Ghazal 228, Verse 9


dil mat ga;Nvaa ;xabar nah sahii sair hii sahii
ai be-dimaa;G aa))inah tim;saal-daar hai

1) don't waste/squander the heart! If there's no information/news, then so what?-- at least there's an amusement/stroll!
2) oh ill-tempered one, the mirror is an image-possessor!


ga;Nvaanaa : 'To lose; to lose or miss (a road, or one's way); to throw away, to get rid, of; to spend in vain; to waste, squander; to pass or spend (time); to trifle or fritter away (time, &c.)'. (Platts p.919)


sair : 'Moving about, strolling, stroll, ramble, walk, taking the air, airing, perambulation, excursion, tour, travels; recreation, amusement; scene, view, spectacle, landscape'. (Platts p.711)


be-dimaa;G : 'Ill-tempered, irritable, impatient, easily provoked'. (Platts p.204)


tim;saal : 'Resemblance, likeness, picture, portrait, image, effigy'. (Platts p.336)


That heart in which a whole world of longings and yearnings would be collected-- it's a picturing mirror. Although there's not enough clarity in it for the glory/appearance of mystical knowledge to be able to appear, still this amusement is hardly a lesser thing! If the idols wouldn't be able to emerge from the Ka'bah, then so what? The mood of an idol-house is still present inside it. (257)

== Nazm page 257

Bekhud Dihlavi:

He says, 'Don't destroy the heart. If it did not manage to become aware of the mystic knowledge of Divinity, then so be it. There will at least be the pleasure of an amusement.' Oh ill-tempered one, in the mirror of the heart, pictures of idols are coming into view! If the idol-house was torn down and didn't manage to become the Ka'bah, then so be it. Even/also in an idol-house there's a mood present. (314)

Bekhud Mohani:

Oh narrow-tempered one, if the mystical knowledge of Divinity is not obtainable, then so be it. Why do you let the heart slip from your hands? It is a mirror-- and that too, an image-possessing one. That is, if not mystical knowledge, then so what? Take pleasure in the scenes of the universe. Look at the flourishing of the creatures of the world-- this is why the heart has been called a picturing mirror. (469)


In any case, it's clear that in the verse under discussion the addressee is not the speaker, nor some companion of his; rather, it's the beloved. For the beloved the attribute of being ill-tempered is fitting, in fact even common. And to waste the heart-- or rather, when the gift of the heart would be presented to her, not to accept it, or even to throw it away, is a common coquetry of the beloved's. On this occasion the verse was spoken: Oh proud beloved, why do you throw away the heart? After all, it's a picture-possessing mirror. Granted that through it you can't obtain 'information', but in it is the quality of 'amusement'....

So what is the meaning of 'information'? It's necessary to juxtapose 'amusement' and 'information', because in the verse it's been clearly said that if there's no information then there's certainly amusement.... That is, something that would be transitory. Thus the kinds of information that will be obtained by means of amusement will also be transitory or untrustworthy: you saw them once, you may never see them again.... it's not necessary that they would be founded on truth and reality, although you have seen them with your own eyes.

Muslim philosophers have established two kinds of 'information'. One is 'true information' and the other is 'untrue information'. Then there are two kinds of 'true information': one is Divine revelation or information received from some pure personage. (Thus revelation and hadith are also called 'information'.) The other is 'transmitted information'; that is, the kind that you wouldn't have directly obtained, but that would have reached you through such a number of means, and such a number of ways, that there wouldn't be any doubt of its being true. For example, the information that there is a city called Delhi in Hindustan....

From the above discussion it becomes clear that Ghalib has used 'amusement' with the meaning of 'seen with the eyes but not seen in a trustworthy way'. And he has used 'information' with the meaning of 'transmitted information' or Divine revelation. That is, by means of the heart, or within the heart, pictures are visible that don't have the status of 'transmitted information' or Divine revelation, but they can certainly be called 'amusement', or through them 'amusement' can certainly be obtained.

The final question is why the lover called his heart an 'image-possessing mirror'. [Nazm] Tabataba'i's idea is correct, that the heart is filled with longings and yearnings. But it's not necessary to limit the quality of 'image-possession' only to longings and yearnings. It's the lover's heart, in it there will be many kinds of adornment and elaboration (for example, poetry and speech, stories and anecdotes), so that he would be able to beguile the beloved; and there will be a thousand kinds of thoughts and dreams; there will also be images and pictures. An excellent verse of Mir's is M{668,3}.

Having seen such abundance of meaning, and such apparent simplicity of words, we're compelled to say that for Ghalib, every kind of verse was easy. When he wanted to, he composed verses based on extremely difficult words and constructions; and when he wanted to, he also composed verse outwardly simple and inwardly extremely full of meaning. And this ghazal is from his youth. It's a magnificent ghazal, and a magnificent verse.

== (1989: 359-61) [2006: 386-89]


MIRROR: {8,3}

For discussion of the idiomatic uses of sahii , see {9,4}; on hi sahii in particular (of which nah sahii is a negation), see {148,1}.

I don't see why we have to narrow down the conspicuously wide-open possibilities in this verse. Faruqi says it must be addressed to the beloved, but I don't see why he's so untypically doctrinaire here. Anyone could surely exhort himself along the same lines: don't waste your time, don't disdain your life, don't reject your own inner self, don't abandon your own real temperament. Or the speaker could be exhorting some friend or companion, or the world in general.

There's one more possibility, too, that nobody seems to have mentioned. The reason the addressee is adjured not to disdain or throw away the heart, is that as a 'mirror'-- an extremely well established image for the heart, in Persian and Urdu ghazal; on this see {128,1}-- it is an 'image-possessor'. And tim;saal can mean not just any 'image' or 'picture', but also a literal 'likeness' or 'reflection'-- a reflected image of the mirror-wielder himself. Thus the defense being offered for the heart is that one shouldn't shoot the messenger: if the heart-mirror has no real 'information', but only transitory 'amusement' to display, well-- whose personality is it reflecting, anyway? Whose 'image' is it showing? If you yourself are 'ill-tempered' [be-dimaa;G], how can you blame your heart-mirror for reflecting your own irritation or impatience?

Another 'image-possessing' mirror appears in {16,2}.