Muqaddimah-e murattib
[Editor's introduction, composed in the late 1920's]
by Maulvi 'Abdul Haq

 literal translation (except for his examples) by FWP, 2005

    **m01** Mir Amman's Qissah-e chahar darvesh is in fact a "garden and spring" [bagh-o-bahar]. This is among those few books of Urdu that in fact will live forever, and will always be read with ardor. The very great secret of its popularity is its eloquence [fasahat] and simplicity [salasat].

    As Mir Amman himself has written in his Preface [in the Forbes translation, from *Mir Amman's preface*],

"this "Tale of the Four Darwesh" was originally composed by Amir Khusru, of Dihli, on the following occasion; the holy Nizamu-d-Din Auliya, surnamed Zari-Zar-bakhsh, who was his spiritual preceptor, (and whose holy residence was near Dilli, three Kos from the fort, beyond the red gate, and outside the Matiya gate, near the red house), fell ill; and to amuse his preceptor's mind, Amir Khusru used to repeat this tale to him, and attend him during his sickness. God, **m02** in the course of time, removed his illness; then he pronounced this benediction on the day he performed the ablution of cure: 'That whoever will hear this tale, will, with the blessing of God, remain in health:' since which time this tale, composed in Persian, has been extensively read."

    It has come down in popular belief that the Persian Qissah-e chahar darvesh is of Amir Khusrau's composition, but neither is it mentioned anywhere in his writings, nor does this information appear anywhere in this Persian qissah. The versified hamd [praise of God] at the beginning of this Persian manuscript has in its closing-verse the pen-name "Safi." [The verse is quoted.]

    It cannot be expected that a masterful and accomplished poet like Khusrau would have copied the versified hamd of some other, unknown poet. This seems to be impossibly contrary to his temperament. Thus the suspicion becomes stronger that this qissah was not composed by Amir Khusrau. It is possible that he might have narrated it to Hazrat Sultan ul-Auliya [Nizam ud-Din] in a time of his sickness, who might have given a blessing, and this might have been referred to by him [Amir Khusrau]. From Mir Amman's last sentence, too-- "since which time this tale, composed in Persian, has been extensively read"-- it does not become entirely clear whether this Persian qissah that came to be composed, was Amir Khusrau's composition. In any case, this matter is in need of investigation.

    Mir Amman's Bagh-o-bahar is said to be the translation of this same work, and he himself says exactly this. After mentioning the Persian qissah, he writes [in Forbes's translation, from *Mir Amman's preface*]:

"Now, the excellent and liberal gentleman, the judge of respectable men, Mr. John Gilchrist, (may his good fortune ever increase as long as the Jamuna **m03** and Ganges flow!) with kindness said to me, 'Translate this tale into the pure Hindustani tongue, which the Urdu people, both Hindus and Musalmans, high and low, men, women and children, use to each other.'"

    But the truth is that this is not a translation of a Persian book. The qissah is the same, but its source is not Persian, but the Urdu book Nau tarz-e murassa' [A New Style of Adornment]. Its author Mir Muhammad Husain 'Ata Khan, with the pen-name "Tahsin," was a resident of Etawah. He had command over both Persian and Urdu poetry and prose. He was also a very good calligrapher, and on this basis he was known as "murassa'-e raqm" [the Adornment of Calligraphy]. In addition to this book, he is the author of Insha-e tahsin [Tahsin's writings], Zavabit-e angrezi [English Procedures], Tavarikh-e farsi [Persian Histories], etc. All these books are in the Persian language. The reason for the composition of Nau tarz-e murassa' he has narrated as follows: On one occasion Navab Mubariz ul-Mulk Iftikhar ud-Daulah was faced with a journey to Calcutta in a bajrah [a kind of barge] in the company of General Smith Bahadur Saulat-e Jang, Commander of the English Army. When they had begun to feel oppressed at heart from just sitting around all the time, then a friend who was with them began to narrate this qissah. It was much enjoyed, and from that very moment a clamor for its being written in "the language of Hind" [zaban-e hindi] began to resound. "Since previously no one had become an inventor [mujid] of this fresh invention [ijad-e tazah], accordingly I began to write."

