Mir Taqi Mir

Mir Taqi Mir
Urdu poet of Mughal era
Mir Taqi Mir
Born 1723
Died 1810 (aged 87)
Pen name Mir
Occupation Urdu poet
Nationality Indian
Period Mughal era
Genres Ghazal
Subjects Love, Philosophy

Khuda-e-sukhan Mir Taqi Mir (Urdu: میر تقی میر) (born 1723 - died September 21, 1810), whose real name was Muhammad Taqi (Urdu: محمد تقی) and takhallus (pen name) was Mir (Urdu: میر) (sometimes also spelt as Meer Taqi Meer), was the leading Urdu poet of the 18th century, and one of the pioneers who gave shape to the Urdu language itself. He was one of the principal poets of the Delhi School of the Urdu ghazal and remains arguably the foremost name in Urdu poetry often remembered as Khuda-e-sukhan (god of poetry).[1]


Early life

Born in Agra, India (then called Akbarabad), ruled by the Mughals at the time.[1] He left for Delhi, at the age of 11, following his father's death. His philosophy of life was formed primarily by his father, whose emphasis on the importance of love and the value of compassion remained with him throughout his life and imbued his poetry. At Delhi, he finished his education and joined a group of nobility as a courtier-poet. He lived much of his life in Mughal Delhi. Kuchha Chelan, located in famous grain market Khari Baoli, in Old Delhi was his address at that time. However, after Ahmad Shah Abdali's sack of Delhi each year starting 1748, he eventually moved to the court of Asaf-ud-Daulah in Lucknow, at the king's invitation. Distressed to witness the plundering of his beloved Delhi, he gave vent to his feelings through some of his couplets.

"Kya bood-o-bash poochhe ho Purab ke sakino

Hum ko gharib jaan ke hans hans pukar ke

Dilli jo aik shehar tha aalam mein intekhaab

Rehte the muntakhib hi jahan rozgaar ke

Jisko falak ne loot ke viraan kar diya

Hum rahnay walay hain ussi ujray dayar ke"

Mir migrated to Lucknow in 1782 and remained there for the remainder of his life. He died, of a purgative overdose, on Friday, 21 September 1810.[1] The marker of his burial place was removed in modern times when a railway was built over his grave.[2]

Literary life

His complete works, Kulliaat, consist of six Diwans containing 13,585 couplets, comprising all kinds of poetic forms.[1]

Mir's literary reputation is anchored on his ghazals. Mir lived at a time when Urdu language and poetry was at a formative stage - and Mir's instinctive aesthetic sense helped him strike a balance between the indigenous expression and new enrichment coming in from Persian imagery and idiom, to constitute the new elite language known as Rekhta or Hindui. Basing his language on his native Hindustani, he leavened it with a sprinkling of Persian diction and phraseology, and created a poetic language at once simple, natural and elegant, which was to guide generations of future poets.

After his move to Lucknow, his beloved daughter died, followed by his son (either Mir Faiz Ali or Mir Kallu Arsh), and then his wife.[1] This, together with other earlier setbacks (including his traumatic stages in Delhi) lends a strong pathos to much of his writing - and indeed Mir is noted for his poetry of pathos and melancholy.


"Mir ke deen-o-mazhab ka
poonchte kya ho un nay to

kashka khaincha dair mein baitha
kab ka tark Islam kiya

What can I tell you about Mir’s faith or belief ?
A tilak on his forehead in a temple he resides, having abandoned Islam long ago


What Mir was practicing was probably the Malamati or “Blameworthy” aspect of the Sufi tradition. Using this technique, a person ascribes to oneself an unconventional aspect of a person or society, and then plays out its results, either in action or in verse. He was a prolific writer. His complete works, Kulliaat, consist of 6 dewans, containing 13,585 couplets comprising all kinds of poetic forms: ghazal, masnavi, qasida, rubai, mustezaad, satire, etc.

Mir vs Mirza Ghalib

Mir's famous contemporary, also an Urdu poet of no inconsiderable repute, was Mirza Rafi Sauda. Mir Taqi Mir was often compared with the later day Urdu poet, Mirza Ghalib. Lovers of Urdu poetry often debate Mir's supremacy over Ghalib or vice versa. It may be noted that Ghalib himself acknowledged, through some of his couplets, that Mir was indeed a genius who deserved respect. Here are two couplets by Mirza Ghalib on this matter.

