Urdu ke Naam - اردو كے نام © urdu-ke-naam.blogspot.com



Sunday, October 14, 2007

Ghalib's apologia--or 'ma'azeratnaama'

Zeenat Mahal, wife of Bahadur Shah Zafar, last Mughal Emperor.
It so happened that Bahadur Shah Zafar's favorite wife, Begum Zeenat Begum asked Ghalib to write a 'sehra' (a tribute, if you will,) for her son, Shehzada Mirza Jawan BaKhth's wedding. Complying with the Begum's wish, Ghalib wrote a 'sehra' whose maqt'a said:

'hum suKhan_fehm haiN, Ghalib ke tarafdaar nahiN
dekheN keh de koi is sehre se baRh kar sehra'

(I'm someone who appreciates poetry, am not partial to Ghalib
Let's see if there's anyone who can write a better 'sehra')

It's believed that the Emperor wasn't pleased with the maqt'a. He was told that it was a dig at ShaiKh Ibrahim Zauq, Zafar's ustaad. Taunting the 'ustaad' was tantamount to slighting the Emperor and his taste, and all the rest of it. Zafar asked Zauq to write a 'sehra' as well and Zauq's 'sehra' had a maqt'a which was something of retort to Ghalib's maqt'a:

jin ko daawa ho suKhan ka yeh sunaa do unko
dekh is taraH se kehte haiN suKhanwar sehra

(Tell those who claim to be poets
This is how poets write a maqta'a)

Ghalib wrote his celebrated apology, 'qat'a-e-ma'azerat' in response to the Emperor's reaction, clarifying his position. The most interesting part is that the great master laced every single 'shayr' with veiled irony in his inimitable style and didn't leave a single opportunity to take a dig at 'Zauq':

manzoor hai guzaarish-e-ahvaal-e-waaqa'aii
apna bayaan-e-Husn-e-tabii'yat nahiN mujhe

sau pusht se, hai pesha-e-aaba sipahgari
kuchh shayari, zari'ye-e-izzat nahiN mujhe

aazaadah rau huN, aur mira maslak hai sulH-e-kul
hargiz kabhi kisi se adaawat nahiN mujhe

kya kam hai yeh sharaf ke Zafar ka Ghulaam huN
maana ke jaah-o-mansab-o-sarwat nahiN mujhe

ustaad-e-shah se ho mujhe parKhaash ka Khayaal
yeh taab, yeh majaal, yeh taaqat nahiN mujhe

jaam-e-jahaaN_numa hai shahenshaah ka zameer
saugand aur gawaah ki Haajat nahiN mujhe

maiN kaun, aur reKhta, haaN is se mudda'a
juz inbisaat-e-Khaatir-e-Hazrat nahiN mujhe

sehraa likhaa gaya ze_rah-e-imtiSaal-e-amr
dekhaa ke chaarah Ghair ita'at nahiN mujhe

maqt'e meiN aa paRi hai suKhan gustaraana baat
maqsood is se qat'a-e-moHabbat nahiN mujhe

ruu-e-suKhan kisi taraf ho, tau ruu_siyaah
sauda nahiN, junooN nahiN, veHshat nahiN mujhe

qismat buri sahii, pa tabii'yat buri nahiN
hai shukr ki jagah, ke shikaayat nahiN mujhe

saadiq huN apne qaul meiN Ghalib Khuda_gawaah
kehta huN sach ke jhooT ki a'adat nahiN mujhe

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

'besabab huwa Ghalib dushman aasmaaN apna'

Ghalib feigns modesty when he says:
hum kahaaN ke daana thhe, kis hunar meiN yakta thhe
besabab huwa Ghalib, dushman aasmaaN apna

His work has spawned countless admirers--as I have said, there's hardly a master among our 'asaateza' after him, who has not been influenced--and very profoundly at that--by the 'mehr-e-niimroz' or mid-day sun of Urdu verse.
There has been the odd critic too. 'Yaas' 'Yagaana' Changezi went bonkers trying to debunk Ghalib. Others have also criticized Ghalib's sucking up to the British--as they saw it--forgetting the cardinal principle that a poet/artist must be judged against his times and circumstances.

