Ghazal 349x, Verse 2


jalvah nahii;N hai dard-e sar aa))inah .sandalii nah kar
((aks kujaa-o-kuu na:zar naqsh ko mudda((aa samajh

1) glory/appearance is not a headache; do not make the mirror sandalwood[-framed]!
2) reflection-- where/what?! and where the sight/gaze?! --consider the image/shape [to be] the purpose/object


kujaa : 'Where? whither? after what manner? how? who? what?'. (Steingass p.1016)


kahaa;N ... kahaa;N : 'Where (this) — where (that)?; how distant or how different is (this) from (that)! how little is (this) consistent with that! (e.g. kahaa;N raajaa bhoj kahaa;N gangaa telii ; — cf. Pers. kujaa  — kujaa )'. (Platts p.868)


naqsh : 'Painting; colouring; drawing; designing, &c.; — delineation; — embroidery; — a painting, a picture; portrait; drawing; a print; a carving, an engraving'. (Platts p.1145)


mudda((aa : 'Desire, wish; suit; meaning, object, view; scope, tenor, drift; — object of search'. (Platts p.1015)


He has construed the sandalwood frame of the mirror as sandalwood [paste] that has been applied on the forehead of the mirror, and says, 'After all, why do you apply sandalwood to the mirror? If your glory/appearance falls on it, then after all it's a glory/appearance, it's not some kind of a headache. Where has it kept the reflection, and where is the sight/gaze! For the mirror, all these images/shapes are shapes/forms of purpose. Thus this concern, such that you put sandalwood on it, is useless.'

== Asi, p. 212


That is, the first lesson of longing is the story of our and your weakness-- neither are you anything, nor are we anything. So to speak, however many words/ideas are related to us and to you, they are all essentially oblivion and nonexistence. [Zamin brackets {349x,2}, {349x,3}, {349x,4} and offers this commentary on them all as a group.]

== Zamin, p. 314

Gyan Chand:

Is the address of the verse to the mirror, or to a person? We believe it to be to a person, and comment accordingly. aa))inah .sandalii karnaa = to put a sandalwood frame around all four sides of the mirror. If in the mirror glory/appearance can be seen, then this is not at all a headache for the mirror. So why do you apply sandalwood [paste] to the mirror? (When there is pain, sandalwood [paste] is applied to the forehead.) In a mirror, where is the reflection, and where is the sight/gaze?! This is all trickery, don't fall into its maze. Consider your image of existence to be this reality.

== Gyan Chand, p. 327


GAZE: {10,12}
JALVAH: {7,4}
MIRROR: {8,3}

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

For discussion of the extensive internal rhyme within this verse, see {349x,1}.

As Gyan Chand notes, in South Asia an ointment or paste made from ground-up sandalwood (which has a light, attractive color and a strong, rich scent) is still today applied to the temples, to cure a headache or create a cooling effect in the summer. The idea that a mirror might be given a sandalwood frame because it was thought to be subject to headaches is a rather labored conceit, but that seems to be what's going on in the first line.

Then the second line starts afresh, as Ghalib's second lines so often do, leaving us to figure out for ourselves how the two lines are to be connected. The first half of the line is like a Persianized form of the idiomatic expression of incommensurability kahaa;N yih kahaa;N vuh (see the definition above); for more on this see {85,7}. The marked incommensurability between the 'reflection' and the 'sight, gaze' should lead the addressee to conclude that the problem of (the longing for) vision lies very deep and cannot be fixed simply by easing the mirror's headache with sandalwood. Rather, the problem should be considered unsolvable; the only sensible thing is to try to persuade oneself to think that the reflected 'image' is what one was looking for in the first place.

We may well ask what more a mirror can be expected to provide, other than a 'reflection'. In the Persian and Urdu ghazal tradition, much more can be required from it, if it is the Sufistic 'mirror of the heart', seeking to reflect the jalvah of the Beloved; for discussion, see {128,1}.