Generally people associate Ghalib with dejection, separation, frustration, etc. All these feelings are quite apparent in his work. But the legend called Ghalib is much more than that. Even while displaying the same feelings of grief, separation, broken-heartedness, the words he used, and specially the linkages that he made of his feelings with phenomena of nature, beauty of his lover and sometimes religious and social dogma is really amazing.
I’ll like to discuss about few of the amazing shayaris of Ghalib:
1. Harek baat pe kehte ho tum ki tu kya hai
This was the introductory ghazal for the TV series. It starts like this:
“Hain aur bhi duniya me sukhanawar bahut achche,
kehtehain ki Ghalib ka hai andaaz-e-bayaan aur”
Which means that though there are many poets and masters of words in the world, but the style of Ghalib was somewhat ‘different’. I dont think this was written by Ghalib himself, but it may be possible if we look at other works of Ghalib.
“har ek baat pe kehte ho tum ke ‘tu kya hai’ ?
tumhi kaho ke yeh andaaz-e-guftgu kya hai ?
rago me daudte firne ke ham nahi qaayal
jab aankh hi se na tapka to fir lahoo kya hai ?”
Which means that ‘why do you boast yourself and disgrace others by belittling them.
The next line is a marvel. He says that I am no fan or admirer of something that is ‘able to flow through veins’ (like blood). If it can’t get out of eyes like tears, then whats so special about it? This beautiful verse tells that tears that a person sheds are more powerful than the blood that flows in the veins.
“chipak raha hai badan par lahoo se pairahan,
Hamari jeb ko ab haajat-e-rafu kya hai ?”
(pairaahan=clothes, haajat=requirement, rafu=mending)
Which means that clothes are attached with the body through blood, now what is the use of mending my pockets? He questions the materialism and money mindedness here. Being soaked in blood, and clothes sticking to body because of blood, signifies the state of pain, and mending of pocket signifies longing of worldly needs. The use of word ‘pocket’ is important as money is usually kept in pockets.
“Jala hai jism jahan dil bhi jal gaya hoga,
Kuredate ho ab raakh-e-justaju kya hai ?”
(raakh-e-justaju= ambitions reduced to ashes)
Ghalib says that heart along with its desires might have got burnt the same way as the body (burnt in pain) now what is the use of searching for any leftover ambitions? Quite simple but very effective
“Rahi na taaqat-e-Guftaar aur agar ho bhi,
To kis ummeed se kahiye ki aarzoo kya hai ?”
(Taaqat-e-Guftaar= strength to speak)
This is again one of the best of Ghalib. He says that ‘I no longer have strength to speak anymore. And even if I have, I cannot tell what my desire is, as I have no hopes left’. Which means that pain has left me speechless and hopeless.
2.Hazaron Khwahishe aisi
One of the most famous ghazal of Mirza Ghalib’s shayaris. The verses go like this:
“hazaron khwahishen aisi ki har khwahish pe dum nikale,
Bahut nikale mere armaan lekin phir bhi kam nikale”
Ghalib says ‘I have plethora of desire, and each desire is such as ‘to die for’’. This means there is a deadly(strong) longing for those desires. He says that desires are never ending. Even if most of them get fulfilled, we still feel unsatisfied.
“Mohabbat me nahi hai farq jeene aur marne kaa,
Usi ko dekh kar jeete hain, jis kaafir pe dum nikale”
Ghalib says that life and death in love, both are related to the beloved. Here life refers to the pleasure of being with the beloved and death refers to the pain of separation because the lover turns out to be a betrayer/liar. He says that the company of the same person gives life whose betrayal gives death, so there is not much difference between life and death in love.
“Nikalna khuld se aadam ka sunte aaye hain lekin,
Bahut be-abroo hokar tere kooche se hum nikale”
(Khuld=heaven, aadam=Adam, be-abroo=insulted, koocha=house)
Ghalib says that we have heard about the disgraceful banishment of Adam from heaven, but my banishment from your house (by your rejection/betrayal) was much more disgraceful.
