Ghazal 232, Verse 4

{232,4}

kyaa zuhd ko maanuu;N kih nah ho garchih riyaa))ii
paadaash-e ((amal kii :tama((-e ;xaam bahut hai

1a) would I revere/accept abstinence-- although [thinking] 'might he not be a hypocrite'?
1b) as if I would revere/accept abstinence, although [thinking] 'may he not be a hypocrite'!
1c) how eagerly I would revere/accept abstinence-- although [thinking] 'may he not be a hypocrite'!

2) the half-baked {desire / object of desire} of/for reward of action is much/plenty

Notes:

zuhd : 'Abstinence; continence; devotion'. (Platts p.619)

 

maan'naa : 'To respect, revere, esteem; to regard, heed, mind, attend to, observe, obey; to believe, trust, credit; to admit, allow, acknowledge, confess, own; to permit; to acknowledge the superiority of, to submit, yield; to agree to, assent to; to consent; to accept, receive; to take, assume, suppose; to take for granted, to grant; to hold, view, consider, regard as, deem, account; to hold to be true or right; to consider of importance; to approve;--to feel, experience, entertain;--to be set on'. (Platts p.986)

 

riyaa))ii : 'Hypocrite (= riyaa-kaar ); sophist'. (Platts p.610)

 

paadaash : 'Reward, recompense, compensation, satisfaction, requital, retribution, retaliation, revenge'. (Platts p.215)

 

:tama(( : 'Coveting; covetousness, vehement desire; greediness, greed, avarice; avidity; ambition; --a thing that is coveted, or desired vehemently; temptation, allurement, lure, bait'. (Platts p.753)

 

;xaam : 'Raw, unripe, green, crude, immature; inexpert, inexperienced; vain, puerile, absurd; not solid or substantial... imperfect, unsound, bad; lower, smaller (weight or measure)'. (Platts p.879)

Nazm:

That is, the desire for the merit of actions-- is it a small flaw? (263)

== Nazm page 263

Bekhud Dihlavi:

He says, I don't believe in that abstinence and piety and worship, for the reward of which the hope of Paradise and the expectation of receiving Houris would be involved. (320)

Bekhud Mohani:

Not to speak of hypocritical abstinence, sincere abstinence too isn't worthy of respect, because it's usually adopted only because in return for pure deeds, there's Paradise. There are the laps of Houris, and there's our head [to be placed in them]. There would be glasses of the Pure Wine; and the spring-flourishing of the lip of ardor in the garden of Paradise, and there would be our eyes [to behold it]. (491)

Arshi:

Compare {118,2}. (248, 327)

FWP:

SETS == GENERATORS; KYA

Here's another classic case: the commentators agree with complete confidence on a single reading-- of a verse that I consider to be an astonishing smorgasbord of complexity. Let's run through its various elements, and look at the range of interpretive choices we must make before arriving at any one single meaning.

The first half of the first line, thanks to the possibilities of kyaa , can be read as a yes-or-no question: would I revere an abstinent one? (1a); or as an indignant repudiation: as if I would revere an abstinent one! (1b); or as a hearty endorsement: how eagerly I would revere an abstinent one! (1c).

The second half of the first line, also in the subjunctive, is made concessive by the 'although, despite' [garchih]. The negative subjunctive form nah ho , which tends to look backwards to English speakers, takes the negative because it here expresses the literal, direct-discourse content of the thought: 'may X not be Y!' The form 'although-- may X not be Y!' is thus comparable to the English indirect-discourse form 'although X might be Y'. (Here's some further discussion of the grammar.) Thus the main possibilities look like this:

=Would I revere his abstinence (1a), although he might be a hypocrite? (That is, would my aversion to hypocrisy prevent me, or not?)
=As if I would revere his abstinence (1b), although he might be a hypocrite! (That is, revering it would be unthinkable, because it would conflict with my aversion to hypocrisy.)
=How eagerly I would revere his abstinence! (1c)-- although he might be a hypocrite! (That is, my eagerness to revere it would override my aversion to hypocrisy.)

When we look at the second line, we find that the real subject is :tama(( , which can mean either a desire ('covetousness, greed'), or else an object of desire: 'temptation, bait' (see the definition above). The line goes on to elaborate this as a '{desire / object of desire} of recompense of action' [paadaash-e ((amal]. Because of the flexibility of the i.zaafat constructions, we can use either reading of :tama(( : both 'the desire for a recompense for action' and 'the object-of-desire [consisting] of recompense for action' are entirely possible.

This desire, or object of desire, is described as ;xaam , which is the Persian equivalent of kachchaa -- something like 'raw, half-baked, inferior'. But a desire, or object of desire, may be 'half-baked' either in the sense of being a good thing which is simply immature or insufficiently developed (and thus requires to be nurtured), or else in the sense of being a bad, misguided, unworthy thing (which thus requires to be renounced or abandoned).

And in case there aren't enough multiplicities already, here's one more: the sense of bahut can be neutral ('a large amount'), or else something like 'plenty' or 'enough'. In this latter, colloquial sense it can suggest sufficiency: the speaker doesn't need, or even want, anything more, or anything further. Thus the suggestion can be either that the 'half-baked {desire / object of desire} of/for reward of action' is powerful (in a neutral way, or else in an undesirable way); or else that it is 'plenty' or 'enough' (conveying a sense of sufficiency).

So the permutations-- how many are there? Something like 3 (from the first line) x 2 (from the two senses of ;xaam ) x 2 (from the two meanings of :tama(( ) x 2 (from the two implications of bahut ). Of course, I don't stand on the exact numbers. Some of the permutations are much more interesting and compelling than others; while further ones could be created even beyond those I've suggested.

That being said, I'd like to point out my own favorite reading. If we take the first line as (1c), then the general reflection in the second line can apply either to the abstinent one ('I would forgive him his possible hypocrisy, because human nature is weak, and the desire for the reward of action is so great'), and/or to the speaker himself ('I would be ready to forgive his possible hypocrisy, because my own desire for the reward of action-- the action of showing pious reverence for abstinence-- is so great'). What a piquant double exculpation!

But there are so many quite 'real' and persuasive permutations that it would be boring to try to list them all. Surely it's impossible to argue that they just happen to be there by accident, or because Ghalib lost control of his vocabulary? Obviously Ghalib put them there on purpose, and they form an impenetrably dense, always-hovering cloud of alternative possibilities. This cloud is the real charm, the real point, of the verse. The verse can certainly be made to mean what the commentators say it means. But still, that dense cloud of possibilities can never be made to lift.