The revolt of 1857 was witnessed by the poet -

1)Mir Taqi Mir




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    Mirza Asadullah Khan Ghalib, one of our greatest poets, was in Delhi when the uprising of 1857 was at its peak. He observed the revolutionary changes taking place during his lifetime. And his travel to Calcutta (now Kolkata) in 1830, the then capital of the British India, had broadened his mental horizon. But no change or revolution, no matter how great, could reflect in his poetry.

    There are barely a few of Ghalib`s couplets that can truly be attributed to any political or social upheaval. A few of his ghazals and couplets are sometimes unscrupulously reproduced and quoted as portrayal of the political revolution that saw Indians losing the war of freedom and Mughals their throne. But the fact is that his poetry has got nothing to do with the events of 1857 as he had composed such ghazals and couplets much before the rebellion.

    But Ghalib`s Urdu letters reward anyone who is lucky and wise enough to read them. Many of them give an account of the events of 1857 and, besides carrying some biographical details about Ghalib, make a good reading, too.

    He began writing letters in Urdu in or around 1847. He quit the old-fashioned way of writing letters that essentially meant long salutations and tortuous language and instead went for a very lively and frank style. The language of his letters is simple yet literary and sounds like the conversation of a person of highly developed tastes and knowledge. His ability to smile at his sorrows and brighten up at the gloomiest moments has made these letters a good example of decent humour.

    Ghalib talked of the 1857 revolution in many of his letters which portrayed the pain and sorrows that he had felt. However, he was careful enough not to say anything that could offend the British. His attitude towards the `rebellious` Indians was not sympathetic at all and at least on one occasion he denounced the Indians that killed the persons of British origin during the revolution. Ghalib had many friends among British officers. He had been trying all along to earn more favours particularly an award and pension from the British.

    In fact there had been bad blood between Ghalib and his literary opponents much earlier. The literary circle that celebrated his imprisonment in 1847 for running a gambling den at his place was among the front-runners in the revolution of 1857. Renowned among them were Ustad Ibrahim Zauq and Maulvi Muhammad Baqar (who was later hanged by the British), editor of Delhi`s paper, Urdu Akhbar, and father of Muhammad Hussain Azad.

    Zauq, Muhammad Hussain Azad`s teacher and mentor, was his foremost literary opponent and he could become the last Mughal Bahadur Shah Zafar`s Ustad (one who `advises` the king on his poetry) only after Zauq`s death.

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