Ghazal 230, Verse 3


shu((le se nah hotii havas-e shu((lah ne jo kii
jii kis qadar afsurdagii-e dil pah jalaa hai

1) it would not have occurred through flame, what the desire/lust for flame did--
2) to what an extent has the inner-self 'burned', at the coldness/sadness of the heart!


afsurdagii : 'Frozenness; frigidity, coldness; numbness; dejection, melancholy, lowness or depression of spirits.' (Platts, p. 62)


jalnaa : 'To burn; to be burnt; to be on fire; to be kindled, be lighted; to be scorched, be singed; to be inflamed, to be consumed; to be touched, moved, or affected (with pity, &c.); to feel pain, sorrow, anguish, &c.; to burn or be consumed with love, or jealousy, or envy, &c.; to take amiss, be offended, be indignant; to get into a passion, be enraged, to rage'. (Platts p.387)


jii jalnaa : 'To be vexed or troubled in mind, to have the heart inflamed, or wounded or grieved'. (Platts p.412)


What the desire for flame did, would not have existed even through flame: that it burned up the inner self. And in Urdu idiom jii jalnaa has the meaning of 'to feel distaste'. Here, that meaning is not intended; rather, by jii jalnaa the meaning of 'to torment oneself', and the author, according to his habit, has translated [from the Persian] dil so;xtan . (259)

== Nazm page 259

Bekhud Dihlavi:

He says, it cannot be done even by a flame of fire-- what the desire for fire has done to the heart. Here, by 'flame' is meant the flame of passion. The meaning is that when in the heart the flame of passion was not able to flare up to the extent that the heart would have burned to ashes, then the temperament 'burned' at its own unsuccessfulness. (316)

Bekhud Mohani:

[Disagreeing with Nazm:] Janab the Commentator didn't reflect carefully. jii jalnaa has the meaning of 'to become angry' and 'to feel distaste'. The answer to the third objection is that indeed, Mirza, like other innovators in the art such as Mir Taqi Mir, Mirza Rafi Sauda, Shaikh Mus'hafi, etc., considers translating idioms from Persian to be synonymous with broadening the scope of Urdu.

By afsurdagii-e dil is meant not only being devoid of the flame of passion; rather, low-spiritedness and lack of courage are intended as well. (477)


[See his comments on Mir's M{65,7} and M{386,2}.]



It's a striking first line-- piquant and almost riddle-like. Although we have no idea where it's going, when we're allowed (after the requisite mushairah-performance delay) to hear the second line, we can see the angular, unexpected relevance.

The second line pivots entirely on the wordplay-- which of course, as Faruqi would remind us, is also meaning-play-- of afsurdagii and jalnaa . Both have the dual aspect of a basic physical meaning (coldness vs. fire) and various metaphorical meanings generated by extension (see the definitions above). If the heart feels 'coldness, numbness, melancholy', the reaction of the inner self, the temperament, is to 'burn up'. But in what sense? Does it feel 'pity', 'sorrow', 'love', 'jealousy', 'envy', 'indignation', or 'rage'? Or some combination of these emotions? Or even all of them together? No matter which emotion(s) we choose, meaningful connections with 'coldness, numbness, melancholy' can easily and unforcedly be made.

In commenting on M{386,2}, Faruqi has called the present verse 'worthy to be counted among the best not only of Ghalib's verses, but of verses in the Urdu language'.

There's also, as the commentators note, the idiom jii jalnaa , which in typical Ghalibian style can be read in both its colloquial and its literal sense.

Compare {5,6}, which similarly deploys the same wordplay.