Today, Ghalib is known to everybody. Even many who have little interest in Urdu shaa'iri know that he is regarded as one of the finest Urdu poets of all time. However, he did not always receive the same recognition. During his own lifetime, for instance, he was often ridiculed for writing incomprehensible poetry. Here's an example of the kinds of taunt Ghalib's poetry received:
ज़ुबान-ए-'मीर'1 समझे, और कलाम-ए-'मीरज़ा'2 समझे
मगर इनका लिखा? ये आप समझें, या ख़ुदा समझे!
zubaan-e-'Meer'1 samjhe, aur kalaam-e-'Meerza'2 samjhe
magar inkaa likhaa? yeh aap samjheN, yaa Khudaa samjhe
We have no trouble understanding the word of Meer, nor comprehending the writ of Mirza, but what this man (Ghalib) writes -- only he knows, or God!
Ghalib, on the other hand, was rather proud of his diction. Some say he didn't pay these critics too much attention. Others say he didn't suffer them gladly at all, that he wasn't one to take things lying down, that his way of responding to such comments was to slip in a critical retort here and there in his Ghazals. It is hard to say who is right, but it is true that one finds some very interesting couplets in Ghalib's deewaan which could be considered responses to the sharp criticism he received. The following couplet is one such particularly famous 'response':
पूछते हैं वो केः 'ग़ालिब' कौन है?
कोई बतलाए केः हम बतलाएँ क्या?
poochhte haiN woh ke 'Ghalib' kaun hai?
koi batlaaye ke ham batlaayeN kyaa?
ASAD _also_ stands for "A Sher A Day" !
1Meer: Meer Taqi 'Meer', acknowledged universally by Urdu poetry aficionados as 'Khudaa-e-suKhan' (the God of poetry)
2Meerza: Mirza Mohammed Rafi 'Sauda', a contemporary of Meer's and an excellent poet in his own right.
[(c) Abhay Avachat. Editor: U.V. Ravindra]