Ghazal 323x, Verse 8


ahl-e vara(( ke ;halqe me;N har-chand huu;N ;zaliil
par ((aa.siyo;N ke zumre me;N mai;N bar-guziidah huu;N

1) although in the circle of the pious/abstemious, I am abased/disgraced
2) but still, in the company of sinners/rebels, I am elect/chosen


vara(( : 'Timidity, cowardice; — apprehensiveness of doing wrong; abstinence from anything doubtful; — the fear of God; — temperance, continence, chastity'. (Platts p.1188)


((aa.sii : 'Disobedient, rebellious; criminal; — a rebel; a sinner'. (Platts p.757)


zumrah : 'Company, body, troop, legion, crowd, multitude, number (of persons)'. (Platts p.617)


bar-guziidah : 'Chosen, selected; elect'. (Platts p.148)

Gyan Chand:

The Ascetics are counted among the elect personages. If in the circle of the Ascetics I am abased, then so what? In the group of the sinners, I am select and chosen. If I didn't get chieftainship among the virtuous, then at least I got it among the bad.

== Gyan Chand, pp. 514-515


GOOD/BAD: {22,4}

For more on Ghalib's unpublished verses, see the discussion in {4,8x}.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

As Gyan Chand notes, the 'elect' are normally considered to be those who have been chosen by God and are destined to be rewarded for their piety and abstinence. The speaker knows that such people disdain him and despise his rakish behavior. But far from being humble or apologetic, he is instead actually jaunty, for he proudly considers himself to be one of the 'elect' among the sinners.

Thus he makes a grandiose claim (even if it's not very clear what it can mean to be 'elect' among a group of sinners). Ghalib's narrator often presents grandiose boasts about his impressive sinfulness: in {38,6}, the whole 'ocean of sins' is drained dry before even his garment-hem is wetted. Then there's {9,4}, a more thoughtful, less playfully witty treatment of the same basic either-or choice ('if you can't attain piety, then devote yourself to wine-drinking').