|The Curtain Raiser - Diwan-e-Ghalib|
Ghalib, the man and his time were unique in the sense that none could endure the supremacy of the other and there always exist a silent but stiff competition amongst them to outpace each other. While the time surely succeeded in keeping its domination during the major part of his life when the success and recognition elude him, Ghalib managed to stay afloat thereafter as he still remains alive from the versatile verses he left for generations to come. I have written a detailed six-part series on the life of the Ghalib, which attempts to explore his life and enduring.
Mirza Asadullah Beg Khan ‘Ghalib’ (1797-1869) was a person par excellence. It seems he was destined to be the legend with exceptional command over the languages (Persian and Urdu) and incomparable caliber of composing some of the best verses ever written in the history of literature. It was unfortunate, though, that through-out his life he was, more often than not, on the receiving end. He lost his father at a very young age followed by the loss of his uncle and his seven infant children further followed by two of his adopted sons and later his only brother. As if losing his father, uncle and all his children wasn’t enough, Ghalib found himself into the middle of the serious financial mess after the British stopped his hereditary pension. His struggles with the life continued through-out his tenor and he struggled for sustenance and due recognition.
Ghalib has always been referred to as difficulty loving poet and from whatever little I had read, in his work the traces of dejected life and obsession for death can be easily found. The trajectory of his life very clearly portrays the cause behind his obsession for death. And the more one dwells in it, the more acquainted he becomes of the spiritual aspect of his writings.
Read the six-part series on Ghalib here:Mirza Ghalib Series (All Parts): Part (1) │ Part (2) │ Part (3) │ Part (4) │ Part (5) │ Part (6)
Ever since I wrote about Ghalib and his life earlier, I had made up my mind to explore further of him by reading through his compilation of ghazals – the Diwan-e-Ghalib. And as expected the procrastination habit took over and the Ghalib’s diwan kept awaiting my acquaintance.
Ghalib’s compilation Diwan-e-Ghalib is an assortment of the ghazals by the maestro, the initial version of which was compiled by the legend himself. Ghalib was the perfectionist in the truest of the sense, he was especially a harsh judge of his own composition. While compiling his ‘diwan’, he mercilessly discarded more than 2000 verses which he regarded as sub-standard and not up to the mark. Initially, Ghalib wrote largely in Persian and less in Urdu but later when he found that the takers of Persian couplets were far less, he switched to Urdu for composing his verses. In one of the letters to his friend, he is said to have admitted that the verses composed by him between the age of fifteen and twenty-five were actually abstruse, something which made him discard most of them retaining only a few for his diwan. The first edition of his Urdu diwan was compiled in 1821.
Diwan-e-Ghalib has about 235 ghazals ranging from shortest of them which is one verse long and longest which is seventeen verses long. In many earlier ghazals, Ghalib used the pen-name of ‘Asad’. However, when he discovered that another poet was already using it and composing sub-standard verses, he changed over to ‘Ghalib’. Both pen-names thus appear in the divan.
Ghalib never worked or lived for a livelihood, all he aspired and craved for was the recognition of his work and the grant of status which he so rightly deserved. But blame it on the reputation he carried with himself or the equation he had with his counterparts or his reckless attitude or simply his fate, he never received the praise, honour and recognition due to him during his life time. He had himself remarked during his lifetime that although his age had ignored his greatness, it would be recognized by later generations...
शुहरत-ए-शैराम बगीति बाद-ए-मन ख्वाहिद सूदन
(Shuhrat-e-shaeram bageeti baad-e-man khwahid shudan)
(The renown of my verse will come after I am gone)
His words came true and the fame, recognition and praise did come to him posthumously and it came in what an astounding fashion!!!
So come . . . let us start our journey to Ghalib’s Diwan.
Let the curtain rise from the "Andaz-e-Bayan" of Ghalib and let the spell of enchantment begin . . . as the magic unveils soon.
~Shubh Life . . . Om Sai Ram
© 2016 Manish Purohit (Reserved)
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