Who inspired Ghalib ?


After reading Ghalib and studying his life, ghazals and letters, I wondered who was this mans inspiration, this generation looks upto Ghalib and Mir as the best poets. Ghalib has inspired great poets like Iqbal, Faiz and Faraz. Who moved Ghalib ?

First up, I asked a question on twitter on @GhalibPoetry – Who inspired Ghalib ?


After waiting for a long time Muhamad Ans Amirudin ‏ – @ans_ameer  answered the question correctly  – The poet who inspired Ghalib was Abdul-Qādir Bēdil. Second correct answer was from by Syed Ali Irtiza.


In poetry, Ghalib adopted a complex, new style that ran against the dominant currents of the period. Meer had simplified poetic expression. Ghalib taking Bedil, the Persian master’s approach was at times so complex that he was often ridiculed for the abstract, seemingly opaque structure of his ‘asha’ar’.

Repeatedly Ghalib adopts Bedil’s style, his special brand of metaphysical expression, but he gives up. Bedil, says Ghalib, exists in a higher zone.

One of the best Persian poets, an inspiration to Mirza Ghalib and Allama Iqbal, all of Central Asia praises Bedil, but we Indians have no clue as to who this man was and how important is his work to the world of Persian and Urdu literature.

I will not criticize further, I recently read this quote – In a garden, everyone likes different color of flowers, not everyone likes the rose. Unfortunately, the flower of Bedil is hidden somewhere in the corner.

Who is Bedil ?

Mirza Abdul Qadir Bedil

Mawlānā Abul-Ma’āni Mirzā Abdul-Qādir Bēdil also known as Bedil Dehlavī (1642–1720), was a famous Persian poet and Sufi born in Azimabad (present day Patna, India); to a family of Chaghatay Turkic descent.

He mostly wrote Ghazal and Rubayee (quatrain) in Persian and is the author of 16 books of poetry (contain nearly 147,000 verses and include several masnavi). He is considered as one of the prominent poets of Indian School of Poetry in Persian literature, and owns his unique Style in it. Both Mirza Ghalib and Allama Iqbal were influenced by him.

His grave, called Bagh-e-Bedil (Garden of Bedil) is situated across Purana Qila, at Mathura Road in Delhi.

If you are walking from the Supreme Court, on the pavement opposite Pragati Maidan, past the Sports Club of India, you cannot miss the enclosed area, carpeted with grass, leading to Bedil’s tomb.

Ghalib wrote a letter to a friend sharing his views about poetry and about his favorite poets , the letter has been translated in English.

Letter of Mirza Ghalib written in 1866 – 

” My dear sir! In the beginning of my composition of poetry [fikr-e sukhan], I used to compose Rekhtah in the style of [the complex Persian poets] Bedil and Asir and Shaukat. Thus the closing-verse of one ghazal was:

Tarz-e ‘Bedil’ mein rekhtah likhnaa
Asad ullaah Khan qayaamat hai

“To write Rekhtah in the style of Bedil // Asadullah Khan it is a devastation/’Doomsday’!

From the age of fifteen years to the age of twenty-five years, I always composed [likhaa kiyaa] imagined/fanciful [khayaalii] themes. In ten years, a large divan became collected. Finally, when discrimination [tamiiz] came [to me], then I rejected [duur kiyaa] that divan. The pages I utterly [yak-qalam] tore up. By way of example, I permitted ten or fifteen verses to remain in the present divan.

Protector of servants! There’s no need for correction of your prose. This special path of your composition is interesting and free of flaws. Please don’t abandon this style. And if you wish to imitate me and favor me, then please study seriously ‘Panj Ahang’ [panj aahang] etc., my [Persian prose and verse] writings, and advance your practice [mashq]. ”


One more couplet by Ghalib on Bedil –

mujhe raah-e sukhan mein khauf-e gum-raahii nahiin Ghalib // 

a.saa-e khizr-e sahraa-e sukhan hai khaama ‘bedil’ kaa

“When I began to write poetry I took Bedil and Asir and Shaukat as the models for my Urdu verse. ”

Bedil’s pen is equated with Khizr’s staff.

Ghalib wrote the following couplet about Bedil and his style, however this couplet was not published in the Divaan.

Asad har jaa sukhan ne tarh-e baag-e taazah daali hai
mujhe rang-e bahaar-iijaadii-e ‘Bedil’ pasand aayaa

”Asad, everywhere poetry/speech has produced/presented the pattern/style of a fresh garden
2) the color/style of the spring-creation of Bedil pleased me

Even modern Urdu poets consider Bedil to be the best –  Ahmad Faraz says “Bedil is the greatest poet in Persian—which includes Iran!”

Bedil has been called ‘Ghalib’s Ghalib’.

If you happen to live in Dehli, please visit Bagh-e-Bedil, if not for Bedil or love of poetry, you’ll surely enjoy the greenery and the surroundings of that place.

Feedback welcome

Thank You,

Ali Muhammad Ali @AliPoetry


Some pics of Bagh-e-Bedil in Delhi by The Delhiwalla Blog

Source –

Letter of Mirza Ghalib – Urdu text: Khaliq Anjum vol. 2, pp. 845-46 another trans.: Daud Rahbar, pp. 279-80

Picture of Bedil – is from http://www.salaam.co.uk

Outlook – Read the article by Saeed Naqvi

The Delhiwala Blog – Read the Blog Post here



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