A timeline of Ghalib’s life.

Sallam World,

Here is a timeline of Ghalib’s life.  This timeline is an account of his life and is extensive in length however precise and to the point.

For the readers who are in a hurry, the important years and their detail is in Italic font.

1750’s ~ Ghalib’s grandfather Mirza Quqan Beg Khan comes to India from Samarqand, settles in Lahore.

mid-1754 ~ Mirza Quqan Beg Khan moves to Delhi.

mid-1756 ~ Mirza Quqan Beg Khan takes service  with the prince Shah Alam.

1763? ~ Mirza Quqan Beg Khan marries.

1765? ~ Ghalib’s father Abdullah Beg Khan is born, in Delhi.

1767-80 ~ Five other children are born to Mirza Quqan Beg Khan, including Ghalib’s uncle Nasrullah Beg Khan.

mid-1771 ~ Mirza Quqan Beg Khan takes service with Zulfiqar ud-Daulah.

1782? ~ Mirza Quqan Beg Khan takes service with the Maharajah of Jaipur and settles in Agra.

mid-1778 ~ Mirza Quqan Beg Khan dies.

1793? ~ Ghalib’s father Abdullah Beg Khan marries ‘Izzat un-Nisa Begam.

1795 ~ Abdullah Beg Khan’s first child, Chhoti Khanam, is born.

before 1797, Sept. 21 ~ Abdullah Beg Khan takes service with Asif ud-Daulah in Lucknow.

1797, Sept. 21 ~ Asif ud-Daulah dies.

1797, Dec. 27 ~ Asadullah Khan is born, Agra; or *a year or two earlier*?

later 1799 == Ghalib’s younger brother Yusuf ‘Ali Khan is born.

before 1802 == Abdullah Beg Khan takes service with the Maharajah of Alwar.

1802 ~ Abdullah Beg Khan dies, is buried at Rajgarh in Alwar; his younger brother Nasrullah Beg Khan takes charge of the widow and children; Nasrullah Beg Khan is married to the sister of Ahmad Bakhsh Khan, Navab of Firozpur Jhirka and Loharu (marriage date unknown).

1803 ~ Nasrullah Beg Khan is the commander of Agra Fort, under the Marathas.

1803 ~ Nasrullah Beg Khan changes sides, makes over the fort to Lord Lake; is appointed commander of 400 cavalry at a salary of Rs. 1,700 per month.

1806, April? ~ Nasrullah Beg Khan dies in a fall from an elephant.

1806, May 4 ~ His survivors, including equally Nasrullah Beg Khan’s mother and three sisters, and Ghalib and his sister and brother, are granted a pension of Rs.10,000 annually, to be paid from the revenues of Ahmad Bakhsh Khan’s estate (who was probably granted some of Nasrullah Beg Khan’s property).

1806, June 7~ the grant is reduced by Ahmad Bakhsh Khan to Rs. 5,000; the other half is granted to one Khvajah Haji.

1807-08? ~ Nazir Akbarabadi is alleged (probably not accurately) to have been Ghalibs’s tutor for a time in this period; Gbegins writing poetry, using ‘Asad’; his famous short masnavi about kite-flying has been attributed by Hali to this period.

1810 == Ghalib is said to attend the maktab of Maulvi Muhammad Mu’azzam, Agra;

1810, Aug. 18/19 ~ Ghalib is married in Delhi to Umra’o Begam (age 11), daughter of Navab Ilahi Bakhsh Khan ‘Ma’ruf’, younger brother of Navab Ahmad Bakhsh Khan of Firozpur Jhirka and Loharu; none of theseven children they have together lives beyond infancy.

1811 ~ Hurmuzd (Abdus Samad) allegedly (though perhaps not in reality) arrives from Iran, stays 2 years as Ghalib’s Persian tutor,teaches him the Persian of a native speaker.

1812/3 ~ Ghalib moves to Delhi permanently; lives for a while with his father-in-law, then moves to a rented house in Gali Qasim Jan.

