December the 27th marks the 213th birth anniversary of renowned poet Mirza Ghalib.
Ghalib was born in Agra in a family descended from Aibak Turks who moved to Samarkand after the downfall of the Seljuk kings.
Ghalib started composing poetry at the age of 11. His first language was Urdu, but Persian and Turkish were also spoken at home. His most famous poetry originated in Bahadur Shah Zafar II’s royal court, where the Mughal Emperor revived upon him the title of “Dabeer-ul-Mulk.” He was the Emperor’s poet tutor, and was appointed the royal historian of the Mughal Court. Ghalib is generally considered to be the greatest Urdu poet in the history of the language.
Ghalib himself took far more pride in his poetic achievements in Persian, although he is today more famous for his Urdu poetry. Not only is he well reputed in Urdu speaking circles in the Subcontinent, he is also very popular in the Urdu speaking diaspora around the world. Mirza Asadullah Khan Ghalib’s poetry reflects the journey from nothingness to a totally human affirmation. His distinctive style of poetry included keeping the gender of the subject indeterminate to keep the message in the ghazal universal and applicable to all.
Ghalib was a very liberal Sufi Muslim, encouraging people to look beyond the letter of the law and towards its true essence.
Ghalib died on February 15th, 1869.
With additional reporting by Hamza Hussain