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Old Wednesday, April 11, 2012
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Default Little Introduction of Great History books

Tarikh-i-Mubarakshahi is a history of India of the sultanate period. The book commences from the reign of Sultan Muizuddin Muhammad bin Sam (Muhammad Ghori) and abruptly ends in 1434. The author Yahya bin Ahmad bin Abdullah Sarhindi was favourably placed in the government circle in the reign of Sultan Mubarak Shah (1421-1434 AD) of the Sayyid dynasty of Delhi. Though the book is a history of India for the period which it covers, it is the only available history for a period of forty six years from 1388 to 1434 AD. It gives the first hand information about the reigns of the first two Sayyid sultans of Delhi covering a period of about twenty years from 1414 to 1434 AD. For this period Yahya bin Ahmad is a primary source, rather the only source. The author had an access to the government records and as such his information is trustworthy. The later historians Nizamuddin Ahmed Bakshi, Abdul Qadir Badayuni and Firishta also considered him as an authority.
Yahya bin Ahmad had no special interest on the history of Bengal, he refers to Bengal only when the sultans of Delhi had connections with Bengal. He, however, consulted the works of earlier historians, eg the TABAQAT-I-NASIRI of Minhaj and the TARIKH-I-FIRUZSHAHIs of Barani and Afif etc. The Tarikh-i-Muharakshahi is particularly helpful in correcting the chronology. During the Sayyid period Bengal was independent with connections with Delhi cut off.


Tuzuk-i-Baburi (Baburanamah) is the autobiography of Zahiruddin Muhammad BABUR, the founder of the Mughal empire in India. Babur wrote it in Turkish language; it was translated into Persian by Mughal imperial officer, Abdur Rahim Khan Khan-i-Khanan, son of Bairam Khan Khan-i-Khanan. Well received by European scholars, the book has been translated into various European languages.
The Tuzuk-i-Baburi is a faithful description of the world the author had lived in, and of the people he had come into contact. According to modern scholars, no other eastern prince has written such vivid, interesting and veracious account of his own life as Babur. He writes about his own success and failure or about his shortcomings with candour, which greatly impresses the reader. His style of writing is not pompous or ornate like many Persian writers, rather it is simple and clear, there being no hypocrisy. With great regard for truth, Babur recorded historical events exactly as they had occurred.
Babur was a passionate lover of nature who found pleasure in streams, meadows and pasture lands of his own country; springs, lakes, plants, flowers, and fruits all had charm for him so that even when he came to India and founded the Mughal empire in India, he could not forget his native land Farghana. This love of nature gave him the poetic genius, he cultivated poetry from his early youth and his Diwan (collection of poems) written in Turkish language is regarded as a work of considerable merit. His mastery over prose was equally remarkable, he could write with ease both in Turkish and Persian and the most remarkable of his prose works is his autobiography.
Babur's observations about India in the Tuzuk are very important. He briefly dwells upon the political condition at the time of his invasion, and also gives a minute account of the flora and fauna of Hindustan. He mentions about mountains, rivers, jungles, and streams and about various kinds of foodstuffs, fruits and vegetables. He says that in India they have no aqueducts or canals in their gardens or palaces, their peasants and people of lower classes all go almost naked and use only a langoti to cover their nakedness. He says that the excellence of Hindustan consists in the fact that there is abundance of gold and silver in the country. The climate of India is pleasant, there is no dearth of workmen in any profession or trade, but their occupations are mostly hereditary, and for particular kinds of works particular groups of people are reserved.
Babur's observations about Bengal are also noteworthy. He did not come to Bengal, but he had to measure sword with the Bengal sultan NUSRAT SHAH. Being a keen observer, he collected information about the sultan, the country and the people of Bengal, and his observations are found to be appropriate. Babur praised Nusrat Shah as one of the great rulers of India. He also praised Bengali solders, particularly the sailors and gunners. He observes that the Bengalis are loyal to the throne and express loyalty to whoever occupies the throne. He further says that in Bengal hereditary succession is rare. Babur refers to other customs prevalent in Bengal. First, the new king does not spend the wealth accumulated by former kings, he has to arrange for his expenditure; secondly, the Bengalis look upon accumulation of wealth with disfavour and thirdly, they earmark revenues of particular parganas for specific expenses.