1816 ~ Ghalib compiles his first Urdu divan, which is now known as the nuskah-e amrohah or the nuskah-e bhopaal . The original manuscript has since disappeared, but printed editions of it exist, one by Akbar Ali Khan Arshizadah (Rampur, 1969), one by Nisar Ahmad Faruqi (Lahore, 1969).

1816 ~ Ghalib adopts ‘Ghalib’ as his takhallus in addition to ‘Asad’.

1821 ~ Ghalib compiles the second version of his Urdu divan, which is now known as the nuskah-e-hamiidiyah . This manuscript was printed first in 1921, edited by Mufti Anvaar ul-Haq of Bhopal with the famous unfinished preface by Abdur Rahman Bijnori; and again much later (1970’s) in facsimile editions from Lucknow and Lahore. The original is reported to have disappeared from the State Library in Bhopal in 1947, and has recently been reported by S. R. Faruqi to have resurfaced. This version contains most (though not all) of the ghazals from 1816, and many new ones. The present whereabouts of this divan are not known.

1825 ~ Ghalib compiles the third version of his Urdu divan, which is now known as the nuskah-e sheraanii ; this manuscript, discovered by Haafiz Mahmud Sherani, is now in Punjab University, Lahore; it was published by Punjab University in a facsimile edition, 1969. This version contains most (though not all) of the ghazals from 1821, and many new ones.

1825 ~ Khvajah Haji dies; Ghalib begins seeking restoration of the full pension; he goes to Firozpur Jhirka to talk with Navab Ahmad Bakhsh Khan and General Ochterlony.

1825, Nov. ~ Ghalib makes a second fruitless visit to Firozpur Jhirka, hoping in vain to meet Ochterlony’s successor Metcalf through Ahmad Bakhsh Khan and improve his pension situation; he goes to Bharatpur with Ahmad Bakhsh Khan and Metcalf, returns with Ahmad Bakhsh Khan to Jhirka in Dec. and stays till Sept. 1826.

1826, early Oct. ~ Ghalib leaves Firozpur for Kanpur, where Metcalf is reported to be encamped, but is unable to meet with Metcalf; he falls ill, and upon his recovery proceeds to Lucknow. There he imposes excessive conditions for meeting the Navab, and thus doesn’t meet him; he again falls ill.

1826, Aug./Dec. ~ Ghalib’s father-in-law Ilahi Bakhsh Khan Ma’ruf dies; G’s younger brother Mirza Yusuf goes mad.

1826, Oct. 13 ~ Ahmad Bakhsh Khan abdicates.

1827, ~ Ghalib leaves from Lucknow to Calcutta.

1827, August ~ Ghalib travels to Baanda, where he stays for about six months.

1827, Oct. ~ Ahmad Bakhsh Khan dies.

1828, very early ~ Ghalib travels to Banaras, where he stays for about a month.

1828, Feb. 20 == Ghalib reaches Calcutta; he petitions the Company government for redress of his pension grievances.

1828, June == Ghalib participates in Persian mushairahs; some linguistic objections are raised against his poetry by pupils of Mirza Muhammad Hasan Qatil; he replies to them in his masnavi baad-e mu;xaalif , written in a conciliatory tone but insisting on his view that Indian Persian writers are not authoritative for usage and idiom.

1828, June ~ The Company government directs him to submit his pension petition in Delhi.

1828, Sept.  ~ Ghalib compiles gul-e ranaa , a selection of his Urdu and Persian poetry, for his friend Maulvi Siraj ud-Din Ahmad; the manuscript was missing for almost a century but then was found by Sayyid Naqi Bilgrami, and published by Malik Ram in 1970.

1829, Feb. ~ Ghalib receives a place and honors in the Governor General’s durbar.

1829, Aug. ~ Ghalib is present at the Governor General’s second durbar; he leaves Calcutta for Baanda.

1829, Oct. ~ Ghalib reaches Banda and stays for a week, then leaves for Delhi.

1829, Nov. 29 ~ Ghalib reaches Delhi.

1831, Jan. ~ Ghalib’s pension claim case is dismissed.

1832(?) ~ Ghalib becomes friends with Mustafa Khan Sheftah.

