Marx Writes to Ghalib

marx-ghalibFollowing is the text of a letter that Marx wrote to Ghalib. The letter was found by Abida Ripley from India Office Library, London. Ittook her 15 years to dig out the details of this correspondence.

“Sunday, April 21, 1867

London, England

Dear Ghalib,

Day before yesterday I received a letter from my friend, Angels. It ended with a couplet that impressed me very much. After much effort, I learnt that it was written by some Indian poet named Mirza Asadullah Khan Ghalib. Brother, it’s wonderful! I had never envisaged that revolutionary feelings for independence from slavery would ripen so early in a country like India! Yesterday, I got some more poetic works of yours from a Lord’s personal library. The couplet is highly appreciable!:

Hum ko maloom hai jannat ki haqeeqat lekin,

Dil ko behlane ko Ghalib ye khayal achha hai. (I know paradise does exist, But, Ghalib! It’s good to console your heart.)

In your next edition of poetry do write in detail addressing workers: “Landlords, administrators, and religious leaders sap your toil’s rewards by taking you to the fanciful world of paradise. Rather, it would be nicer if you write some lines on:

“Duniya bhar ke mazdooron, muttahid ho jao (World labourers, get united.)”

I am not well aware of the Indian style and poetic treatment. You are a poet, you write something substantive being under poetic restrictions. Whatever, the sole purpose is to invigorate the masses with its message. Moreover, I would advise you to quit composing leisure writings like ghazal or quatrain and move over to free verses so that in least time you can write more and the more you write the more the wretched people would have to read and mull over.

I am dispatching the Indian version of the Communist Manifesto along with the first volume whose translation is unfortunately not available. If you like it, next time I will send you some more literature. At present, India has been converted into a den of the English imperialists. And only the collective effort of the exploited and downtrodden masses or workers can liberate them from the clutches of the perpetrators.

You should study the modern philosophies of the West than the outmoded and unworkable thoughts of Asian scholars; and do not write the fables and praises of the Mughal kings and nawabs and create the literature that takes up the revolutionary cause of the masses. Revolution is imminent. No force in this world can restrain it. That time is coming soon when the tradition of guru and disciple will fade away.

I wish India a steady path toward revolution,


Karl Marx

Source: India Office Library