disaster. And by the 'lover's lamp', the lover himself is intended; and 'nurture/support' and 'training, instruction' have the same meaning. But parvarish karnaa and tarbiyat denaa have become established in the idiom; parvarish denaa is contrary to the idiom. (254)

== Nazm page 254

Bekhud Dihlavi:

He says, the grief of passion in the embrace of disaster always gives nurture to the lover. The rule is that from the wind, a lamp is always extinguished. But in a typhoon of water in the sea, the lamp of coral is never extinguished. In the same way the lover's lamp too in the typhoon of wind remains lighted. The meaning is that the lover's trouble and suffering don't destroy anything. (311)

Bekhud Mohani:

He expresses the circumstances of the lover's life: that he is raised in the embrace of disaster, as if his lamp (the lamp of mystical seeking) is the coral of the hurricane of the sea. For a lamp a hurricane is a disaster; that is, the lamp of the lover's life is not extinguished in the hurricanes of disasters. Rather, it burns more brightly, the way coral thrives and flourishes in the sea. The gist is that the lover thrives and flourishes through disasters. (461)



The first line makes a highly abstract general statement, but it's also weird. The main question is, how to read the excellently positioned 'midpoint' adverbial phrase, 'in the embrace of disaster'? Is it that grief is in the embrace of disaster, and that's when (or how? or why?) it nurtures the lover? Is it that 'grief in the embrace of disaster' is a kind of complex single entity that nurtures the lover? Or is it that the lover is in the embrace of disaster, and that's when (or how? or why?) grief nurtures him? To be 'in the embrace of' seems to go well with the idea of being 'nurtured', but what exactly is the kind of nurture the lover is getting, and from whom?

And there's also a question of who's doing the embracing. In English too, one can be 'in the embrace of' something, so that the lover could be 'in the embrace of disaster'. But one can also 'embrace' something ('only in embracing your own finiteness will you find peace'). So in that latter sense, 'in the embrace of disaster' could mean 'in the embrace that one is giving to disaster' or 'in embracing disaster'-- an active move on the part of the lover, such that when he embraces disaster, then grief nurtures him. (Compare the possibilities of the 'embrace of leave-taking' in {57,6}.)

For resolution, we have nowhere to turn except to the second line; and by now we're not surprised when it starts over with a completely unrelated set of images. The lover's-- or the speaker's, or someone's, since apnaa would apply to any unnamed masculine singular subject of the verb-- own lighted lamp is the coral of a Red Sea of wind. The color affinities are obvious: a glowing red flame, radiantly red coral, not just any sea but a 'Red Sea'. (And of course, the lover's grief is full of red tears of blood, a lacerated blood-red heart, etc.) Surely we should also notice that coral is a kind of quasi-rock, and sparks of fire are said to flow from the veins of rock; for more on this, see {20,6}.

Are we to take it that the lover's lighted lamp is to a 'sea' of wind, as coral is to a sea of water? If so, the idea is surely that the buffeting and turmoil of the waves does no harm to the coral, since it's buried deep within and beneath them, and finds its natural home there; similarly, the lover's lighted lamp is unharmed by a 'sea' of wind, and in fact thrives and finds nurture there.

That sounds as though the lover's lighted lamp might be a metaphor for the lover; and the 'sea' of wind, for the endless grief in which he lives. But then, the 'sea' of wind might instead be the 'embrace of disaster', since a sea can take in and 'embrace' one who is immersed in it. Or in some fashion the 'grief in the embrace of disaster' might be like a 'sea' of wind; but the idea isn't exactly compelling.

The verse is truly exasperating, because it keeps you going over and over it-- surely a bit of rearranging, a bit of pushing, will bring that click, that flash, that feeling of closure. But really the two lines are just not integrated enough. We may get the general idea, but is a 'general idea' what we want from a verse of Ghalib's? The second line is radiant in its way, beautiful and memorable. But can it really join with the first line to make any kind of coherent meaning? The variety of meanings it does vaguely make possible are all on the mushy side, without clear 'objective correlatives' for their abstractions.