Ghalib / 31.10.2008

Last week we left off with the comment that Ghalib did not have a high opinion of people who thought they would go to heaven. Here is the she’r we had in mind: kam nahiiN jalvah-garii meN tire kuuche se bihisht yihii naqshah hai vale is qadar aabaad nahiiN it’s not less in splendor than your street, paradise – the layout is the same, but it is not as flourishing The following interpretation by Faruqi explains it best: “Those who long for paradise, and those who enter it -- the poor things are dried-out ascetics. Little do they know that paradise is present in the world itself. Only a handful of fools follow them on the road to paradise. The axis of the people is the beloved's street.” The underlying question is: Who goes to heaven? Ghalib is quite consistent in voicing his opinion that those who are absolutely sure they would go...

Ghalib / 25.10.2008

This week we use a popular she’r by Ghalib to explore some ideas about paradise: ham ko ma’luum hai jannat kii haqiiqat lekin dil ke khush rakhne ko Ghalib yih khayaal achchhaa hai we know the reality of Paradise, but to keep the heart happy, Ghalib, this idea is good  The tension in the verse is created by the play between haqiiqat and khayaal, between reality and imagination. The fundamental question being asked is: What is Paradise? One can think of paradise as a home – one of the possible homes after death. Just as the feeling of being without a home on earth can be very unsettling, the thought of being without one after death could be equally so. Thus it is not a surprise that it could be comforting to imagine a home after death. Is paradise then an imagined reality? Or is it a reality? When Ghalib says, “we know the...