    At the time of his departure General Smith had appointed him [Tahsin] for various services in the district of Azimabad. There, he had no leisure. Then, the changing times so revolved that he was forced to come away from there, and he arrived in the realm of the Vazir ul-Mumalik Navab Burhan ul-Mulk Shuja' ud-Daulah Abu'l-Mansur Khan Safdar Jang (the Navab of Avadh). And in the shadow of his [the Navab's] benevolence he completed this qissah. He writes,

"One day, roughly a few **m04** sentences of this romance [dastan]that I had first composed as a beginning, reached the auspicious hearing of Hazrat Vali Ni'mat [the Navab], so that the attractive testimony of this heart-stealing story [hikayat] entered the world of manifestation with mischief and playfulness. Through heartfelt attention making it accepted by his temperament, and the object of the noble sight, he commanded, 'From head to foot, adorn this pleasing beloved of the bridegroom with the jewelry of speech'. This possessor of little merchandise [Tahsin], according to the gloriously powerful order, as was fitting for his enthusiasm, having adorned and ornamented with jewels the beloved of this romance [dastan], wanted to cause this fair one to pass before the auspicious sight, when during this interval the times showed a very different aspect."

    In short, after Navab Shuja' ud-Daulah's death, he dedicated this book to Navab Asif ud-Daulah; Navab Asif ud-Daulah took the throne in 1775. At that time this book had already been finished; that is, its composition took place at least 29 or 30 years before that of Bagh-o-bahar.

    From examining the Persian and Nau tarz-e murassa', it's clear that Bagh-o-bahar is not a translation of the Persian book, but rather its source is Nau tarz-e murassa'. What's surprising is that Mir Amman mentioned the Persian book and its translation, but mention of Nau tarz-e murassa' is absolutely nowhere to be seen. Now I will present and compare some passages from all three books, through which my point will be completely made.

    The truth is that among those two [Urdu works], neither one is a translation. Each has told the Persian qissah in its own style [zaban], but wherever there's divergence between Nau tarz-e murassa' and the Persian book, in Bagh-o-bahar he has followed Nau tarz-e murassa'. From this **m05** it's apparent that Bagh-o-bahar is not, as is commonly believed, a translation from a Persian qissah, but rather its source is Nau tarz-e murassa'. In some places he has written words and whole sentences identical to those in Nau tarz-e murassa'. Now let's consider some examples. [These various examples, which juxtapose parallel and divergent passages from all three texts, continue for some pages: **m06** **m07** **m08** **m09** **m10** **m11** **m12** **m13** **m14** ; they don't lend themselves well to translation, and should be read in the Urdu itself.]

    But the styles of Nau tarz-e murassa' and Bagh-o-bahar are as different as earth and heaven. The language of Nau tarz-e murassa' is extremely colorful, and filled with similes and metaphors from head to foot. So much so that while reading, at some points one's mind begins to feel nauseated. Tahsin has adopted in his expression the style of ordinary qissah-reciters. Nowadays, to read it is a burden on the temperament, the style of the language is archaic and it's overflowing with Persian constructions and words. There's no comparison between it and Bagh-o-bahar. By way of example, some lines are given, from which its style can be estimated: [a passage from **m15**Nau tarz-e murassa'].

    Bagh-o-bahar has been written in the extremely eloquent and simple language of its time. Mir Amman is a resident of Delhi itself, and his language is the idiomatic/genuine [theth] Delhi language, and what is written by him is a warrant [sanad: an authoritative rule for language use]. Accordingly, he himself writes [in Forbes's translation, from *Mir Amman's preface*]:

"When Ahmad Shah Abdali, came from Kabul and pillaged the city of Dilli, Shah 'Alam was in the east. No master or protector of the country remained, and the city became without a head. True it is, that the city only flourished from the prosperity of the throne. All at once it was overwhelmed with calamity: its principal inhabitants were scattered, and fled wherever they could. To whatever country they went, their own tongue was adulterated by mixing with the people there; and there were many who, after an absence of ten to five years, from some cause or other, returned to Dilli, and stayed there. How can they speak the pure language of Dilli? somewhere or other they will slip; but the person who bore all misfortunes, and remained fixed at Dilli and whose five or ten anterior generations lived in that city, and who **m16** mixed in the company of the great, and the assemblies and processions of the people, who strolled in its streets for a length of time, and even after quitting it, kept his language pure from corruption, his style of speaking will certainly be correct."

