Ghalib’s Rejected Urdu Verses and Different Versions of his Deewan

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Rauf Parekh

Ghalib was a perfectionist. While compiling his Urdu deewan in 1832, he discarded a large number of verses that he considered unsuitable for one reason or another. When his Urdu deewan first published from Delhi in 1841, it did not include the rejected verses. Ghalib’s Urdu deewan commonly available these days (usually referred to as ‘mutadaaval’, or current) is a reproduction of the 1841 edition.

In his lifetime, different publishers brought out five editions of Ghalib’s Urdu deewan and the ones published in 1847, 1861 and 1862 were mere reproductions of the 1841 edition. The fifth one, published in 1863, differed only in the order of the verses and in it, unlike the early editions, masnavis and qaseedas were preferred to ghazals in sequence.

But lovers of Ghalib were not content with the slim volume of his Urdu verses and they kept on digging for Ghalib’s Urdu verses, whether discarded or not included in his deewan for any reason whatsoever. Many scholars tried to compile an authentic and definitive version of Ghalib’s Urdu deewan. The problem was that a number of handwritten Urdu deewans of Ghalib had been discovered and on collation were found to be differing in number of verses and contents of many of the verses.

Muslim Ziai, a Ghalib scholar, has mentioned nine different manuscripts of Ghalib’s Urdu deewan. They are: (1) Faujdar Muhammad Khan’s manuscript, Bhopal, handwritten in 1821. (2) Sherani’s manuscript, Lahore, handwritten circa 1826, (Punjab University collection). (3) Gul-e-Raana, a selection of Ghalib’s Urdu and Persian verses, handwritten circa 1828. Ghalib himself compiled this selection during his stay in Calcutta (now Kolkata), on the request of Moulvi Sirajuddin Ahmed, editor of Aina-e-Sikander—a Persian weekly published from Calcutta. Hasrat Mohani had an incomplete manuscript and the only complete manuscript was discovered by Malik Ram in 1957. (4) Rampur’s manuscript, Rampur, handwritten circa 1832. (5) Karachi manuscript, handwritten circa 1838, footnotes written circa 1841 (Karachi Museum collection). (6) Kareemuddin’s manuscript, handwritten in 1845 (Karachi Museum collection). (7) Lahore manuscript, handwritten circa 1845 (Punjab University collection). (8) Rampur manuscript (second), Rampur, handwritten circa 1855. (9) Intikhab-i-Ghalib, Rampur, handwritten circa 1862.

Only two of these manuscripts, the first one and the sixth one, have dates on which the calligraphy was completed.

From time to time, different Ghalib scholars tried to compile their own version of Ghalib’s Urdu deewan based on some manuscript(s). These edited and annotated editions are quite large in number and only a few more important can be mentioned here: (1) Deewan-i-Ghalib, Nuskha-i-Hameediya: it is based on Faujdar Muhammad Khan’s manuscript. Mufti Anwaarul Haq edited and published it in 1921. (2) Deewan-i-Ghalib edited by Shaikh Muhammad Ikram: Dr Abdul Latif had tried to compile Ghalib’s verses in chronological order. In 1928, some of its portions were printed but for some unknown reasons it was never published. So in 1936, S. M. Ikram compiled Ghalib’s verses in chronological sequence and published it with his research work on Ghalib. (3) Deewan-i-Ghalib, Nuskha-i-Arshi: edited by Imtiaz Ali Khan Arshi and first published in 1958, it has been divided into two major parts. The first one lists all the verses of Ghalib that are included in Nuskha-i-Hameediya and Nuskha-i-Sherani. The second part gives the verses that Ghalib had included in the edition to be published in his lifetime. The second part also includes all the verses of Ghalib not found in the text of any manuscript but are given either in the footnotes of certain manuscripts or other sources, including Ghalib’s letters.

Arshi’s version is generally considered the most authoritative of them all. (4) Deewan-i-Ghalib edited by Malik Ram: published in 1970, it is based on Gul-i-Raana’s manuscript. (5) Deewan-i-Ghalib, Nuskha-i-Hameediya, edited by Hameed Ahmed Khan: Prof Hameed Ahmed Khan believed that Deewan-i-Ghalib edited by Mufti Anwaarul Haq not only had many calligraphic errors but it also did not match perfectly with the original manuscript. His version, corrected after collation with the original manuscript, was published in 1969, though at that time the original manuscript had disappeared from Bhopal’s library. (6) Deewan-i-Ghalib Nuskha-i-Amroha: believed to be in Ghalib’s own hand-writing, this is the version of Deewan-i-Ghalib that kicked up a controversy that still rages on. Published by Nuqoosh in 1969, the manuscript was smuggled from India and a member of Indian parliament raised the issue on the floor of the house. Many believed it was forged and some scholars thought it was genuine.

Recently, Syed Anees Shah Jeelani has published a book describing how it was bought for a pittance, brought into Pakistan and how it caused bitter rivalries among some scholars. (7) Deewan-i-Ghalib kaamil: Kalidas Gupta Reza, a well-known Ghalib scholar, compiled a deewan that lists Ghalib’s entire poetry in chronological order. Based on authentic sources, it claims to include each and every couplet of Ghalib. (8) Ghalib ka Mansookh Deewan: Muslim Ziai compiled Ghalib’s all verses that are not given in the mutadaaval deewan. It was published in 1969 by Karachi’s Idara-i-yadgar-i-Ghalib (IYG).

Now IYG has published a new edition of Ghalib ka Mansookh Deewan. Muslim Ziai (1911-1977) was a scholar who carried out some genuine research on Ghalib. In the preface Ziai says that “the most compact of all editions of deewan of Ghalib is the one edited and annotated by Imtiaz Ali Khan Arshi in which Ghalib’s verses, whether ‘mutadaaval’ or otherwise, have been collected after great research and painstaking hard work. Arshi’s version is indeed quite useful but he has depended largely on Nuskha-i-Sherani. Secondly, the different and varied texts of a couplet are mentioned quite apart from the text that he considered more authentic. This is quite cumbersome and time-consuming for the reader who wants to see the varied version of a couplet as given in the other sources”.

Keeping in view the difficulties faced while searching for Ghalib’s rejected verses, Ziai Sahib compiled a deewan consisting of all of Ghalib’s rejected verses. He has listed them alphabetically according to radeef, or the last word/words repeated at the end of every alternate line. In addition to ghazals, it includes all the verses of Ghalib, be it qaseedas or masnavis, rubaaees or marsiyas. Ziai has properly acknowledged the source of the verses and has also taken into account the different texts of a particular couplet. These differences too have been mentioned in the footnotes. At the back of the book is an index of verses.

The book had been out of print for quite long and one hopes this second edition will be received well in the literary circles.

Rauf Parekh, “Literary Notes: Ghalib’s rejected Urdu verses and different versions of his deewan,” in Dawn, July 14, 2014. Accessed on March 1, 2015, at:

The item above written by Rauf Parekh and published in Dawn on July 14, 2014, is catalogued here in full by Faiz-e-Zabaan for non-profit educational purpose only. Faiz-e-Zabaan neither claims the ownership nor the authorship of this item. The link to the original source accessed on March 1, 2015, is available here. Faiz-e-Zabaan is not responsible for the content of the external websites.

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