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Paigham-i-Goya: An Expression of Love

Ghazal Two

Friday
,
26
February
2021

Paigham-i-Goya: An Expression of Love

Ghazal Two

Friday
,
26
February
2021
Bhai Nand Lal
Persian
Ghazal
sikhism
Guru Gobind Singh
⟵ Back to articles

Paigham-i-Goya: An Expression of Love

Ghazal Two

Friday
,
26
February
2021

A new translation and brief essay on the second ghazal from Bhai Nand Lal’s Divan-i-Goya.

A new translation and brief essay on the second ghazal from Bhai Nand Lal’s Divan-i-Goya.

Translation

My angel-faced Beloved holds the reins of the temporal and celestial worlds.
These two worlds are worth just a single strand of my Beloved’s hair.

We cannot bear the allure of that gaze.
One rejuvenating glance would be enough for our lifetime.

Sometimes a sūfī¹, sometimes a zāhid², at others a qalandar³;
Our unfathomable Beloved has many tints and shades.  

Who, except the lover, would know the worth of [Beloved’s] red gems?
But our eyes that shed pearls are aware of the value of rubies.

In the memory of [Beloved’s] intoxicating eyes, Goya, with every breath;
Our wakeful hearts sip on the nectar of longing.

  1. A mystic 
  2. Religious, devout, ascetic, perhaps suggestive of zealotry 
  3. A wandering dervish 

Transcription

Dīn o dunyā dar kamand-i ān parī rukhsār-i mā
Har dō ālam qīmat-i yek tār-i muy-i yār-i mā

Mā nemī ārīm tāb-i ghamza-yi mizhgān-i ū
Yek nigāh-i jān fazāyash bas buvad dar kār-i mā

Gāh sūfī gāh zāhid gāh qalandar mī shavād
Rang hā-yi mukhtalif dārad but-i ‘ayyār-i mā

Qadr-i l’al-i ū bajuz āshiq nādānad hīch kas
Qīmat-i yāqūt dānad chashm-i gohārbār-i mā

Har nafas guyā beh yād-i nargis-i makhmūr-i ū
Bādeh hā-yi shauq mī nushad dil-i hushyār-i mā

Gurmukhi

ਦੀਨੋ ਦੁਨੀਆ ਦਰ ਕਮੰਦਿ ਆਨ ਪਰੀ ਰੁਖਸਾਰਿ ਮਾ ।
ਹਰ ਦੋ ਆਲਮ ਕੀਮਤਿ ਯਕ ਤਾਰਿ ਮੂਇ ਯਾਰਿ ਮਾ ॥

ਮਾ ਨਮੀ ਆਰੀਮ ਤਾਬਿ ਗ਼ਮਸ਼ਾਹਇ ਮਿਜਗਾਨਿ ਊ ।
ਯਕ ਨਿਗਾਹਿ ਜਾਨ ਫ਼ਿਜ਼ਾਅਸ਼ ਬਸ ਬਵਦ ਦਰ ਕਾਰਿ ਮਾ ॥

ਗਾਹਿ ਸੂਫ਼ੀ ਗਾਹਿ ਜ਼ਾਹਦ ਗਹ ਕਲੰਦਰ ਮੀ ਸ਼ਵਦ ।
ਰੰਗਹਾਇ ਮੁਖਤਲਿਫ ਦਾਰਦ ਬੁਤਿ ਅੱਯਾਰਿ ਮਾ ॥

ਕਦਰਿ ਲਾਲਿ ਊ ਬਜੁਜ਼ ਆਸ਼ਕ ਨਾਦਾਨਦ ਹੀਚ ਕਸ ।
ਕੀਮਤਿ ਯਾਕੂਤ ਦਾਨਦ ਚਸ਼ਮਿ ਗੋਹਾਰਬਾਰਿ ਮਾ ॥

ਹਰ ਨਫ਼ਸ ਗੋਯਾ ਬੇਹ ਯਾਦਿ ਨਰਗਸਿ ਮਖਮੂਰਿ ਊ ।
ਬਾਦੇਹ ਹਾਇ ਸ਼ੌਕ ਮੀ ਨੋਸ਼ਦ ਦਿਲਿ ਹੁਸ਼ਿਆਰਿ ਮਾ ॥

