Originally posted on 23 Mar 2012 :

The redoubtable writer Khushwant Singh is arguably one of the best known authors of our time. He has published 84 books. Like many Indians, I own several of his tomes. But, I must confess that I have rarely felt like browsing through any of his works after having read it once.

In sharp contrast, Mirza Asadullah Beg Khan Ghalib has only one book entitled, “Diwan-e-Ghalib” to his credit. I turn to it as often as I read the holy scriptures. I remember much of it by heart and curse myself when I forget one of my favorite lines. Rajinder Singh Bedi, Surayya and Bharat Bhushan got together in 1953 to create a memorable movie. Then in 1987, Gulzar Sahib motivated Jagjit, Naseeruddin Shah, Neena Gupta and Chitra to create a TV serial which became unforgettable.

This year, to mark the silver jubilee of the TV serial, Gulzar ‘Saab’ embarked on another project: he decided to add the letters of Mirza Nosha to the songs in an audio album entitled “Tera Bayaan Ghalib” (Bayaan means description or statement)

The album produced by “Sa Re Ga” is selling like hot cakes. This twin CD creation has Ghalib’s personal letters written to his close friends rendered in the voice of Gulzar. They depict the life and times of Ghalib. His personal life after the 1857 mutiny was extremely difficult. He lived in economic penury and his description of the five ‘lashkars’ namely; anarchy, famine, cholera,water-logging and terror caused by the British military is awesome. He lived in extreme penury. But the pen kept him going. He retained his sense of humour and the verse which came to him from the Heavens (aate hain ghaib se yeh mazaamin khayal mein) acted like an elixir.

My elder son, Divjyot who has learnt urdu on his own sent me a copy of the captioned album and I have been listening to it every day with rapt attention. The title comes from the ghazal,

यह न थी हमारी किस्मत के विसाल ए यार होता

For those who like, I am inserting the entire ghazal with its meanings in English in this mail. And at the bottom you will find links to its rendering by Surayya and Jagjit on the youtube.


-Yeh na thi hamari kismat ki wisaal-e-yaarhota,
agar aur jeete rehte yahee intezaar hota!
It was not my destiny thatI unite with my love.
I would have waited for the moment, if I could have lived till then…

-Tere wade par jiye hum toh yeh jaan zoot jana,
main khushee se mar na jaati agar eitabaar hota
If you think that I livedon your promise, that’s not the situation…
Wouldn’t have I died with joy, if I’d been sure that you are trustworthy!

-Hue mar ke hum jo rusawa, hue kyo nagharg-e-dariya
na kabhee janaaza uthata, na kahee mazaar hota..
If I knew that I was destined to ignominy after death, I would prefer to drown in a river!
There would be no funeral procession and no tomb(or memorial) would exist!

-Koee mere dil se poonche, ki yeh teer-e-neem kash ko
Yeh khalish kahaan se hotee jo jigar ke paar hota
Ask my heart- the way youhave aimed the arrow,
Wouldn’t have I bled in silence, if it’d been at right place in my heart!

-Kahoon kis se main ke kya hai, shab-e-gham buri bala hai,
mujhe kya bura tha marna ? agar ek baar hota
To whom should I tell?Dark nights of sorrows (of separation) are difficult…
It would be better if I had died; I would have suffered just once!

-Yeh masaail-e-tasawwuf, yeh tera bayaan Ghalib,
tujhe hum walee samajhate, jo na baada_khwaar hota
Oh,Ghalib! your commentarieson Sufi philosophy are extraordinary!
If we’d not seen your drunken side, we would have called you a saint!

My personal favourite line is,

मुझे क्या बुरा था मरना अगर एक बार होता !



If this motivates you to acquire a copy of the album, the purpose of my sending it would be served. The Urdu is a bit tough, but you will get a glimpse of our history if you make a little effort.

With best wishes,


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