Saturday, July 12, 2008

2. Mir Taqi Mir: Dislocation of Values

This is a series of blogs about the creation and philosophy of Pakistan and its key actors. These accounts are based on historical facts and references are linked at the bottom.
If the purpose of Waliullah was a spiritual social reconstruction then that would not be achieved without detaching from the old order of things. By 1767 AD it became obvious that the old order was not going to last: Bengal had fallen to British in the Battle of Plassey (1757 AD) and Mughal Emperor had accepted their authority through the Treaty of Allahabad (1765 AD). Yet something of the old order needed to be preserved and transferred to posterity.
Consciously or unconsciously, Mir Taqi Mir (b. 1723 - d. 1810), one of the greatest Urdu poets, used an interesting technique: he attributed most good things to the kafir, or the infidel and non-Muslim – “O Mir, he was a great infidel who first embraced the religion of love…”:
Likewise, he would identify himself more readily with unbelief than with Islam – “What do you ask of Mir’s religion and creed now, for he has long withdrawn to a temple and has renounced Islam…”:

It is interesting to note that while mocking his own identity in this manner he never gave up the key values associated with that identity - such as love, fidelity, high aesthetics and truthfulness. He simply transferred them to "the Other". Thus he also gave these values a life of their own: Love of God is not good just because it is supposed to be associated with Muslims but is good in itself. Consciously or unconsciously, he ended up ensuring that the best values of his parent society survive even after that society is transformed or annihilated.
Next Installment: Sachal Sarmast, an early poet of "Pakistan"
You can find out more about Mir Taqi Mir at


  1. I am authoring the first English biography of Mir. Thanks for this enlightening blog. It's one of the best things I've read on him in a long time. Short, concise, readable and meaningful.Most people do not understand his poetry or ideals, he was misunderstood in his own life and wrote about it.

  2. Rehan, thanks. There is also a concise book about Mir in English by the leading Mauritian critic Inayatullah Eiden published from India, as I discovered recently to my great joy (frankly I am quite impressed by Mr. Eiden's approach), but a full-length biography is much needed. Good to know that you are working on it.

  3. Mir Taqi Mir,
    I wonder why he gave up his religion.Whenever someone abandons their religion because something that happened in their life,to me it just does not sound right.When something bad happens in life,I feel one must hold on to their religion and pray to God.I am a great believer about praying.I know it always works.
    By the way the Urdu couplets in Persian script is great.I can read it all.
    I wonder if my message is clear!