Tishe bagher mar na saka kohkan “Asad”

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Tishe baghair mar na  saka koh-kan Asad

Oh Asad (Ghalib), Farhad couldn’t die without a pickaxe blow (on head

Sargushta-e-khumar-e-rusum-o-quyud tha

It shows that he was a prisoner of traditions. 

Tisha = pickaxe      Koh-kan= rock digger, a title of Farhad because he dug rocky hill to create a brook of milk, a condition to get his beloved Shirin;     Sargushta = engulfed;     Khumar= intoxication;    Rusum =Plural of Rism, a custom;      Quyud = Plural of Qaid, a confinement;     Asad= Ghalib’s real name Asad-ul-allah (Lion of God)

This verse refers to the love story of Shirin and Farhad. Farhad was a labor who fell in love with a princess, Shirin. For testing Farhad’ s love or as a ruse, a chamberlain challenged Farhad to bring a brook of milk from a hill called Koh-e-besutun (a hill without pillar) to Shirin’ s palace, as a condition to get Shirin. Farhad took up this challenge and dug out a brook in this rocky terrain by laboring day and night and made milk flow through it. Farhad is also known as koh-kun = rock digger because of this incident. When Farhad completed the impossible task, he asked the Chamberlain to fulfill his promise. At this point the Chamberlain told Farhad that Shirin was already married. Farhad couldn’t bear this and he hit his pickaxe on his own head d and died. 

Ghalib uses this tragic incident to tell us about his own independent nature. As we know Ghalib was a non-traditionalist, an iconoclast. Many verses in his poetry book alludes to his this iconoclast nature. 

In above verse Ghalib actually mocks at Farhad, the supreme symbol of love! He picks at Farhad and laments why did he die in a traditional way? He says, any Tom Dick and Harry can die by a pickaxe blow on head, Farhad, you a non-traditional lover (a lowly labor in love with a princess), should have invented a unique non-traditional way to kill thy self; for an example Farhad you should have just stopped your heart by a cold breath, a feat that a traditional person can’t perform. For Ghalib just giving life for beloved is not enough, for him a unique non traditional way of dying matters the most..

Please look at words in this verse. Ghalib has used combination of Farhad, Pick axe, rock-digger, traditions-confinement etc., all related set of words. Specially note that Ghalib calls Farhad by his other name rock-digger because he wants to use word pickaxe also; Ghalib also uses his second name Asad in this verse, a non-traditional way in itself.

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