One thing sometimes does lead to another. Our post on Milton and Ghalib has culminated in a partnership with the blog Mehr-i-Niimroz (the noonday sun). Every week or so we will together select a couplet from Ghalib: Mehr-i-Niimroz will provide a translation and commentary; The South Asian Idea will use the couplet to pose questions and start a discussion. The objective will be to explore how much we can learn from Ghalib about the world we live in.
Justice Markanday Katju of the Supreme Court of India explains why Urdu is part of his ancestry and offers a number of insights into the state and fate of the Urdu language in India today.
In my opinion no country can progress if it overlooks its own cultural heritage. And I may clarify here that I do not regard Kashmiri Pandits alone as my ancestors, I regard Kalidasa also as my ancestor, I regard Amir Khusro also as my ancestor, I regard Ashoka and Akbar, Sur and Tulsi as my ancestors, just as I regard Mir and Ghalib as my ancestors. Real ancestry is cultural ancestry and not mere blood ancestry.
Ghalib was of the firm view that the language of poetry should not be the same as the spoken language. Hence he often expresses his thoughts not directly but indirectly, by hints and suggestions. The same is true of many other Urdu poets. They often express their thoughts and feelings not in simple, direct language but by insinuations, allusions, indications, and in a roundabout way, the aim being to appear sophisticated and elitist, instead of being commonplace.
Raza Rumi discovers that there is a mountain of meaning below Ghalib’s grave:
The inscription on Ghalib’s tomb-stone in Arabic and Persian followed by translation:
dekha jo mujhe fikr meN taareeKh ke, Majruuh
haatif ne kahaa *ganj-e-ma’ani hai tah-e-Khaak*
I sat by the Master’s grave with sorrow profound
seeing me thinking of a tareeKh, Majruuh [taareeKh = chronogram]
a heavenly voice said, “treasury of meanings is under the ground”
A review of Rupa Saba’s collection of urdu poetry:
Roz subah subah mere dar par dastak deta hai,
chingariyon se malboos akhbar
Jhoot bolta hai mausam kay thandi hawa chalti hai
Every morning fiery newspaper knocks at my door, the weather that indicates cool breeze, lies)