“Khuda ke vaaste parda na kaabe se utha zaalim,
Kahin aisa na ho yaan bhi wahi kaafir sanam nikale”
This one is amazing. Here Ghalib asks (probably religious people) not to unveil the shrine, as he might see his beloved beneath the shrine instead of God; the same beloved who had betrayed in love. It also means that Ghalib is saying that the truth which can hurt let it be untold. ‘Ignorance is bliss’ as the truth can be as disheartening as the betrayal of a lover.
“Kahan maikhaane ka darwaaza ‘Ghalib’, aur kahan waiz,
Par itna jaante hain, kal ho jaata tha ki hum nikale”
(maikhaana=place where wine is served, waiz=priest)
Here Ghalib says that, a person who is believed to be as pure as a priest, and a place which is believed to be as sinful as a place where wine is served, these two things cannot be related as per social norms. But he says that ‘yesterday when I was leaving that place (after drinking wine), the priest came in’. This does not, however, shows that the priests or religious heads are corrupt. It means that every person on this earth has weakness. If we go by the first verse, we can say that every person (even someone like priest, who can be considered as unearthly) has some desire which needs to be fulfilled.
3. Achcha Hai…
This is also one of my favourites:
“Unke dekhe se jo aa jati hain yun muh par Raunak,
Wo samajhate hain ki beemaar ka haal achcha hai”
This is Ghalib at his best. He says if I smile looking at you you feel that I am alright, even if I am feeling pain at the core of my heart. It shows that sometimes people require something more than a sympathizing gesture.
“Dekhiye paate hain ushaaq buton se kya faiz,
Ek Barahman ne kaha hai ki ye saal achcha hai”
(ushaaq=lovers, faiz=blessings, barahman=a learned person)
This verse clearly distinguishes lovers from remaining (sane) people. Ghalib says that lets’ see what kinds of blessings we can get from the lovers, though the learned ones say that everything is going to be allright.
“Humko maaloom hai jannat ki haqeeat lekin,
Dil ke khush rakhne ko ‘Ghalib’ ye khayal achcha hai”
This is my favourite. Ghalib says that even though we know the reality of the heaven, its good to live in its illusion. Here reality of heaven means that hopelessness has no end, but the illusion of heaven is somewhat a soothing feeling which says that everything is going to be allright.
4. Yun Hota to kya Hota
This one is also a famous ghazal by Mirza Ghalib:
“Na tha kuchh to Khuda tha kuchh na hota to Khuda hota,
Duboya mujhko hone ne, na hota main to kya Hota”
Ghalib says that when there was nothing, there was God and He will remain when there will be nothing. I am suffering because of my existence, what would have happened had I not existed.
“Hua jab gham se yun behis, to gham kya sar ke katne ka,
Na hota yun juda tann se to zaano par dhara hota”
(behis=tormented, tann=body, zaan=knees)
This is again a masterpiece. Ghalib says that when I am suffering so excruciatingly from grief and pain, that I won’t mind being beheaded. If not removed that way, my head will rest on my knees anyway. (The posture of crying while sitting with head bend on knees)
“Hui muddat ki Ghalib marr gaya par yaad aata hai,
Wo har ek baat pe Kehna, ki yun hota to kya hota”
Simple yet powerful. Ghalib says that when I will die people will remember me (as an insane) who used to say that what would have happened if this had happened….
While searching for the deep meaning works of Ghalib, I c ame across many blogs. One such blog is here:
It contains the lucid narrations and meaning of the lyrics of some of the famous shayaris of Ghalib. Two of my favorite ghazals of the TV series on Mirza Ghalib, which used to come on Doordarshan long back, are beautifully explained here:
“Ye na thi hamari qismat, ki visaal-e-yaar hota”
“Baazecha-e-atfaal hai duniya mere aage”