In the reign of Bahadur Shah II ( 1837 to 1857) while the flame of thr Mughal dynasty was flickering, the shama (lamp) of Urdu poetry was burning brightly.
The court of Bahadur Shah II, himself an accomplished poet who wrote under the nom de plume or takhallus of Zafar, was home to some of the brightest talent to grace the world of poetry. The poets flourishing under Zafar were the calibre of Sheikh Ibrahim Zauq, Mirza Ghalib, Momin Khan Momin, Shefta , Azurda and Zafar himself.
He was an accomplished poet with complete mastery over Urdu and Persian but wrote in very simple terms, easily understood by all.
“laayii hayaat aaye, qazaa le chalii chale
apnii khushii na aaye na apnii khushii chale”
Is one of his most famous and oft-quoted verses.
Once in the lanes of Shahjahanabad he saw Zauq passing by and in an aside to his proteges and hangers on he said
” Huwa hai shah ka musaahib, phirey hai itraata”
Zauq overheard it as he was probably meant to and made a strong complaint to the Emperor. In the next mushaira at the Qila e Moalla (The Red Fort) the Emperor took Ghalib to task.
Ghalib confessed that yes he had said the line but it was not aimed at Zauq –
He said it was the first line (misra) of the last couplet (maqta) of his latest Ghazal. Bahadur Shah Zafar obviously asked Ghalib to recite the entire verse.
The haazir jawaab poet immediately turned it on himself and recited:
“Huwa hai sheh ka musaahib, phirey hai itraata
Wagar na sheher mein Ghalib ki aabroo kya hai”
“Having become the King’s companion he shows off arrogantly
Otherwise what other claim to respect does Ghalib have?”
Legend has it that knowing Ghalib’s poetic prowess, Zauq did not accept this at face value and asked the Emperor to insist on hearing the entire ghazal…
Both underestimated Ghalib’s genius. He is said to have composed one of his most popular ghazals on the spot and recited it to thundering applause. So impressed was Zauq by it that even he joined in on the praise being showered on Ghalib.
” Har ek baat pe kahate ho tum ki tuu kyaa hai
tumhiin kaho ke ye a.ndaaz-e-guftaguu kyaa hai
na shole mein ye karishmaa na barq mein ye adaa
koii bataao ki vo shoKh-e-tundaKhuu kyaa hai
shola=flame,:barq=lightening: Shokh e Tundkhuu- mischievous
ye rashk hai ki vo hotaa hai ham_suKhan hamse
vagarnaa Khauf-e-badaamozii-e-ad kyaa hai
[rashk=jealousy; ham-suKhan=some who agrees with you]
[Khauf=fear; aamozii=teaching; aduu=enemy]
chipak rahaa hai badan par lahuu se pairaahan
hamaarii jeb ko an haajat-e-rafuu kyaa hai
[pairaahan=dress/cloth/robe; haajat=need; rafuu=darning]
jalaa hia jism jahaaN dil bhii jal gayaa hogaa
kuredate ho jo ab raakh justajuu kyaa hai
ragon mein dauDate phirane ke ham nahiin qaayal
jab aa.Nkh hii se na Tapakaa to phir lahuu kyaa hai
vo chiiz jisake liye hamako ho bahisht aziiz
sivaa_e baadaa-e-gulfaam-e-mushkbuu kyaa hai
[bahisht=heaven; baadaa=wine; gulfaam=delicate/like a flower]
[mushk-buu=the smell of musk]
piyuuN sharaab agar Khum bhii dekh luuN do chaar
ye shiishaa-o-qadaah-o-kuuzaa-o-subu kyaa hai
[Khum=wine barrel, qadaah=goblet, subuu=wine pitcher ]
rahii na taaqat-e-guftaar aur agar ho bhii
to kis ummiid pe kahiye ke aarazuu kyaa hai
banaa hai shah kaa musaahib, phire hai itraataa
vagarnaa shahar mein “Ghalib” kii aabruu kyaa hai
Note: many stories related to Ghalib have come up in folk lore