Ghazal 332x, Verse 8


asad bazm-e tamaashaa me;N ta;Gaaful pardah-daarii hai
agar ;Dhaa;Npe to aa;Nkhe;N ;Dhaa;Np ham ta.sviir-e ((uryaa;N hai;N

1a) Asad, in the gathering of spectacle, heedlessness is concealment
1b) Asad, in the gathering of spectacle, concealment is heedlessness

2) if you would cover, then cover your eyes-- we are a naked picture!


ta;Gaaful : 'Unmindfulness, heedlessness, forgetfulness, neglect, negligence, inattention, inadvertence'. (Platts p.328)


pardah-daarii : 'Concealing (a blemish), conniving at (a fault or offence); keeping one's secret; preserving confidence'. (Platts p.247)


;Dhaa;Npnaa : 'To cover, put a cover on, to shut, close; to conceal, hide'. (Platts p.570)


Oh Asad, in the gathering of spectacle heedlessness does the work of concealment. If you want to keep pardah, then leave off all other veils and cover your eyes, because we are like a naked picture. Only/emphatically this concealment is the most harmonious.

== Asi, p. 176


bazm-e tamaashaa = the gathering of nature/creation [qudrat]. So to speak, Mirza has composed this verse with the tongue of nature-- that having seen the effects of nature, which are naked pictures, to close the eyes is exactly the concealment of the mysteries of mystical knowledge.

== Zamin, p. 257

Gyan Chand:

There is a single gathering, in which the friend/beloved is present and others as well; we will call it the 'gathering of spectacle'. If the lover would keep continually looking toward the friend/beloved, then the secret of his passion will become revealed. It's necessary that he would show heedlessness toward the beloved, and not give her any special attention, so that no one at all will have any suspicion. The lover's passion becomes so clear from his eyes, his covert glances, that it's as if the reality of some naked picture would become apparent at the first glance. The lover says to his friend Asad, 'If you don't want our secret of passion to be revealed, then cover our eyes, so that we would not continually stare at the beloved, and people would not guess everything'.

== Gyan Chand, pp. 284-285


EYES {3,1}
GAZE: {10,12}
TAMASHA: {8,1}
VEIL: {6,1}

For more on Ghalib's unpublished verses, see the discussion in {4,8x}.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

On Ghalib's favorite way of positioning the word ((uryaa;N , see {6,1}. (But notice too the exception that proves the rule, in {332x,1}.)

Three commentators, three quite different readings. And let's make that four commentators and four readings, since I too have my own favorite. To my mind this verse is one of his enjoyable paradoxical, endlessly self-reflexive ones. In that first line, because of the grammatical 'symmetry' we can read either (1a) 'heedlessness is concealment' (that is, to show heedlessness acts as a form of concealment), or (1b) 'concealment is heedlessness' (that is, to practice concealment shows foolish unawareness). In such a radically abstract line-- what is a 'gathering of spectacle', anyway?-- we are left all at sea.

Then the second line starts afresh, and takes the form of an injunction: 'if you would cover (something), then cover your eyes'-- because, the speaker says, he himself is a 'naked picture'. Here the question arises, is the addressee thinking about covering herself (in pardah), or is she thinking about covering the 'naked picture'? Both these choices would be wrong-- instead, she should cover her own eyes.

Why should she do this? If we read (1a), then 'heedlessness is concealment' because someone with covered eyes is unaware and thus perforce 'heedless' of both the gathering and the picture. If we read (1b), then 'concealment is heedlessness' because it would be foolish to maintain pardah before a mere 'picture', and also foolish to cover up a 'picture', the whole purpose of which is to be looked at.

The real, ostentatiously unanswerable question remains-- what is a 'gathering of spectacle', anyway? Is it some lofty mystical circle in which social rules of modesty would be foolish or even wrong? Or is it some extravagant party for which the beloved is considering the best way to impress, or torment, her lovers? Is the speaker emphasizing his identity as a mere 'picture', or as a (conspicuously?) 'naked' picture?

All we can be sure of is that the whole verse is an astonishing network of wordplay-- every single significant word in the verse is about seeing, or the thwarting of sight.

The obvious verse for comparison is {6,1}-- even in a 'picture', Qais turned out to be 'naked'.

But along more paradoxical, complex lines, there's also the pleasure of {189,5}.