A Desertful of Petals: A Complete Concordance of Ghālib's Urdu Dīvān

Shahid, Taimoor

This is a complete concordance of Dīvān-e Ghālib, the Urdu works of Mirza Asadullah Baig Khan Ghālib (1796-1869), the preeminent Indian Urdu and Persian poet known for his ghazals. The ghazal, a traditional genre of Arabic, Persian, Urdu poetry is comprised of independent two line poems called shi‘rs that follow a rhyme and are in one meter. This concordance—a complete index—is a digitally compiled work that uses his traditional divan, known in Urdu as muravvaj dīvān, as a reference point. This divan has two hundred and thirty four ghazals in total. The ghazals, however, are not traditionally numbered but they follow the same traditional sequence in all editions of the muravvaj dīvān. Here I use Professor Frances Pritchett’s numbering of the ghazals and its individual shi‘rs as found on her web project on Ghālib, ‘A Desertful of Roses’ (, where each ghazal is numbered from 1-234 and each shi‘r of the ghazal is numbered from 1-. Every reference in the concordance thus is composed of a ghazal number and a shi‘r number. This is how a sample entry looks like: [word]: {ghazal no., shi‘r no.}…: [frequency of the word in corpus]. For example, ābād: {101,9}, {145,1}, {182,2}: 3. The word ābād appears 3 times in the corpus, in shi‘r 9 of ghazal 101, shi‘r 1 of ghazal 145, and shi‘r 2 of ghazal 182. Finally, the textual corpus I use to compile the concordance is also borrowed from Pritchett’s web project, and is in the Roman transliteration system used for the project. I owe much gratitude to her for making the text available publicly. Finally, it must be mentioned that this is the first research tool of its kind for Urdu, the first known concordance for any Urdu text, and is part of a larger project of compiling similar concordances for other canonical Urdu works, such as the complete works of Mir Taqi Mir (d. 1810), Muhammad Iqbal (d. 1938), and Faiz Ahmad Faiz (d. 1984) amongst others. One hopes to make this, and other concordances, available dynamically on a web site very soon, in addition to the textual versions. This piece has not been published, and is being made available publicly for the first time here.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Middle Eastern, South Asian, and African Studies
Published Here
November 17, 2014