AMN WEB DESK
Google today dedicated its doodle to great Indian poet Mirza Asadullah Kahan Ghalib on his 220th Birth Anniversary.
Ghalib who was born on 27 December 1797 at Agra and died on 15 February 1869 in Delhi, was a great poet of Urdu and Persian. He used his pen-names of Ghalib and Asad.
haiñ aur bhī duniyā meñ suḳhan-var bahut achchhe
kahte haiñ ki ‘ġhālib’ kā hai andāz-e-bayāñ aur
Ghalib started composing poetry at the age of 11. His first language was Urdu, but Persian and Turkish were also spoken at home. He got his education in Persian and Arabic at a young age. When Ghalib was in his early teens, a newly converted Muslim tourist from Iran (Abdus Samad, originally named Hormuzd, a Zoroastrian) came to Agra. He stayed at Ghalibs home for 2 years. He was a highly educated individual and Ghalib learned Persian, Arabic, philosophy, and logic from him.
Although Ghalib himself was far prouder of his poetic achievements in Persian, he is today more famous for his Urdu ghazals. Numerous elucidations of Ghalib’s ghazal compilations have been written by Urdu scholars. The first such elucidation or Sharh was written by Ali Haider Nazm Tabatabai of Hyderabad during the rule of the last Nizam of Hyderabad. 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. This work is considered his paramount contribution to Urdu poetry and literature.
In keeping with the conventions of the classical ghazal, in most of Ghalib’s verses, the identity and the gender of the beloved is indeterminate. The critic/poet/writer Shamsur Rahman Faruqui explains that the convention of having the “idea” of a lover or beloved instead of an actual lover/beloved freed the poet-protagonist-lover from the demands of realism. Love poetry in Urdu from the last quarter of the seventeenth century onwards consists mostly of “poems about love” and not “love poems” in the Western sense of the term.
The first complete English translation of Ghalib’s ghazals was written by Sarfaraz K. Niazi and published by Rupa & Co in India and Ferozsons in Pakistan. The title of this book is Love Sonnets of Ghalib and it contains complete Roman transliteration, explication and an extensive lexicon.
Hai kuch aesi hi baat ke chup hoon,
Warna kya baat kar nahin aati..
Bana kar faqeeron ka hum bhaiss ghaalib,
Tamashaye ehl-e-karam dekhte hain.
Although Ghalib did not receive any formal education but he learnt his lessons in Arabic, Persian, logic and philosophy from Mulla Abdussamad and grew on his own at an intellectual level.
After the demise of Sheikh Ibrahim Zauq who had the privilege of counselling the emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar on his poetry, he was appointed as his mentor, as well as a historian of the Mughal court, which brought him some financial security and the honorifics of Najmuddaulah, Dabeerulmulk, and Nizam Jung, as well as the title of Mirza Nausha. Ghalib stands out for his sparkling wit and tough ratiocination, as well his innovations in technique and diction that distinguish his poetry and prose from all others written before or after him.
Negotiating precariously with life at several levels, he died in sickness and was buried in Nizamuddin, beyond the walled city of Delhi. His numerous works, apart from his divan and letters in Urdu and kulliyat of Persian poetry and prose, include Urdu-i-Muallah, a collection of epistles, Taigh-e-Taiz, a rebuttal of a literary work; Qata-i-Burhan, a criticism of Persian lexicon; Panj Ahang, a collection of occasional writings; Mehre Neem Roze, a historical narrative; and Dastumbo, an literary account of 1857 that testify his versatility and rare artistic merit.