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The Incomparable Mirza Ghalib

27-12-2017 11:00 AM | Lathika Saju | My Indian Dream


The Incomparable Mirza Ghalib | My Indian Dream

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Google dedicates a doodle to one the greatest poets of all time

Mirza Ghalib is one of the most influential and popular poets of the Urdu language who is famous not only in India and Pakistan but also among the Hindustani Diaspora around the world.

Ghalib was born as Asadullah Baig Khan on December 27, 1797, in Kala Mahal, Agra into a family descending from Aibak Turks who moved to Samarkand (modern-day Uzbekistan) after the downfall of Seljuk kings. He came to Delhi when he was 13.

Ghalib began to compose poetry at the age of 11. Although his first language was Urdu, he also knew  Persian and Turkish as they were also spoken at home. In his teens, a newly converted Muslim tourist from Iran stayed at Ghalib's home for two years and taught him Persian, Arabic, philosophy, and logic.

In his lifetime, he wrote several ghazals which have since been interpreted and sung in many different ways by different people. He lived at a time when the Mughal era was on the decline and he is considered the last great poet of the Mughal era.

In the 19th century, Emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar II bestowed the title of "Dabir-ul-Mulk" and "Najm-ud-daula". The conferment of these titles was symbolic of Mirza Ghalib's incorporation into the nobility of Delhi. He also received the title of 'Mirza Nosha' from the Emperor, thus adding Mirza as his first name.

 He was also an important courtier of the royal court of the Emperor. The Emperor appointed him as a tutor of his eldest son, Prince Fakhr-ud Din Mirza. He was also appointed as the royal historian of Mughal Court by the Emperor. Ghalib was proud of his poetic achievements in Persian, but he is well known all over the world for his Urdu ghazals.

Before Ghalib, the ghazal was primarily an expression of anguished love; but Ghalib expressed philosophy, the travails and mysteries of life and wrote ghazals on many other subjects, vastly expanding the scope of the ghazal.

The first complete English translation of Ghalib's ghazals was Love Sonnets of Ghalib, written by Sarfaraz K. Niazi. He originally used the pen name Asad which means lion and was derived from his name Asadullah Khan. Later on, he adopted the pen-name of Ghalib(meaning all-conquering, superior, most excellent).

His fame came to him posthumously. He had himself remarked during his lifetime that he would be recognized by later generations. His residence, Ghalib ki Haveli located in Old Delhi is now a heritage site.

 Ghalib’s work is relevant even today because his non-conformity pushes us to question hierarchical structures of society. His poetry is a heady mix of love, beauty, intoxication and despair.

Today is Ghalib’s 220th birth anniversary. Ghalib touches a chord in everyone’s heart. Professor Ralph Russel quoted, “Had Ghalib written in English, he would have been the greatest poet of all times, among all languages!”

 



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