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Urdu/Persian: Khalvat خلوت

Discussion in 'Indo-Iranian Languages' started by rc2, Jan 29, 2013.

  1. rc2 Junior Member

    India - Telugu
    Could members here please comment if the word "Khalvat" (
    خلوت) carries a particular tilt or connotation (positive vs. nagative), or if it is just a neutral word (without bias) for "solitude?"

    Background: I had, in one place, used the construct "Khalvat-i-hijr" and got some feedback that "Khalvat" is always thought about in the context of "visaal" (coming together) as opposed to a negative context such as "hijr" (separation).

    Would the construct "Khalvat-i-hijr" be acceptable to denote the "solitude faced during separation?"

    I am hoping Urdu as well as Persian natives can shed some light on this. Thanks in advance for your valuable feedback.
  2. eskandar Moderator

    English (US)
    In Persian, historically as far as I know khalvat was used in a Sufi context with a positive connotation. Today, however, I think it is primarily neutral (ie. when someone says اتوبوس خلوت است otobus khalvat bud "the bus was empty" I don't think it has either a positive or negative connotation). Just my two cents - let's see what the native speakers say.
  3. rc2 Junior Member

    India - Telugu
    Very interesting, aaqaaye Eskandar. So historically speaking, it did have a "positive" connotation, which may explain the feedback I got -- and would it be fair to say that to be particular safe (literature wise), the phrase "Khalvat-e-hijr" should be avoided?

    What was your reaction when you read my construct yourself? Did it seem odd to you? I would be interested if it did make readers "pause" and even consider the appropriateness of the phrase.

    Thanks again.
  4. marrish Senior Member

    اُردو Urdu
    Please accept my short explanation on how I understand the word xalwat خلوت in Urdu, paired with a disclaimer that I unfortunately am not well versed in Urdu poetry and don't have broad access to it resulting in my inability to provide you with evidence (asnaad) from some respected poets, but I am more than sure that this shortcoming of mine is going to be more than rewarded to you by someone else!

    Let me answer the question on negative or positive connotation later, and let's take the proposed expression خلوتِ ہجر xalwat-e-hijr into consideration:

    Your proposed meaning, rc2 SaaHib, appears to be ''solitude faced during separation''. Leaving hijr for separation aside, the problem is that one of the meanings in which the word xalwat is frequently used in Urdu is an antonym to the purported meaning of the whole phrase! that is a meeting in privacy without the presence of a third person. As an example of that, from which you shall no doubt get my point further, is a sample sentence: miiyaaN-biiwii xalwat ixtiyaar kar sakte haiN ya3nii mubaasharat kar sakte haiN.

    The second matter which seems important to determine the connotation of the word in question is the general meaning, which imparts that a person in xalwat is alone, in private, undisturbed, separated him/herself from others. It is frequently of religious importance, and to illustrate it I shall give an example from an Urdu translation of a verse from the Qur'an (Surah Maryam):

    aur ai Habiib-e-mukarram! aap kitaab (Qur'an-e-majiid) meN Maryam (AS) kaa zikr kiiji'e, jab vuh apne ghar vaaloN se alag ho kar (3ibaadat ke li'e xalwat ixtiyaar karte hu'e) mashriqii makaan meN ga'iiN.

    Another example which illustrates further the meaning I´m talking about (you shall undoubtely be familiar with the context):
    Ghaar-e-Hiraa meN xalwat nashiinii ixtiyaar farmaa'ii.

    Apart from the above, xalwat can mean a place which enables one to be away from the public or third persons, like a garden, a room, and coming back to the first meaning above, a bedroom!

    So I don't agree with the piece of advice you got that it is always used in the context of visaal.

    For me, it has no negative connotation and can have a (very) temporary character. It is also not absolute as you can be in xalwat with another person, but not in a crowd.
  5. rc2 Junior Member

    India - Telugu
    Marrish sahab --

    Thanks for the detailed answer and your examples, which I do find useful for purposes of this thread. In each of the example sentences that you mentioned, there is an implied "meeting" as far as I can see though -- either with someone else, the Self, or with God (in case of 'ibaadat or Ghaar-e-Hiraa).