At the risk of being flippant with one of his celebrated lines, one could say:
'Duboya mujh ko hone ne, na hotaa maiN tau kya hotaa'

But it would probably be more more apt to quote the inimitable Ghalib thus:
'aisa kahaaN se lauN ke tujhsa kaheN jisay'
As for his critics, let us repeat what Ghalib said to the va'aez:
'aisa bhi hai koii ke sab achha kaheN jisay?'

Saturday, September 29, 2007

'ajab azaad mard thha'

hu'e mar ke ham jo rusvaa, hu'e kyuuN na garq-e-daryaa<br />na kabhii janaazaa uThtaa na kahiiN mazaar hotaa
'ajab azaad mard'--that's how Ghalib described himself and it's a term that suits him best:
yeh laash-e-bekafan Asad-e-Khastah_jaaN ki hai
Haq maghfirat kare, ajab aazaad mard thha

Ghalib-e-Khastaa ke baGhair kaunse kaam band haiN<br />roiye zaar zaar kyaa keejiye haaye haaye kyuuN
Altaf Hussain 'Haali' in his famous and moving 'marsiya' or elegy written on Ghalib's death recalls the phrase, as well.

Ghalib happens to be the most oft-quoted and perhaps the most misquoted poet in the Urdu canon too. Just about every other 'shayr' is ascribed to him. I was once in the company of a well-known research scholar from where I belong, Hyderabad, A.P., and a former Head of the Urdu Department of a well-known local college. The phone rang and this gentleman (the ex-Head) said, "haaN yeh Ghalib ka shayr hai", by way of confirmation and looked at the famous researcher who nodded. He repeated the shayr first:

yaad-e-maazi azaab hai ya rab
chheen le mujh se Haafiza mera

I knew right away that it was not a shayr from Ghalib, but who was I to contradict a former head and one of Hyderabad's well-known urdu scholars. I quietly told them the next day that they had better recheck, because some people who knew their Ghalib told me that it wasn't his shayr at all. The research scholar ran into the library, right next to where we were sitting, came back and mumbled that it wasn't a shayr from Ghalib, after all.
More than a year ago Hasan Suroor of The Hindu wrote a column from London in which he said something like--"as the Urdu poet Ghalib says 'hum tau Doobe haiN sanam, tum ko bhi le Doobenge." I wish Suroor had asked someone whether poor ole Ghalib had anything to do with such crappy words.
Ghalib has suffered a lot--in translation, transliteration and interpretation.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Ghalib's letters

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', but as he put it:

tarz-e-bedil reKhta meiN kehna
Asadullah Khan, qayaamat hai

(to adopt Bedil's style in Urdu
Is something extraordinary, O Asad!)
On the other hand, his letters are disarmingly simple, once again running against the prevaing trend of the time, of writing in high-brow Persianized prose. Here's a brilliant example of the witty, conversational Ghalib we see in his letters:

Ghalib Qazi Abdul Jameel 'Junoon' ke naam....
peer-o-murshad! faqeer hamesha aap ki Khidmat_guzaari meiN Haazir aur Ghair_Haazir raha hai. jo Hukm hota hai usko bajaa laata huN, magar ma'adoom ko maujood (ma'adoom=non-existent; adam and wajood=non-existence and being) karna meri vas'a-e-qudrat se baahar hai (vas'a-e-qudrat se baahar=beyond my means). us zameen meiN ke jiska aap ne qaafiya aur radeef likha hai, maine kabhi Ghazal nahiN likhi. Khuda jaane Maulvi Darvesh Hassan Saheb ne kis se is zameen ka shayr sun kar mera kalaam gumaan kiya hai. har chand maine Khayal kiya, is zameen meiN meri koi Ghazal nahiN. Dewan-e-reKhta (reKhta=Urdu) chhaape ka yahaN kahiN hai. apne Haafize par ai'temaad (bharosa) na kar kar usko bhi dekha, woh Ghazal na nikli. suniye! akcar aisa hota hai ke aur ki Ghazal mere naam par paRH dete haiN. chunaN che inhiiN dinoN meiN ek saheb ne mujhe Agra se likha ke yeh Ghazal bhej dijiye:

