Ghazal 332x, Verse 1


bah qadr-e laf:z-o-ma((nii fikrat i;hraam-e garebaa;N hai;N
vagarnah kiijiye jo ;zarrah ((uryaa;N ham numaayaa;N hai;N

1) in proportion to words and meanings, thoughts are a pilgrimage-robe of the collar
2) otherwise, if you make {a sand-grain / [us] a tiny bit} naked, we are apparent/evident


fikrat : 'Thought'. (Steingass p.936)


i;hraam : 'Entering the sacred precincts of Mecca, or into an inviolable sanctuary; donning the garb of a pilgrim; entering the holy month called Muharram; a pilgrim's cloak'. (Steingass p.21)


;zarrah : 'A mote, atom, particle, a little'. (Platts p.577)


numaayaa;N : 'Appearing; apparent, evident; conspicuous, prominent; — striking, bold (as a picture)'. (Platts p.1153)


That is, our words and meanings are pilgrimage-robe cloaks that have hidden us. Otherwise, in whatever sand-grain of creation you would make naked, we will be visible, and our reality will become evident.

== Zamin, p. 256

Gyan Chand:

We have wrapped the pilgrimage-robe of thought around the place of the collar-- that is, the breast. If you would draw away this pilgrimage-robe a tiny bit and make us naked, then our body will be visible. This is a literal meaning.

In this verse he refers to his poetry. In our poetry apparently very difficult and subtle thought is found, but such is not the case. In our poetry, through the affinity of words, there is meaning and thought. If you tear them open a tiny bit and look, then beneath the form/aspect of the verse our individuality will be visible.

== Gyan Chand, pp. 282-283


ISLAMIC: {10,2}
ZARRAH: {15,12}

For more on Ghalib's unpublished verses, see the discussion in {4,8x}.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

What an extraordinary idea-- that thoughts are a 'pilgrimage-robe of the collar'! The two images come from entirely different domains: the pilgrimage-robe is a very specific form of 'ihram clothing' that is worn by (male) pilgrims before and during the Hajj, while the lover's 'collar' (actually more like the neck-opening of a kurta; for details see {17,9}) is destined to be torn open again and again in his frenzies of passion and madness. The former garment signifies piety, austerity, humility, discipline; the latter one, when it is torn (as in the ghazal world it always is), suggests extravagance, flagrant self-will, and a thoroughgoing rejection of discipline. Yet they have in common an underlying nakedness: the pilgrimage robe is worn with nothing beneath it, and the tearing-open of the neck of the garment renders the wearer at least partially naked. (Gyan Chand maintains that the 'collar' refers to its location, the breast itself.)

The second line is energized by the enjoyably flexible use of ;zarrah , which means (see the definition above) either 'a mote' of dust (which in the ghazal world is almost always a sand-grain that reflects the light of the sun), or 'a tiny bit'. Here again, as so often, the commentators inadvertently prove that both readings are present, by each choosing a different one. For Zamin, the second line is about the speaker's (mystical? imaginative?) presence in the naked form of every grain of sand; while for Gyan Chand, the line is about the speaker's own potential nakedness and revealedness, if the screen of thought is at all removed. The speaker's thoughts act as remarkably effective veils, since their removal would reveal the naked essence of either (the speaker in) every sand-grain, or the speaker in his own right.

But there is a condition: not all thoughts are equal. Thoughts are a 'pilgrimage-robe of the collar' only 'in proportion to words and meaning'. (To see how often Ghalib uses bah qadr-e in that sense, look at some of the examples in {6,4}.) In other words, the potent thoughts are those of great poets, those with mastery over words and meanings. Why are we not surprised?