    You did determine the "intended" meaning of my construct quite correctly. However, based on your examples too -- is there not a sense of an "extended" visaal (meeting) portrayed, even if just in the mind,heart or imagination? Also, if there is no "negative" connotation to "Khalwat" (at least in modern times, and not in the Sufi context as mentioned earlier), would you accept my original construct خلوتِ ہجر xalwat-e-hijr as valid? Did you have to think about it before you got the intent of the phrase?

  6. marrish Senior Member

    اُردو Urdu
    rc2 SaaHib, I must admit that I didn't determine the meaning of your phrase nor I thought about its meaning because you have already provided your intended meaning in English in your original post and I just copied it. Of course I have given a thought on the issue and for me the meaning is as I have indicated in my examples: a) a place where one stays secluded from the public while he or she is not together with the beloved b) a state of staying lonely during separation (which includes the religious aspect, and as you say, the possibility of extended meeting with the unseen beings c) a place/state of being intimate with someone while separated d) a state or place of being separated while being intimate!/a place of intimate meetings which bear a stamp of separation (not necessarily in this order).
  7. Qureshpor Senior Member

    Punjabi, Urdu پنجابی، اردو
    Although this condition excludes me from offering any kind of response, I shall go against it and make an attempt!:)

    I believe marrish SaaHib has covered the concept of the word "xalvat" in some considerable detail and there is n't much that can be added to it. Based on his detailed response, I would say that your use of "xalvat-i-hijr" may appear "odd" to people for a few reasons.

    1) It is perhaps a "novel" formation and people who are following certain set constructions find this structure "abnormal". All this should not stop you from coming up with new ideas and formations.

    2) xalvat carries the meaning of isolation and seclusion and when one is in a state of "hijr", that too has connotations of being alone (away from the beloved) and these together are perhaps indicating "solitude of/in loneliness" (or something akin to this). So, perhaps a bit of repetition of meanings.

    3) The most important reason might be "xalvat" being loaded with several related but distinct meanings, seclusion/retreat/secluded room/bedroom/privacy and even sexual intercourse in a certain context. So, can one stretch "xalvat-i-hijr" to " separation of privacy" or "separation in bedroom" I know these are extreme and most probably unlikely connotations, but not impossible.

    Just a few ideas.
    Last edited: Jan 29, 2013
  8. rc2 Junior Member

    India - Telugu
    I'll be more careful in phrasing my request, QP saahab. To exclude you and others was not my intent. I really simply wanted to get a feel for how members completely comfortable with the language would react to the construct. My apologies.

    Assuming that "solitude", by itself, was neutral -- I wanted to add the emphasis on the fact that it was not out of choice, but forced, due to separation. A slight overlap in meaning perhaps, but not 100%, right?

    I think you have a valid point here. Though Marrish saahab seemed to accept the compound (murakkab) construct as I stated it (perhaps after some pause, or not) -- it may be safer to consider an alternate then. The allusions you point out, albeit a bit extreme (as you said) are not at all intended to be conveyed by me.

    Thanks again for taking the time to respond, despite my faux-pas.
    Last edited: Jan 29, 2013
  9. marrish Senior Member

    اُردو Urdu
    Just to clarify, I didn´t say I accepted the compound but offered my way of understanding it, but I believe we are discussing the meaning here and not approving or disaproving the murakkab. Between the meanings I gave, I also hinted at the ´extreme´ notes, illustrated by an example. Well, depending on your purpose, this compound might be surprisingly very good as many different meanings can be extracted from it (see post #6). As you see, I haven't included your purported sense from the original post.
  10. rc2 Junior Member

    India - Telugu
    Got it, Marrish saahab. Thanks again for clarifying. Your inputs have been very helpful.

  11. romillyh Junior Member

    Hi, non-native person here rashly throwing in his do rial! For me the lyrics (and music) of the Gugush song Khalvat perfectly sum up the concept, at least from a more or less contemporary (1970s) Iranian perspective. Lyrics can be found on internet [...]
    Cheers, romillyh

    Last edited: Jan 31, 2013

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