Ghalib: The Dominant (on celebrations of 209th Birth Anniversary) By Mohammed Akmal Pasha.


Ghalib; genius and a masterminded poet par excellence, a paragon of Urdu poetry and an identity of the Eastern literature, inhibiting perhaps many institutions in unison, and beyond any artifice of ceremonial comparison, a crude personification of a superbly refined creativity. For, such are the men who in turn become instrumental tokens (Ayaat) of God, furnishing a clear tracing of His existence latent somewhere within their crafts and manifesting His power of delicacy through the faculty of their talents. The centuries passing by rather add guild and grandeur to such figures. Had his ancestors not migrated to India, Ghalib would otherwise have been purely a Turkish poet, certainly taking pleasure in equally good command, with a versatility of stance at the same majestic pedestal and regal lordship. This part of subcontinent would then have been justified in blaming Nature in the face of such intellectual deprivation. In fact, Ghalib enjoys same stature in Urdu literature as Shakespeare maintains in English, Goethe in German, Voltaire in French, Ibn-e-Arabi in Arabic, Tolstoy in Russia or any greatest author of any renowned community of any era of the world. Born on 27th December 1797, Mriza Asadullah Khan Ghalib was nearly one-a-half years old when the ominous British martyred the great Sultan Tipu (May 4, 1799). However, his early childhood is known to be rich enough, his uncle being a landlord along with getting a stipend from the British government. Ghalib’s first Urdu poetic composition came when he was only 12. Yet, his command over Persian language is altogether tremendous. Incredibly, this learning culminated through a sojourn with an Iranian guest Mullah Abdussamad who stayed with him for only 2 years (1811-1813). That is all about his learning about Persian whatsoever, and then interpenetrates his genius with this banal learning to blossom classical Persian verses; sublime and bravura. So a natural poet, laden with talent rather teemed with genius, for talent does what it can and genius does what it must, thus he was forced by destiny to expense himself to raise a great pillar of Urdu poetry and that is why other great figures of literary world could not forsake praising, and had to admit his grandeur. To quote a couple, Allama Iqbal, one of the greatest poets of Urdu and Persian languages endorsed Ghalib a great tribute. So much so, during his journeys he would always keep three books along “deewaan-e-Ghalib” the Holy Quraan and Masnavi Maulana Rome. He has aptly appropriated Ghalib’s match with his contemporary German poet Goethe (1749-1832): “gulshan-e-Waymer main tera hamnasheen kaabidah hey”, as Goethe is buried in the Waymer Park, Germany. Faiz Ahmed Faiz, perhaps the best Urdu poet born in the previous century, chose “Naqsh Feryaadi” the first words of Ghalib’s “deewaan” for his first poetic collection. Again for his ‘Kulliyaat’, he picked “Nuskha-haay-Wafa” from Ghalib’s line of Urdu poetry just to accolade the genius. Among his Urdu poems, ‘Qaadir Naama’ is perhaps unique in the history of Urdu literature for being pedagogical; in the sense that it literally helps learning Persian; describing several Persian words in Urdu. Basically, he touched upon all types of compositions like qaseeda, mersiya, mukhammas, musaddas, poem, rhyme, ghazals and individual verses, all with masterly authority, novelty and innovativeness. Another unique piece of poeticism would be his poem “Ishtahaar-e-Panj Aahang”, the advertisement once he wrote to market his book “Panj Aahang”. This advertisement is rich in all commercial phenomena, be it four P’s of marketing, USP (Unique Selling Proposition) or Michael Porter’s Competitive Strategies (product differentiation, cost leadership and focus). The advertisement gives the source of the publisher, nature of the book, its price (three rupees), distinctive features, locus of availability, mailing procedure, mailing address and an additional price for parceling (one rupee). Eulogizing himself so as to stupefy the quality of the book the poet says: Thay Zahoori-o-Urfi-o-Taalib Apnay apnay zamaanay main Ghalib, Na Zahoori hay ab na Talib hey, Asadullah khan Ghalib hey. (Meaning to say that the great poets of Persian Zahoori and Urfi were in fact a mere personification or replica of my ‘self’ in their respective eras, and today they both stay perished, and what ultimately dwells is me; Ghalib the original and the dominant). Nevertheless, his letters contrary to traditional style, proved to be innovative evolving a reflection of interface with the subject; and later on they were recognized as a major contribution to Urdu prose. He also composed history of the subcontinent (Meher-e-neem roze) on behest of Bahadur Shah Zafar; the last Moghal king. Singers of high caliber both from India and Pakistan have taken pride in vocalizing Ghalib. India developed a full-fledged movie on his subject, which is worth watching. TV plays are numerous. From India, Jagjeet Singh and Chitra Singh both did a marvelous job by composing many of Ghalib’s ghazals. In Pakistan, all from Ustaad Amanat Ali Khan, Roshan Ara Bagam, Ustaad Fateh Ali khan, Mehdi Hassan, Farida Khanam and Noor Jahan, relished to perform his ghazals. Out of his most popular ghazals a few are: yeh na thee hamari qismat, sab kahaan kuchh lalaa o gul main numayaan ho gayeen, dil he to hey na sang o khisht, muddat hoyee hey yaar ko, derd ho dil main to dawa kejay and main hoon mushtaaq-e-wafa. A simile of Ghalib’s versatility is common among some other geniuses of the world, namely Leonardo de Vinci, Libneiz and even in relatively contemporary times Ian Estien. Leonardo was a composer, sculpture maker, city designer, a poet, an inventor; where he designed a machine to fly up and a parachute to land afterwards. Amazingly, the machine designed for going up is similar to our today’s helicopter. Libneiz was a mathematician, a philosopher and a prolific writer, he is ranked at tenth in top ten mathematicians and fifth in top fifty philosophers. Ian Estein’s scientific achievements go unsaid, he also expressed his views about the universe, world and beliefs etc., all marvelous. What is implied herein is that whatever the geniuses consider worth their contemplation, they are always able to give it a universal tinge, to be cherished and perhaps celebrated till eternity. Such are the geniuses “Ayaat”, whatever they pen down, is marked with Eternity, perpetuity and mercurial excellence, instrumental to Divine Thought. Ghalib is one of those very few. Ghalib zamanaa mujh ko mitaataa hey kiss liyay, Loh-e-jahaan peh herf-e-mukerrer naheen hoon main (Ghalib the world should not erase or displace me, since I am the ‘word’ not to be written twice on the Eternal Slate)

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