Ghalib memorial demanded in Agra
Agra — Literary experts have demanded a fitting memorial to Mirza Ghalib in the Taj Mahal city of Agra, his place of birth.
Speakers at a Mirza Ghalib birth anniversary programme here also urged Uttar Pradesh Governor T.V. Rajeswar to set up a Mirza Ghalib chair in Agra University to promote research and original writing in Urdu language.
Mirza Asad Ullah Khan ‘Ghalib’ is considered the Shakespeare of Urdu and was born in 1796 in Agra, once the capital of Mughal rulers. He died in Delhi in 1869, leaving behind a rich legacy of poetry that continues to inspire poets.
“The haveli where Ghalib was born should be acquired by the state government and converted into a fitting memorial to Mirza Ghalib,” a resolution passed at a meeting of the experts said.
The haveli is in Kala Mahal area, in the heart of the city. An educational institution run by a trust currently uses it.
Speakers also said that government should open a research academy at the site.
“Agra University should set up a Mirza Ghalib chair to promote Urdu language,” said Surendra Sharma, president of the Braj Mandal Heritage Conservation Society.
“When tourists from Pakistan and other countries ask us to be taken to Ghalib’s birth place, we are very embarrassed. The central and state governments should jointly build a fitting memorial and a library in Agra where Urdu poetry lovers can spend time and enlighten themselves,” said Sandeep Arora, president of the hotel and restaurant association here.
As a language Urdu evolved and was nurtured in the courts of successive rulers in Agra. It was here that the genius of many an Urdu poet flourished and found creative expression.
Urdu is passing through a dismal phase though young ‘shairs’ of the city are hopeful that the rich language of nuances will find new patrons and blossom once again.
The city still has some 25 poets but they were focusing more on ‘mushairas’ than on writing. Israr Akbarabadi and Suhail Lakhnavi are well known contemporary poets.
One reason why the language failed to grow was that the poets were not spending time reading and doing enough homework, some experts said. Only four or five books have been published, says a critic.
It was not so once upon a time. Then, the city of the Taj enchanted and mesmerized Urdu poets.
Agra gave Urdu literature a new identity. It was Agra where Urdu poetry flourished and found roots. It was in Agra that the three great ‘shairs’ were born: Mirza Ghalib, Mir Taqi Mir and Nazeer Akbarabadi.
It was Urdu poetry that bridged the communication gap and joined the hearts of peoples beyond the borders.
Today the city appears to have lost its heritage and its rich past.
Agra, also called Akbarabad, has been known in history as a city of romance, love, bhakti and culture, not only for the world-famous monuments but also for its rich literary traditions both in Urdu and Braj Bhasha.
The Urdu literary stream combines both the spritual love and physical love. The Sufi saints idolised both.
According to ‘shair’ Asgar Akbarabadi, the poety of Agra laid great stress on communal harmony.
The poetic tradition started with Chandra Bhan in the court of Shahjahan, writing as Mir Bakshi. Born in 1772, Mir Taqi Mir was the son of Mohammed Ali, a Sufi saint. In the company of these learned spiritual seekers Mir wrote poetry embodying love for humanity and spiritualism.
Ghalib gave Urdu poetry a new definition, direction and identity.
It was, however, Nazeer Akbarabadi who gave Agra a new identity through his poetry.
Also called people’s poet, Nazeer wrote about ordinary things that touched the core of hearts of both Muslims and Hindus. He was obsessed with his love for the Taj Mahal.
The story goes that once he decided to leave Agra for greener pastures at the invitation of the Nawab of Hyderabad but returned home after walking some distance when he lost sight of the Taj.
With the partition in 1947, the wounds became deeper though the poets of Agra tried hard to heal them through their creative outbursts. A long list of poets of Agra left for Pakistan. They included Seemav Akbarabadi and Saba Akbarabadi.
Seemav Akbarabadi launched an Urdu magazine “Shair” in 1929. Subsequently it was published from Pakistan before coming back to Mumbai from where it is still brought out.
The city of Taj inherits the best of two worlds – the Muslim and the Hindu, blending the two together in a harmonious mould now called Indian.
If Agra today ranks as one of the more peaceful cities of India, the credit to a large extent goes to its well entrenched tradition of Sulah Kul.
Akbar practised Din-e-Ilahi, a highly eclectic faith that combined the best of all religions. Dara Shikoh, the elder brother of Aurangzeb, furthered the process of eclecticism, writing and translating from Sanskrit. His library at Moti Ganj has unfortunately become a mandi, thanks to local authorities.