THIS COMMENTARY will be devoted mostly to analytical matters of text and translation, the kind of things I'd discuss with my Urdu students if we were studying the asbaab in class. But I'll also point out anything else that seems relevant and interesting, just as I would in class. As I go through this text I'm going to translate it with excruciating clunkiness, so as to tether my English as closely as possible to the original Urdu. This approach will give us occasion to consider issues of translation as they emerge. After all, I'm under no pressure to make a translation in "normal" English, because the 1873 one is not only out there, but in fact has a good historical claim to be considered the definitive public face of this text. But the 1873 translation can only be called a friendly paraphrase; it differs markedly from the Urdu. So markedly that in this commentary I won't even mention minor differences, but will discuss only those that create significantly different meanings.

The 'script bar' at the bottom of the page will give you viewing choices for Urdu words; note that the spellings in Devanagari will be based on Urdu spellings, and will not be those used in modern standard Hindi (for complex reasons that are explained in the *Ghalib* website). There's a link at the bottom of the page to the online Platts Dictionary too (though you'd be foolish not to have your own). Remember that the Urdu text provided here was calligraphed in 1957, so it will be good practice in familiarizing yourself with the script styles, conventions of (non-)punctuation, etc., of older texts. As older Urdu texts go, this 1957 one is in fact extremely clear and legible. If you're part of the new generation and read mostly computer-generated Urdu script, the experience will be good for you.

== *093* == *094* ==

One of Sir Sayyid's arguments is that the British overestimate the importance of the events of 1857 (see [4.10]), so I've decided not to capitalize and formally name the episode. Sir Sayyid seems to use ba;Gaavat (which I translate throughout as 'rebellion'), sarkashii (which I translate throughout as 'revolt'), and fasaad (which I translate throughout as 'agitation'), more or less interchangeably. In his original 1859 Urdu edition, the word on the *title page* is in fact sarkashii . I chose my three equivalents after some thought. 1) ba;Gaavat is a very formal, political word, and also gives rise to the active noun baa;Gii , which I'm thus able to render as 'rebel'. 2) sarkashii , literally 'head-liftingness', is a broader and more general term; Sir Sayyid doesn't use its noun sarkash at all, probably because that could mean merely 'an arrogant person'. (Thus the absence of 'revolter' in English is not a problem.) 3) fasaad can refer to many kinds of turmoil and disturbance; it could apply to random riots and urban mob violence as well as to a formal political rebellion. I chose 'agitation' since it has a similarly wide range of meaning in English, but sounds more purposeful than 'turmoil' or 'disturbance'. Once in a while he also uses ;Gadr , which I've translated as "sedition" (mostly because I can't think of any other suitable English equivalent to assign).

Is all this scrupulousness really necessary? In this case, I'm not sure, because I don't think Sir Sayyid uses these various terms in any consistently and meaningfully different ways. But in my experience it's better to start out keeping track of as much information as possible; it's infuriating to discover later on that you want it, and have to go back and boringly recover it. And do you need to be such a scrupulous translator in the first place? That depends on the importance of the text, and the kind of translation you're doing. In my view, all you really owe your readers is TRUTH IN LABELING; but that, you owe them with a deep ethical force. If you want to play happily in the fields of "transcreation," changing the words and phrases of the original at will, then just TELL your reader that's what you plan to do, and then nobody has any right to complain.

What I like is just the opposite: I like using every resource of the English language, and even giving English a bit of a twist at times, to bring the reader as close to the original text as possible. I think this is a far more compelling and fascinating goal than merely creating a pleasing effect in English (which, in prose at least, isn't very difficult). The present translation is just one more experiment in that "bent English" direction.

== *095* ==
[0.1] [0.1x] Definition of "Rebellion" exemplified with instances.
== *096* ==

Sir Sayyid addresses us readers familiarly as tum , since he uses the imperative jaan lo . Throughout the text, he speaks of 'our Government' with an almost touching possessiveness that's not reflected in the 1873 translation.

