Shouq har rang raqib-e-sar-o-samaN nikla Qais tasweer ke pardemeiN bhi ooryaN nikla

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Shouq  har  rang  raqib-e-sar-o-samaN  nikla

love, in any color, is enemy of materials

Qais tasweer ke pardemeiN bhi ooryaN nikla

Seemingly the picture of  Qais (Majnu-the legendary lover) is covered withveil of canvas, yet he remains naked!  (Qais, ripped his own clothing and remained bare)

shouq= love, yearning    Har-rang= in any color, in all aspects    Raqeeb= a rival, an enemy   sar-o-samaN= belongings, roti-kapda-makan (food-clothing-roof), possessions nikla= came out, is apparent    Qais= real name of Majnu. In Arabic majnu means a crazy person; it is derived from junun=craze.Arabs called Qais a Majnu, because of his non-conforming and crazy, behavior.    Tasweer ke parde = canvas of picture     OoryaN= naked, exposed

This is the 1st verse of Ghalib’s 6th Ghazal. Being 1st verse of a ghazal it is a “Matla” of the ghazal and its both lines have same radif & qafiya, a rhyming end. This is one of the most celebrated Ghazal of Ghalib. It has been sung among others, by top singers Rafi, Talat, Asha, & Lata. To listen to 3 of them, please click here:   

The Ghazal has simple words, a short meter, great choice words, and depth of meaning. Play on words such as: paint, canvas, and nakedness and also the depth of its meaning are a mind boggling ecstasy.

Meaning: In Urdu poetry, Majnu is symbol as well as maestro of love; no one can top him. Again, followers of all religions or path celebrate every action of their prophets, Gurus, and leaders. In the same vein, Urdu poets loud actions of Majnu, and consider emulating him an honor.

Love is for sake of love. It doesn’t need comfort, assets, belongings, or pleasure of roti-kapda-makan. Majnu shunned them all. To expand on this Ghalib says, a painter renders Majnu’s portrait on a canvas (parda), with paint; he sketches him naked, because Majnu always tore-off his clothing; he didn’t need comfort of clothing. That is the way Majnu looked.

Both canvas and paint are also used for covering or hiding blemishes and also for making a subject look more beautiful. Ghalib almost in disbelief wonders that painters for centuries tried to alter Majnu’s look by covering him with canvas and paint, but they miserably failed; Majnu still manifests naked! Ghalib thinks this is almost a miracle and concludes that love, always-in all colors, is enemy of (worldly) pleasure. The painter dressed Majnu with paint and canvas but he rebelled against this pleasure of color and clothing and stayed put naked.

Look at men of God, such as true Sufis, yogis, hermits, and fakirs. They despise worldly, external, and artificial pleasure. They are in love with God and don’t care about anything other then their focus on love of Almighty. A painter can’t show a fakir or a yogi full-clad; his canvas and paint can’t cover his body! Their nakedness is a symbol by which they are recognized.

Ghalibologists’ opinions:

Bekhud: Color of love is such that neither a painter’s garment of canvas can dress Qais nor his color can cover his body, and fix his nakedness. Har-rang means: in love, in crazy state, in nakedness, in painters color, in short, in all situations, love has proved to be an enemy of pomp and pleasure and Mirza Ghalib has exposed it.

Taba-tabaee: He criticizes Ghalib. He says, har-rang is not an idiom; it should have been har-tarah. Just to meet the demands of meter and rhyme of words, mutilation of an idiom is not justified

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4ZXp968YB5A Film: Mirza Ghalib. Music: Jaidev. Singer: Asha Bhosle

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Tqt8p_BtUM Singer: Ghulam Ali

This post is also available in: Hindi Urdu Gujarati