Saturday, 17 January 2009

Mirza Ghalib: The Original ... 'To be or not to Be'...

A beautiful ghazal by Mirza Ghalib (b.1796- d.1896) on … ‘to be’…

Na tha kuch to khuda tha
Kuch na hota to khuda hota
Doboya mujh ko hone ne,
Hone ney doobo’ya
Yaha ho na, na ho na hai
Na hona ayn-e hona hai

La’i hai aag a’i taza lay chali chalay
Upni khushi na a’i, na upni khushi chulay
Zindagi maut ka nishana hai
Sub yaha sey jana
Agur behray ma’anish sey yeh qatra na joda hota
Na yeh duniya bani hoti
Na yeh alum bana ho ta
Woh bunda kis ko kehta
Aray aur woh kis ka khuda ho ta?

Hua jub gum se yuun behis to ghum kya sar ke katney ka
Na hotaa gar joda tun se to zaano par zurra ho ta
Hui muddat ke Ghalib mur gaya par yaad aata hai
Woh hare ek baat pe kehna ke yuun hoota to kya hoota

(English translation by me)
When there was nothing there was just God
If there was nothing then still there would be God
“I” was drowned in my own ego
To be was to be drowned
Here to be is not to be
Not to be is the ultimate

The fresh fire arises as it catches flame to flame
It alights not with its self, nor burns out in itself
Life is a sign of death
Everything is to go one day
If a droplet of God’s blessing had not separated
This world would surely not exist
Nor would this universe exist
Which person would call God and to whom would God be God?

Struck with anxiety, apathy and distress
If I were not attached to a soul given by God, I would surely be nothing
It has been a while since Ghalib has died; yet still he is remembered
His constant questioning on issues, if it wasn’t to be like this then what would there be?

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