Dil-e-hasrat zadah, tha maida-e-lizzat-e-dard
My longing-struck heart had served delicacies of pain & hurt for dinner
Kaam yaroN ka ba-Qadr-e-lab-o-daNdaN nikla
My friends tasted according to capacity their teeth & lips
Hasrat = Longing Zadah= Struck Dil-e-hasrat zadah= longing-struck heart Maida= Safra or Dastar khwan, a dining table, Lizzat-e-dard= Taste/enjoyment/pleasure of pain & hurt Kaam= purpose, interest, taste Yaar= A friend; Pl. YaroNBa=according toQadr = capacity, power Lab= LipDandaN =teeth
This is the 4th verse of Ghalib’s 6th ghazal.
Meaning: In Urdu and Persian poetry, especially Ghazals, poets want to present evidence of their love affair with pain & hurt (Darad ). It is called “iza-dosti”. Most of the time poets brag that their capacity to enjoy hurt and hardships for the sake of love surpasses that of legendary lovers. There is also deeper dimension to this. As my dear Persian teacher Indulal Vasavda, a Nagar Brahmin from Mangrol, Kathiawad, Gujarat, and a very passionate Persian and Urdu lover, used to say about Hindu Philosophy that, our body, a cage of bones and flash, has imprisoned our soul. Our right action would be to punish this body, the prison or prison-guard, by denying it pleasure and giving it hardship called “kasht” . This Kasht purifies our soul, our “Nafs”.
Compare this thinking with the Western thinking. In general, in the West, people are in love with their bodies. They chase pleasure at any cost and will have all kinds of implants and makeup to look a shade better. The body becomes greedy and demands more and more. Under the pressure of ever increasing demands for pleasure, people sink in to drugs, sex, and violence and get immune to the needs of his/her own soul which is crying louder ever, for help.
It seems Ghalib has blended these ideas and forged a term “Lizzat-e-dard”. It is the West’s idea of pleasure and enjoyment mixed with the East idea of Dard, a punishment or a hurt. It looks contradictory; but, sometimes we have to burn things to get rid of dangerous bugs, bacteria, or poison. We feel good doing that. Iqbal an another Legendary poet of Urdu has Said:
Ilaj-e-dard meiN bhi Lizzat-e-dard pe marta huN
I am treating my pain, only to enjoy more pain,
Jo chhalon mein the kanTeN, woh nok-e-sozan se nikale haiN
For, I remove thorns from my blistered feet by using tip of needle. (Its prick gives pleasure )
Ilaj-e-dard = treatment of disease Lizzat-e-dard=pleasure ofpainNok=tip sozan=needle
In this sh’er, Ghalib is like a painter, painting a dinner party scene. His heart has arranged several delicacies on a party table for his friends. The delicacies are of various kinds of pain and hurt such as: separation, blisters of feet which he suffered in constant search for his beloved, homelessness, insults from beloved’s guard, children calling him crazy, imprisonment etc. But his friends and his student do not have same guts as Ghalib do; they tasted only whatever their teeth and lips could handle.
Look at Ghalib’s choice words. He uses all related words: dining table, delicacies, lips, teeth, taste, and friends
Ghalibologists’ opinions:Sayeed & Hasrat: My heart had arranged delicacies of pain and hurt on dining table. My friends tasted them according to the capacity of their lips and teeth. In other words each friend was impressed according to his capacity.
Bekhud & Taba-tabaee: There was no shortage of pain and hurt on my dining table; but each of my friends tasted according to his guts.
Aasi: Ba-Qadr-e-lab-o-dandaN means so little. Meaning, my friends, all the time, were biting their lips at my heart’s dinner table; they tasted pain and hurt in a minuscule amount.
This Ghazal is one of the most celebrated Ghazals of Ghalib. It has been sung among ot
hers, by the top singers like Rafi, Talat, Asha, & Lata. To listen each of them, click here. All singers have omitted above she’r; probably it is hard to sing.