    Among the old books of Urdu, with regard to eloquence and simplicity of language no book can compare to this one. Although the language has changed considerably much, between the language of that time and of this time a great turn has been taken, still Bagh-o-bahar is even now just as interesting and worth reading as it was before. The author has great command of language, and on every occasion he uses idiomatic/genuine [theth] words suitable to exactly that occasion; and he depicts every situation and eveng with such excellence that one is compelled to do justice to his accomplished literary skill. There is neither inappropriate prolongation, nor useless verbiage. To write simple language is extremely difficult. Sometimes simplicity becomes commonplace or devoid of pleasure. To combine simplicity with eloquence and to maintain a refined/enjoyable style [lutf-e bayan] is a great achievement. Mir Amman has passed this test, and the popularity of his book is for that very reason.

    Our language took shape amidst Persian words and constructions, similes and metaphors, in such a way that it's difficult to escape them; nor is there any need to avoid them at all costs. Willy-nilly to chew on morsels already chewed by others, and with eyes closed to imitate things already written by others, is not literary creation. In this, Mir Amman has used great judiciousness. Influenced by the pomp and circumstance of foreign words and things, still he does not forget sweet [mithe] words, and along with Persian similes and metaphors **m17** he uses his own informal and refined/enjoyable [latif] metaphors and similes as well, which gives a great deal of pleasure. For example, he blesses Gilchrist Sahib [in Forbes's translation]: "may his good fortune ever increase as long as the Jamuna and Ganges flow!". The substitution here of the Ganga and the Jamna for the Tigris and Euphrates and Jehun and Sehun [rivers in Central Asia]-- how nice it seems! Many such phrases will be encountered in this book.

    The clear proof of his command of language is that for every circumstance and on all occasions he uses it extremely suitably, and there's never the feeling that the language falls short. For example, for fireworks, foods, sea voyages, servants who perform various kinds of service, and various tools and implements, he brings in so very many words that one is amazed. When sometimes the occasion for conversation comes, he writes a kind of language exactly suited to the speakers' ranks and situations. According to the situation, he uses Indic [hindi] words with such beauty and excellence that one spontaneously wants to praise him. Neither artifice nor formality is anywhere to be seen; casually he goes on writing, as though someone is speaking. And the things he says too are so sweet and lovable that a person would go on listening and wouldn't have his fill. To use a word in its correct sense, in the right place, is the essence of literary skill, and in this Mir Amman has achived great mastery. This is the reason that his simplicity doesn't become devoid of pleasure. Here, I present one or two examples of his speech.

    In the very beginning is praise and eulogy of the Lord. Although this theme is very shopworn, and it's difficult to create freshness in it, look at how in his sweet language he writes it [in Forbes's translation, from *Mir Amman's preface*]:

**18** "The pure God! what an [excellent] Artificer he is! He who, out of a handful of dust, hath created such a variety of faces and figures of earth. Notwithstanding the two colours [of men], one white and one black, yet the same nose and ears, the same hands and feet, He has given to all. But such variety of features has He formed, that the form and shape of one [individual] does not agree with the personal appearance of another. Among millions of created beings, you may recognise whomsoever you wish. The sky is a bubble in the ocean of his [eternal] unity; and the earth is as a drop of water in it; but this is wonderful, that the sea beats its thousands of billows against it, and yet cannot do it any injury. The tongue of man is impotent to sound the praise and eulogy of Him who has such power and might! If it utter any thing, what can it say? It is best to be silent on a subject concerning which nothing can be said."

    In one place he has told of the result of frivolous expenditure. Just look at the words in which he has depicted poverty. He has mentioned a number of kinds of servants, which now no one even knows [in Forbes's translation, from *the First Darvesh's story, part one*]:

"Had I possessed even the treasures of Karun, they would not have been sufficient to supply this vast expenditure. In the course of a few years such became all at once my condition, that, a bare skull cap for my head, and a rag about my loins, were all that remained. Those friends who used to share my board, and [who so often swore] to shed their blood by the spoonful for my advantage, disappeared; yea, even if I met them by chance on the highway, they used to withdraw their looks and turn aside their faces from me; moreover, my servants, of every description, left me, and went away; no one remained to enquire after me, and say, "what state is this you are reduced to?" I had no companion left but my grief and regret. I now had not a half-farthing's worth of parched grain [to grind between my jaws,] and give a relish to the water I drank: I endured two or three **19** severe fasts, but could no longer bear [the cravings of] hunger."

