Ghazal 361x, Verse 2


barham-zan-e do-((aalam takliif-e yak .sadaa hai
miinaa-shikastagaa;N ko kuhsaar ;xuu;N-bahaa hai

1a) the overthrowing of the two worlds, is the trouble/imposition of one echo/sound
1b) the trouble/burden of one echo/sound, is the overthrowing of the two worlds

2) to those with broken wineglasses, a mountain is the blood-price


bar-ham zadan : 'To shut close; to slam (a door or window); to mix, confuse; to embroil; to interfere; to prevent; to upset, overthrow, destroy'. (Steingass p.181)


takliif : 'Proposing to, or obliging another to, undertake any thing difficult or above his strength; imposing, laying on a burden; trouble, difficulty, molestation, distress, inconvenience, annoyance; ceremony; duty, the right thing to do, what is incumbent'. (Steingass p.319)


.sadaa : 'Echo; sound, noise; voice, tone, cry, call'. (Platts p.743)


koh-saar : 'Mountainous, hilly; — a mountainous or hilly country; — a mountain'. (Platts p.866)


He says that the sound of the breaking of the wineglass turns both worlds topsy-turvy; and for those whose bottles have broken in this topsy-turvyness, their blood-price is mountains. The sound can be the cause of the breaking-up of the gathering, if we take the intent to be the sound of this breaking of the wineglass. But how will mountains become the blood-price? This is in need of a solution. He has said 'blood-price' through the affinity that from the breaking of the wineglass the blood of the 'daughter of the vine' has been spilled.

== Zamin, p. 408

Gyan Chand:

The meaning of the verse is not very clear. The dictionary meaning of .sadaa is an echo from a cave, mountain, etc., although now it has begun to be used with the general meaning of 'voice, sound'. miinaa shikastan = to drink a great deal of wine, as when a whole bottle is drunk and the bottle would be smashed on stone. One sound overthrows both worlds, and that sound is the breaking of a bottle. To those who lift up and smash down bottle after bottle, the blood-price for the death of the wineglass is a mountain, from where there comes the echo of the sound of wineglass-breaking. For those drunkards, both worlds are overthrown. takliif-e .sadaa = to make a call/sound.

== Gyan Chand, pp. 408-409


If I (or someone) were persuaded (or tempted) to make just one sound (or call), the entire world would go upside down. (The example of this kind of upheaval is that) If someone broke a carafe of wine, he would have to pay a whole mountain as blood money.

Here's how to make sense of it: If it is possible (or, it can be quite possible) that a sound can crack a window, or some such hard surface, it's quite imaginable for the whole world to be turned upside down if someone (most probably the speaker) uttered, or were made to utter, one sound (of power). (Most probably, the sound is a poem.) Since the miinaa is made of stone, or glass (which again is derived from stone), those who smash a miinaa to no purpose will have to pay a whole mountainside as blood-money.

The sum and substance: This universe can and does hold such excessively powerful or stupendous things as I mentioned here in this verse. I may have imagined these things, but it is possible for such things to happen.

The main difficulty here is that there are tall claims, but no proof. This was typical of Ghalib, all his life.... I am no longer under the spell of Ghalib as I used to be, and had been for decades. I remember I wrote an article on Ghalib in the Hindustan Times, around 1958. I talked about the 'glittering intellectual glassware' of Ghalib with a lot of enthusiasm. But Ghalib now seems less fascinating, especially because of the pyrotechnics that appealed to me so much when I was young. Also, some of the unpublished ghazals have tremendous flowingness and powerful rhythms which he isn't able to capture in other ghazals.

Of course, he's a very great poet, great by any standards. But I regret the energy that he spent on empty 'thought-binding' (as here), when the same creative energy could have been used to pack in more meaning and less verbosity.

== Personal communication, July 2020



For more on Ghalib's unpublished verses, see the discussion in {4,8x}. See also the overview index.

On Ghalib's use of 'two-worlds' expressions, see {18,2}. On the nature of a 'blood-price', see {21,9}.

As Gyan Chand observes, the verse is cryptic, its 'meaning is not very clear'. Ghalib does occasionally create strange and unfathomable sounds, like the .sadaa of the shikast-e qiimat-e dil in {21,10}, or the sound of apnii shikast in {71,1}. But in this verse, we're left to decide for ourselves what the source of the .sadaa might be. Both commentators are sure that it's the sound of the breaking of a wineglass or wine flagon; the reference in the second line to 'those with broken wineglasses' makes this a plausible reading.

As Zamin notes, the greatest difficulty is how, and why, a 'mountain' should become a 'blood-price'.

I found this verse so baffling that I asked Faruqi for his thoughts. He replied (July 2020), with the thoughts transcribed above. In his view, the verse is about inexplicable, unreasonably vast powers that exist, or can be imagined to exist in the world. A single sound could overturn the two worlds; people who break wineglasses could be assessed a whole mountain as a blood-price (because the miinaa is made from semiprecious stone, or because glass is made from stone).

But even then, a blood-price doesn't consist of more blood, so why should a glass-breaking price consist of a (glass-producing?) mountain? It just doesn't work. Mountains can also send back an 'echo', mountains are made of (glass-breaking) stone-- but none of that really works persuasively with the idea of a 'blood-price'. To my mind, this is one more verse in which the young poet, playing with his imagery, has over-rotated.