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.
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 Urdupoetry.
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 beautifulworks 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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