Mirza Asadullah Beg Khan popularly known as 'Ghalib' was an Urdu poet of late 18th century. Mirza Ghalib was born in Kala Mahal, Agra. His paternal grandfather had immigrated to India and settled in Agra.
Ghalib started composing poetry at the age of 11.His first language was Urdu, but Persian and Turkish were also spoken at home. He received an education in Persian and Arabic at a young age.Although Ghalib himself was far prouder of his poetic achievements in Persian he is today more famous for his Urdu ghazals.
Mirza Ghalib was born in Kala Mahal, Agra into a family descended from Aibak Turks who moved to Samarkand (now in Uzbekistan) after the downfall of the Seljuk kings. His paternal grandfather, Mirza Qoqan Baig Khan, was a Saljuq Turk who had immigrated to India from Samarkand during the reign of Ahmad Shah (1748–54). He worked at Lahore, Delhi and Jaipur, was awarded the subdistrict of Pahasu (Bulandshahr, UP) and finally settled in Agra, UP, India. He had four sons and three daughters. Mirza Abdullah Baig Khan and Mirza Nasrullah Baig Khan were two of his sons.
Mirza Abdullah Baig Khan (Ghalib's father) got married to Izzat-ut-Nisa Begum, and then lived at the house of his father-in-law. He was employed first by the Nawab of Lucknow and then the Nizam of Hyderabad, Deccan. He died in a battle in 1803 in Alwar and was buried at Rajgarh (Alwar, Rajasthan). Then Ghalib was a little over 5 years of age. He was raised first by his Uncle Mirza Nasrullah Baig Khan.
At the age of thirteen, Ghalib married Umrao Begum, daughter of Nawab Ilahi Bakhsh (brother of the Nawab of Ferozepur Jhirka). He soon moved to Delhi, along with his younger brother, Mirza Yousuf Khan, who had developed schizophrenia at a young age and later died in Delhi during the chaos of 1857.
In accordance with upper class Muslim tradition, he had an arranged marriage at the age of 13, but none of his seven children survived beyond infancy. After his marriage he settled in Delhi. In one of his letters he describes his marriage as the second imprisonment after the initial confinement that was life itself. The idea that life is one continuous painful struggle which can end only when life itself ends, is a recurring theme in his poetry. One of his couplets puts it in a nutshell:
- قید حیات و بند غم ، اصل میں دونوں ایک ہیں
- موت سے پہلے آدمی غم سے نجات پائے کیوں؟
- The prison of life and the bondage of grief are one and the same
- Before the onset of death, how can man expect to be free of grief?
- The ghazal selected here is rendered to music by Rahat Fateh Ali Khan, an accomplished singer of ghazals and nephew of legend Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan.
koii ummiid bar nahii.n aatii
koii suurat nazar nahii.n aatii
maut kaa ek din mu'ayyaa.N hai
nii.nd kyo.n raat bhar nahii.n aatii
aage aatii thii haal-e-dil pe ha.Nsii
ab kisii baat par nahii.n aatii
jaanataa huu.N savaab-e-taa'at-o-zahad
par tabiiyat idhar nahii.n aatii
hai kuchh aisii hii baat jo chup huu.N
varna kyaa baat kar nahii.n aatii
kyo.n na chiiKhuu.N ki yaad karate hai.n
merii aavaaz gar nahii.n aatii
daaG-e-dilagarnazar nahii.n aata
buu bhii ai chaaraagar nahii.n aatii
ham vahaa.N hai.n jahaa.N se ham ko bhii
kuchh hamaarii Khabar nahii.n aatii
marate hai.n aarazuu me.n marane kii
maut aatii hai par nahii.n aatii
kaabaa kis muu.Nh se jaaoge 'Ghalib'
sharm tumako magar nahii.naatii
I am left with no hope at all,
No possibility to reach my goal,
The Day of my death is fixed,
I am so very anxious that I can not sleep all night.
Though I know the reward of obedience and worship,
But I have no tendency for it.
I am silent for a certain reason,
Otherwise I can convince you with my words,
Why I shouldn’t cry,
For when I don’t, she asks about me,
My heart is burning, though you cannot see the spot,
But O my doctor, can’t you smell my heart burn?
I have reached to a certain state,
From where even I cannot find myself.
I am dying (Waiting anxiously) for my death,
I don’t know where the hell my death has gone.
With what face you will go to Ka’ba, O! Ghalib,
You should be ashamed of yourself while thinking to go there.
(translation by Qazi Mohammed Ahkam)