1833, Apr. ~ Ghalib compiles the Urdu divan that is basically the one now current; it is not published till 1841.

1834-35 ~ maikaanah-e aarzuu-saranjaam , his Persian divan, is published by Matba Dar us-Salam, Delhi, 506 p.; the compilation is supervised by Navab Ziya ul-Din Ahmad Khan of Loharu (younger brother of the ruler) and others. This work contains 275 ghazals with 6,673 shi’rs. This has now vanished.

1837, June ~ Ghalib is sued for debt by an English wine-merchant, has to stay in his house to avoid creditors, and is briefly arrested; but Amin ud-din Khan of Loharu (son of the ruler), pays the debt

1837, Sept. ~ Bahadur Shah ascends the throne.

1840(?) ~ Ghalib’s mother dies.

1840 ~ Ghalib refuses the interview for an appointment to the professorship of Persian in Delhi College.

1841, earlier half ~ Ghalib is arrested for running a gaming-house in his own home; he is fined Rs. 100 which is paid then and there.

1841, Oct. ~ diivaan-e-Ghalib in Urdu is published by the Sayyid ul-Mataabi’ Press (also known as Sayyid ul-Akhbar Press), Delhi, in 108 p.; it has a Persian intro. by Ghalib; an endnote by Ziya ud-Din Ahmad Khan dated 1838 saying that the total shi’rs are 1,070 (though it’s actually 1,095). This edition is in the Saulat Public Library, Rampur. A facsimile edition was published by Kalidas Gupta Raza (1999).

1845 ~ The first printing of Ghalib’s Persian divan (compiled 1834-35). No copy of this first edition seems to be known.

1847, May ~ diivaan-e-Ghalib in Urdu, 2nd ed., Matba Dar ul-Salam, Delhi, 98 p.; 1,159 shi’rs. A facsimile edition was published by Kalidas Gupta Raza 1999.

1847, June ~ Ghalib is arrested for gambling, sentenced to 6 months’ imprisonment and a fine (which is paid by friends); he is treated leniently and released after 3 months; only Sheftah is loyal; he then stays as tenant in a house owned by Miyan Kale Sahib (Maulana Nasir ud-din).

1847-48 ~ Ghalib’s first surviving Urdu letters.

1849 ~ panj aahang , Persian work in 5 sections: rules of address; rules of Persian grammar; his Persian verses; misc. quotes and references; some of his Persian letters; published by Matba Sultani, Delhi (Red Fort), 493 p. Kalidas Gupta Raza published a facsimile edition of the letters part.

1850, July 4 ~ Ghalib is engaged by Bahadur Shah to write a Timurid dynastic history; he is given a khitab and an annual pension of Rs. 600; he’s also given the titles of Najm ud-daulah, Dabir ul-mulk,Nizam-e-jang.

1851? ~ the ‘sihra incident’ (Bahadur Shah takes umbrage on behalf of Zauq).

1852 ~ Zauq’s wife’s nephew Zain ul-‘Abidin Khan ‘Arif’, whom Ghalib truly loves, dies of an illness; Arif’s wife Zainab had died only a few months before; Ghalib and his wife end up bringing up both their young sons, Baqir Ali Khan and Husain Ali Khan.

1852, second half ~ Ghalib translates a prose text of Muhammad Salim in the form of a Persian masnavi, maybe at Bahadur Shah’s behest; it’s printed by the Matba Sultani; it’s finally included in his Persian kulliyat, 1863.

1853 or earlier ~ The heir apparent Mirza Ghulam Fakhr ud-Din  (‘Mirza Fakhru’) starts paying Ghalib Rs. 400 a year; another prince, Mirza Khizr Sultan, also patronizes him.

1853, April ~ panj aahang , a second edition, Dar us-Salam, 444 p. (orig. 1849).

1854, late Nov.  ~ Ghalib becomes the royal Ustad, after Zauq dies on Nov. 16th).

1854/55 ~ mahr-e niim-roz , first part of the Timurid history (creation of the world up to Humayun), published by Matba Fakhr ul-Matabi, Delhi, 116 p.; it’s reprinted twice more in the same year, but all the printings are called the ‘first edition’.

