tarz-e-Bedil mein rekhta kahna- Ghalib’s fondness for Bedil

Mirza Ghalib’s obfuscating and ambiguous style is revered far and beyond the world of Urdu literature. His belief that poetry should be Ma’ani Aafriinii, or, Meaning-Creating is quite conspicuous in his couplets. But do you know that this stylized ambiguity and the notion of Meaning-Creating poetry are corollaries of Ghalib’s deep admiration towards the great Sabk-i-Hindi (Indian Style) poet, Mirza Abdul Qadir ‘Bedil’ (1642-1720).

Ghalib was so influenced by Bedil, that his own poetry tirelessly reflected Bedil’s highly convoluted, Persianized and izaafat-laden style. Even Ghalib’s lofty themes can be loosely ascribed to Bedil’s buland-KHayaalii- sky-high rumination.

In her works, A Desert Full of Roses, Frances W. Pritchett has noted that it’s largely because of this unscripted Master-Pupil relationship, Bedil, was known as Ghalib-e-Ghalib, or, Ghalib’s Ghalib.

This blog brings together some of Ghalib’s acclamatory couplets that he so fondly dedicated to Mirza Bedil.

Oh Asad, everywhere a new garden is laid by his poetry.
The springtime-creating colour of Bedil, has much pleased me.

FYI, bahaar-iijaadi-e-Bedil, also happens to be the name of Bedil’s collected works.

Ghalib, I do not fear going astray on the path of poetry.
For Bedil’s pen, is the guide’s stick in the desert of Poetry.

Is Ghalib imitating Bedil or is the case otherwise? This once, dear reader, you ought to decide on your own!

The heart is a foundry of thought, and Asad, is poor at heart.
Here, the stone of Bedil’s doorsill is a mirror.

Ghalib is devoid of heart, time and again, he looks at the doorsill stone of Bedil, to introduce new thoughts in his poems. Conclusion, Ghalib’s couplets are a reflection of Bedil’s mirror.

From the thread of my breath, Ghalib, heart, the singer
Bound the string on the instrument in the manner of Bedil’s melody.

The two of them are singing in two different languages while the tune is the same, Bedil’s.

To recite Rekhta in the style of Bedil
Is a mighty task, Asadullah Khaan!

This is an unpublished verse which does not appear in the divan. Whether Ghalib is admitting that Bedil’s style is unattainable or whether he is applauding himself for having attained it, we’ll never know.

Certainly, these verses highlight how much the young Ghalib hailed his Self-adopted master Bedil. But, contrary to these verses, Ghalib, in his later days, acutely downplayed Bedil’s influence, corroborating this forswearing is his letter to a pupil Shakir and a Masnavi, that he composed in 1828 while staying in Calcutta named, Baad-e-MuKHaalif, wherein he praised several Persian poets such as Hazin, Urfi, Naziri and most of all Zuhuri, but not Bedil.

Know any other verses that relate to Ghalib and Bedil? Then, Scratch the comment box!