Tarikh-i-Khan Jahani Wa Makhzan-i-Afghani is an important work of Khwaja Nimatullah dealing with the history of the Afghans in India from the time of Bahlol Lodi to the death of KHWAJA USMAN. Khwaja Nimatullah, son of Khwaja Habibullah dedicated his book to Khan Jahan Lodi, an imperial officer under JAHANGIR. The author composed the book in between 1612 and 1613, but later in 1615 he himself added some information about the biography of his patron Khan Jahan.
Khwaja Nimatullah cites the names of many Afghan and non-Afghan histories that he consulted in writing the Tarikh-i-Khan Jahani Wa Makhzan-i-Afghani. He was a librarian of Abdur Rahim Khan Khanan, son of Bairam Khan Khan Khanan in 1576, but later he joined as waqia-navis in the reign of Jahangir. After several years Khan Jahan Lodi, an Afghan general of Jahangir, employed him. During this time he came into contact with Haibat Khan Lodi who also was an attendant of Khan Jahan. The author gratefully recognises his indebtedness to Haibat Khan in writing his book.
The author describes in detail and in chronological sequence, the political events of the period, and the character and cultural attainments of the rulers. As a chronicle the book is of great value, the most important part of the book is the account of the early achievements of Khan Jahan Lodi, the genealogical table of the Afghans, and the history of the first eight years of Jahangir's reign. The author was an eyewitness of such events as the death of AKBAR, the coronation of Jahangir and the rebellion, flight and ultimate defeat of Khusrau (eldest son of Jahangir). These events are not only systematically discussed, but the narration is also very faithful. The Khatimah or concluding portion of the book contains lives of sixty-six saints who were Afghans either by birth or by adoption. But for this work, lives of many of these saints would have remained unknown.
There is another book of the author that goes by the name of MAKHZAN-I-AFGHANI. Some scholars take it to be a shorter recension of Tarikh-i-Khan Jahani Wa Makhzan-i-Afghani. Henry Elliot and following him some modern scholars think that the two are essentially one and the same, while others, including SM Imamuddin, take the two books to represent two different titles, but written by the same author.


Tarikh-i-Rashidi an important and valuable history of the Mughals and Turks of Central Asia. The author, Mirza Haidar Dughlat was a cousin of BABUR. He was born in 905 AH/ 1499-1500 AD at Tashkhand, where his father was at that time governor. At the time of his father's death, he was only 9 years old. Babur took care of him and treated him with great affection. A distinguished general, he was present at the battle of Kanauj. Being invited by certain chiefs of Kashmir Mirza Haidar conquered the Kashmir valley in 1540 and established peace there. In 1551 the natives of Bhirbal (Kashmir) killed him when he went there to restore peace and order.
The Tarikh-i-Rashidi was written in two parts (daftars), the first daftar was written in 951 and 952 AH (1544 and 1545 AD) and the second in 948 AH (1541 AD). In fact the second daftar is the first in point of the time of composition and contains the author's life-sketch. When completed, the Tarikh-i-Rashidi was dedicated to Abdur Rashid Khan, son of Abdul Fath Sultan Sayyed of Kashgarh.
The Tarikh-i-Rashidi begins with an account of Tughlaq Timer, Mughal Khaqan, who was the first to embrace Islam. He devoted much space to discuss central Asian politics and deals with the history of Babur and HUMAYUN. He praises Babur for his great personality and strength of character and expresses his gratitude to him. He gives more details about Humayun's activities in India. Always loyal to Humayun, Mirza Haidar commanded a wing of the imperial army at the battle of Kanauj. So his account of the battle is that of an eyewitness and, in fact, no other writer gives such a detailed account of the battle as the author of the Tarikh-i-Rashidi does. The Tarikh-i-Rashidi was translated into English and published by Elias and Ross under the title A History of the Moguls of Central Asia.


