Category Archives: Mirza Ghalib

Ghalib’s response to the article published in DNA – ‘Mirza Ghalib is fanning hate feelings: Cops’ theory’

Yesterday, I read an article published in DNA on the front page and the first words of the title were  ‘Mirza Ghalib’, I was happy for a micro second and was excited to read about Ghalib, not many newspapers write about poets. I continued to read the title of the article – ‘Mirza Ghalib is fanning hate feelings: Cops’ theory’. After reading the complete title, it didn’t add to my excitement, however I moved on to reading the article, the first line reflected my feelings, it said – ‘Absurd as it may sound,’ Exactly, Absurd!

I was reading not as any reader, but someone who knows about Ghalib and his body of work, having read not only his poetry but also his about life and the time he lived in. I knew that whatever I am going to read is not going to make sense, but I still continued, it said – Absurd as it may sound, the Maharashtra police believes members of the banned terror group SIMI are now taking inspiration from Mirza Ghalib.

Bordering on the insane and the improbable, the affidavits are a testimony to the fact that the police have been plain lazy while preparing a “watertight case” against SIMI. Of the several affidavits — filed in court asking for the ban on the group to continue — accessed by DNA, one by inspector Shivajirao Tambare of Vijapur Naka, Solapur, cites a Ghalib verse — as part of evidence — to show how dangerous SIMI (Students Islamic Movement of India) is.

Mr. Shivajirao Tambare, I am happy to know that the police department is reading Ghalib, but reading it without understanding can get you in trouble.

To understand the message, always understand the messenger. I am sure you have done your research on Ghalib’s poetry but not on Ghalib.

I continued to read and the couplet was quoted –  Mauje khoon ser se guzer hi kiyon na jay, Aastane yaar se uth jaein kaya! A loosely translated Marathi version in the affidavit concludes that these lines speak of bloodshed and animosity.

Khalid Mehmood, the head of Jamia Millia Islamia’s Urdu department, however, has a different take. He told DNA that the lines, in fact, have a positive meaning: “Whatever be the circumstances, we will not leave the place (country or home of the beloved) even if our heads are chopped off…”.

Khalid Mehmood added patriotism to the couplet, maybe he asked to add a pinch of ‘desh bhakti’. When one translates poetry, the essence is lost and then you can make anything out of it and give all the credit to the poet for it.

The couplet is taken from the a very famous Ghazal, the first verse of the ghazal is –

jaur se baaz aae par baaz aaen kyaa
kahte hain hum tujh ko munh dikhlaaen kyaa

This Ghazal is full of complaints and pain of the lover and has got nothing to do with terrorism or patriotism.

Here is a translation of the couplet quoted by the cop in his affidavit.

mauj-e khuun sar se guzar hii kyun na jaae
aastaan-e yaar se uth jaaen kyaa

even if a wave of blood would pass over [our] head
as if we would get up from the beloved’s doorsill!

In the second line kyaa is for contempt.

Bekhud Dihlavi’s commentary on the couplet – By ‘the wave of blood’, here trouble and suffering is meant.  He says, no matter how much trouble may come upon me, I’m now fixed here on the beloved’s doorsill; and I’ve made up my mind to it. So I wouldn’t at all get up get up from here– now I’ll get up only when I’ve died.

Back to the article, it goes on to say – Matters do not end here. Affidavit after affidavit, accessed by DNA, cites “secession of Maharashtra from India and thereby, disrupting the sovereignty and the territorial integrity of the country”, as a reason to ban SIMI. The police — instead of providing any evidence to back their claim — have concluded that Ghalib’s shayari is the culprit.

I don’t think I need to comment on the intelligence and understanding of the police; the newspaper already did that throughout the article.

Only 235 words in the article talk about Ghalib, the remaining 215 words prove that it’s not only Maharashtra police who come up with such things, even Andhra Pradesh Police can give them tough competition when it comes to proving their point without evidence.

When I re-read the article after I returned home, I was happy, how strange it is that the police need to take support of a couplet to ban an organization. I was happy for Ghalib, he is still in news.

We all know, Ghalib can make you cry, he can make you wonder, he can everything other than motivate people to kill others.

I thought to myself, what would’ve Ghalib said to the cop, how would he reply, Ghalib himself has chosen to remain silent on this matter; I leave you an interesting story – A scurrilous attack on Ghalib had been published. Someone said, ‘Your Excellency! You haven’t written any answer to it.’ Mirza said, ‘If a donkey kicks you, then will you kick him back?’

