Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Two Line Awesome Urdu Shayri

Famous for his heart-rending poetry, Mirza Asadullah Beg Khan - known to posterity as Ghalib, a 'nom de plume,' he adopted in the tradition of all classical Urdu poets, was born in the city of Agra, of parents with Turkish aristocratic ancestry, on December 27th, 1797.

Asadullah Khan was a handsome man -- tall, light-skinned and with an imperious martial bearing. His forefathers, Seljuk Turks were professional soldiers. Asad was a man of peace and even as a boy liked to study Arabic, Persian and Urdu. He was convinced that he was not going to be a soldier but a poet.
He is also known as the 'Father of Urdu Prose'. It is believed that while there are no records of Ghalib's formal education there is evidence within his writings and profound verses that indicate a deep absorption and understanding of issues pertaining to philosophy, ethics, literature, theology, world history and other theoretical sciences. Ghalib was a prolific letter-writer. He wrote letters in a refreshingly light-hearted way on a variety of subjects. He adopted a conversational style in which conversation was direct and intimate. Ghalib's letters laid the foundation of modern Urdu prose. He made his letters "talk" by using words and sentences as if he is talking to the reader. According to him,
"Sau kos say ba-zabaan-e-qalam baatein kiya karo aur hijr mein visaal kay ma-zay liya karo"
[From hundreds of miles, talk with the tongue of the pen and enjoy the joy of meeting even in separation...]
His letters were very informal, sometimes he would just write the name of the person and start the letter. He himself was very humorous and also made his letters very interesting. He said:
"Main koshish karta hoon ke koi aisi baat likhoon, jo padhay khush ho jaaye"
[I try to write in such a way that whoever reads should enjoy it...]
Mirza asad ullah khan Ghalib was known to be the 'Father of Urdu Prose'. He was a great thinker and observer. His intellect was full of philosophical, ethical, literary, theoretic and theological in nature. This was all due to his observation and thinking that he attained a high level in expression of prose in Urdu. These verses show how observant and philosifical he wrote:
"Na tha kuchh toh Khuda tha, kuchh na hota toh Khuda hota
Duboya Mujhko hone ne, na hota Main toh kya hota?"
"When there was nothing, there was God
If nothing had been, God would have been
My very being has been my downfall
If I hadn't been, what would it have mattered?"
Today's prose that we read in urdu is quite influenced by the conversational letters used by this poet. This is what he says about it:
"Sau kos say ba-zabaan-e-qalam baatein kiya karo aur hijr mein visaal kay ma-zay liya karo"
[From hundreds of miles, talk with the tongue of the pen and enjoy the joy of meeting even in separation...]
He had an informal rather I would call it a comfortable way to communicate from long distances as well. Most of his letters were written to his admirers, friends and family member. History is evident for letters that he even wrote to himself.
Ghalib had a great sense of self-respect and was known to have refused a job just because he was not properly greeted. He later became court poet to the last Mughal Emperor, Bahadur Shah Zafar.
His famous works include a 10 volume collection of poems called 'Diwan - i- Ghalib', followed by his letters in 'Urdu - i - Hindi' and 'Urdu - i- Muallah'. His famous works of prose include 'Naam - i - Ghalib', 'Latief - i - Ghalib' and 'Daupshe Kawaiyam'. In Ghalib's poetry, love can only ever be true if it is unconditional. If you lose your heart to someone, then it is also necessary to lose your voice, so that you lose the ability to complain about non-reciprocal love:
All my lamentations had sprung
From the depths of my aching heart
But since I had given it away
As an offering to my Beloved.
Thus the very source of my pleadings
Had been removed from my chest
So what could be the purpose
Of the tongue remaining between my cheeks
Since I will be unable to express
Let my passion be silenced within me.
(Translated by Abid Mohiuddin, Based on a couplet by Ghalib)
For Ghalib, in a typical Sufi fashion, love creates a condition in which life and death become indistinguishable: When you live for love you die, and only when you die, you really live:
"Mohabbat mein naheen hai farq jeene aur marne kaa
Usee ko dekh kar jeete hain jis kaafir pe dam nikle"
[kaafir = infidel/unfaithful]
"Love knows no difference between life and death
I live only when I see that infidel for whom I'm dying."
As a person he remained woefully misunderstood, but as a poet he proved he was ahead of his time. Although known in the poetic circles as a Phakkar, Khasta and a drunkard poet, most of his ghazals revolve around three fundamental questions: What is the nature of universe and man's place in it? What is God? What is Love?
Accused of being hopelessly hedonistic with an intense attachment for all things material in life, one has to admit that Ghalib, despite several character glitches, has been Urdu's most prolific writer. (He wrote as many as two hundred and thirty five ghazals that included 1,818 verses).