    Just look at how he has shown the heat of revenge [in Forbes's translation, from *the First Darvesh's story, part two*]: "'In the same manner that he lifted his hand upon me and wounded me, may I be enabled to cut them to pieces; then my heart will be soothed; otherwise I must continue glowing in this fire of resentment, and ultimately I must be burnt to cinders.'"

    The language and conversation of every occasion and situation, he has written just as it ought to be. For example [in Forbes's translation, from *the Third Darvesh's story*]: "'O, child, may the arrow of my grief stick in the heart of him who hath struck thee; may he derive no fruit from his youth, and may God make him a mourner like me.'" 

    Or look at the prayer and conversation of an old woman [in Forbes's translation, from *the Third Darvesh's story*]:

"I pray to God that he may long preserve you a married woman, and that thy husband's turban may be permanent! I am a poor beggar woman, and I have a daughter who is in her full time and perishing in the pains of child-birth; I have not the means to get a little oil which I may burn in our lamp; food and drink, indeed, are out of the question. If she should die, how shall I bury her? and if she is brought to bed, what shall I give the midwife and nurse, or how procure remedies for the lying-in woman? it is now two days since she has lain hungry and thirsty. O, noble lady! give her, out of your bounty, a morsel of bread that she may eat the same along with a drink of water."

    Although Mir Amman writes qissahs of Rome and Syria, China and Iran, when the occasion comes, like our marsiyah composers he describes the manners and customs of his own country. For example, look at the description of the games and amusements of the **m20** Vazir's daughter [in Forbes's translation, from *the Fourth Darvesh's story*]:

It happened that on the day the Vazir was sent to prison, the girl was sitting with her young companions, and was celebrating with [infantile] pleasure the marriage of her doll; and with a small drum and timbrel she was making preparation for the night vigils; and having put on the frying pan, she was busy making up sweetmeats, when her mother suddenly ran into her apartment, lamenting and beating [her breasts], with dishevelled tresses and naked feet. She struck a blow on her daughter's head, and said, "Would that God had given me a blind son instead of thee; then my heart would have been at ease, and he would have been the friend of his father."

    In this book there are dozens of such occasions. Everywhere Mir Amman has mentioned the tools and equipment, foods, clothing, and customs and traditions of his own place. From reading this book, one learns about many ideas and things of that time, that now have died out entirely or are in the process of dying out.

    There remains the matter of language. Of his eloquence and excellence there can be no doubt. In addition to this, the thing that should be noticed is that in the book there are hundreds of idioms and words that nowadays are not seen in speech or writing. Some are such that they've now been rejected, and many others are such that they've simply vanished from sight, and because they're no longer known, they're no longer used. For some time the protection of our language rested upon the poets, and the field of poetry was largely allotted to the ghazal; it was so narrow that for the language, how could there have been enough space in it? The way a poet takes a warrant [for usage; a sanad] from another poet, ordinary educated people too considered the language of poetry to be the language. The dictionary-writers **m21** too usually followed the poets, and searched through the divans [of collected poetry] for words and idioms. Many words happened to be left lying around, and nobody even thought about them. Now it's necessary that such words that can be useful in times of pressure, and the meanings of which can't be expressed so well in other words, should be lifted out of obscurity and brought into use. For example, some words are noted here: [some examples]. There are dozens of words of this kind that are worthy of attention and use.

    At the hands of time, everything keeps changing; language too is not exempt from this. Many words and idioms become rejected, many new ones enter. Some languages, through its hands, have been entirely erased, and have remained only in books. But change is not only in words and idioms; rather, change keeps occurring in usage and grammar as well. **m22** A number of words which were masculine become feminine, and feminine ones masculine. Change appears in the arrangement and construction of sentences. In a number of cases the meanings of words change, or the frequency of their usage decreases or increases, and in this way many small alterations are created. It's been about one hundred twenty-five years since Bagh-o-bahar was written, but even in this interval much alteration has occurred. Some points that are worthy of attention with regard to usage and grammar, or likewise with respect to idiom, are noted here: [A variety of examples, **m23** **m24** arranged in ten numbered sections.]

