Ghazal 321x, Verse 8


meraa niyaaz-o-((ajz hai muft-e butaa;N asad
ya((nii kih bandah-e bah diram naa-;xariidah huu;N

1) my poverty and weakness is a giveaway to/from the idols, Asad
2) that is, I am a slave/bondsman not bought with money


niyaaz : 'Petition, supplication, prayer; — inclination, wish, eager desire, longing; need, necessity; indigence, poverty'. (Platts p.1164)


((ajz : 'Powerlessness, impotence, weakness, helplessness, submission, wretchedness'. (Platts p.759)


muft : 'Gratuitous; acquired without cost or labour; given away without return or benefit; gratuitously, gratis, without payment, for nothing; — in vain, unprofitably, uselessly'. (Platts p.1052)


diram : 'Money, specie; a silver coin (of about the value of two pence sterling; see dirham)'. (Platts p.513)


My weakness and poverty are a giveaway for the idols. That is, without any goal or purpose my weakness is for them. So to speak, I am a slave not bought with money.

== Asi, pp. 174-175


When I myself became a bondsman without a price, what return/recompense is there for weakness and poverty? The slave is himself the property of the master; thus everything of his belongs to the master!

== Zamin, p. 255

Gyan Chand:

My weakness and poverty are a free offering to the idols. That is, I am their bondsman not bought with money. They gave me nothing in return. I myself am prostrating myself before them.

== Gyan Chand, p. 282


BONDAGE: {1,5}
IDOL: {8,1}

For more on Ghalib's unpublished verses, see the discussion in {4,8x}.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

What a clever and delightful verse! It most elegantly takes advantage of the versatility of the i.zaafat construction: is the speaker's poverty and weakness a giveaway 'to' the idols, or 'from' the idols?

If his poverty and weakness are a giveaway 'to' the idols, then the speaker humbly gave himself away, in his weakness and poverty, to the idols; he became their slave without their needing to pay any money at all. (Though of course he may be hoping for repayment in some other, less tangible currency.)

If his poverty and weakness are a giveaway 'from' the idols, then that giveaway may well be the way they 'bought' him. We know that he was not bought 'for money'-- but it's quite possible that he was bought for something else. Perhaps their generous (?) free gift of 'poverty and weakness' is what made him their slave forever.

In either case, probably the moral is 'you get what you pay for'.