The 1873 translation is clearly wrong in the case of definition (1).

Sir Sayyid describes the year 1857 as a naazuk vaqt , for which 'sad time' is a misleading translation: something more like 'complex' or 'delicate' or 'awkward' would be much better.

[0.2] [0.2x] Why it is resorted to.

The imagery about streams merging into water seems to have been invented by the translators, unless by some chance there's a final sentence missing in the Urdu text (as there seems to be in [0.4g]).

[0.3] [0.3x] The Rebellion of 1857 did not originate from a single cause, but from a complication of causes.
== *097* ==
[0.4] [0.4x] The distribution of "Chuppaties," had not league for its object.
== *098* ==
[0.5] [0.5x] Russia and Persia not chargeable with a league in this matter.
== *099* ==
[0.6] [0.6x] The subject of the Proclamation which was found in the tent of a Persian Prince discussed.
[0.7] [0.7x] The despatch of a Firman by the ex-king of Delhi to the king of Persia not improbable, but not the origin of the rebellion.
== *100* ==
[0.8] [0.8x] The annexation of Oudh not the cause of the general rise.

== *101* ==

The last phrase in the 1873 translation seems necessary to complete the meaning; but it isn't present in the Urdu, which ends simply with the names of some minor rulers who were counterexamples. Might it have once been present in the Urdu, and then have been accidentally omitted somehow? Or does Sir Sayyid expect his readers to understand that it's rhetorically implied?

[0.9] [0.9x] The national league not framed with the view of overthrowing the government of strangers.
== *102* == *103* ==

Here's the first occurrence of the vexatious, slippery word qaum . Here it seems initially to refer to all Indians. In the 1873 translation it's here rendered as 'national'-- which is common, but always highly problematical. The translators have also converted a 'longing' and 'regret' (apparently for former times) into the quite different idea that foreigners were 'hated' and 'detested'.

Halfway through the section, we find the Company warring 'with every qaum of Hindustan', apparently illustrated by 'Hindus, Muslims'.

By the end of the passage, the discussion has shifted to an argument about Muslims alone.

[0.10] [0.10x] The position of Ex-king of Delhi well-known within the town, and its environs, but overrated in the district Provinces.

Really 'former king' would be more accurate, but 'ex-king' is very convenient, and also enjoyably brisk, so I've retained it.

[0.11] [0.11x] The declaration of Lord Amherst, in the year 1827, to the effect that the sovereignty of India belongs to the British Government, and that it no longer existed in the Timour family did not offend any one.
== *104* ==

The Urdu version doesn't offer this as a separate heading; it simply combines its material with the heading before.

[0.12] [0.12x] The Mahommadans did not contemplate jehad against the Christians prior to the out-break.
== *105* ==

There's quite a difference between the second and third sentences of the 1873 translation, and the Urdu text: was jihad impossible because the Government didn't interfere with Muslim religious freedom, or because Muslims were under Government protection? Perhaps the translators thought these two situations were very similar, but I've tried to stay closer to the Urdu.

[0.13] [0.13x] The preaching of Jehad in India, 35 years before with this reservation, its practice against the British Government was opposed to the doctrine of the Mahommadan religion and from the same cause its practice on the other side of the Indus provinces, i.e. against the Seiks was held before.
== *106* ==
[0.14] [0.14x] None of the acts committed by the Mahommadan rebels during the disturbances were in accordance with the tenets of the Mahommadan religion.

How very difficult it is to translate bhalaa as an exclamation! I've used 'what the hell!', but that doesn't really do the trick, because the Urdu idiom is without even the surviving trace of (ir)religious imagery present in the English one. It's really kind of untranslatable and uncapturable. Still, I had to make the attempt, because the energy and what might be called the 'indignant denial' effect of bhalaa needed to be shown.

