This is my 1st installment. Here is the first She’r of first Ghazal of Ghalib’s Deevan (Collection of his Poetic work). Please note that this is not the very first She’r that Ghalib ever wrote. Urdu poetry books are arranged in descending order based on the last alphabet of rhyming verse, starting with Urdu’s first alphabet Alef. Please know that this is my own, Asghar Vasanwala’s, work and not a forwarding of someone else’s work as some you thought. Please forward this to your friends. Also please send me your comments/complements; I will appreciate that.
Here is his First She’r in Urdu, Gujarati & Roman script.
Naqsh faryadi hai kis ki shokhi-e-tehrir ka?
Who these pictures are accusing of mischievous writing?
Kaghazi hai payrahan har peykar-e-tasveer ka
Each picture is wearing a Paper-shirt!” Naqsh = print, impression Faryadi: the plaintiff
shokhi-e-tehrir = mischivious wrting kaghazi payrahan = a shirt made from paper. In Iran Royal court it was a tradition that a plaintiff wear a paper shirt, while begging for justice . Payker= body
Almost all Urdu poem-books begin with Hamd (praise of God) followed by Na’at (Praise of Prophet). Ghalib always avoided beaten paths and walked on a different trail. Ghalib’s poem book doesn’t with Hamd! Yet he wanted to recognize the supremacy of almighty God. However, he doesn’t shower praise on God. He brings out God`s Shokhi (a jesting mischief).
To understand above she’r, we have to picture royal courts of Iran. Courts had certain dress codes to identify who is who. For distinguishing between a plaintiff and a defendant, the plaintiff was required to wear a shirt made of paper (Kaghazi Payrahan). In the view of this practice, Ghalib punches a pun/fun at God.
Painters and impressionists of his time drew their work on paper. That means that a picture that the painter drew was wearing Paper, hence the painter’s subject was like a plaintiff in a court begging for justice. Therefore, Ghalib is asking a rhetorical question: Whom these pictures are accusing. It should be understood that our earth is a slate called Loh-e-jahan; every thing on it is as if written by God. Ghalib tacitly challenges God; Oh God you claim that you are Rahman & Rahim the most bountiful and the most merciful; if it was so why every one is a plaintiff in your court complaining about you? The genius and mastery of Ghalib is in complaining against God without mentioning God’s name. If he had mentioned name of God, then he would have been accused of blasphemy. Ponder the choice of his words: Naqsh (imprint), Tehrirt writing), Kaghaz (Paper), Peykar (Subject- Body) Tasveer (picture) are all related to art of painting. Ghalib almost always uses a set of related words.
Mirza Ghalib’s explanation: Ghalib has explained this verse, in one of his letter. That in Iran a plaintiff wore a paper a shirt in royal court while begging for justice. There were other practices such as carrying a torch during day or carry a blood soaked cloth on a bamboo pole. Therefore, the poet imagines that the picture on paper is complaining about some one for creating it. That is why it is clad in a paper. Meaning our existence is like a picture, is only imaginary, yet it is a cause of distress, trouble, and pain.
Saeed’s Explanation: Men’s doubtful existence and its struggle are depicted in this verse. The crux of the verse is that existence of anything is always problematic. a picture on a paper is only an imagination of an artist, yet it also is complaining about its existence why was I created and put to this agony.
Aasi & Saha: Molana Rumi has expressed the same thought in following verses
Ba shanu, az ne, chuN hikayat mee kunad
va za judaee-ha shikayat mee kunad
Ke az nestaN ta mara bureeda und
az nafreem mard-o-zan naleeda und
Meaning: Anything removed from its origin puts it to in uneasy state. When flute is removed from bamboo forest, it protest through its sound. In the same way, a picture on a paper because of its paper garb seems to be complaining about mischief played by its creator, the painter.
BeKHud:Har peykar-e-tasveer means all organic and inorganic objects. All these items will
perish. If real things are to perish the picture is only an impression. Picture protesting its creation is proof of unique imagination of Ghalib.
Taba Tabai: Custom of wearing paper shirt neither is seen nor heard anywhere. Unless there is a word indicating zeal to perish and hate of life, till then verse is without meaning. The writer intention was to say that lines and colors of picture are complaining or protesting its shaky existence and that is why it is wearing paper shirt. The verse couldn’t accommodate unreliable existence and that is why the Qafiya had problem. Since Ghalib wanted this verse to be beginning verse called Matla, he wrote shokhi-e-tehrir instead of Hasti or existence
Except Taba Tabai, in opinions of every other Ghalibologist the verse is full of meaning.