Mirza Asadullah Khan Ghalib
A great Urdu and Persian poet of the Indian sub-continent.
Mirza Ghalib was born forty years after the battle of Plassey, which gave the first clear signal of the ascendancy of British power and died twelve years after the upheaval of 1857, which ended with the deposition of the last Mughal Emperor by the British.
Ghalib lived and witnessed the twilight of the Mughal period in the cultural history. Although he lived in Delhi where the language of his contemporaries was Urdu and he himself was a great Urdu poet, such was his love and adoration for Persian the language of his ancestors from Central Asia, that he wrote most of his poetry and prose in that language.
Ghalib was a true representative of the two layers of the central traditions of Muslim culture in the last phase of the Mughal period - the culture of the social elite with Persian as its literary language and the culture of the common city dwellers with Urdu as their language. Ghalib himself belonged to the social elite, and although he took great pride in his Persian poetry and prose, Urdu was his language, and he was considered the greatest. His Diwan-e-Ghalib is his only Diwan in Urdu.
It is a measure of Ghalib's greatness that he has not only aroused the interest of the sophisticated literary elite, but also that of the common man who admires him and loves and quotes him whenever he can without perhaps having read or understood him thoroughly.
Ghalib had a strong personality and extra-ordinary creative gift nature had bestowed on him. Thus his urge to express himself in a manner distinctly was his own. He had the weight of tradition behind him and yet he stood out as an individual in his own right - interplay of tradition and individual talent. He added new shades of meanings to words. What he said is, of course, significant but equally significant was what he left unsaid.
Mirza Ghalib's collection of letters (Urdu-e-Moala and Oud-e-Hindi) has indeed given a permanent place in the evolution of modern Urdu prose.
Mirza Ghalib was a noble of Central Asian Turkish stock, a fact of which he was extremely proud. He was born in Agra and spent his childhood there in great comfort. It is said that he began to compose poetry at the age of ten. He came to Delhi after an early-arranged marriage, which was never very successful.
Ghalib suffered periods of ill health during the last eight years of his life and his memory began to fail. He took to his bed and died without recovering consciousness.
Compiled by:M. Nauman Khan / Ghulam Mohiuddin