Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Ghalib trusts in the Seven Heavens


raat din gardish me;N hai;N saat aasmaa;N
ho rahegaa kuchh nah kuchh ghabraa))e;N kyaa

1) night and day they're in [a state of] revolving/turning/wandering, the seven heavens
2) something or other will end up happening-- why would/should we be perturbed/agitated?

Commentary on Desertful of Roses and parallel post on The South Asian Idea.

A FWP notes, this was a verse Ghalib often quoted in his letters. It is an excellent verse to keep handy in difficult times or when the heavens really seem against you. A defiant yet humble verse. Defiant because we refuse to be intimidated by circumstances, yet humble becuase really we know out own efforts are small compared to the movements of the heavens.

Gardish is again a very multivalent word. According to Platts:
gardish : 'Going round, turning round, revolution; circulation; roll; course; period; turn, change; vicissitude; reversion; --adverse fortune, adversity; --wandering about, vagrancy'.

Ghalib uses it here in the sense of eternal or perpetual movement of the stars (the "seven heavens" of Aristotle). Elsewhere he has used it in the sense of a frightenning perpetualness of motion as in:

kyuu;N gardish-e mudaam se ghabraa nah jaa))e dil
insaan huu;N piyaalah-o-saa;Gar nahii;N huu;N mai;N

Why would this perpetual motion/circulation not terrify the heart
I am human, not a glass and flagon (wine pitcher)

Anyway, returning to the present verse, it is a great example of one of Ghalib's inshaiiyah verses, i.e interrogative, exclamatory, rhetorical versesm, as opposed to ;xabariyah (informative) verses. The meaning itself is straightforward. There are no profundities or paradoxes here. "Merely" a well-put summary of the human condition: eternally hopefully yet eternally powerless also. We get the feeling that many things are happening outside our control. Ironically, not only do adverse things happend witohut our permission, but as Ghalib puts it, even solutions appear by themselves. ho rahega kuch na kuch, has an excellent idiomatic feel that conveys the sense of "something is bound to happen one way or another. "Thus "aasmaaN", the heavens are our friends as they are our enemies. So contrast this "heavans as friends" verse with an explicit "heavens as enemy" take:

ham kahaa;N ke daanaa the kis hunar me;N yaktaa the
be-sabab hu))aa ;Gaalib dushman aasmaa;N apnaa

What kind of wise men were we, in posession of what unique skill
Without cause, Ghalib, the heavens turned against us/became our enemy

This verse also relies on ordinary Urdu vocabulary ("baazaar-haaT language"), showing that Ghalib is quite capable of stating things in a simple straighforward manner if he wishes. Contrast this with some of the heavy duty Persianized verses (See for e.g. this one and this one) we have blogged about in the past.

No comments:

Post a Comment