Ghalib (Urdu: غاؔلِب), born Mirza Asadullah Baig Khan (Urdu: مِرزا اسَدُاللہ بیگ خان), (27 December 1797 – 15 February 1869), was an Indian poet He used his pen-names of Ghalib (Urdu: غالِب, ġhālib means “dominant”) and Asad (Urdu: اسَد, Asad means “lion”). His honorific was Dabir-ul-Mulk, Najm-ud-Daula. During his lifetime, the already declining Mughal empire was eclipsed and displaced by the Colonial British Raj and finally deposed following the defeat of the Indian rebellion of 1857, are some of the events that he described through his work.
Mirza Ghalib Early life
Most notably, he wrote in both Urdu and Persian. His Persian Divan is at least five times longer than his Urdu but his fame rests on his poetry in Urdu.
Today, Ghalib remains popular not only in the Indian Subcontinent but also among the Hindustani diaspora around the world.
Mirza Ghalib was born in Kala Mahal, Agra. into a family of Mughals who moved to Samarkand (in modern-day Uzbekistan) after the downfall of the Seljuk kings. His paternal grandfather, Mirza Qoqan Baig, was a Seljuq Turk who had immigrated to India from Samarkand during the reign of Ahmad Shah (1748–54).He worked in Lahore, Delhi and Jaipur, was awarded the sub-district of Pahasu (Bulandshahr, UP) and finally settled in Agra, UP, India. He had four sons and three daughters. Mirza Abdullah Baig and Mirza Nasrullah Baig were two of his sons.
Mirza Abdullah Baig (Ghalib’s father) married Izzat-ut-Nisa Begum, an ethnic Kashmiri, 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).Back then, Ghalib was a little over 5 years of age. He was then raised by his Uncle Mirza Nasrullah Baig Khan, but in 1806, Nasrullah fell off an elephant and died from related injuries.
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, who had developed schizophrenia at a young age and later died in Delhi during the chaos of 1857.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
The prison of life and the bondage of sorrow are one and the same
Mirza Ghalib’s view of world as he sees world is like a playground where everyone is busy in some mundane activity and merrymaking rather than something of greater value as he wrote:
بازیچہ اطفال ہے دنیا میرے آگے
This world is a child’s playground for me
here are conflicting reports regarding his relationship with his wife. She was considered to be pious, conservative and God-fearing.
Ghalib was proud of his reputation as a rake. He was once imprisoned for gambling and subsequently relished the affair with pride. In the Mughal court circles, he even acquired a reputation as a “ladies’ man”.:41 Once, when someone praised the poetry of the pious Sheikh Sahbai in his presence, Ghalib immediately retorted:
How can Sahbai be a poet? He has never tasted wine, nor has he ever gambled; he has not been beaten with slippers by lovers, nor has he ever seen the inside of a jail.
اگ رہا ہے در و دیوار سے سبزہ غاؔلب
Greenery is growing from walls and doors Ghalib
In 1850, Emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar II bestowed upon [Mirza Ghalib the title of “Dabir-ul-Mulk”. The Emperor also added to it the additional title of “Najm-ud-daula”. The conferment of these titles was symbolic of Mirza Ghalib’s incorporation into the nobility of Delhi. He also received the title of ‘Mirza Nosha’ from the Emperor, thus adding Mirza as his first name. He was also an important courtier of the royal court of the Emperor. As the Emperor was himself a poet, Mirza Ghalib was appointed as his poet tutor in 1854. He was also appointed as tutor of Prince Fakhr-ud Din Mirza, eldest son of Bahadur Shah II, (d. 10 July 1856). He was also appointed by the Emperor as the royal historian of the Mughal Court.
Being a member of declining Mughal nobility and old landed aristocracy, he never worked for a livelihood, lived on either royal patronage of Mughal Emperors, credit or the generosity of his friends. His fame came to him posthumously. He had himself remarked during his lifetime that he would be recognized by later generations. After the decline of the Mughal Empire and the rise of the British Raj, despite his many attempts, Ghalib could never get the full pension restored,