Reekhtay kay tumhi ustaad nahi ho Ghalib

Kehte hain agle zamane me koi Mir bhi tha

You are not the only master of Urdu, Ghalib
They say there used to be a Mir in the past

Mirza Ghalib

Ghalib apna yeh aqeeda hai baqaul-e-Nasikh

Aap bey behrah hai jo muataqid-e-Mir nahi

Ghalib! Its my belief in the words of Nasikh*,
"He that vows not on Mir, is himself unlearned!"

Mirza Ghalib

*Shaikh Imam Bakhsh Nasikh of Lucknow, a disciple of Mir.

Major works

  • "Nukat-us-Shura" Description about Urdu poets of his time
  • "Faiz-e-Mir" Collection of five stories about beggars, said to have been written for the education of his son Mir Faiz Ali.[4]
  • "Zikr-e-Mir" Autobiography written in Persian language.
  • "Kulliyat-e-Farsi" Collection of poems in Persian language
  • "Kulliyat-e-Mir" Collection of Urdu poetry consisting of six diwans (volumes).

Famous Couplets

Some of his impeccable couplets are:

Dikhaai diye yun ke bekhud kiya

Hamen aap se bhi juda kar chale''

(She appeared in such a way that I lost myself

And went by taking away my 'self' with her)

Looked as if rendered me unconcious

away went leaving me separated from me

At a higher spiritual level the subject Of Mir's poem in not a woman but God. Mir speaks of man's interaction with the Divine. What affect it has on man when God reveals Himself to man. Dikhaai diye yun ke bekhud kiya When I saw you God I lost all sense of self Hamen aap se bhi juda kar chale When You revealed yourself it separated me from myself

Gor kis dil jale ki hai ye falak

Shola ek subh yaan se uthta hai''

(What heart-sick sufferer's misery is the sky?

an Ember rises hence at dawn)

Ashk aankh mein kab nahi aata

Lahu aata hai jab nahi aata''

(From my eye, when doesn't a tear fall

Blood falls when it doesn't fall)

Bekhudi le gai kahaan humko

Der se intezaar hai apna

(Where has selflessness taken me

I've been waiting for myself for long)

Ibtidaa-e-ishq hai rotaa hai kyaa

Aage aage dekhiye hotaa hai kyaa

(Its the beginning of Love, why do you wail

Just wait and watch how things unveil)

Likhte ruqaa, likh gae daftar

Shauq ne baat kyaa badaai hai

(Started with a scroll, ended up with a record

How pursuit escalated the whole thing)

Deedni hai shikasgi dil ki

Kya imaarat gamon ne dhaai hai

(Worth-watching is my heart's siege

What a citadel have sorrows razed)

Baad marne ke meri qabr pe aaya wo 'Mir'

Yaad aai mere Isa ko dawa mere baad''

(O Mir, She came to my grave after i'd died

My messiah came to my aid after i'd died)

Mir Taqi Mir in fiction

Khushwant Singh's famous novel Delhi: A Novel gives very interesting details about the fictional life and adventures of the great poet. His fictional memoirs and confessions, especially those about his illicit relations with elite women, mainly with the wife of the aristocrat Rias Khan who employed him as tutor to teach his children, are not only very entertaining but also provide a lot of insight into his mind and heart.

See also

  • List of Urdu poets
  • [1] hastee apnee Hubaab kee see hai English Translation By Qazi Muhammad Ahkam
  • Ghazal


  1. ^ a b c d e Legendary Urdu poet Mir Taqi Mir passed away, [The Times of India], Rajiv Srivastava, TNN, Sep 19, 2010, 05.58am IST
  2. ^ Dalrymple, William (1998). The Age of Kali. Lonely Planet. p. 44. ISBN 1-86450-172-3. 
  3. ^ Article in The Asian Age by Javed Anand husband of Teesta Setalvad
  4. ^ Foreword by Dr. Masihuzzaman in Kulliyat-e-Mir Vol-2, Published by Ramnarianlal Prahladdas, Allahabad, India.

Further reading

  • C. M. Naim. Zikr-i-Mir, The Autobiography of the Eighteenth Century Mughal Poet: Mir Muhammad Taqi Mir (1723–1810), Translated, annotated and with an introduction by C. M. Naim, Oxford University Press, New Delhi, 1999.
  • Anna Suvorova. Masnavi: A Study of Urdu Romance. Karachi: OUP, 2000 (about love poems of Mir)

External links

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