Interpreting Ghalib’s verse

Khushwant Singh’s remarks in his write-up “Ghalib’s first” (Saturday Extra) that the verse Naqsh faryaadi hai kis kee shokhi-e-tahreer ka /Kaaghazi hai pairahan har paikar-e-tasveer ka had nothing to do with the custom of wearing paper robes by a petitioner, who appeared before the Iranian ruler, are not correct.

In his letter to Abdul Razzaaq Shaakir, Ghalib had clearly mentioned that according to the custom prevalent in Iran a plaintiff, who appeared before the King, wore paper robes, just as the practice of carrying a burning mash’l (torch) during the day or a blood-stained cloth tied to a bamboo rod, was observed.

According to him, even the picture, which is clothed in paper, has a grouse against its maker for bringing it into existence, which is full of grief. Apparently, the expression har paikar-e-tasveer means every human being brought into existence and exposed to distress. Evidently, there are two reasons for the grouse. First, life is full of sorrow and suffering. Second, Existence, as Sufis believe, means separation from God.



According to Maulana Rume, the musical tone of a flute is, in fact, its shriek on separation from the clump of reeds. Likewise, life is restless because of a human being’s separation from God. Many expositors have made this interpretation of the verse and are all praise for it. However, Tabaataai has dubbed it meaningless on the ground that kaaghazi pairahan (paper robe) has been neither seen nor heard of.

This is not correct. There is a specific mention of kaaghazi pairahan and kaaghazi jaamah in some verses of the Persian poets Baba Afghaani and Kamaal Ismaaili.


Indira Gandhi did well for the country

I feel honoured to know that Sardar Simranjit Singh Mann appreciates my occasional writings in The Tribune (Perspective, March 11). Like me he had competed for the coveted civil services of the newly independent India. More than me, Mann’s service period was dominated by the late Indira Gandhi.

I think that Indira Gandhi meant well and did well for the country. I was selected by her for deputation to Punjab as Chief Secretary in August 1984. My tenure in Punjab is associated with the restoration of peace leading to the Rajiv Gandhi-Longowal Accord and the smooth handing over of power to the popularly elected government headed by Sardar Surjeet Singh Barnala in September 1985. The alleged terror of the Indian state perhaps relates to a period after I had left Punjab.

However, since Mann Saheb has served the Punjab Police with distinction, I would like him to answer the question as to how he and his other colleagues had tackled the problem of dacoity in the PEPSU after the President’s rule and similarly how the Punjab Police had tackled the Naxalite violence when he must have been a district police chief?

I shall definitely keep in mind the advice he has given me in my future writings. Would he not be graceful enough to accept that in the recent Assembly elections in Punjab the electorate wants him to have a relook and some introspection about his own view of the recent history!

S.S. DHANOA, New Delhi

The right chord

This has reference to Khushwant Singh’s “He struck the Right chord” (Spectrum, Feb 24). Since its inception, the RSS has all along been in the forefront of eliminating the caste system and other superstitions, which had cropped up in Hindu society. The RSS draws its inspiration not from Veer Sawarkar, but from Shivaji, who was not a Brahmin. If some leaders of the RSS or the BJP happen to be Brahmins, it is incidental and not by design. The prayer of the RSS highlights the unity of all sections of Hindu society.

Sawarkar had no bias against the Muslims. In his book First War of Independence, Sawarkar pays rich tributes to Maulavi Ahmed Shah and Ruhilas of Bareily who fought with great courage against the British.

V.P. MEHTA, Chandigarh

Quacks flourish

This refers to Pushpa Girimaji’s “Curb ads that promise health cure” (Spectrum, Feb 4). The quacks have become so daring that they have been freely giving steroids to patients for all ailments. In certain areas, they have done roaring business for decades by selling such harmful drugs to the patients. But none of them was ever checked and brought to justice.

The same is the case with other jhola chhap doctors who have been looting the patients even when they have no knowledge of elementary medicine. They also prefix “doctor” with their names as if it means Sevadar. Now take the case of ads on electronic and print media. Such ads are printed and broadcast which may kill many patients. Drugs are advised for improving sexual energy, increasing height and conceiving of a male child, etc.

One surgeon from Jalandhar had been advertising on TV that a patient could go home walking after the replacement of knee joints. But no one has been hauled up before the law as those who are there to catch them are charging regular hafta from such quacks. The government may revise the Drugs and Magic Remedies (Objectionable Advertisements) Act, but nothing will work as in every walk of life anarchy is functioning with the full backing of our political masters.n




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