From Wikiquote
Jump to navigation Jump to search
The prison of life and the bondage of grief are one and the same
Before the onset of death, why should man expect to be free of grief?

Mirza Asadullah Baig Khan Ghalib (27 December 179715 February 1869) was a prominent Urdu and Persian poet during the last years of the Mughal Empire. He spent his life in the capital of the Mughal empire, Delhi.

A portion of Ghalib's letter to his pupil, Munshi Hargopal Tafta ( in Ghalib's own hand),
20 May 1868


  • Ghalib, we are from the sacred land of Turan,
    Undoubtedly we are of glorious lineage,
    We are of Turkish descent
    And the chiefs of the tribe were our forefathers,
    We are Arabs, belonging to the tribe of Turks
    And in perfection we are ten times better than the moon.
    • (Pernau 2005: 155). Pernau M in Religious Pluralism In South Asia And Europe, 2005. also quoted in Jain, M. (2010). Parallel pathways: Essays on Hindu-Muslim relations, 1707-1857.



  • The prison of life and the bondage of grief are one and the same
    Before the onset of death, why should man expect to be free of grief?
  • Just like a child's play this world appears to me
    Every single night and day, this spectacle I see.
  • It is not praised if you are the only one to understand what you speak
    interesting is the situation when you speak and the others understand.
  • The happiness of the world is nothing for me
    for my heart is left with no feeling besides blood.
  • If what the eye sees does not rankle in the heart
    Sweet is the flow of life in travel spent.
    • Ghalib (M. Mujeeb), p. 15

Persian Couplets[edit]

  • تیرے کرشموں سے پُر قلبِ خلا و ملا
    گفتگو ہر ایک سے، امر میں سب سے جدا
  • translation:
  • Discoursing all the time with all,
    yet acting far beyond all.
    • Selections from the Persian Ghazals of Ghalib, p. 8
  • کم مشمر گریہ ام زانکہ بہ علمِ ازل
    بودہ درین جوئے آب گردشِ ہفت آسیا
  • translation:
  • Do not discount my tears; eternal wisdom has decreed
    That in this flowing stream the seven millstones all revolve.
    • Selections from the Persian Ghazals of Ghalib, p. 10


  • Against whose artful writing does the painting utter a plaintive cry?
    The form of every picture wears a paper-attire.
    Ask not about the diligence of my hard-heartedness in solitude,
    To turn the Evening into Morning is to dig the Canal of Milk!
    Cognizance may spread its net of hearing to any extent,
    The Phoenix is the object of our Universe of Speech.
    O Ghalib! Whereas even in captivity I have my feet on fire,
    The ring of my chain is a hair that hath seen fire!
    Did none other than Qais come to face the task (Love)?
    The desert was perhaps as narrow as the eyes of the envious!
    Perturbation set the black mole of the heart right;
    Thus it came to light that smoke was the wealth of the scar.
    In the dream, Fancy had its dealing with thee;
    When the eye opened, there was neither loss nor gain!
    Still I am learning lessons in the school of the grief of the heart,
    But it is only this: that went and was.
    The shroud covered the scar of the defects of Nudity,
    I was, otherwise, in every attire a disgrace to Existence!
    Asad ! Farhad, the mountain-digger, could not die without an adze;
    He was only intoxicated with (the wine of) customs and conventions.
    • The Life and Odes of Ghalib, p. 83-86

About Ghalib[edit]

  • The object of my worship lies beyond perception's reach;
    For men who see, the Ka'aba is a compass, nothing more."

External links[edit]

  • The Life and Odes of Ghalib, Abdullah Anwar Beg, Lahore, 1941
  • Ghalib, M. Mujeeb, Delhi, 1983
  • William Dalrymple: The Last Mughal: The Fall of a Dynasty, Delhi, 1857
  • Selections from the Persian Ghazals of Ghalib, Anjuman-Tarraqi-e-Urdu, Karachi, 1997
Wikimedia Commons has media related to:
Wikipedia has an article about: