Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Na tha kutch toh

na thaa kuchh to Khudaa thaa, kuchh na hotaa to Khudaa hotaa
Duboyaa mujh ko hone ne, na hotaa mai.n to kyaa hotaa
[Duboya: sank/destroyed]

न था कुछ तो खुदा था, कुछ न होता तो खुदा होता
डुबोया मुझको होने ने, न होता में तो क्या होता?

When there was nothing, there was God; even if nothing existed, God would still be
I was destroyed because I existed; how would it have mattered if I did not exist.

We found this sher very elusive and full of yes’s and no’s. It also seems to be open to diverse interpretations. On the one hand, the verse talks of existential angst. Ghalib asks, “Why did God create us?” Irrespective of whether anything existed or not, HE would still have been there. “Then why create me and put me through this life full of pain?” asks Ghalib. On the other hand is the Sufi view, where everything is a part of the ‘Supreme Reality’ i.e. God. So when we humans weren’t around, we were a part of God, blissfully ignorant of all suffering. But in creating us, HE uprooted us and this separation is the cause of all our worldly troubles.

huaa jab Gam se yuu.N behis to Gam kyaa sar ke kaTane kaa
na hotaa gar judaa tan se to zaa.Nno.n par dharaa hotaa
[behis: shocked/stunned/numb]
[zaa.Nno.n: thigh, dharaa: lying]

हुआ जब गम से यूं बेहिस तो गम क्या सर के कटने का
न होता गर जुदा तन से तो जानो: पर धरा होता।

When gone numb by so much pain, why be concerned about the head being chopped?
If it had not been separated from the body, would be resting on the knees.

When my head is so numb with pain, why should I worry about it being chopped off? If it had not been separated from the body, it would have been lying on my thighs anyway, contemplating in pain and frustration. Ghalib says that he is so much in sorrow/pain that he has lost all sensory perception, and thus feel no pain of his head being chopped off.

huii muddat ke 'Ghalib' mar gayaa par yaad aataa hai
wo har ek baat pe kahanaa ke yuu.N hotaa to kyaa hotaa.
[muddat: time]

हुई मुद्दत के ग़ालिब मर गया पर याद आता है,
वो हर एक बात पे कहना के यूं होता तो क्या होता।

It has been some time since Ghalib died, but I remember
His constant argument, “What would be if it were like this?”

It has been ages since Ghalib is dead and gone, but I remember him (probably a friend talking about him), his curiosity for things around him and his ever questioning attitude, “What if this had not been like this?”. Some scholars have interpreted the ‘kya’ in the verse as a means of expressing contempt/indifference. It implies that Ghalib considered all things trifling (Yun hota to kya hota?- How does it matter), nothing made too much of a difference to him.


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