Ali Muhammad Ali – @AliPoetry

Sources – Full Article on –

FWP – Columbia University.


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

Outlook – Read the article by Saeed Naqvi

The Delhiwala Blog – Read the Blog Post here


Letters of Mirza Ghalib – 1


This post is about Mirza Ghalibs Letters, whats special about the letter is that its original. The letter shown below is a copy of the original letter, the handwriting is Ghalibs and no changes have been made to the letter, you’ll also see the letter showing stamp marks from the original envelope at the bottom. They are original however they dont look so because of the techniques used to highlight the texts.

The letter letter was written by Ghalib to one of his friends Ala’i in July of 1862.  The letter quotes two Persian ghazals, then couplets of 2 famous Urdu Ghazals, koi ummiid bar nahiin aatii // koii suurat nazar nahiin aatii” verses 1, 3, 2, 7, 4, 8, 10; and finally nukta-chiin hai gum-e dil us ko sunaae nah bane // kyaa bane baat jahaan baat banaae nah bane” verses 1, 2, 5, 8, 4, 9.

A letter from Ghalib to his friend 'Ala'i, July 1862. This is a copy of the original letter. The handwriting is Ghalibs. The letter quotes two Persian ghazals and couplets from 2 Urdu Ghazals.

Letter Page 2

Letter Page 3 - Last

Here are the 2 Urdu Ghazals quoted in the above letter –


  • koi ummiid bar nahiin aati // koi suurat nazar nahiin aatii
  • maut kaa ek din muayyan hai // neend kyu raat bhar nahiin aatii


  • aage aati thi haal-e dil pe hansi // ab kisi baat par nahiin aatii
  • jaantaa huun savaab-e taa’at-o-zuhad // par tabiiat idhar nahiin aatii

[savaab=reward of good deeds in next life, taa’at=devotion, zuhad=religious deeds]

  • hai kuchh aisii hii baat jo chup huun // varna kya baat kar nahiin aatii
  • kyu na chiikuun kih yaad karte hain // merii aavaaz gar nahiin aatii
  • daag-e dil gar nazar nahiin aataa // buu bhii ay chaarah-gar nahiin aatii


  • ham vahaan hain jahaan se ham ko bhii // kuchh hamaarii khabar nahiin aatii
  • marte hain aarzuu mein marne ki // maut aatii hai par nahiin aatii
  • kaabe kis munh se jaaoge ‘Ghalib’ // sharm tum ko magar nahiin aatii

AND ————————————————————————————-

  • nukta-chiin hai gum-e dil us ko sunaae na bane // kya bane baat jahaan baat banaae na bane


  • main bulaataa to huun us ko magar ay jazbah-e dil // us pah ban jaae kuch aisii kih bin aae na bane
  • khel samjhaa hai kahiin chhoR na de bhuul na jaae // kaash yuun bhii ho kih bin mere sataae na bane
  • gair phirtaa hai liye yuun tere khat ko ki agar // koii puuchhe ki yeh kyaa hai to chhupaae na bane
  • is nazaakat kaa buraa ho wo bhale hain to kyaa // haath aaven to unhen haath lagaae na bane


  • kah sake kaun kih yih jalvaa-garii kis kii hai // pardah chho;Raa hai vuh us ne kih uthaae nah bane


  • maut kii raah nah dekhuun ki bin aae nah rahe // tum ko chaahuun kih nah aao to bulaae nah bane
  • bojh wo sar se giraa hai ki uthaae na uthe // kaam wo aan paRaa hai ki banaae na bane
  • ishq par zor nahiin hai yeh woh aatish ‘Ghalib’ // ki lagaae na lage aur bujhaae na bane



I have not attempted to translate the letter because I may not be able to do justice to it. However you’ll find the 2 Urdu Ghazals quoted in the letter, if you are confident that you can translate the letters in English, please go ahead and contribute to the post, if anyone can convert the Urdu script into Roman, it would be of great help. ( yes, you’ll be credited for it, letters translated by X) I am still learning Urdu and converting the letter into Roman script would be a herculean task for a beginner like me.

If you have any questions or would like to share your opinion to make the blog better please share your views in the comments section below.

If you find any mistakes, contact me on twitter @Alipoetry

I’ll publish more post with other Original Ghazals ( in Ghalibs handwriting ) along with some more facts.

Thank you,

Ali Muhammad Ali. @Alipoetry

Sources: FWP, Khaliq Anjum vol 1, pp. 388-90

Ghalib’s birth anniversary celebration, 2011 – Event schedule.

Sallam Duniya !

