Thursday, September 11, 2014

~ Deciphering GHAZALS . . . ~

Picture Source: Google Images

There is something magical about the world of Ghazals, the warmth and soothe it provides to the reading heart is simply inexplicable. However, at the same time, they also stir those ‘prohibited’ silent emotions which were sleeping deep under the layer of pretense – that innocence of first love, those well covered heartaches, those half-forgotten disappointments and lots more. We tend to get carried away and those strings of words and melody do transform us into altogether different world. The different world is our realm of dreams - some unfulfilled, some broken yet very dear to us. These dreams start peeping through unveiling each layer one by one to impart realization that those are still alive!!!

Additionally they also in a way provide you an assurance that those are inseparable from what we call LIFE and in interim, howsoever harsh and bitter they may seem; eventually they churn out a better you from your self. While the above thoughts might appear subjective, one fact commands unanimous affirmation that each one of us surely have found solace in one composition or the other.

My craziness with Ghazals is attributed to Ghazal Maestro Jagjit Singh. I am an ardent fan of the legendry singer and my adoration of him led my inclination towards this form of poetry. The fact that I am also a keen follower of poems and verses further accentuated my admiration for this alternative form of poetry. It just occurred me one day to explore, understand and decipher this world of Ghazals a bit more – what comprise these Ghazals, what distinguishes it from ‘Sher’, can any assortment of words woven together in some uniform pattern be termed as Ghazal.

So what’s actually the meaning of Ghazal? Ghazal - The word originates from arabic, meaning, “way or mannerism of talking to or talking about women.” Thus in fact it’s an expression of love! But in this ever changing world the Ghazal has become a reflection of the life around us, and now there is hardly any sphere of human interaction which the Ghazal hasn’t touched. I scanned through many articles on internet and gathered some matter, which is adapted and re-produced below. To better understand the finer nuances of Urdu ghazal it is imperative to understand the structure around which a ghazal is woven!

Typically speaking a Ghazal is a collection of Sher’s which follow the rules of ‘Matla’, ‘Maqta’, ‘Beher’, ‘Kaafiyaa’ and ‘Radif’. So to know what Ghazal is, it’s necessary to know what these terms mean.

To understand these terms easily, let’s take an example.

koi ummid bar nahin aati
koi surat nazar nahin aati.

aage aati thi haale dil par hasi
ab kisi baat par nahin aati

hum wahan hain, jahan se humko bhi
kucch hamaari khabar nahin aati

kaabaa kis muh se jaaoge ‘Ghalib’
sharm tumko magar nahin aati

Now let’s understand the meaning of aforesaid critical components of Ghazal:

A.  Sher

It’s a poem of two lines. This definition is deceptively simple. Please note that, every Sher is a poem in itself ! A Sher does not need, anything around it, to convey the message. All the 4 stanzas in our example are independent poems, Sher’s.

So Ghazal is necessarily a collection of two-line-poems called Sher.

B.  Beher

Both the lines in the Sher *MUST* be of same ‘Beher’. And all the Sher’s in one Ghazal *MUST* be of the same ‘Beher’. There are 19 (!!) kinds of ‘Beher’. But in simple terms, ‘Beher’ is categorized in 3 classes. Short, medium, long.

ahale dairo-haram reh gaye
tere deewane kam reh gaye

umr jalwo me basar ho, ye zaruri to nahin
har shab-e-gam ki seher ho, ye zaruri to nahin

ai mere humnashin, chal kahin aur chal, is chaman me ab apanaa guzaaraa nahin
baat hoti gulon ki, to seh lete hum, ab to kaaton pe bhi haq hamaaraa nahin

So Ghazal is a collection of Sher’s of SAME ‘Beher’.

C.  Radif

In a Ghazal, second line of all the Sher’s MUST end with the SAME word/s. This repeating common words is the Radif’ of the Ghazal. In our example, the ‘Radif’ is “nahin aati”.

D.  Kaafiyaa

'Kaafiyaa' is the rhyming pattern which all the words before 'Radif' MUST have. In our example the 'Kaafiyaa' is "bar", "nazar", "par", "magar" etc. This is a necessary requirement. Something which is followed even in the exceptions to all these rules.

So Ghazal is a collection of Sher's of same 'Beher', ending in same 'Radif' and having same 'Kaafiyaa'.

E.  Matla

The first Sher in the Ghazal *MUST* have ‘Radif’ in its both lines. This Sher is called ‘Matla’ of the Ghazal and the Ghazal is usually known after its ‘Matla’. There can be more than one ‘Matla’ in a Ghazal. In such a case the second one is called ‘Matla-e-saani’ or ‘Husn-e-matla’. In our example, the first Sher is the ‘Matla’.

F.  Maqta

A Shayar usually has an alias ie. ‘takhallus’ eg. Mirza Asadullakhan used ‘Ghalib’ as his ‘takhallus’ and is known by that. Other examples are ‘Daag’ Dehlvi, ‘Mir’ Taqi Mir, Said ‘Rahi’, Ahmed ‘Faraz’ etc. There is a Sher in a Ghazal, the last one, which has the Shayar’s ‘takhallus’ in it.

To summarize, Ghazal is a collection of Sher’s (independent two-line poems), in which there is atleast one ‘Matla’, one ‘Maqta’ and all the Sher’s are of same ‘Beher’ and have the same ‘Kaafiyaa’ and ‘Radif’.

So that’s my bit in exploring a little this world of Ghazals. Hope it does helps those inquisitive hearts like mine who intend to go beyond those assorted words called Ghazals and desire to understand the same from the root. This is just a descriptive representation and, by no sense, is exhaustive. 

The beauty of Ghazal is that it is subjective and assumes the form which this potter heart casts while mixing the same with emotions.

Did I missed anything ??? Do let me know by way of your comments & feedback.

* Adapted from various articles available on net primarily being one posted on by Abhay Avachat.

~ Shubh Life . . . Om Sai Ram

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