Tarikh-i-Shah Shujai is a history of Prince Muhammad Shuja and his times. It was written by Muhammad Masum, son of Hasan, son of Salih in 1070 AH/ 1659-60 AD at Maldah. Muhammad Masum was a born companion of SHAH SHUJA and served him for twenty five years. When Shuja, after his final defeat in the hands of MIR JUMLA, evacuated TANDAH and left for Dhaka en route to Arakan, Masum retired to Maldah and utilised the time in writing the Tarikh-i-Shah Shujai.
The title of the book, Tarikh-i-Shah Shujai is not found in the book itself. Of the three manuscripts available so far, the India office library manuscript is called by Tarikh-i-Shah Shujai by Ethe, the compiler of the catalogue; in the other two manuscripts, one at Eton College, and the other at Oriental Public Library at Bankipore, no title is given. In Henry Elliot's papers, there is an English translation of the preface and the table of contents of a manuscript called Futuhat-i-Alamgiri. The preface and the table of contents of the so-called Futuhat-i-Alamgiri are identical with those of the manuscripts of what is called Tarikh-i-Shah Shujai.
The list of contents shows that the author gives the history of the war of succession in which all four sons of SHAHJAHAN took part. Shah Shuja's participation in the war forms only a part of the book, though the author devotes a little more space on this part. The author also gives an account of the expedition of AURANGZEB and Murad (youngest son of the emperor) to Balkh that took place in 1647 AD, ie long before the war of succession. The account of the Balkh war was added by the author to show the estrangement of relations between Dara Shikoh (eldest son of Shahjahan) and Aurangzeb. The title Futuhat-i-Alamgiri sounds appropriate as the part played by Aurangzeb in the war of succession and his ultimate success found prominence in the book.
Probably Mir Masum did not give any title to his book and the reason may be conjectured. He was a loyal servant of Shah Shuja whom he served for 24/25 years. So he was expected to dedicate the book to the name of his patron, but as the patron was defeated and fled for life to a foreign country, there was no point to dedicate the book after him. While writing the book, the author was passing his days in the domain of Aurangzeb. As the author did not give any title, modern scholars suggested titles according to subject matter of the book; Ethe suggested Tarikh-i-Shah Shujai, because the author was a servant of Shuja, and Elliot suggested Futuhat-i-Alamgiri, because Alamgir (Aurangzeb) came out successful in the war of succession. He was the sitting emperor.
In one place Muhammad Masum says that he was acquainted with the sons of Shahjahan since his boyhood, and in another place, he says that he was in the service of Shah Shuja for 24/25 years, which means that he had joined the prince, before the latter's appointment as subahdar of Bengal since 1639 AD (the commencement of subahdari of Shuja). But he does not say anything about Bengal prior to the illness of Shahjahan and the commencement of the war of succession.
Initiating his discussion on the war of succession, he first refers to the illness of Shahjahan and Dara Shikoh's attempt to control the administration. Then he refers to the march of the three other princes towards the capital. Shah Shuja being defeated at Bahadurpur, retreated towards Rajmahal. The author then refers to the march of Aurangzeb and Murad towards the capital, the two wars that ensued, the success of Aurangzeb and his enthronement. He also writes about Aurangzeb's treachery against Murad who was poisoned to death. He also writes about the imprisonment of the emperor Shahjahan in the Agra fort, and the death penalty pronounced to Dara by the new emperor Aurangzeb. Then Masum gives a long description of Shuja's fight against Aurangzeb, how Shuja was defeated in the battle of Khajwa and how retreating Shuja fought against the imperialists at every point from Khajwa to Tandah for more than a year. After Shuja left Tandah, Masum parted with him and was living at Maldah where he wrote his book.
A study of Tarikh-i-Shah Shujai gives the impression that Masum wrote impartially, without any bias; though he was a servant of Shah Shuja, he has nowhere shown disrespect in writing about Shuja's rival princes, he wrote the names of princes prefixing the word 'Sultan' or other honorific titles, even the sons of the princes (ie grandsons of Shahjahan) were mentioned in the same respectful manner. Nowhere in the book there is anything written in defence of the cause of his master and patron Shah Shuja. The attitude of the author, Muhammad Masum, speaks favourably about the authenticity of the book.


Tarikh-i-Firishtah a general history of India with particular reference to the Deccan states, comes down to the close of the reign of AKBAR. It was written in about 1612 by Muhammad Qasim Hindu Shah, better known as Firishtah.
The book is also known as Gulshan-i-Ibrahimi because it was dedicated to Ibrahim Adil Shah of Bijapur. Firishtah based his work on the previously written books, particularly Nizamuddin Ahmad Bakhshi's TABAQAT-I-AKBARI and Badaoni's MUNTAKHAB-UT-TAWARIKH. He visited various places to collect materials and traditions for his book. In the fashion of the contemporary historical literature, Firishtah's book is also written in fashion of chronicles.
The Tarikh-i-Firishtah is particularly important for reconstruction of the history of the sultans of Bengal. No contemporary history of the sultanate period written in Bengal has so for been available. So the history of this period has been reconstructed with materials found in the histories written in Delhi, so much so that where nothing is found in books written in Delhi, the history of sultans of Bengal is blank. Firishtah is the second author to devote a separate chapter for writing the history of Bengal under the sultans, the first being Nizamuddin Ahmad Bakhshi. For writing this chapter, Firishtah is indebted to Nizamuddin, but Firishta gives a little more information. He also acknowledges his debt to a book of Arif Qandahari, but, unfortunately, the book is not now available.
The Tarikh-i-Firishtah, through John Brigg's summary translation entitled History of the Rise of the Mahomedan Power in India (1829) enjoys a wide reputation among English historians. But the translation is not quite accurate.