Here is the event schedule for Ghalib’s birth anniversary celebration. If you are in Delhi, request you to attend the event, its very rare to find poets such as Gulzar, Javed Akhtar and many more, also the chief minister of the Delhi.

Schedule :

Date Time Event Location
26th December
6:45 PM Arrival of Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit. India Islamic Cultural Centre, Lodhi Road, New Delhi.
6:45 PM Speech & release of film “Yadgar-E-Ghalib” by the Chief Minister
7:00 PM Screening of film on Ghalib followed to that will be Mushaira dedicated to Ghalib by famous Urdu poets such as Gulzar, Baikal Utsahi, Udai Pratap Singh & Javed Akhtar etc.
27th December
5:00 PM  Assembly Town Hall Gate  Opposite Ghanta Ghar, Chandni Chowk
6:00 PM  Candle Light Procession Chandni Chowk to Mir Qasim Jaan Gali, Ballimaran (Ghalib’s Haveli)
6:45 PM Arrival of Chief Minister at Ghalib’s Haveli to inaugurate the exhibition. Ghalib’s Haveli
7:00 PM  Homage by Hon’ble Smt. Sheila Dikshit
                                                Shri Gulzar
                                                Shri Pavan K Varma, Ambassador Bhutan
Dr. Suresh K Goel (DG, ICCR)
                                                Uma Sharma
                                                Ustad Iqbal Ahmed Khan & others
28th December
Tom Alter’s play on Ghalib India Islamic Cultural Centre.

Enjoy !


Ali Muhammad Ali

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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The Chronicles of Mirza Ghalib-4


This is the fourth edition of some famous anecdote from Ghalib’s life.

About a donkey who doesn’t eat a mango :

  • The late Hakim Razi ud-Din Khan was an extremely close friend of Mirza’s. He didn’t care for mangoes. One day he was seated in the verandah of Mirza’s house, and Mirza was there as well. A donkey-driver passed through the lane with his donkey. Some mango-skins were lying there; the donkey took a sniff, then left them. The Hakim Sahib said, ‘Look– a mango is such that even a donkey [gadhaa bhii] doesn’t eat it!’ Mirza said, ‘Without a doubt, a donkey doesn’t eat it.'(Jo gadhe he wohi nahi kahate.)

mujhase puuchho, tumhen khabar kyaa hai  // aam ke aage neshakar kyaa hai


‘The white man’s prison and the black man’s prison’ :

  • On at least one occasion Ghalib did make a play on Kale Shah’s name, as Hali tells us : When Mirza came out of prison [for gambling, in 1847], then he went and stayed at Miyan Kale’s house. One day he was sitting with the Miyan. Somebody came and congratulated him on being freed from prison. Mirza said, ‘What wretch [bha;Ruvaa, literally ‘pimp’] has gotten out of prison? First I was in the white man’s [gaure kii] prison, now I’m in the black man’s [kaale kii] prison!’

How he refused a fine position teaching Persian at Delhi College :

  • In 1842 the English government decided to reorganize the affairs of Delhi College. Thomason Sahib, who for a number of years had been Lieutenant Governor of the Northwestern Province, was Secretary at that time. He came to Delhi to interview the teachers. And just as there was a teacher of Arabic at one hundred rupees a month, he wished for there to be such a teacher of Persian also. People told him the names of some accomplished ones. Mirza’s name too was among these. Mirza Sahib came, as he had been invited to do. Announcement was made to the Sahib. Mirza Sahib came out of his palanquin, and stayed there waiting for the Secretary Sahib to come, according to long custom, and receive him. When neither the one went in, nor the other came out, and quite some time passed, then the Secretary Sahib asked his doorkeeper about it. That man came out again and asked, ‘Why don’t you come in?’ Mirza Sahib said, ‘The Sahib has not come out to receive me. How can I go in?’ The doorkeeper again went and reported.  The Sahib came outside and said, ‘When you come to the governor’s court in your capacity as a nobleman, then you will receive the customary honor. But at the present time you have come for employment. You are not entitled to this honor.’ Mirza Sahib said, ‘I consider government service a reason for additional honor, not something in which I would lose my ancestral honor also!’ The Sahib said, ‘I am bound by regulations.’ Mirza Sahib took his leave and came away.

Verse of a Ghazal related to the above episode :

bandagii me bhii vuh aazaadah-o-ḳhvud-biin hain kih ham
ulṭe phir aae dar-e kaʿbah agar vaa nah huaa.

1) even/also in servitude we are so free and self-regarding that we
2) turned and came back if the door of the Ka’bah did not open

To be continued…

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