Ghalib wrote in both Persian and Urdu but is famous for his self-selected collection of 2,000 Urdu couplets. He enlarged the range of Urdu literature in the nineteenth century much beyond its hitherto romantic focus. His poetry reflected his fluctuating fortunes, the stagnation of his own society and the onslaught of the British conquest on his beloved city Delhi during the revolt of 1857.
Ghalib remained perpetually in debt because he lived beyond his means. In a society where almost everybody seemed to have a house of his own, Ghalib never had one and always rented one or accepted the use of one from a patron. He never had books of his own, usually reading borrowed ones. He was a habitual borrower -- wine from the cellar, flowers from the florist, clothes from the draper, mangoes from the fruit-seller, and money from the creditors, though he had no means to repay the debts.
He was married at the tender age of thirteen into a well-off educated family of nobles and his wife bore him seven children, all of whom died in their infancy. His marriage failed to satisfy the moral and intellectual intensities that he required from his conjugal relationship. 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:
qaid-e-hayaat-o-band-e-gham asal mein dono ek hain
maut se pehle aadmee gham se nijaat paaye kyon ?
[ qaid-e-hayaat = imprisonment of life, band-e-gham = concealed sorrows, nijaat = release/liberation/absolution ]
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 life was characterized by notoriety. For companionship and pleasure, Ghalib sought the company of dancing girls and prostitutes. He was known for gambling, drinking and being in debt. Ghalib had a great passion for chess and he was a great patang-baaz (kite-flyer). The first edition of Ghalib's Urdu diwan was published in 1841, the same year that he was arrested and fined for gambling. He was arrested on the same charge in 1847, and again, in that same year, the second edition of his diwan was published.
Since he had never been seen praying or fasting, his critics were quick to write him off as an atheistic drunk, who indulged himself in the idle pursuit of composing love poetry. Mainstream Islam in 19th-century India had not recognized love as one of the components of the Faith. Religion was about God, and God was only to be feared and worshipped in a strictly prescribed way.
His poetic genius and greatness had never been truly appreciated in his lifetime. Accusations were frequently hurled at Ghalib, especially for his 'over-Persianized' Urdu and for the obscurity of some of his imagery:
We understand Mir, and we know the work of Sawda
But what he [Ghalib] says, only he or God understands!
And building on the theme of Ghalib's vagueness, another poet added:
What of it, if only you alone
can understand your own poetry?
The relish is when one person says it,
and another understands it!
Ghalib would rise against the insults with typical verses like this one:
0 God, they never have, and never will
understand what I have to say
Give them a different heart
if you can't give me a different tongue.
He also had occasional outbursts of temper. When his publisher inserted some other poets' lines in his collection, he exploded: "I do not know the b*****d who has inserted in to my diwan the verses that you have sent me. May this scoundrel, his father, his grandfather, and his great grandfather, right back to his seven adulterous generations, be damned."
Though he never spared himself from self-criticism. He writes: I have learnt to enjoy even my griefs and insults. I imagine myself as a different entity, separate from myself. When a fresh misfortune befalls me, I say, 'Well-served. Ghalib receives another slap in his face. How proud he was. How he used to brag that he was a great poet and a Persian scholar, without a peer far and near. Well, deal with the money-lenders now.'
He was also full of remorse: "I am old, idiotic, sinful, sensual, profligate and withal, a man lost to shame," He described himself as sattra-bahattra. Before he was 70, he started losing his memory, vision and hearing. Towards the end of his life, Ghalib became completely deaf. Suffering from alcoholism, financial strains and the handicaps of old age, Ghalib died at the age of 72, on February 15th, 1869. He was buried in the Nizamuddin area of Delhi, also home to the shrines of the Sufi Master Nizamuddin 'Awliya and his favorite disciple, the multifaceted poet-musician Amir Khusraw Dihiawi.
The Ghalib Academy in New Delhi was established on the death centenary of Ghalib in 1969 as a `literary and cultural' memorial by Hakeem Abdul Hameed, to eternalize the memory of Ghalib. It was inaugurated by another Ghalib fan and a man with a name in the world of Letters, President Zakir Hussain. The Academy is equipped with an auditorium, museum and a conscientiously built library, to serve as a melting-pot for all research and discourse on Ghalib and his times. It is situated opposite the Qawwali hall of the holy shrine of Hazrat Khwaja Nizam Uddin Aulia near the mausoleum of Ghalib, in the bustling by-lane of Nizamuddin. This place is also a stone's throw from the tombs of the two celebrated poets Amir Khusro and Abdur Rahim Khan Khanan.

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