Introduction by FWP

When we decided to do the 2008 Columbia workshop on the general topic of satire, Mirza Muhammad Rafi Sauda (1706?-1781) at once came to mind: he is, after all, the preeminent satirist in the Urdu classical tradition. When I started looking for suitable material for the workshop, Henry Court's wonderful little book was right there in the stacks of Butler Library, and I clutched it to my bosom and carried it home with delight.

For by taking Henry Court as my "guest editor," I can offer you, dear reader, more historical depth, and another perspective. So I've basically scanned his book, and turned his numerous footnoted annotations into side-notes for more convenient access. The changes I've made in his text have been minimal. In a few cases, punctuation and spelling have been adjusted for clarity. All comments in square brackets are my own. Henry Court's spellings have in most cases been retained, but his diacritics have been abandoned. The diacritics are really not much of a loss, for Court apparently didn't take them very seriously: his diacritics are spotty, haphazard, and inconsistent at best, so they aren't all that helpful to begin with.

Through links called "old Urdu," I've interpolated with Court's text and notes page images of Kulliyat-e Sauda, ed. by Dr. Muhammad Hasan (Delhi: Popular Publication, 1966), as follows: 

(1) Masnavi dar hajv-e hakim ghaus, pp. 375-378
(2) Masnavi dar hajv-e bakhil [miser], pp. 346-351 
(3) Masnavi dar ta'rif-e shikar, pp. 356-358
(4) Masnavi dar hajv-e fil, pp. 339-343
(5) Masnavi dar be-nasiqi [disorderedness]-e shahjahanabad, pp. 343-346
(6) Masnavi dar hajv-e fidvi, pp. 370-375
Dr. Muhammad Hasan's Urdu text is of scholarly interest, since it deliberately retains some conspicuous archaisms that were common in Sauda's day: in the script: gaaf is written as kaaf; chho;Tii ye often appears where ba;Rii ye would nowadays be found; final chho;Tii ye has two dots underneath it that are nowadays not used; gol he replaces do-chashmii he in aspirations; retroflex markers consist of four dots in a square pattern, rather than the modern sign that looks like a small :to))e (as in Platts' Dictionary); words are written together that are really separate; and so on. This means it can provide excellent practice in reading earlier texts. 

But in case you might find such scholarly archaisms confusing, I've also provided "modern Urdu" links to the poems from a widely available modern-style edition with exceptionally attractive calligraphy, Kulliyat-e sauda, ed. by Dr. Amrit La'l 'Ishrat (Allahabad: Ram Nara'in Lal Beni Madhav, 1971, 2 vols.), as follows: 

(1) Masnavi dar hajv-e hakim ghaus, vol. 1, pp. 304-307
(2) Masnavi dar hajv-e amir-a daulatmand bakhil, vol. 1, pp. 289-295
(3) Masnavi dar ta'rif-e shikar, vol. 1, pp. 265-266
(4) Masnavi dar hajv-e pil rajah nripat singh, vol. 1, pp. 275-278
(5) Masnavi dar hajv-e sidi faulad khan kotval-e shahjahanabad, vol. 1, pp. 279-282
(6) Masnavi dar hajv-e fidvi mutavatan-e panjab kih darasal baqal bachchah bud, vol. 1, pp. 317-322
[(7) Masnavi dar hajv-e chipak mirza faizu, vol. 1, pp. 308-311
(9) Qissah-e darvesh kih iradah-e ziyarat-e ka'bah kardah bud, vol. 1, pp. 247-250]
(11) Mukhammas-e shahr ashob, vol. 2, pp. 261-266
(12) Qasidah dar madh-e navab vazir imad ul-mulk, vol. 1, pp. 161-167

There are definitely some textual discrepancies-- usually, but not always, smallish ones-- between these two Urdu editions themselves, and between these and other available modern editions-- and also between all these and the one(s) that Henry Court used. Court himself refers to such problems in his annotations. Unfortunately such discrepancies are the rule rather than the exception in editions of older Urdu texts (and even in editions of more recent ones, alas, though the problems are rarely so major). In the case of Sauda, there's even some doubt about whether various masnavis attributed to him were actually composed by him.

My own ustad, S. R. Faruqi, recommends for Sauda's ghazals the edition by Nasim Ahmad, published by Banaras Hindu University. And for the rest of Sauda's poetry, he recommends Kulliyat-e sauda (4 vols.), ed. by Muhammad Shamsuddin Siddiqi (Lahore: Majlis Taraqqi-e Adab, 1973-). From Volume 3, the masnavi volume, the following critically edited texts are here provided:

(1) Masnavi dar hajv-e hakim ghaus, pp. 144-153
(2) Masnavi dar hajv-e 'umdah-e bakhil, pp. 103-118
(3) Masnavi dar ta'rif-e shikar-kardan-e asif ud-daulah, pp. 69-73
(4) Masnavi dar hajv-e fil-e rajah parbat singh, pp. 84-93
(5) Masnavi dar hajv-e sidi kafur kotval-e shahjahanabad, pp. 94-102
(8) Masnavi dar haq-e mirza fakhir makin, pp. 175-178

Of the masnavis translated by Court, Muhammad Shamsuddin Siddiqi lists (p. 1) only the ones noted above (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 8) among those he considers to be unquestionably Sauda's own work.

The first five masnavis from Court's book are provided as web pages, along with associated hyperlinked Urdu text pages. The latter five masnavis are provided in PDF form. Then to accompany (6), (7), and (9), Urdu texts from the Amrit La'l 'Ishrat edition (see above) have been provided in PDF form. For (8), the text doesn't appear in 'Ishrat, so it's been taken from Intikhab-e sauda, ed. by Rashid Hasan Khan (Delhi: Maktabah Jami'ah, 1972), pp. 303-304. For (10) I haven't provided any Urdu text; apparently the original is by Miskin and not even by Sauda in the first place. 

I give less attention to these latter five because life is short, and arranging everything into all those tables takes time. If I weren't already so committed to working on Ghalib and Mir, it would be very tempting to launch out into Sauda, and to look at his ghazals as well. But for the present, I'll confine myself to giving my own translation and notes for just one of Court's chosen masnavis that I particularly enjoyed (though its authenticity is not vouched for by the Lahore critical edition), and for a couple of other long poems that Court didn't include (but for which I have some unpublished SOAS versions to start with). In lieu of more extensive knowledge and study on my part, I'm very glad to have discovered Henry Court, dear reader, and to be able to share his helpful book with you. 

Fran Pritchett
June 2007 

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