Mirza Asad Ullah Khan “Ghalib” is one of the best of the Urdu poets. He led a revolution in Urdu poetry with his words. According to the critic Aal Ahemd Sarvar “Ghalib gave brain to our poetry which was till then dominated by the people of heart.”
Ghalib used to have takhallus (pen name) of ‘Asad’ but he listened to this sher He said whose sher is this should get lots of rahmat of God but if it is mine then lots of laanat on me, and he changed his takhallus to ‘ghalib’.
Asad us jafaa par butoN say wafaa ki
me-ray sher shabaash rahmat kHuda ki
He was born in 1796 in Akbarabad (present Agra). His father Abdullah Beg Khan and Uncle Nasrullah Beg Khan were in the Army. Mirza Ghalib becomes orphaned when he was just 5 years old. He lived with his uncle for 4 years, when his uncle too died.
He started saying sher in Agra itself. He married the daughter of Nawab Ilahi Baksh ‘Maaroof’ and therefore moved to Delhi. In Delhi he devoted his full concentration to poetry. Soon he mastered the Persian language. Ghalib was always proud of his Farsi poetry but he is known more by his Urdu prose and poetry.
He always lived his life lacking money. After 1857 the support from the Royal durbar stopped. The pension from the British Govt. was stopped because he was suspected of supporting the rebels. He even traveled to Calcutta to restart the pension but to no avail.
He went to the Nawab of Rampur, who promised him Rupees 200 if he lived in Rampur and Rs. 100 if he lived anywhere else. His pension was resumed 3 years after that, but all that money was used up for paying old debts. He died in Delhi on February 15, 1869. The house where he lived in Gali Qasim Jaan, Ballimaran, Chandni Chowk, in old Delhi, has now been turned into ‘Ghalib Memorial’ and houses a permanent exhibition on him.
The Place where he lived…
Ballimaaran in the walled city of Delhi more than 150 years ago where one of the greatest masters of Urdu Poetry, Mirza Ghalib once lived. Mirza gave a whole new dimension to the world of Urdu Poetry, and has been hailed as one of the the true Masters. it is no joke to locate Gali Qasim Jaan where Mirza’s Haveli still stands. It is a crying shame that what once was a two-storey Haveli has been reduced to barely a neglected remnant. Years of government indifference has led to severe misuse of the place.
Finally, the Archaeological Society of India took matters into its own hands and two ushers now look after the Haveli. Visiting hours are observed for tourists who long to feel the air, which still echoes with Mirza’s recitals.
Ballimaaran, where the Haveli is situated – is predominantly a Muslim area and the lanes are barely wide enough to allow one rickshaw to pass. The scenes have obviously changed from the times of Mirza. Hustle and bustle of honking vehicles and endless shopping hoards have taken over mercilessly. It was a somewhat pleasant day despite the overnight rain, which often leads to humidity in the month of June. I found it dismaying to discover that even the localites did not seem to know the whereabouts of Mirza’s Haveli. A pity indeed.
This was the place where women once sang celebrating the birth of yet another child. A child who would not survive. Here is where Mirza stayed lost in thoughts for hours – penning down verses. This was where Mirza Ghalib lived. The man who changed the world of Urdu Poetry forever.
Incidentally, Hasrat Mohani’s Ghazal “Chupke, chupke raat din ansoon bahan yaad hein….” was written on a terrace in Ballimaraan by a youthful Mohani who had fallen in love with a girl living in the next house. She would often come to the terrace on the pretext of drying clothes.
Ballimaaran, which stood witness to the bloodshed during the revolt of 1857, has seen it all. From the days of Mirza Ghalib to the current times. It still stands tall as if serving his master, Mirza himself. I stepped out with the imagery of the Haveli engrained in my heart and soul.