Translation - Ibn-e-Mariyam Hua Kare Koi (Ghalib)

ibn-e-mariyam huwa kare koee
mere dukh kee dawa kare koee

Line 1/2 - Let someone be the Son of Mary (Jesus), let someone cure me of my sorrow/grief. The poet says if there is a messiah somewhere, let him cure me of my grief. If someone is claiming to be Son of God, first cure me and then I will believe him. The use of 'huwa kare koi' in the first line, make it wide open to interpretations. If someone is, or someone is claiming to be or someone wants to be or even I don't care if someone becomes one. All variations are plausible!

shar'a-o-aaeen par madaar sahee
'eise  qaatil ka kya  kare koee ?

Line 3/4 - Even on the basis of sharia and the law of the land, What should one do of such a murderer. The poet referring to her beloved says what can the religious law or the law of the land do of such a murderer as my beloved. How are they equipped to handle such crimes? Even the laws of God and of the Land are ill-equipped to handle my beloved murderer.

chaal, jaise kadee kamaan ka teer
dil mein  'eise ke jaa  kare koee

Line 5/6 - Walk like an arrow fired from a tightly strung bow. In the heart like this, let someone find a place. The poet says that the beloved walks like as if an arrow has been let go from a strung bow. The arrow instantly finds the heart (the intended target) and so does my beloved.

baat par waan zubaan kat_tee hai
woh kahain  aur  suna  kare koee

Line 7/8 - On the word/talk, there the tongue was cut. She would say and someone else would listen. The poet says, when anything is said then the tongue may be cut for she does not like what is being said. But when she says, than nothing is going to happen. She keeps on saying and people have to listen to it. Cutting of tongue is figurative as if to interrupt or humiliate. She would humiliate if someone was to say something which she did not like. But when she speaks, we can not even complain.

bak rahaa hoon junoon mein kya kya kuchch
kuchch  na   samjhe   khuda   kare   koee

Line 9/10 - In the state of passion, I am babbling I don't know what. May God grant that no one understands any of it. The poet says in this state of madness, I don't know what I was babbling. Maybe I may have let out a secret. May God grant that now one understood whatever I said. I do not want people of know the state of my mind or my affairs. Let them think me of as a mad!

na suno gar bura kahe koee
na kaho gar bura kare koee

Line 11/12 - Do not listen if someone is saying something bad. Do not say, if someone is doing something bad. The first line is pretty clear. Do not listen if some ill is being said. It is better to not be part of such slander. But the second lines is not very clear. If someone is doing evil, do not say. Do not say to whom? to the evil-doer, to anyone else about the evil-doer? Or maybe do not bring the evil deed on to your lips. Do not even repeat it.

rok lo, gar ghalat chale koee
bakhsh do gar khata kare koee

Line 13/14 - Stop them, if someone is walking wrongly (on a wrong path). Forgive them, if someone is doing something wrong.

kaun hai jo naheen hai haajat_mand ?
kiskee   haajat   rawa  kare  koee

Line 15/16 -Who is such that they are not needy? Whose need someone might fulfill? The poet says who is in this world who is not needy. Everyone is desirous of something. How will we fulfill the needs of such? When everyone is needy how to decide whom to serve? Another stream of thought is how to fulfill the need of other when one is itself needy?

kya kiyaa khijr ne sikandar se
ab  kise  rehnuma  kare   koee ?

Line 17/18 - What did Khizr did to Alexander? Now who should someone take as guide? Here is a legend that Khizr (who is prophet who guides people those are lost) guides Alexander to the Fountain Of Life. But Alexander does not drink from it and later in his quests he dies early. The poet says what did a guide like Khizr accomplish for Alexander? He could not even convince Alexander to drink from the fountain. Whom should we trust enough to be our guide when even Khizr was found wanting?

jab tavaqqo hee uth gayee 'ghalib'
kyon  kisee  ka  gila  kare  koee ?

Line 19/20 - When expectation itself have taken off, Ghalib. Why someone would complain about someone? The poet says that I had no expectations, and hence why would I be bitter and complaining about anyone. I was not even anticipating any favors. A second stream of thought can be, that when hope (personified) has itself departed me, I do not care now if any one else is leaving me or not.

Meaning of difficult words -
ibn = son/child
mariyam = virgin Mary
shar'a = the Islamic law
aaeen = law/custom/mode
madaar = orbit/circumference/a place of turning
kadee = link in a chain
kaman = bow
jaa = space
junoon = ecstasy
haajat_mand = person in need
haajat = need
rawa = fulfill
tavaqqo = expectations
gila = complaint

Read more posts on Ghalib.


  1. @Rahul, another top notch translation and interpretation of Ghalib. Fabulous. I completely agree with your interpretation.

    However, for the verses 9/10, in addition to what you have said, i would like to add something more; a personal observation.
    I think this couplet in question has remarkable thematic similarity with another famous sher of Ghalib:
    Aagahee daam-e shanidan jis qadar chaahey bichhaaye
    Mudda anqa hai apney aalam-e-takreer ka
    In both these shers Ghalib more or less postulates the same thing. Though, I agree, that there is a difference of tonality in both the shers.
    While the former one was full of youthful arrogance, the instant one is more pleading in nature. I think it has lot to do with the age in which he wrote Ibn-e-mariyam, the cruel claws of time had by then robbed Ghalib of the arrogance which he had during Naqsh-e-fariyaadi. Here we see a mellowed version of Ghalib.

    My next observation is about the word JUNOON in the instant sher. I think it is a most significant use of this word. While you have aptly translated Junoon as Ecstasy, it can also mean various other things.
    Ghalib was of the belief, as we also see from his other shers, that his Ghazals generally come from a higher spiritual space and we find the echo of the same thought in the sher:
    Aate hain ghaib se ye mazaameen khayaal mein
    ghalib,  sareer-e-khaama nawa-e-sarosh hai
    In my opinion in the line numbers 9/10 of the instant Ghazal, the word junoon speaks about a divine trance and therefore aptly Ghalib says that since he is speaking in divine trance, Oh God, let no one understand that.
    I completely agree with and love the explanation you have given, but just wanted to share my views regarding the same.

  2. @Susanta - You are correct in focussing on the junoon/passion that the lover is in thick of. The passion inside, be it the passion of love or of utter devotion to a higher plane. In the midst of the spell, the devotee lets out something (maybe unaware). It could be something positive or negative, but it can not be avoided and the only thing he could wish is that no one just understands. I like the way you have created a bit of similarity with the naqsh-e-fariyaadi sher. As for me, the way the sher starts makes it unlikely that Ghalib is disclosing anything supernal. 'bak raha hoon' just makes it sound like what he could be speaking maybe just out of rage or a bit of bitterness. The blabber that I was saying that even I do not recall later on when I try to remember it. Don't know what all I said. But as with Ghalib, there is always the chance that what Ghalib is referring to as inconsequential chatter is something really divine and proud Ghalib is just demeaning what he is said for audience effect sake.