The rivalry between Mirza Ghalib and Zauq

It is said that Urdu poetry would be incomplete without two of its biggest pillars, Mir and Mirza Ghalib. Mirza Ghalib was a maverick character and has become immortal among the lovers of Urdu poetry. His status is legendary and his couplets are often used by orators and common public alike.

हर एक बात पे कहते हो तुम की तू क्या है,

तुम्हीं कहो की ये अंदाज़-इ-गुफ्तुगू क्या है?

He lived during the reign of the last emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar and his entry as court poet was delayed due to Zauq, another legendary poet but not as famous as Ghalib anymore. In those days, poetry by the metre was preferred and Ghalib wrote for the masses- he was a people’s poet. Much of his fame came posthumously.

Since he had no primary source of income, a royal patronage could have helped him but Zauq’s resistance meant that he received it very late. This rivalry resulted in the creation of many a beautiful ghazal.

He once remarked-

“हुआ है शाह का मुसाहिब, फिरे है इतराता” (Having become the King’s companion he shows off arrogantly)

Zauq considered this as an insult and complained to the emperor. Ghalib was summoned and he explained that it was nothing but a part of his latest ghazal. When Zauq asked him to recite the entire ghazal, the brilliant Ghalib composed an entire poem right on the spot. It is so famous that it is recounted frequently even today.

“हर एक बात पे कहते हो तुम की तू क्या है,” (at every turn you question me, asking what are you?)
“तुम्हीं कहो की ये अंदाज़-इ-गुफ्तुगू क्या है?” (tell me pray what manner of speech do you pursue?)

“न शोले में ये करिश्मा न बर्क़ में ये अदा” (Neither flames this magic nor lightning this charm do have)

“ये रश्क है कि वो होता है हम-सुख़न तुम से” (I am not afraid my foe will corrupt your mind somehow)

“वगर्ना ख़ौफ़-ए-बद-आमोज़ी-ए-अदू क्या है” (I am merely jealous that he gets to talk to you)

“चिपक रहा है बदन पर लहू से पैराहन” (my clothes are caused, by oozing blood, to cling unto my frame)

“हमारे जैब को अब हाजत-ए-रफ़ू क्या है” (What need is there now for my vest to be darned anew?)

“जला है जिस्म जहाँ दिल भी जल गया होगा” (with my body consigned to flames, my heart too would have burnt)

“कुरेदते हो जो अब राख जुस्तुजू क्या है” (why do you rake the ashes now, what is it you pursue?)

“रगों में दौड़ते फिरने के हम नहीं क़ाइल” (merely because it courses through the veins, I’m not convinced)

“जब आँख ही से न टपका तो फिर लहू क्या है” (if it drips not from one’s eyes blood cannot be held true)

“वो चीज़ जिस के लिए हम को हो बहिश्त अज़ीज़” (save for fragrant flavoured wine, what else can it be)

“सिवाए बादा-ए-गुलफ़ाम-ए-मुश्क-बू क्या है” (that for which we paradise persistently pursue)

“पियूँ शराब अगर ख़ुम भी देख लूँ दो-चार” (glasses goblets jugs and pitchers all are of no use)

“ये शीशा ओ क़दह ओ कूज़ा ओ सुबू क्या है” (even if in barrels found, I’d gladly drink the brew)

“रही न ताक़त-ए-गुफ़्तार और अगर हो भी” (no longer have I strength to speak but even if I did)

“तो किस उमीद पे कहिए कि आरज़ू क्या है” (what hope can I rely on to narrate my wish to you?)

“हुआ है शह का मुसाहिब फिरे है इतराता” (becoming the crony of the king, he preens and struts around)

“वगर्ना शहर में ‘ग़ालिब’ की आबरू क्या है” (or else what honour in this town to Ghalib would accrue?)

SOURCE: Book: Deewan-e-Ghalib Jadeed(al-maroof behi Nuskha-e-Hameedia) (Pg. 405)Author: Murattab Mufti Mohd Anwar-ul-Haq.

Ghalib’s tomb is located near Humayun’s Tomb in Delhi in the vicinity of Nizamuddin area. If you plan a visit, ask for Ghalib road or Ghalib library as the tomb is not so famous. The entire structure was in dilapidated condition but thankfully, has now been restored. There is a couplet that adorns the tomb which is perhaps the greatest composition with a very deep meaning.

“ना था कुछ तो खुदा था कुछ न होता तो खुदा होता” (In nothingness God was there, if naught He would persist)

“डुबोया मुझ को होने ने न होता मैं तो क्या होता” (Existence has sunk me, what loss, if I didn’t exist)

Zauq’s tomb is located in Paharganj area but is sandwiched between a row of houses and sadly, remains forgotten. But if you are persistent and do not mind wandering in the shady streets of Paharganj, you can find it by asking around.

Ghalib and Zauq have inspired generations of poets. Ghalib’s couplets have been taken and expanded by subsequent poets leading to many interesting interpretations. One such sher is worth sharing and the final reply by Faraz is my personal favourite.

The first sher is by Ghalib but some sources also claim that the author is anonymous.

“ज़ाहिद शराब पीने दे मस्जिद में बैठ कर ,” (Priest I know this is a mosque, let me drink inside)

“या वो जगह बता दे जहाँ पर खुदा नहीं” ( Or point me to a place where God does not reside)

A reply was offered by Iqbal and he said,

“मस्जिद खुदा का घर है पीने की जगह नहीं,” (A mosque is the house of God, not a place to drink )

“काफिर के दिल में जा, वहां खुदा नहीं” (Look inside the heart of an atheist, God is not present there as an atheist is missing the religious link)

Final and perhaps the best reply was offered by Faraz,

“काफिर क दिल से आया हूँ ये देख कर फ़राज़,” (I have looked inside the heart of an atheist)

“खुदा मौजूद है वहां पर उसे पता नहीं” (God is present there too but he is unaware).

Picture Credit: Wikimedia Commons

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