1854/55 ~ Ghalib is asked by Sir Sayyid Ahmad Khan to write a preface to his new edition of A’in-e Akbari, but instead Ghalib writes a Persian poem deprecating the project and urging Sir Sayyid to move with the times; he also deprecates Akbar’s rule by comparison to that of the British.

1855 ~ Ghalib is awarded cash and a pension by Vajid ‘Ali Shah, Navab of Avadh.

1856, 7 Feb. ~ Vajid ‘Ali Shah is dethroned, and Avadh is annexed.

1856, July ~ The heir apparent Mirza Ghulam Fakhr ud-Din dies of cholera.

1856, second half ~ qaadir-naamah , mnemonic rhymes for children, published by Matba-e Sultani, Red Fort, 8 p..

1856 ~ Ghalib composes a qasidah to Queen Victoria.

1857, Feb. 5 ~ Ghalib becomes the Ustad of Navab Yusuf Ali Khan ‘Nazim’, of Rampur.

1857, Mar/Apr ~ Ghalib writes some letters to the Navab of Rampur, asks for them to be destroyed (unhappiness with wife, quest for a divorce?).

1857, May 10 – Oct. ~ Rebellion; Ghalib is protected through the Maharaja of Patiala; all his valuables are lost when his wife secretly sends them to Miyan Kale Sahib’s house for safekeeping; Khizr Sultan is shot dead by Hudson, Bahadur Shah is exiled.

1857, Oct.18 ~ Ghalib’s younger, mad brother Yusuf dies of a fever.

1858 ~ Ghalib sends various qasidahs of the Queen and officers to officialdom, but they are returned as mere useless flattery.

1858, Nov ~ dastanbuu , Ghalib’s ‘old Persian’ (with Arabic words avoided) account of 1857, published by Matba Mufid-e Khala’iq, Agra, 80 p.; much admired by British officers.

1859, July ~ Ghalib begins to receive a pension of Rs. 100 a month from the Navab of Rampur; also, mss. collections of his poetry have survived there after most Delhi ones have been lost in 1857.

1860, Jan. 19-27 ~ Ghalib travels to Rampur.

1860, Mar. 17-24 ~ Ghalib travels back to Delhi at the instigation of the two children; he stops at in a sarai at Moradabad after his boat overturns, but Sir Sayyid offers him hospitality.

1860, Mar. 24 ~ Ghalib’s British pension reinstated through Sir Sayyid and/or Navab of Rampur’s help, Rs. 2,250 paid as arrears.

1861, July 29 ~ diivaan-e ;Gaalib , Urdu, third edition, Matba Ahmadi, Shaahdara, Delhi; it is full of misprints and inaccuracies, and is rejected by Ghalib and published without his permission and against his will.

1862, 22 March ~ qaa:ti-e burhaan , his Persian polemic attackingburhaan-e qaa:ti, Naval Kishor, Lucknow, 98 p.

1862, June ~ diivaan-e ;Gaalib , Urdu, revised fourth edition, Nizami Press, Kanpur; 104 p.

1863, Mar. 3 ~ Ghalib’s official durbar honors are restored.

1863, June ~ kulliyaat-e na:zm-e faarsii , Munshi Naval Kishor, Lucknow, 562 p.; 10,424 shi’rs.

1863, latter half ~ diivaan-e ;Gaalib , Urdu, fifth edition, Matba Mufid-e Khala’iq, Agra, 146 p.

1864 ~ controversies about qaati-e burhaan begin; the dispute ends on Mar. 23, 1868, when Ghalib files a petition withdrawing his case against one of his attackers.

1864 ~ Ghalib’s Persian masnavi abr-e gauhar-baar , iseparately printed by Akmal-e Mutaabi’, Delhi; though it was already in his Persian kulliyaat.

1864 ~ 2nd ed, qaadir-naamah-e ;Gaalib , Mahbas [Prison] Press, Delhi.