Asad aur lene ke dene paDe haiN

maine kaha 'laa haul w^la quwwat' . agar yeh kalaam mera ho tau mujh par la'anat hai. isi taraH zamaana-e-saabiq meiN ek saheb ne mere saamne yeh matl'a paRHa:

'Asad'! is jafaa par butoN se wafaa ki
mire sher! shabaash, reHmat Khuda ki

maine sun kar arz kiya ke 'Saheb! jis buzurg ka yeh matl'a hai, us par baqaul us ke Khuda ki reHmat, aur agar mera ho tau mujh par la'anat. 'Asad aur sher' 'but aur Khuda' aur ' jafaa aur wafaa' , yeh meri tarz-e-guftaar (style of expression) nahiN hai.' bhhalaa in do shayroN meiN tau 'Asad' ka lafz bhi hai, woh shayr mera kyoN kar samjha gaya? wa_Allah, ba_Allah! woh shayr 'Khadang' 'rang' ke qaafiye ka mera nahiN hai.

See also:
  • Abdul-Qader Bedil
  • Ghalib, Bedil, etc.
  • Saturday, September 22, 2007

    Ghalib: 'andaleeb-e-gulshan-e-na afreedah'

    'maiN andaleeb-e-gulshan-e-na_afreedah huN', Ghalib said quite prophetically, describing himself as the nightingale of a paradise as yet unborn. He has influenced almost every single writer (in all genres)of significance. Be it DaaGh, Iqbal, Faani, Jigar or Faiz, no one has been able to escape Ghalib's influence. Mushtaq Ahmed Yousufi
    Read the humorist--Mushtaq Ahmed Yousufi and you'll find Ghalib in every other page: in a quibble, a parody or an oblique reference. This is true of the redoubtable Rasheed Ahmed Siddiqui, as well. Moulana Azad's rich, inimitable, elegant prose ('Ghubaar-e-Khaatir')is laden with Ghalib apart from the Persian masters, of course.

    No other poet in the Urdu tradition is probably as layered as Ghalib. His irreverence, his diction teasingly simple in some of his Ghazals ('dil-e-nadaaN tujhe huwa kya hai', 'ibn-e-maryam huwa kare koii') and highly elevated, Persianized and complex in what is seen as his early work, the obliqueness (so native to Persian and classical Urdu verse), his ability to distill a world of possibilities into a single shayr ('hasti ke mat fareb meiN aajiyo Asad/ A'alam tamaam Halqah-e-daam-e-Khayaal hai'don't get drawn into the deception of existence o Asad/the universe is but a ringlet in/of the net/web of thought; 'rau meiN hai raKsh-e-umr kahaaN dekhiye thhame/ ne haath baag par hai na paa hai rikaab meiN'--the steed of life gallops; let's see where it stops/Neither the reins are in our hand nor is the foot in the stirrup). In spite of all the shareHeen (commentators/interpreters), Ghalib remains as elusve as ever. Perhaps he was right when he said in Persian:
    rahraw-e-tafta-e-dar raftah ba aabam Ghalib
    tosha-e-bar lab-e-juu_mandah nishaanast maraa

    rahrau=wayfarer; taftah=burnt, scorched (remember Ghalib's friend and pupil Munshi Hari Gopal 'taftah'); tosha = belongings, here, clothes; lab-e-juu mandah= on the banks of a lake;
    Now, if you put these together it would mean:
    I'm a burnt/scorched wayfarer who plunged into the flowing waters Ghalib
    My clothes/things on the banks of the lake are my signs/symbols

    In other words, no matter how hard we try to decipher Ghalib's poetry (his clothes/things), we can never get to the real Ghalib (who has plunged into the depths of wisdom).

    That explains it all.


    Friday, September 21, 2007

    'haiN aur bhi dunyaa meiN suKhanwar....'