[0.15] [0.15x] The Futwah of Jehad printed at Delhi was a counterfeit one.
== *107* ==

[0.16] [0.16x] A large number of the Moulvies who considered the King of Delhi a violator of the law left off praying in the Royal Mosque.
== *108* ==
[0.17] [0.17x] The same persons whose seals are said to be affixed to the Futwa at Delhi protected the lives and honour of Christians.
== *109* ==

The 1873 translation concludes that where Hindus did rebel, "matters were carried to as great extremes." This is a misreading of vuh bhii kuchh kam nahii;N hai to refer to a degree of violence, whereas it's simply part of a numerical statement (the vuh refers to the number of districts in which Hindus rebelled).

[0.18] [0.18x] The Bengal army was not previously in league for an out-break.
== *110* ==
[0.19] [0.19x] Nor was there any league between the army and Ex-king though it is not improbable that some Sepoy or Non-Commissioned Officer may have been his disciple.
== *111* ==

This paragraph is couched in Sufistic language that is not reflected in the 1873 translation. The King is described as not a 'saint and a sanctified being' [valii aur muqaddas hastii], and people become his 'disciples' [muriid] out of advantage. There are even echoes here of Akbar's (in)famous Din-e Ilahi, in which he apparently became a kind of Sufi pir to a small group of select followers.

The word used for a common soldier is talangah ; it's contrasted to 'Subahdar' for an officer. It apparently comes from Telingana, home of many early recruits.

Sir Sayyid transliterates 'Ellenborough' as alanbaraa -- a wonderful echo of British pronunciation.

[0.20] [0.20x] The non-admission of a native as a member into the Legislative Council was the original cause of the out-break.
[0.21][0.21x] The importance of such an admission discussed.
== *112* == *113* == *114* ==

There's an extra nah near the end of the second line of p. 113 that shouldn't be there; and in the sixth line, vaaqifiyat ought to have a privative naa in front of it. These are not just my intuitions: I checked the Salim ud-Din Quraishi Urdu text, and verified that it does not display these errors.

The 1873 translation says, "To form a Parliament from the natives of India is of course out of the question." But Sir Sayyid seems to be speaking of access by Indians to the British Parliament, not of some new local deliberative body.

One of Sir Sayyid's most common mannerisms is to begin sentences with "without a doubt" or words to that effect. Sometimes bilaa shub'ah , sometimes beshak , sometimes is me;N shak nahii;N , and so on. I've used similar small variations ("undoubtedly," "there's no doubt," "unquestionably") to reflect this, but haven't tried to correlate them systematically to the Urdu forms, since I don't think the differences among them are meaningful to Sir Sayyid.

[0.22] [0.22x] The non-admission of such a member proved a hindrance to the development of the good feeling of the Indian subject towards the Government and of their good intention towards it; on the contrary, contrary effects were produced.
== *115* == *116* == *117* ==

The change in similes is fascinating: why go from the literal 'sweet poison and a honeyed dagger and a cold flame' to 'slow poison, a rope of sand, a treacherous flame of fire'? Unlike many of the 1873 translators' changes, this one isn't easy to explain; and it surely destroys the whole rhetorical intent of the original.

It becomes clear from the oblique plural hinduustaaniyo;N that Sir Sayyid does envision more than one Indian's being added to the Legislative Council. He also seems to consider the possibility of Indians' being chosen for it the way members of Parliament are chosen. He's a wonderfully slippery writer at times-- in the midst of his show of humility are flashes of a very matter-of-fact assertiveness.

Note for translators: in English 'to know' almost always implies reliable knowledge, while jaannaa keeps open a wide window for error; so it's often better translated as 'consider', 'think', 'believe', or the like.

[0.23] [0.23x] The outbreak of rebellion proceeded from the following five causes.
== *118* == *119* ==

'Neglect' is a much weaker term than tark karnaa , which involves an active rejection or renunciation.

'Disaffection' is a thorough mistranslation of be-ihtimaamii , which means a lack or defect of supervision, management, or the like. (Platts p.109). Here's a notable case where the translators have (surely deliberately?) distorted Sir Sayyid's meaning in a most important way.



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