Remembering Mirza Ghalib, Delhi's beloved Urdu and Persian poet, on his 221st birth anniversary

It was towards the twilight of the Mughal empire, as monarchy began crumbling under the force of a foreign regime, that a poet penned verses, prose and letters that are imprinted on the minds and hearts of readers to this day. The works of Mirza Asadullah Khan, better known as Mirza Ghalib can very well be termed immortal, they live on as an inspiration to countless poets and find their way into many a writings even in the modern art space.

The famed poet who later became the chief historian of Bahadur Shah Zafar's court, Mirza Ghalib.

The famed poet who later became the historian of Bahadur Shah Zafar's court, Mirza Ghalib. Facebook@ClubMirzaGhalib

Ghalib was born in Kala Mahal at Agra on 27 December, 1797 and hailed from a Central Asian family of Aibak Turks who would traditionally serve as soldiers. This day in 2018 marks his 221st birth anniversary. Despite his profound poetry and thoughtful verse, through his life, Ghalib had little financial security and spent the last days in extreme pain and penury. Circumstances were such that the poet did not receive any formal education through his life but learnt most of his lessons in Arabic, Persian, logic and philosophy from Mulla Abdussamad.

Married off at the age of 13 to Umrao Begum, the daughter of Nawab Ilahi Bakhsh, he soon shifted to Delhi. Here, he would write that as was life, marriage too was just another form of confinement. The couple had seven children, none of whom survived beyond infancy. The pain and suffering that came with this loss often found its way into Ghalib's verse. He would go on to write, “dard minnat-kash-e-davā na huā, maiñ na achchhā huā burā na huā” (My pain did not seek favors from any opiate, I don’t mind the fact that I did not recuperate).

While in Delhi, the Urdu and Persian poet was conferred with the titles Dabir-ul-Mulk, Najm-ud-daula as well as Mirza Nausha, marking him as one of the nobles of the Delhi sultanate. However, it was not until the demise of Sheikh Ibrahim Zauq, the royal poet, that he was appointed as Zafar's mentor as well as a historian of the Mughal court.

Ghalib died in Delhi on 15 February 1869 but his poetry continues to be cherished, preserved and studied across the world.

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Updated Date: Dec 27, 2018 11:03:16 IST

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