Yeh lash-e-be-kafan, Asad-e-khasta jaN ki hai
This corpse without shroud is that of Asad, the tormented soul
Haq maghferat kare; ajab azad mard tha!
May ultimate truth (God) bless his soul; what a free person he was!
lash-e-be-kafan= a dead body without shroud Asad = real name of Ghalib khasta jaN=tormented soul Haq=ultimate truth, Allah, God maghferat kare=bestow salvation
This is the 7th verse of 7th ghazal. This ghazal is not popular at street level yet it is beautiful one; I love it.
Meaning: Ghalib in his book of verse give great importance to human freedom. In this verse Ghalib looks at his own injured or mutilated corpse, which is without shroud and is lying in a street. However he doesn’t lament on its condition; but, takes pride that this man, Asad, during his life remained free from the shackles of social customs and the religious rituals and even after death he has remained free from the wrapping of a shroud and the weight of a tomb. He calls ‘Asad’ a tormented soul because those who want to live free always suffer a lot at the hands of vested interests. He goes on and prays to almighty to bestow Asad, a salvation not because he was a virtuous person, but because he was a ‘fiercely’ free man. To Ghalib, the greatest virtue worthy of salvation is to live free and to continue the freedom after death by avoiding the constraint of a shroud or the prison of a tomb. Ghalib believes that to remain free is a greatest virtue; it is worthy of winning a salvation. But alas! As Jean Jacques Rousseau has said, “Man is born free, but everywhere he is in chains.” When will that dawn arrive when men would be from slavery of social customs, religious rituals, Popes, Gurus, Mullahs, and hegemony of Super powers?
When I see the dead bodies, without shroud or tomb, of the freedom lovers, who were killed by bombs and tanks, on the streets of Falujah and Palestine, Ghalib’s this verse jumps into my mind. Also, when I think of the battle of Karbala or 1857 war of independence, I recite this verse.
To call a body without shroud, a symbol of freedom, is a miracle that only Ghalib can produce! Every word in this verse viz. body, shroud, soul, Haq, salvation, freedom, and man are related to death. What a precise verse!