Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Ghalib: Bekhudi Besabab Naheen

Ghalib makes for an unlikely Sufi. Interrogated after the Mutiny, he informs his British interlocutor he is only half-Mussulman (Drink, yes; eat pig, no.) He is very much a man of this world, the here and now. On Paradise, he writes to a friend:

In Paradise it is true that I shall drink at dawn the pure wine mentioned in the Qu'ran, but where in Paradise are the long walks with intoxicated friends in the night, or the drunken crowds shouting merrily? Where shall I find there the intoxication of monsoon clouds? Where there is no autumn, how can spring exist? If the beautiful houris are always there, where will be the sadness of separation and the joy of union? Where shall we find there a girl who flees away when we would kiss her?"

Yet he believes "the search for God within liberates the seeker from the narrowly orthodox, encouraging the devotee to look beyond the letter of the law, to its essence."

The object of my worship lies beyond perception's reach;
For men who see, the Ka'aba is a compass, nothing more.

Below, Abida Parveen renders Ghalib.

बेखुदी बेसबब नहीं ग़ालिब।
कुछ तो है जिसकी पर्दागारी है।

This out-of-yourself-ness, not without its purpose is, O Ghalib
There's surely something here -- that lies behind veils.

दिल ओ मिज़्श्गाँ का जो मुकदमा था।
आज फ़िर उसकी रू बकारी है।

Heart and eyelash (tears) have long been litigants (against Beloved)
Today for both, another summons to appear.

फ़िर उसी बेवफा पे मरते हैं।
फ़िर वही जिंदगी हमारी है।

Dying for that Betrayer again,
It's my same old life, all over again.

फ़िर दिया पारा-ऐ-जिग़र ने सवाल।
एक फरियाद आहोजारी है।

Issues mercury (i.e. thermometer) of liver a question
The response - a sigh of the same complaint.

(Jigar - the liver - was thought to be seat of emotion and friendship in Islamic medicine.)

फ़िर हुए हैं गवाह इश्क तलब।
अश्क बारी का हूक्म जारी है।

Again in witness is summoned: Love
An order is passed to bring forth: tears.

फ़िर कुछ इस दिल तो बेक़रारी है |
सीना ज़ोया-ए-ज़ख्म-ए-कारी है |

There's restlessness in this heart again,
This bosom seeks wounds afresh.

The extended metaphor of litigation comes easily to Ghalib, who shuttled around the courts of authorities (even all the way to Kolkata) imploring them for a bigger pension.  Note how Abida starts in a ghazal and moves into qawwali around minute 6. Somewhere in there is a guitar playing a chord from Air Supply: Making Love, Out of nothing at all. Out of nothing at all.

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