Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Understanding Ghalib

Since childhood I used to follow weird things, which very rare people would follow in so early age. One of these (Apart from Mehdi hassan Khan) was Mirza Asadullah Khan Ghalib, one of the greatest poets of all time . I do not remember when I first read him, but surely it was very early in the lower grades of my school. My high school Urdu teacher was not a literature teacher, I guess he did not fit anywhere therefore he was given the responsibility to teach us the Urdu literature. He had been teaching Urdu class since ages, therefore he had the idea that he is among the best Urdu teachers of the yellow grammar schools. His misconception lasted till we (me and some good friends) passed 9th grade with high marks. Our teacher started with the poetry section as he was a great lover of poetry and according to him literature is only poetry other things are absurd, he had the idea that every writer first wanted to be a poet but when he/she failed he opted to write prose, so for him it is the legacy of failed people. His misfortune or ours, he started with Ghalib,

Naqsh faryadi hai kis ki shokhi e tehreer ka
Kaghzi hai pairhan har paikar e tasweer ka

("wah kya khubsurat sher kaha hai Mirza sb ne" he would take a sigh, then the explaianation of couplet i still remember his dramatic voice (like china made Shahrukh) is sher mein Ghalib apne bare mein bata rehay hain ke kis tarah unhoon ne apna bura waq guzara, wo har waqt faryad kartey rehtay they, un ke pass kuchh bhi nahee bacha thaa hatta ke un ke kapde phatt gaye they aur wo kaghzi pairhan lagtay they).

Most of us were quite interested in literature and poetry but none was so intelligent to understand the real meaning of Ghalib's ghazal but still I was not able to accept that our teacher was right. Me and other friends used to question him about the poetry of Ghalib, Faiz and probably Mir Dard and Nasir Kazmi (their poetry was in our course), but he could never managed to satisfy us. The end result was our failure in the Prelims which caused a lot of tension for our parents when they expect us to be the doctors and engineers of future.

In spite of early debacles my interest for Urdu poetry grew day by day, as a result I read almost all ghazals and poems in the text books of our schooling system. I was quite good at poetry when I got admission in a college in one of the most advanced cities of our country, Karachi. My misfortune again, we had a female teacher for Urdu compulsory subject. I am short of word to narrate her love for Ghalib and Faiz but she we horrible. I could never understand why people in Pakistan do not take literature as a serious course work?

Anyway this post is not intended to malign my teachers, as I love them and pray for their health and life. Today is the death anniversary of Mirza Ghalib, one of the greatest poets of Urdu and Persian languages. Mirza Ghalib was no ordinary poet; his poetry is sublime, unique and complete. Very few people would have read and understood him properly, but his popularity is on a rise day by day. Indians have done a lot for knowing Ghalib and understanding his legacy. We need to do some more to understand him because he is the base, on which Faiz and later Faraz evolved. Faiz's Nuskha Haye Wafa is an extension of Ghalib's taleef e nuskha haye wafa and Faraz is only a shadow of Faiz. Below are some unique examples of Ghalib's style and eloquence.

Hui Takheer to kuch baes e takheer bhi thaa
Aap atay they magar koi anaan gheer bhi thaa

Ibn e Maryam hua kare koi
Mere dukh ki dawa kare koi

Tashay beghair mar na saka koh kunn Asad
sar gashta e khumaar e rasum o qayud tha

Hamaare sher hain ab sirf dil lagi kay Asad
khulaa kay faida arz e hunar mein khaak nahee

Ishq sey tabiat ney zeest ka maza paya,
Dard ki dawa payi, dard ladawa paya

Kabhi jo yaad bhi aata hon main to kahte hain
Ki aaj bazam mein kuch fitna-o-fasad nahin

Main chaman mein kaya gaya, goya dabastan khul gaya
Bulbulein sun ker mere naale ghzal khwaa’n ho gaee’n

Surma e muft nazar hoon meri qeemat yeh hai
keh rahe chashm e khareedar pe ahsaa'n mera
rukhsat e naala mujhe de de kay mubada zaalim
tere chehre se ayaa'n ho gham e pinhaa'n mera