Tarikh-i-Daudi written by Abdullah in 983 AH/ 1575 -76 AD deals with the history of the Afghan rulers from Bahlol Lodi of Delhi to DAUD KARRANI, the last Afghan sultan of Bengal. The book was dedicated to Daud Karrani who was defeated in the battle of RAJMAHAL in 1576 by Khan Jahan, the general of AKBAR.
Abdullah, the author spent a considerable portion of his life in studying important historical works and examined the condition of the people. He collected the scattered records of the Afghan sultans in book form in the Tarikh-i-Daudi. But the sequence of events is not given in chronological order, the text is often interrupted by Persian verses, Hindi couplets, and history of the neighbouring kingdom of Jaunpur. So side by side with the political history, many anecdotes have found place in the book. He cites standard works like TARIKH-I-SHER SHAHI of Abbas Sarwani, and Ahwal-i-Humayun Badshah as his sources. At places, Tarikh-i-Daudi furnishes useful information not available elsewhere. The author gives a fuller account of the Sur sultans, particularly the successors of Islam Shah Sur. During this period Bengal enjoyed independence under the provincial Surs and the Karranis. So the book is important for reconstruction of the history of Bengal.


Tuzuk-i-Jahangiri is the autobiographical account of the Mughal Emperor JAHANGIR (1605-1627 AD). It is variously called Tarikh-i-Salim Shahi, Tuzuk-i-Jahangiri, Karnama-i-Jahangiri, Waqiat-i-Jahangiri and Jahangirnama etc. The Memoirs of the first twelve years, when completed, was bound and presented to imperial officers, the first person to get a copy was Prince Khurram, the emperor's son (later emperor SHAHJAHAN). In the 17th year of the reign, when the emperor became ill and was growing weaker, the task of writing the Memoirs was entrusted to Mutamad Khan, a senior imperial officer (the latter himself wrote a book, Iqbalnama-i-Jahangiri, comprising the history of the Mughal emperors until the accession of Shahjahan). Mutamad Khan continued the book and brought it down to the 19th year of Jahangir's reign.
Various copies of the Tuzuk have been discovered in manuscript, among which there were forged copies also, in some copies there are interpolations. The Tuzuk, which was published by Syed Ahmed Khan at Gazipur and Aligarh, is considered to be the best preserved original text. This was also the copy that was published first. The Tuzuk has been rendered into English by more than one scholar, but the one rendered by Rogers and revised, edited and annotated by Beveridge is considered more acceptable to the scholars.
The Tuzuk-i-Jahangiri is the most important source book for the reconstruction of the history of the Mughal empire in the reign of Jahangir. Although Jahangir's father AKBAR prepared the scheme for conquering Bengal, the Mughal conquest of Bengal was completed in the reign of Jahangir and the credit is given to Subahdar ISLAM KHAN CHISHTI. So the Tuzuk is also a very important source for the history of the Mughal expansion in Bengal. It should, however, be mentioned that Jahangir put stress on those points of the history of Bengal in which he was very much concerned. Emphasis has been given to the circumstances that led to the death of his governor Qutbuddin Khan and the defeat of the Afghans under KHWAJA USMAN.
During the reign of Jahangir, more than half a dozen subahdars were sent from Delhi to rule Bengal and they fought many battles in Bengal, Kamrup and Assam, but these did not receive the attention of the emperor. From the time of Akbar, the Mughal aggression in Bengal was resisted by the Bhuiyans and among them those called BARA-BHUIYANS were very prominent. They were also suppressed by subahdar Islam Khan Chishti, who conquered Bhati. In the Tuzuk, there is no reference to Bhati or the Bara-Bhuiyans and their leaders. The names of Raja PRATAPADITYA of Jessore, Ram Chandra of Bakla, Ananta Manikya of Bhulua, Raja Satrajit of Bhusna, Majlis Qutb of Fathabad, Bayazid Karrani of Sylhet and many other zamindars and Bhuiyans who submitted to the Mughals in Jahangir's reign, also do not appear in the Tuzuk. In the Tuzuk-i-Jahangiri, the emperor covered the whole Mughal empire of which Bengal was only a part (one of the 15 subahs or provinces). But the Tuzuk is very important in fixing the chronology, particularly the dates of appointment, recall or dismissal of subahdars and other imperial officers.