    Muhammad 'Ivaz Zarrin has written one more book with the name of Nau tarz-e murassa', in which he's told the qissah of the same four darveshes. Thus he himself writes:

"This dust-footed one among the Truth-seeing darveshes Muhammad 'Ivaz Zarrin arranged the qissah of the four darvesh in the Persian language, and with flowering speech made it a bouquet of the gatherings. The Raja, possessor of clemency and dignity-- Raja Ram Din, the senior brother of which lofty gentleman is the lord of justice and fairness Raja Sital Parshad, and his middle brother is the benefactor of the age Raja Bhavani Parshad (may God make him ever victorious!) examined the composition of this feeble one and experienced abundant delight. One day he commanded, 'If the speech would be versified in the language of Hind [zaban-e hindi], then the hearer would easily obtain joy.' Considering the satisfaction of the master to be well-being in this world and the next, I did not let go of the connection with literature, and put it into a work in the Urdu language [zaban-e urdu]."
Like Mir Amman, Zarrin too has come up with Bagh-o-bahar (AH 1217} for his book's year of composition. In his work, the qissahs are given very briefly; the situations are just the same. In a few places a little deviation from the Persian manuscript and Nau tarz-e murassa' is found, and it's difficult to tell whether Tahsin's Nau tarz-e murassa' had passed before Zarrin's eyes or not; although from the name **m25** the guess is that he would certainly have seen it. In the introduction to the book, there's nowhere a mention of a name; it's possible that the publishers might themselves have inserted this name (Nau tarz-e murassa'). The strange thing is that he too has come up with the *chronogram* of Bagh-o-bahar. From this the year of composition of Mir Amman's Bagh-o-bahar and of this book seem to be one and the same. Its style is simple, it's not colorful and full of simile and metaphor like Tahsin's Nau tarz-e murassa', but there's no special charm in in its style and expression. One other point about this book is that Zarrin had written this qissah in Persian too, and from this it's clear that various people have composed [versions of] this qissah in Persian too.

    One more thing about Bagh-o-bahar is worthy of attention. In the preface, writing about his book and about himself, Mir Amman has also mentioned the truth about the Urdu language. This account has reached him as a tradition from his elders. Mir Amman is the first person among Indians [hindiyon men] who has written an account of the origin and development of the Urdu language. The gist of it is [in Forbes's translation, from *Mir Amman's preface*]:

"For a thousand years past, the Musalmans have been masters there. Mahmud of Ghazni came [there first]; then the Ghori and Lodi became kings; owing to this intercourse, the languages of the Hindus and Musalmans were partially blended together. At last Amir Taimur ... conquered Hindustan. From his coming and stay, the bazar of his camp was settled in the city; for which reason the bazar of the city was called Urdu....

When King Akbar ascended the throne, then all tribes of people, from all the surrounding countries, hearing of the goodness and liberality of this unequalled family, **m26** flocked to his court, but the speech and dialect of each was different. Yet, by being assembled together, they used to traffic and do business, and converse with each other, whence resulted the common Urdu language. When his majesty Shahjahan Sahib-Kiran built the auspicious fort, and the great mosque, and caused the walls of the city to be built ... then the king, being pleased, made great rejoicings, and constituted the city his capital. Since that time it has been called Shajahan-abad ... and to the bazar of it was given the title of Urdu-e Mu'alla.

From the time of Amir Taimur until the reign of Muhammad Shah, and even to the time of Ahmad Shah, and Alamgir the Second, the throne descended lineally from generation to generation. In the end, the Urdu language, receiving repeated polish, was so refined, that the language of no city is to be compared to it."

    Grierson, in his famous and extensive work "Linguistic Survey of India," has not established for this language any separate status, and has simply declared it to be a branch of Western Hindi. His successors too have followed this same path, and have ignored the influence of the Persian and Arabic languages on it, which has occurred in various aspects. The truth is that it is a mixed language, which has taken on an entirely new and separate form. And it's necessary to consider it from this point of view as well. This is a separate question, and this is not the occasion to discuss it.

'Abdul Haq


== BAGH-O-BAHAR index page == Glossary == Platts Dictionary == FWP's main page ==