In (mis)quoting Ghalib, PM Modi makes same mistake like everyone else
Mirza Asadullah Baig Khan, better known as Ghalib, is perhaps the most popular Urdu poet in the country even after 150 years of his death. He is the most quoted Urdu poet in the country. In fact, he is so widely quoted that many end up attributing Urdu couplets to him which he never wrote. Prime Minister Narendra Modi is the latest in the list.
Replying to the motion of thanks in the Rajya Sabha, PM Modi read out an Urdu couplet and attributed it to Ghalib, which the 19th-century poet did not compose.
"Taaumra Ghalib yeh bhool karta raha, dhool chehre pet thi aaina saaf karta raha (I continued to commit this mistake whole life, kept washing mirror while my face was dirty)," PM Modi quoted this couplet while responding to senior Congress parliamentarian Ghulam Nabi Azad.
BJP (@BJP4India) June 26, 2019
PM Modi had earlier said while his government believes in "sabka saath, sabka vikas, sabka vishwas" but Azad "sees hazy things here". Modi said Azad finds things hazy as he prefers to look at these things with a political spectacle.
But PM Modi is not the first to attribute this couplet to Ghalib. Former Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal quoted the same couplet attributing it to Ghalib in March 2012 while presenting state budget in assembly.
Later in November that year, filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt posted a tweet saying, "Umra bhar Ghalib yahi Bhool Karta raha, Dhool Chehre pe thi, aur Aina saaf karta raha. Mirza Ghalib." Same couplet with little different wordings.
Umra bhar Ghalib yahi Bhool Karta raha, Dhool Chehre pe thi, aur Aina saaf karta raha. Mirza Galib.Mahesh Bhatt (@MaheshNBhatt) November 30, 2012
But this couplet is not part of Deewan-e-Ghalib, a compendium of poetry composed by Mirza Ghalib. Social media and a few websites devoted to Urdu poetry are full of threads debating this misquoting or misattribution to Ghalib.
Experts have attributed this oft-shared couplet on social media to an imposter, who has not been identified. The couplet lacks the meter, which Ghalib used to compose his poetry.