While for some he is the epitome of Ganga-Jamuni tehzeeb, for others Mirza Ghalib, whose 222nd birth anniversary will be celebrated on Friday, is the finest Urdu poet. Having penned poems that capture the pathos of love, the poet is remembered ages down as his poetic verses continue to remain relevant.

Born as Asadullah Baig Khan on December 27, 1797, in Kala Mahal, Agra, Ghalib belonged to a family descending from Aibak Turks who moved to Samarkand (modern-day Uzbekistan) after the downfall of Seljuk kings. Writing under the pen name Mirza Ghalib, no one knew when this 13-year-old boy came to Delhi, that he is going to leave behind a treasure of quotes that will long be memorised, narrated and cherished generations after generations.

For another bunch, he remains a symbol of pluralism if not an ‘auliya’. However, all universally agree that he was not just a poet of yore but a magician who weaved such magic with his words that they still haunt and cushion you simultaneously in trying times.

Check out ten of Mirza Ghalib’s famous couplets here:

1. “na thā kuchh to ḳhudā thā kuchh na hotā to ḳhudā hotā
Duboyā mujh ko hone ne na hotā maiñ to kyā hotā”

Translation: In nothingness God was there, if naught he would persist
Existence has sunk me, what loss, if I didn’t exist

2. “aah ko chāhiye ik umr asar hote tak
kaun jiitā hai tirī zulf ke sar hote tak”

Translation: A prayer needs a lifetime, an answer to obtain
who can live until the time that you decide to deign

3. “mohabbat meñ nahīñ hai farq jiine aur marne kā
usī ko dekh kar jiite haiñ jis kāfir pe dam nikle”

Translation: In love there is no difference ‘tween life and death do know
The very one for whom I die, life too does bestow

4. “koī mere dil se pūchhe tire tīr-e-nīm-kash ko
ye ḳhalish kahāñ se hotī jo jigar ke paar hotā”

Translation: What pain your arrow, partly drawn, inflicts upon my heart
cleanly through if it had gone, would it this sting impart?

5. “bāzīcha-e-atfāl hai duniyā mire aage
hotā hai shab-o-roz tamāshā mire aage”

Translation: Just like a child’s playground this world appears to me
every single night and day, this spectacle I see

6. “bas-ki dushvār hai har kaam kā āsāñ honā
aadmī ko bhī mayassar nahīñ insāñ honā”

Translation: Tis difficult that every goal be easily complete
For a man, too, to be human, is no easy feat

7. “kahāñ mai-ḳhāne kā darvāza ‘ġhālib’ aur kahāñ vaa.iz
par itnā jānte haiñ kal vo jaatā thā ki ham nikle”

Translation: Wherefrom the ‘saintly’ priest, and where the tavern’s door
But as I entered he was leaving, this much I do know

8. “hazāroñ ḳhvāhisheñ aisī ki har ḳhvāhish pe dam nikle
bahut nikle mire armān lekin phir bhī kam nikle”

Translation: I have a thousand yearnings , each one afflicts me so
Many were fulfilled for sure, not enough although

9. “dard minnat-kash-e-davā na huā
maiñ na achchhā huā burā na huā”

Translation: My pain did not seek favors from any opiate
I don’t mind the fact that I did not recuperate

10. “kaaba kis muñh se jāoge ‘ġhālib’
sharm tum ko magar nahīñ aatī”

Translation: Ghalib, what face will you to the Kaaba take
when you are not ashamed and not contrite

Gifted naturally with the talent of letter writing, Mirza Ghalib and his poems have stood the test of time and are still relevant and highly popular today. Every couplet, every poem, and every song has a deeper meaning attached to it which needs contemplation and deep observation to be understood fully. Mirza Ghalib might not have achieved the fame and glory that he deserved during his lifetime but he has become immortal because of his poems and writings. Mirza Ghalib’s poems are probably the best life coach that could ever exist.

(Couplet and translation credit: Rekhta org.)