Ghazal 233, Verse 8


dil phir :tavaaf-e kuu-e malaamat ko jaa))e hai
pindaar kaa .sanam-kadah viiraa;N kiye hu))e

1) again the heart goes to circumambulate the street of blame/reproach/disgrace
2) having made desolate the idol-house of conceit/opinion/arrogance


malaamat : 'Reproof, rebuke, censure, reprehension, reproach, accusation, blame; reviling; disgrace; opprobrium; contumely'. (Platts p.1063)


jaa))e hai is an archaic form of jaataa hai (GRAMMAR)


pindaar : 'Thought, imagination, notion, opinion; self-conceit, pride, arrogance'. (Platts p.272)


Conceit and self-regard had forbidden him to go into the street of blame; having made desolate this idol-house, he goes to circumambulate the holy place [;haram] of disgrace. (264)

== Nazm page 264

Bekhud Dihlavi:

He says, again the heart has expressed a longing to circumambulate the street of blame; it has torn down the idol-temple of arrogance and self-regard. (322)

Bekhud Mohani:

In this verse there are not words-- the cruel one [:zaalim] has assembled diamonds! In it too the word phir has created the same pleasure that can be seen in a number of other verses of this ghazal as well. (498)


IDOL: {8,1}

On the structure of this ghazal as a kind of loosely 'continuous' one, see {233,1}.

This verse startlingly rearranges some of the ghazal world's most basic associations. The first line leads us to expect something like {233,3}: the nostalgic speaker is once again about to abandon respectability and return to his old, antisocial, passionate ways. And indeed, that's what the second line gives us-- but with an unexpected twist.

For as a rule, the lover's quasi-religious devotion to the 'street of blame' is based on its being the beloved's street, and the beloved is the 'idol' to whom the lover devotes, in a way that shocks and horrifies respectable people, the passionate love that ought to be reserved for God alone. Thus when we learn in the first line that he is planning to perform 'circumambulation' of this 'street of blame', we're not at all surprised; it's just the sort of sacrilegious thing that lovers in the ghazal world are notorious for doing.

The surprise comes in the second line, when we encounter an 'idol-house' that's not located in the beloved's street at all. Instead, it's the idol-house of 'conceit' or 'arrogance' [pindaar], and it's a place to which the speaker was formerly so (uniquely?) devoted that his abandonment will leave it 'desolate'. There's an obvious symbolic reading here: respectability and worldly reputation are 'idols' too, and the passionate lover must entirely renounce them. I believe that this is the only time in the divan when an 'idol-house' is depicted as an undesirable or reprehensible place.

But then, it seems that the lover will go from one 'idol-house' (that of 'conceit') to another (that of the 'street of blame'). The evidence that the 'street of blame' is an 'idol-house' is that he's going to perform circumambulation there, which is a ritual used only for places believed to be sacred. And the proof that he's not worshiping the real God is that the street is one of 'blame', whereas divine worship is socially praiseworthy.

So the lover seems to be transferring his allegiance, in effect, from one 'idol-house' to another. There's no reason he shouldn't do this, of course, and the interpretive possibilities are piquant in their own right. But still, I find it a bit disquieting. The beloved then loses her uniqueness and transcendence, and becomes just one of a number of 'idols'-- because if there are two, there's no reason there can't be more. Can her devotees then shop around, transferring their allegiance back and forth at will among various 'idol-houses'?

My own way out of this unsettling situation is to imagine the lover circumambulating, and passionately devoting himself to, the 'street of disgrace' itself, in the sense of a path or a way or a form of behavior. And in fact, the verse doesn't mention that it's the beloved's street. So maybe disgrace has a religious value in itself, as the best antidote to pompousness and complacency.