1864, Oct. 2 ~ lataaif-e ;Gaibii , an Urdu pamphlet, part of the qaati controversy; the title page claimed authorship by Ghalib’s shagird Miyandad Khan Sayyaad.

1864, Nov. ~ savaalaat-e abd ul-kariim , another Urdu pamphlet continuing the qaati controversy, published under the alias of ‘Abdul Karim’.

1865, Apr. 21 ~ Navab Yusuf ‘Ali Khan of Rampur dies, succeeded by Kalb-e ‘Ali Khan.

1865, Aug. ~ naamah-e ;Gaalib , another Urdu pamphlet, part of theqaati controversy, Matba-e Muhammadi, Delhi, 16 p.; it’s now included in uud-e hindii.

1865, Oct. 7 ~ Ghalib travels to Rampur to attend the coronation, falls sick at Moradabad during the return journey; reaches Delhi Jan. 8, 1866.

1865 ~ dastanbuu , second ed. (orig. 1858), Rohilkhand Literary Society Press, Bareilly.

1865, Dec. ~ durafsh-e kaaviyaanii , a revised ed. of qaati-e burhaan , Akmal ul-Mataabi’ Press, Delhi, 154 p.

1866, May ~ Ghalib’s health begins to decline, his sight and hearing begin to fail.

1866 ~ vol. 2 [sic] of inshaa-e urduu , ed. by Maulvi Ziya ud-din Khan of Delhi College, published by Matba Faiz-e Ahmadi, Delhi, with selections of Ghalib’s Urdu prose.

1866-67 ~ masnavi duaa-e .sabaah , a Shi’ite masnavi that Ghalib translates from Arabic into Persian.

1867 ~ teg-e tez , Urdu pamphlet, part of the qaati controversy, Akmal ul-Mataabi’, Delhi, 32 p.

1867, Feb. 18 ~ nikaat-e ;Gaalib va ruqaat-e ;Gaalib , model Persian letters selected for schoolboys, and a small text on Persian grammar, Siraji Press, Delhi, 16 p., composed by request of Master Ra’e Bahadur Pyare Lal.

1867, April 11 ~ hangaamah-e dil-aashob , part 1, containing verse texts from Ghalib and others; in Urdu, connected with the qaaticontroversy.

1867, August ~ sabad-e chiin , a Persian masnavi already published in his kulliyaat; Matba Muhammadi, Delhi.

1867, 24 Sept. ~ part 2, hangaamah-e dil-aashob , contents like part 1 except both Urdu and Persian.

1867, Dec. 2 ~ Ghalib lodges a complaint of defamation against Maulvi Aminuddin Dihlavi, author of one of the most scurrilous of the polemical tracts that resulted from the qaati controversy.

1868, Jan. ~ kulliyaat-e na;sr-e faarsii , Persian prose ( panj aahang , mahr-e niim-roz , dastanbuu ), Naval Kishor Press, Lucknow, 212 p.

1868, Mar. 23 ~ a compromise is arranged and Ghalib’s legal complaint is dropped; since only Hali and Sheftah supported his linguistic claims..

1868, Oct. 27 ~ uud-e hindii , a collection of his Urdu letters made by Munshi Mumtaz ‘Ali and others, initially against his opposition; Matba Mujtaba’i, Meerut, 188 p.; Ghalib objects to many errors, and works on a new edition.

1869, Feb. ~ Ghalib dies, after falling into a coma on Feb. 14; he is buried at Nizamuddin in the traditional graveyard of the Loharu family.

1869, Mar. 5 ~ urduu-e muallaa , Part I; a second collection of his Urdu letters; Akmal ul-Mataba, Delhi, 464 p.

1870, Feb. 4 ~ Umra’o Begam dies.

1899 ~ urduu-e mu((allaa , Parts I and II; Matba Mujtaba’i, Delhi

1955 ~ The present tomb is built.


Hope this was informative.  This is not my work. Like always I am just a messenger trying to pass on the history and poetry of Ghalib, however a lot of effort has gone into making the content presentable and neat(all the arrangement and editing). If there are any errors or if you would like to add anything, please leave a comment.


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