Spiritual Almanac – Thursday, January 7, 2021: Ghalib

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  Our inspiration for today comes from Ghalib, the nineteenth-century Indian poet whose name is synonymous with Urdu poetry. Born in Agra, Ghalib married young and it wasn’t a happy marriage — his wife is described as conservative and pious, while Ghalib had a passion for drinking and gambling. But despite his vices, he was also a devout Muslim and master of the Urdu, Persian and Turkish languages. Many of his poems are about the agony of failed love, and the notion that purity of belief is more important than religious practice in the pursuit of God. Here’s a poem from Ghalib titled, “Questions.”

 QUESTIONS

By Ghalib

 Since nothing actually exists except You,  Then why do I keep hearing all this noise? 


These magnificent women with their beauty astound me.  Their side-glances, their eyebrows, how does all that work?  What is it? 

These palm trees and these tulips, where did they come from?  What purpose do they serve? What are clouds and wind? 

We hope for faithfulness and loyalty from people.  But people don’t have the faintest idea what loyalty is. 

Good rises from good actions, and that is good.  Beyond that, what else do saints and good people say? 

I am willing to give up my breath and my life for you,  Even though I don’t know the first thing about sacrifice. 

The abundant objects of the world mean nothing at all!  But if the wine is free, how could Ghalib hang back?

FOR ADDITIONAL READING: See Lightning Should Have Fallen on Ghalib: Selected Poems of Ghalib by Robert Bly and Sunil Dutta.

Some more inspirational nuggets for today

  • On this day in 1955, Marian Anderson became the first Black singer to perform at the Metropolitan Opera in New York. Anderson was born to devout Christian parents and was active in the Union Baptist Church in Philadelphia, where she joined the church choir at the age of six. In her debut performance at the Metropolitan, she sang the part of Ulrica in Giuseppe Verdi’s Un ballo in maschera, an opera about the 1792 assassination of Gustav III in Sweden. Later she said, “The curtain rose on the second scene and I was there on stage, mixing the witch’s brew. I trembled, and when the audience applauded and applauded before I could sing a note, I felt myself tightening into a knot.”After the performance, Anderson was named a permanent member of the Metropolitan, though she never performed with the company again.
  • Today is also the 50th wedding anniversary of writer, Stephen King, and his wife Tabitha, who is also a writer. Known as a master of the horror and suspense genres, King’s writing frequently touches on religion, the supernatural and the nuances of the human experience. When he received a lifetime achievement award in 2003, he used the opportunity to talk about Tabitha’s role in his life and work.

“Tabby always knew what I was supposed to be doing, and she believed that I would succeed at it. There is a time in the lives of most writers when they are vulnerable, when the vivid dreams and ambitions of childhood seem to pale in the harsh sunlight of what we call the real world. In short, there’s a time when things can go either way. [When the vulnerable time came for me] … it never crossed her mind to [tell me to stop writing and get a regular job].”

That’s today’s spiritual almanac — thanks for listening. If you learned something new today, we’d be grateful if you subscribed and gave a thumbs up to our podcast and YouTube channel. 

A Spiritual Almanac is a production of Granola Soul. You can find a text version of today’s episode and Ghalib’s “Questions” on our website, GranolaSoul.com.

Be kind, take good care and we’ll see you soon.

 

“Questions” by Ghalib. Public domain.

For the audio podcast, visit https://spiritualalmanac.buzzsprout.com.

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