And a fantastic Ghazal

Ye ham jo hijr mein diwaar o dar ko dekhte hain
kabhi saba ko kabhi naamaabar ko dekhate hain


Wo aaye ghar mein hamaare Khudaa ki kudarat hai
Kabhi ham un ko kabhi apne ghar ko dekhte hain

Nazar lage na kahin us kay dast-o-baazu ko
Ye log kyun mere zaKhm-e-jigar ko dekhte hain

Tere javaahir-e-tarf-e-kulah ko kyaa dekhen
Ham auj-e-taalae-e-laal-o-guhar ko dekhate hain

Ghalib

15 comments:

Miss Hanif said...

Ghalib is the golden personality of the golden era! no doubt!

Akhtar Wasim Dar said...

Ghalib, as he himself said, sub per ghalib hai. A nice tribute to a poet who is Mount Everest of Urdu poetry, a genius and an iconic stylist who ushered a path on which Urdu poetry was enriched by all those who followed him.

Thinking said...

hmmm...nice post Peerlees...

...sorry to say...I am one of them who don't understand poetry that much...

This was the section in my school days I always try to missed during lectures or exam paper...

So...you can include me in those who never take literature seriously....

But I really like this stanza...too much...

Kabhi jo yaad bhi aata hon main to kahte hain
Ki aaj bazam mein kuch fitna-o-fasad nahin

Nice Tribute.

Peerless said...

@Miss Hanif
Thanks for leaving a comment.

@Dar Sb
Your feedback always encourages me a lot.

@Thinking
Even if you don’t like poetry, your aesthetic level is better than many poetry lovers and your selected couplet is an indication of that.

Muhammad Hamza said...

"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?"

Ghalib's poetry is quite little in quantity just like other are things and it's a treasure for all of us.
Nice tribute to a great poet.

Peerless said...

@Hamza
Thanks a lot for such a nice feedback and quoting one of the best couplets of Ghalib.

$arah said...

i agree with u as i also had sum teachers during my school life who made urdu poetry difficult for me by explaining every ghazal n nazam in same meaning lolzzz i started reading ghalib in a very young age as my mother was a big fan of his n she gave me dewan e ghalib on my birthday. she is no more with me but i have her precious gift with me n which reminds me of those days when i used to ask her for meanings of some sherss of ghalib which were at tht tym far from my understandngs.. now days urdu literature is vanishing from our lives. our youth very proudly admitts that we are weak in urdu n esp urdu literature... it is the time to think seriously on this issue. keep it up peerless!!!

shahbaz said...

Ghalib is one to the hardest poet to understand i am sure that fro example if 100 people read Ghalib only 10 or 15 percent people who understand Ghalib. In his life people not know Gahlib is a greatest poet. He is know as a normal poet. But after his death this world undertand ghalib, this is very sad by the way.
but Ghalib is a great poet i am still learning to understand ghalib.

Sikander Nelson said...


All you guys are fake, dont know anyhting about ghalib poetry nor interested just pretending just to make impression.

" Janta ho mai tum ko zok-e-shayari be hai shaksiat sajanay mai ek yai mahiri be hai , phir b harf chuntay ho sirf lafz suntay ho , in k darmian ka hai tum kia jaan paoo gay..."

Anonymous said...

Its a fashion to read Ghalib and give a passing reference to meer,however ghalib is no faiz or faraz.One can read a ghazal of faiz or faraz in one go and ordinary readers will be able to get the grasp of it in 2 readings.However in case of ghalib ,to read and understand even 30% of it will require atleast one full night and after few days you will pass through 50-60% and beyond that its not possible for any ordinary reader because ghalib has 2 peculiar characterstics:
1.Most of his ghazals are about an idea and shers might look seperate from each other but its not so and if you are able to decipher the image then puzzle will be solved and then you will come to know that meer,ghalib,nazir ,dagh are 4 gems of urdu poetry and rest are just overhyped good poets upon whom greatness is thrust upon due to various reasons.

2.Ghalib never writes about anything which has limited implications and thats why those who have great understanding of life and letters of ghalib will be able to dig 50-60% out of his ghazal,remaining 40% is buried with ghalib himself.

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