Tariqah-i-Muhammadiya Muslim revivalist movement in the early nineteenth century. Its aim was to establish the code of life advocated by Prophet MUHAMMAD (Sm). Shah Sayyid Ahmad (1780-1831) of Rai Barelwi and Shah Ismail (1782-1831) were the pioneers of the movement. Both of them emphasised the interpretation of the Holy QURAN and and the Sunnah of the Prophet (Sm). Followers of Tariqah-i-Muhammadiya supported SUFISM and the need for having a spiritual guide for correct thought and action.
The Tariqah-i-Muhammadiya movement began in northern India and reached Bengal during the 1820s and '30s. Sayyid Ahmad's visit to Calcutta in 1820 was marked by a gathering of about ten thousand followers who came to meet him. He visited Calcutta once again in the next year on his way to Makka and he propagated his doctrines during his three months of stay there. Sayyid Nisar Ali alias TITU MIR (d. 1831), the peasant and religious leader, became his disciple at this time.
In propagating Tariqah-i-Muhammadiya and resisting the colonial rule in the rural areas, Titu Mir was followed by the Ali Brothers - Waliyet Ali (1791-1835), and Inyet Ali (1794-1858) of Patna. Their anti-British activities were conducted in several districts, such as Malda, 24 Pargana, Jessore, Faridpur, Rajshahi and Bogra. They declared a jihad (crusade) against the firinghee raj (British Rule) and stirred the people to join the war.
Local cells were set up to collect money for remitting to northwest frontier region where jihad against the British was fought in full swing under the leadership of Sayyid Ahmad. But the political environment changed in the mid-nineteenth century, when a section of the Muslim intelligentsia began to rethink about the unequal war against the British. Maulana Karamat Ali of Jaunpur came up with an alternative theory of peaceful co-existence with the British rulers and the Tariqah-i-Muhammadiya movement gradually subsided.


Tarikh-i-Firuzshahi written by Shams Siraj Afif, gives a detailed account of the reign of Sultan FIRUZ SHAH TUGHLAQ (1351-1388 AD). Afif was born of a noble family, whose members are known to have served the sultanate since the days of Sultan Alauddin Khalji. Shams Afif, Afif's father, served the sultanate in various capacities in the reign of Firuz Shah, particularly during the Sultan's Bengal expeditions. Shams Siraj Afif was born in 1342 AD (according to another account in 1350 AD, probably the earlier date is correct), so he saw the whole reign of Firuz Shah and was in a position to write from personal experiences. The date of writing Afif's history is not known, it was written some years after the invasion of Delhi by Timur (1398) and a study of its contents also shows that the book was written in the first decade of the 15th century.
Both the Bengal invasions of Firuz Shah ended in failure. Afif gives detailed account of the two invasions, the first against Sultan Shamsuddin ILIYAS SHAH, and the second against Iliyas Shah's son SIKANDAR SHAH. Afif is the only authority to give the reason of Firuz Shah's second expedition to Bengal. He says that when Firuz Shah returned to Delhi after his first expedition, seemingly satisfied with his victory over Iliyas Shah (though he gained nothing after that victory), Zafar Khan, son-in-law of Sultan FAKHRUDDIN MUBARAK SHAH of Sonargaon was supplanted by Iliyas Shah of Lakhnauti. Sultan Firuz took Zafar Khan as an ally, and thus the prospect of occupying Lakhnauti was revived and he ordered for a second expedition to Bengal. In Afif's Tarikh-i-Firuzshahi one also gets the information that Firuz Tughlaq renamed EKDALA as Azadpur and PANDUA as Firuzabad. Ekdala was the famous fort in which both Iliyas Shah and Sikander Shah entrenched themselves during Firuz Shah's invasions. Though Afif catrgorically says that Firuz Tughlaq renamed Pandua as Firuzabad after his name, the statement seems to be incorrect, because the name Firuzabad appears in the coins from the time of Sultan SHAMSUDDIN FIRUZ SHAH of Bengal (1301-1322 AD), ie more than thirty years before Firuz Tughlaq's invasion of Bengal. The book is written in simple and lucid style.
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