The heritage of the Master of Marsiya-Mirza Dabeer is fading away

In the history of Urdu Literature in the context of Marsiya writing only two names comes in mind, Mir Babar Ali Anees and Mirza Salamat Ali Dabeer. Both were the experts of Marsiya, a form of Urdu poetry which contains many essential elements of almost all poetic genres. it has Ghazal’s sonority, Masnavi’s flow and even certain elements of an epic poem. It is an elegiac poem revolves around the tragedy of Karbala.

There are many books written about both of them, but Mir Anees is more talked about than Mirza Dabeer. Though Mirza Dabeer, who is known as ‘Khuda-e-Sukhan’ has written a lesser number of Marsiyas than Anees, was a cultured scholar with a great vocabulary. He used more words in Urdu poetry than any other poet, even more than Anees. The Dabeer’s tally of the couplets is 120,000 while that of Anees was 86,000.

According to the researcher Dr.Taqi Abidi, Dabeer’s poetry was minutely silky, fluent and saline. In one of his marsiya the poet had come up with seven metaphoric arrangements without making them clash with one another. Dabeer also wrote a dotless elegy (Benuqta) of which the opening verse is:

‘Hum tale-e-Huma murad hum rasa hua’

Mirza Dabeer and Mir Anees are the most researched Urdu poets in the history of Lucknow. Mirza Dabeer was born in Delhi in 1803 on 11 Jamadulawwal 1212 (according to Islamic calendar) and migrated to Lucknow. Mirza Dabeer died at the age of 72 years same as of Anees just a year after the demise of Anees on 30th Muharram 1292 (1875). He is buried in his home in the Nakhas area of old Lucknow. Now the lane alongside his house is known as Mirza Dabeer Lane but the house or Maqbara of Dabeer is dilapidated only a small mosque-like structure covered his grave. The place where such a great poet is buried is in very bad condition neither the people related to the revival of Urdu literature nor the people concerned with restoring heritage of Lucknow giving heed to its condition.

Unfortunately we are talking to revive the historical Lucknow’s culture, but ignore the exponent of that culture. Many people know that he was a legendary marsiya writer, but few know about his family, few know about the dilapidated tomb of Dabeer in the old locality of Lucknow. Like the fading away of Marsiya, an epic art of Urdu poetry the heritage belongs to that era of Mir Anees and Mirza Dabeer also vanishing.

Mirza Dabeer’s son Mirza Mohd Jafar Auj Lakhnavi was also a poet and maintained the legacy in the 19th century, but now his 7th generation is living in poverty. The family of his great grandson Mirza Gauhar Dabeeri is still in hope that people who have created organizations in the name of legendary poet will do something for the poor condition of at least the maqbara of Mirza Dabeer.

We have organized so many seminars and written so many books on the epic poet of Urdu literature, but haven’t realized that the restoration of that culture and poet’s historic property is much more important.

A couplet from one of his salaam-

Tawaf-e-Kaaba ka tujhe Shauq hai bas ke DABEER

Muztarib Dil se Fatah-e-Qibla Numa Rehtha hai.


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