Persian

دین و دنیا در کمندِ‌ آن پری رخسارِ ما
هر دو عالم قیمتِ یک تارِ موی یارِ‌ ما

ما نمی آریم تاب غمزهٔ مژگانِ‌ او
یک نگاهِ جان فزایش بس بود در کارِ ما

گاه صوفی گاه زاهد گه قلندر می شود
رنگ های مختلف دارد بت عیارِ ما

قدرِ لعل او بجز عاشق نداند هیچ کس
قیمتِ یاقوت داند چشمِ گوهربارِ ما

هر نفس گویا به یادِ نرگسِ‌ مخمورِ او
باده های شوق می نوشد دلِ هشیارِ ما

Commentary

The second ghazal from Bhai Nand Lal ‘Goya’ is an intimate exploration of Goya’s relationship with the Guru. In his soaring first ghazal, Bhai Nand Lal offers a vivid account of his encounter with the Divine, which he describes as a stormy experience that brings him into the winds of reverence-bondage (bandigī). He describes a turn inward, a realization that while he is captured in the blue vault that is the sky, he can find freedom through constant remembrance of the Divine. He takes up his relationship with his Beloved in his second ghazal, which is both intimate in its details and vast in its love for the Guru, who holds reins of both the celestial and temporal realms (dīn ō dunīā).

In this ghazal, Goya describes an angel-faced Beloved whose perfection is that both the celestial and temporal realms are worth not even one strand of Beloved’s hair. He offers a description of his Beloved’s appearance: the lips that are red gems, the unbearable gaze. In the original Persian, the ghazal refers specifically to the flutter of the eyelashes of the Beloved, which we have simplified here for the sake of both brevity and clarity. The flutter of the eyelashes is so unbearable that even one glance from Beloved would sustain Goya in this lifetime.

In the last couplet, Goya metaphorizes his Beloved’s intoxicating eyes as the narcissus flower (nargis), in whose memory he sips the nectar--or wine--of longing remembrance. The ghazal closing couplet brings to mind Puran Singh’s understanding of simran as a state of “constant inebriation.” This inebriated state is not a static one; it does not consist of the “dead peace” of the “Bhaktas of medieval India,” for whom meditation entailed immersion into a “mystic reverie,” a mindless state that “shuts itself up and shrivels up evidently in all ordinary practice to a mere dead concept--all is one.” Instead, this kind of simran causes one to become immersed in a “pool of nectar.” This longing remembrance that brings one into a state of intoxication contemplates the “divine music of life;” it is a creative simran that necessitates “hard labor.” This is perhaps the kind of simran Bhai Nand Lal is invoking as he takes every breath in memory of his Beloved’s eyes.

The translators made several choices in translating the present ghazal that require some elaboration. First, we have chosen not to refer to the Beloved with gendered pronouns. Though most translations of classical Persian poetry would refer to the Beloved as female, we have chosen not to use gendered pronouns to refer to the Beloved as Bhai Nand Lal was writing in the court of and about Guru Gobind Singh Sahib. We found that by referring to the Beloved as such, without the mediation of pronouns, the translation is more precise and accessible for English-speaking readers who do not have a background in Persian poetry. Second, we have chosen not to translate sūfī, zāhid, or qalandar into English as it would not be possible to capture the meanings of these words in single English words. The ghazal text includes footnotes to which the reader can refer to understand this line better. We invite readers to engage in further research to develop their interpretation of this line of the ghazal.

Commentary by Damanpreet Singh
Revised:

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Written By

Persian Literature Scholar

Fatima Fayyaz is a scholar of Persian literature who studies Central Asian hagiographical Persian literature, contemporary Afghan Persian poetry and prose, Persian epics, and South Asian mystic literature. 

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Associate Professor of Art History, Lahore University of Management Sciences

Nadhra Shahbaz Khan is Associate Professor of art history at the Lahore University of Management Sciences, Lahore, Pakistan. A specialist in the history of art and architecture of the Punjab from the sixteenth to the early twentieth century, her research covers the visual and material culture of this region during the Mughal, Sikh, and colonial periods.

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Creative Director

Inni Kaur is Creative Director at the Sikh Research Institute (SikhRI). She has served SikhRI in several capacities since 2010, including Chair of the Board, and most recently as CEO. 

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Writer & Graduate Student

Damanpreet Singh is a writer and graduate student who studies race, religion, empire, and the history of capitalism in the nineteenth century.

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