Home Art & Culture Ghalib’s letters provide new style of letter writing in Urdu: scholars

Ghalib’s letters provide new style of letter writing in Urdu: scholars


– Abdul Bari Masoud

New Delhi, Dec. 29: Prominent scholars spoke eloquently about the significance of the legendary poet Mirza Ghalib’s tremendous contribution to Urdu and Persian literatures at a function held by the Ghalib Academy to commemorate his 226th birthday here Wednesday. Speaking on the poet’s letters, Prof. Shehpar Rasool described Ghalib as a literary genius who excelled in both poetry and prose. More than enough literary masterpieces can be found in the letters Ghalib wrote to his friends, he said.

Continuing his lecture, Prof. Rasool said poetry enhances Ghalib’s great personality. “Ghalib wrote his letters in plain, straightforward language. He turned the correspondence into a meeting and the message into a dialogue. He brought a new energy to Urdu prose writing and altered the way letters were addressed. He also reduced the importance of titles and manners. Life seems to shine with its extraordinary diversity—thought and philosophy, poetry and prose, history and civilization, culture and politics, rich and poor people and characteristics, students and friends and their relationships. No matter how much and how often we study Ghalib’s letters, life still finds a way to surprise us and impart new insights that we cannot find anywhere else,” he added.

Prof. Sharif Hussain Qasmi also spoke at length about the subjects and presented new dimensions of Ghalib’s prose writing. He said Ghalib’s letters are an authentic source of 17th to 19th-century history, as the history of Delhi and India is presented in Ghalib’s Letters and Dastambu.

Ghalib’s life became miserable after the last Mughal emperor, Bahadur Shah Zafar, fell, and he lost his source of income and continued to live in debt but refused to give up his Nawabi way of life, Prof. Qasmi added. He said Ghalib’s poetry and prose in the form of letters reflect his sufferings and ordeals. Whenever we talk about Ghalib’s work and his lifetime, a new dimension emerges that enlightens us, he added.

In his presidential address, Dr. GR Kanwal stated that Ghalib wrote in his letters about everything that had to do with life. Ghalib was disliked for writing an ode to Queen Victoria. Ghalib’s letters are a guide for letter writing. Dr. Kanwal brought up the fact that there aren’t many Urdu books about letter writing styles, while Gahlib’s letters provide guidance on the genre. In the letter, Ghalib wrote a great deal about other people in addition to himself.

Dr. Aqeel Ahmed, Secretary of Ghalib Academy, remarked on the occasion that Ghalib is fortunate to have found someone who appreciates him as much as Altaf Hussain Hali. With his writings about Yadgar Ghalib, Hali laid the groundwork for Ghalib’s understanding. Abdul Rahman Bajnoori highlighted Ghalib’s poetry and referred to Diwan Ghalib as an inspired book. Ghalib gained international recognition as a great poet following the translation of his Dewan.

After the literary talk, Kalam-e-Ghalib was rendered by Samita Dutta in her melodious voice, which enthralled the audience with some masterpieces of Ghalib.

The Ghalib Academy, which commemorates Ghalib’s birth and death anniversaries every year, organized this event with the support of the Ministry of Culture, Government of India. Certificates were given to students who learnt Urdu script at the Academy’s Urdu classes.