    You can't run away from Ghalib--you can only idolize him as the world of Urdu has after him or try to pull him down (and get deranged, in the bargain)as the great 'Yaas Yagaana' Changezi did. When I quote Ghalib's celebrated 'misra'a'--"haiN aur bhi dunya meiN suKhanwar bahut achhe", I'm referring to some of the great lesser known poets of urdu, such as 'Rind', 'Sabaa', 'Aazurdah' 'qaayim', bayaan' and some of the other great masters, who are virtually unknown today. Mir Anees who immortalized the form of the 'marsiya', had 32 pupils or 'shaagirds', we're told.
    Indian Postal stamp: MIR ANEES (POET)1975-09-04
    Now, Anees was extemely selective about his 'shaagirds' and each one of these 32 shagirds must have been a highly accomplished poet for Anees to have agreed to be their 'ustaad' and yet, they're unheard of today. Who except connoisseurs of Urdu verse have heard of 'Shefta' Dehlavi or Mir Mehdi 'MajrooH'?
    I can go on and on, but someone in the Sahitya Akademi,to whom I'd once written about this, especially since it's headed by Gopichand Narang, the reputed critic, should undertake a project on these masters, who have now lapsed into anonymity.


    Thursday, September 20, 2007

    'sham'a har rang meiN jalti hai seHer hone tak'

    Ghalib Kaun Hai?
    ek dost ne yeh sawaal kiya thha ke agar 'dewan-e-Ghalib' se kisi ek shayr hi ka inteKhaab karna ho tau mera pasandeedah shayr kaun sa hoga. maine kahaa ke bhai jis shayar ko saari urdu duniya aqeedat ki nazar se dekhti hai, jis ne aanewaali nasloN par apna aisa acar chhoRa aur yeh keh kar chhoRa ke woh 'andaleeb-e-gulshan-e-nafreedah'hai, jis ke ta'lluq se Haali ne kaha ke:

    Haali suKhan meiN Shefta* se mustafiid hai
    Ghalib ka mo'ataqid hai, muqallid hai Meer ka

    (In verse, Haali has revered Ghalib, benefited from Shefta
    And has followed the style of Meer)

    jis ke baare meiN likhte huwe Haali ne mazeed kaha ke 'Khaak ko aasmaaN' se kya nisbat--ya'ni Khud ko 'Khaak' aur Ghalib ko 'aasmaan' se tashbeeh dete huwe, aise shayar ke dewan meiN se mujh jaisa Haqeer taalib-e-ilm kaun sa ek shayr chun sakta hai--
    pahunch gaya hai woh us manzil-e-tafakkur par
    jahaaN dimaaGh bhi dil ki taraH dhhaDakta hai
    --Dilaawar Figar
    (He's reached that summit of thought
    Where the mind beats like the heart)

    *Nawab Mustafa Ali Khan 'Shefta' Dehlavi, Ghalib's very close friend and the only friend to have visited Ghalib on a regular basis when he was imprisoned on charges of gambling, as Ghalib acknowledges in his celebrated zindaan naamah in faarsi.
    To write about Ghalib is never easy--it hasn't been for the greatest of writers. I have three annotated texts with me (sharHeN) and they don't always simplify Ghalib. I go to the ones I have-beKhud Dehlavi's sharH or Yusuf Saleem Chishti's sharH or Maulana Baquar's sharH--'bayaan-e-Ghalib'. A 'sharH' interprets each shayr from every single Ghazal in same order in which the 'dewan is compiled. And for those who may not know a 'dewan' is arranged alphabetically based on the end letter or 'radeef'of a Ghazal. So, Ghazals ending (in terms of radeeef) with 'alif' come first. More on this later.......

  • Aah Ko Chahiye [ audio]
  • Wednesday, September 19, 2007

    'ke aati hai Urdu zabaaN aate aate'

    DaaGh Dehlavi, who died more than a 100 years ago, told us in his characteristic, simple style what a rich, complex language Urdu actually was!

    nahiN khhel ai daaGh yaaroN se kehdo
    ke aati hai Urdu zabaaN aate aate

    hamaara yeh safar yahiN se shuru'a hota hai. baqaul-e-meer 'aage aage dekhiye hota hai kya'. shayari, pasandeedah sho'ra, shayr ki bandish aur digar mauzu'at par guftgoo hogi, bashart-e-Hayaat-o-seHhat.

    Saty: dioscuri.hyd@gmail.com