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Maaz Bin Bilal

Poet, Translator, Critic, Academic

New Release

Temple Lamp:
Verses on Banaras

The poem ‘Chirag-e-Dair’ or Temple Lamp is an eloquent and vibrant Persian masnavi by Mirza Ghalib. While we quote liberally from his Urdu poetry, we know little of his writings in Persian, and while we read of his love for the city of Delhi, we discover in temple Lamp, his rapture over the spiritual and sensual city of Banaras.

Chiragh-e-dair is being translated directly from Persian into English in its entirety for the first time, with a critical Introduction by Maaz Bin Bilal. It is Mirza Ghalib’s pean to Kashi, which he calls Kaaba-e-Hindostan or the Mecca of India.

Temple Lamp Front Cover.jpg

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Dr Maaz Bin Bilal has completed a work of immense importance. During this storm, he has saved the ‘Temple Lamp’ from blowing out. It was Ghalib who called Banaras ‘a temple lamp’. By translating this Persian poem into English, Dr Maaz has unlocked the shores of the rest of the world.


 Poet, Lyricist, Filmmaker

Praise & Reviews

Maaz Bin Bilal’s Temple Lamp is the long-awaited translation, into English, of one of the most extraordinary and important poems written in India during the 19th century—Chiragh-e-Dair. Composed in exquisite Farsi, it is the great Urdu poet Ghalib’s paean of praise and declaration of love for the city of Banaras.

Ranjit Hoskote

Poet and Translator 

In his lively, readable, well-annotated interpretation of Chiragh-e- Dair, Maaz Bin Bilal shows us how keenly the young Ghalib enjoyed his stay in Banaras—and how much he felt it as an almost illicit escape from his life in Delhi. For the newcomer, he also provides an extensive and helpful introduction. His work is the best available overview of this unusual Persian masnavi.

Prof. Frances Pritchett

Professor Emerita of Modern Indic Languages Columbia University


The Sixth River book launch with Prof. Rita Kothari

 at Goa Arts and Lit Fest (GALF) 2019

Reading and discussion with Suhit Kelkar

for Pen at Prithvi, 2020

Locked Down in Sonipat: Translating Partition Perspectives

Discussion with Alexandra Buchler

for Literature Across Frontiers, 2020

If I Could Write this in Fire
Reading with Asiya Zahoor and Sourav
for Bengaluru Poetry Festival, 2020

From Agra to Balli Maran, Tracing the Journey of Mirza Ghalib

Urdunama podcast with Fabeha Syed

for Quint

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Maaz Bin Bilal (b. 1986) is a poet, translator, and academic. His first collection, Ghazalnama: Poems from Delhi, Belfast, and Urdu (2019), was shortlisted for the Sahitya Akademi Yuva Puraskar. His translation of Fikr Taunvis’s Partition diary, The Sixth River (2019), was also critically noted. Maaz was the recipient of the Charles Wallace Trust fellowship in writing and translation in Wales (2018–19), and the Akademie Schloss Solitude fellowship in writing at Stuttgart (2022–23). He holds a PhD on the politics of friendship in E. M. Forster’s work from Queen’s University Belfast and teaches literary studies at O. P. Jindal Global University. His translation of Mirza Ghalib's long poem in Persian on Banaras, Chiragh-e-Dair, was released as Temple Lamp by Penguin Classics recently.

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