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Mirza Ghalib


Famous for his heart rending poetry, Mirza Ghalib was also the father of Urdu prose. He has written beautiful, melodious ghazals that are loved and heard even today, because of their intensity and emotion, which can be felt and empathised by anyone who understands the intricacies of the language.

His best works have been translated into several Indian as well as foreign languages, for the world to enjoy.
 

The Early Years

Born as Asad Ullaha Khan, in 1797 in Agra, Mirza Ghalib was his pen name. His father, Abdullah Baig died in battle, when little Ghalib was just 5 years old. His uncle looked after the family for about 4 years, after which his mother brought up her two sons on a meagre pension of Rs. 750.00 annually. But even this was discontinued after the Great Mutiny of 1857. It was a very difficult time for the family.

Ghalib was married to Nawab Ali Baksh Khan's daughter Umro Begum, at the age of 13. After a few years he shifted from Agra to Delhi, where he lived as a tenant. His wife gave birth to seven children, but unfortunately, not one survived. He adopted a nephew, who was also snatched by the hands of death at the prime age of his life. This broke Ghalib's heart, and he was moved to write an elegy to commemorate his life and death.
 

Ghalib as a Person

Ghalib was talented and self taught. He learnt Persian and first started writing in this language. He never had a master or 'Ustad'. He participated in many 'Mushairas' (poetry sessions) in Lucknow and Calcutta, and was acknowledged as a poet of high standing.

Despite being a Shia Muslim, Ghalib was very liberal in his views. He believed in humanity as a whole rather than different sects and was a very genuine, loving aristocratic and morally upright human being. He was admired by both Hindus and Muslims and was warm, witty and wonderful.  He had a great sense of self - respect and was known to have refused a job because he was not properly greeted.
 

His Works

After Zauq, Mirza Ghalib was honoured with the position of Court Poet to Bahadur Shah. Even though he was an old man, he was still witty and the King enjoyed his words and works.  About this time he started writing poetry in Urdu, even though he initially wrote in Persian. He was quick to pick up the style and nuances of a new language and achieved fame due to his Urdu poetry.

Mirza Ghalib is also famous for the beautiful letters that he wrote. He was simple, direct and precise as he creatively described the current social, economic and political situations of the time. His letters were as beautiful and popular as his poetry, and are treasured and repeated in literary circles, even today.

His famous works include a 10 volume collection of poems called 'Diwan - i- Ghalib', followed by his letters in ' Urdu - i - Hindi' and ' Urdu - i- Muallah'. His famous works of prose include 'Naam - i - Ghalib', 'Latief - i - Ghalib' and 'Daupshe Kawaiyam'.
 

The Sad End

Even though Ghalib spread love, beauty and happiness all around, his own life was filled with moments of despair and tragedy. His most beautiful works were written when he was at his lowest ebb - at the loss of a loved adopted child.

He suffered from a drinking problem, financial difficulties as well as pains of old age, and finally died at the age of 72 years.

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