Mirza Ghalib

The immortality of Mirza Ghalib

“Rahiye ab aisi jagah chal kar jahan koi na, ho Hum-sukhan koi na ho aur hum-zaban koi na ho, Be-dar-o-diwar sa ik ghar banaya chahiye, Koi hum-saya na ho aur pasban koi na ho”

Mirza Asadullah Khan better known as Ghalib is the pre-eminent poet of Delhi, who lived his life expressing and writing like no one else. If anyone ever told us about the words of heart- Mirza Ghalib is the sole man to look up to. He was the most renowned poet of Mughal era whose poetry still resides in the heart of many. Two worlds, one the decaying and other the emergent, he fused the both virtually in such a manner, many of us still relate to. Tragedy, uncertainty, and warfare reigned ideally suited as the Great Revolt of 1857 marked the cease of a generation and a new world lay waiting to unfold before him.

Life of Mirza Ghalib:

Ghalib lived in the city of Delhi though he actually belonged to Agra. Over the time he lived here, Ghalib saw madness to mayhem, as Delhi became the center for sleigh and slaughter.

While, Ghalib was deeply affected by the violence which he brought out through the art of words, his first priority was only writing about love and life. Some of his couplets over life will dwell your heart magnificently like the one “hazaaron khwahishein aisi, ki har khwahish pe dum nikle, bahut nikle mere armaan, lekin phir bhi kam nikle.”

Ghalib was born in the Kala Mahal of Agra. He was the descended from the Aibak Turks family. Ghalib’s father died in a battle in 1803 in Alwar and was buried at Rajgarh, Rajasthan. At the time of his death, Ghalib was a little over 5 years of age! So, he ultimately was raised by his maternal uncle known as Mirza Nasrullah Baig Khan. Later in 1806, Nasrullah Khan died too. Mirza Ghalib was married at the young age of 13 with Umrao Begum, the daughter of Nawab Ilahi Bakhsh. After his marriage, Ghalib along with his wife moved to Delhi where he spend rest of his life. Though, Mirza Ghalib life was nothing extraordinary except from his incredible poetries, there lies a part where Ghalib was drowned in sorrows. Yes! None of his seven kids survived beyond infancy. In fact, not only this, through many of his couplets it can be guessed that Ghalib’s married life too wasn’t that fruitful. In one of his letter he describes his marriage as a second imprisonment! Of course the first one is life itself. These undying feelings of sufferings and struggle is a recurring theme in his poetry. But this cannot overshadow the fact the Ghalib is also remembered for his joyous humour.

Mirza Ghalib was one of the most prominent poet in the court of Bahadur Shah Zafar II. The king who was his student too had honoured Ghalib with tons of royal titles like Dabber-ul-Mulk and Najm-ud-daulah. Due to these titles Ghalibs entered in the list of nobility of Delhi. One interesting part of his life was his view over the world. For Ghalib the world is like a playground where everyone is busy in some humdrum activities and conviviality rather than something of greater value! Another interesting fact if we look at is that Mirza Ghalib had weaknesses too that was either drinking or gambling. The dice of these two habits stuck with him for his entire life. Apart from this do you know that, Mirza Ghalib was a gifted letter writer? Not only his poetries but letters too gave foundation to easy and popular Urdu. He writes the letters in such a way that it feels like he is directly communicating with the reader, maybe that’s what made Mirza Ghalib- Ghalib.    

Once Gulzar described Ghalib as, “Ghalib is very important for everyone. You should know about him even if you are not familiar with his language. His poems, his lifestyle, his behaviour everything is a great inspiration. At a time when people used to carry their religion on their shoulders, Ghalib talked about humanity. The man lost seven children and carried a huge sadness inside him but despite that he was known for his sense of humour.”

Love and Mirza Ghalib:

While it’s true that not all lovers are poet and not all poets are lovers, the case of Mirza Ghalib was quite eccentric. Though most of his work revolved around life and love, a very less focus is laid on his love interest. The face behind the veil of his poetries remained uncheck and unexplored. We all are aware that his marriage to his wife wasn’t that great but there are evidences that showed he actually cared for Umrao Begum although his relationship was always bitter with her. And this reason is enough to understand why he termed his marriage as second imprisonment.

There is an account which states that many men during that time visited singing or dancing girls or even courtesans and it wasn’t considered as a bad act. This was natural unlike today! One girl whom Ghalib met during one of his visit was Mughal Jaan to whom he was deeply fascinated. Apart from Ghalib another man Hatim Ali Mehr was too in love with her. But this triangular love relationship wasn’t as simple as it seems because Mughal Jaan soon died due to some uncommon illness. Mehr was deeply hurt and resentful as was Ghalib! Unexpectedly, Ghalib showed remarkable courtesy one could ever witness in writing a letter to Mehr to ease him by sharing his grief. Surely, this love was one of a kind! But as we all know that humans has a tendency to fall in love at least seven times, Ghalib used it all. He later met another lady who would often send her Ghazals to him for opinion and this exchange of perfectly lined up words- outraged the love among the two. But this secret love story didn’t last long as it started unfolding before they even thought. Fearing the damage for reputation the lady choose to sacrifice her life and Ghalib couldn’t protect her. The incident once again greened the memories of Mughal Jaan along with his fresh loss! This agony was indeed restored in many of his poems that we enjoy reciting today.

Ghalib Ki Haveli:

Ghalib loved Delhi as much so that he once wrote that- “I asked my soul: What is Dilli? She replied: The world is the body, and Dilli is its life.” And this love wasn’t out of nothing but is reciprocated the same way. The people of Delhi loved Ghalib which is well evident by their love for his poetries and shayaries. Amidst the busy lanes of Chandi Chowk of Delhi, lies a small Haveli popularly known as ‘Ghalib ki Haveli’. This mansion is the actual home of Mirza Ghalib. After his death, the land was bought and sold by several people, and thus was scattered. Today the government of India has restored a small portion of his remaining land which is now preserved as his museum. The Haveli contains illustrations of the clothes and utensils he once used. The man who taught the world how to weave feelings and desires into words was indeed one and only Mirza Ghalib.

Mirza Ghalib

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