Documents of 1857

Posted by sepoy on October 03, 2007 · 6 mins read

aziz_hist_back.jpgNaim sahib has a scathing review in Outlook India of S.M. Azizuddin Husain's 1857 Revisited/دستاويزاتِ غدر . The book is a compendium of 150 primary documents relating to the uprising and its aftermath, with translations and an introductory essay. A fine idea, in principle, but the problem, as Naim Sahib points out, is in the execution:

Reading most newly published Urdu and Persian books in India is a painful experience. This book, however, is worse than many. (Perhaps I should not blame only the editor for it. I know from my own experience that the people who compose Urdu books on computers do not like to be corrected, and unless one persists they let their errors stand.) Exasperated by endless errors of misreading and mistyping, I turned to the English translations, only to discover a greater horror. I had assumed it was a bilingual book, containing Urdu and Persian original texts, together with English translations. I was badly mistaken. The translations are by no means full; they are abridgments and summaries - another fact that Prof Husain fails to mention in his introduction. Worse still, the translations are often deliberately misleading.

Intrigued, I borrowed the book and took a look. As a resource for historians, the book is practically useless. (It may be best suited to, um, getting a sense of the archive?) There is no facsimile of the original documents; the translations are summaries, and in many instances, wrong. Worse still, some english "versions" of the documents are followed [sans distinction] with 'gloss' which borders on stream-of-consciousness and is often a gross reading of the primary text.

The introduction seems to want to pick up the gauntlet thrown by William Dalrymple's Last Mughal about Indian historians using the National Archives and reading the shakista sources and writing histories better than those by Bayly et al. This clearly is not that work - nationalist pride, aside.

All is not lost. There are two things of potential interest to the historian which I am reproducing below the fold for the potential interest of said historians.

Archives for 1857 primary sources (p. 3):
1. National Archive of India, New Delhi and Bhopal
2. U.P. State Archives, Lucknow and Allahabad
3. Bihar State Archives, Patna
4. Madhya Pradesh State Archives, Bhopal
5. Punjab State Archives, Patiala
6. Haryana State Archives, Chandigarh
7. Rajasthan State Archives,Bikaner
8. National Library, Kolkata
9. Zakir Husain Library, Delhi
10. Azad Library, Aligarh
11. Natnagar Shodh Sansthan, Sitamau
12. Salar Jang Museum, Hyderabad
13. Delhi State Archives, Delhi
14. Commissioner's Office, Mehrauli, Delhi
15. Khwaja Hasan Nizami Collection, Delhi
16. Mal Khanas of District Headquarters, such as Aligarh, Etawah, Agra, Bijnor, Fathpur, Muradabad, Meerut, Lucknow, Bulandshahr, Etah, Mathura, Barabanki, Sultanpur, Azamgarh, Badaun, Bareilly, Farrukhabad, Ghazipur, Jhansi, Jonpur, Lalitpur, Mirzapur, Muzaffarnagar, Saharanpur, Patna, Calcutta, Allahabad, Panipat, Mewat, Sonipat, Rohtak, Faridabad etc.
17. Roznamchas, Tazkiras, Diwans of contemporary Persian and Urdu Poets

Persian and Urdu sources on 1857, p. 198

1. Syed Kamaluddin Haider Hussaini, Kaiser al-Tawarikh
2. Najm al-Ghani Rampuri, Akhbar al-Zadid
3. Munshi Dibi Parshad Basas, Tazkirah Shu'ara-i Hunud
4. Anwar Ahmed Zuberi, Khutbat-i Aliya
5. Khalifa Muhammad Hasan Patialvi, Tarikh-i Khilafa
6. Jalaluddin Seoti, Tarikh-i Khilafa
7. Nusrat Ali Dehlavi, Nasr al-Akhbar
8. Abdullah Ashiq, Baharistan-i Awadh
9. Col. Sanderson Abbot, Tarikh Nadir al-Asr
10. Abdul Ghafoor Nasakh, Sukhun-i Shu'ara
11. Lala Sri Ram Dehlavi, Khum Khana Javaid
12. Niaz Ahmed Khan, Tarikh-i Rohail Khand
13. Ahmed Ali Khan Shauq, Tazkirah Kamalan-i Rampur
14. Amir Minai, Intikhab Yadgar
15. Munshi Naulakshur, Awadh Akhbar, 14th May 1872 and Guldasta-i Sukhun
16. Zaheer Dehlavi, Dastan-i Ghadar
17. Malik Ram, Tilamzah Ghalib
18. Qadar Baksh Sabar Dehlavi, Gulistan Sukhun
19. Syed Muhsin Ali, Sirapa Sukhun
20. Imdad Sabri, Tarikh-i Jurm o Saza and 1857 kay Ghadar Shu'ara
21. Hasan Nizami Dehlavi, Muqadimah Bahadar Shah
22. Syed Ali Hasan Bhopali, Subh-i Gulshan
23. Mohd. Abdul Shahid Khan Sherwani, Baghi Hindustan
24. Khawaja Mohd. Bashir, Ghadar key Halat o Fatuhat Ingrezi
25. Rahi Mas'um Raza, 1857, Allahabad 1960
26. Syed Ashur Kazmi, 1857 kay Ghadarun kay Khutut
27. Ghulam Rasul Mahr, 1857 kay Mujahid
28. Anis Fatima Barelvi, 1857 kay Hero, Karachi 1993
29. Chandar Krishna, Ghadar, 1967
30. Sadiq Hussain Sirdhunvi, Ghadar, Delhi
31. Nasir Lahori, Ghadar Leader, Lahore 1937
32. Ghadar Delhi kay Akhbar, Delhi 1920
33. Ziauddin Ahmed Barni, Ghadr ki Subh o Sham, Delhi 1932
34. Hasan Nizami, Ghadr Delhi kay Afsanay, Delhi 1918 and Ghadr ka Nateeja, Delhi 1930
35. Rashid al-Kheri, Ghadr ki Mari Shehzadian, Delhi
36. Intizamullah Shahbani, Ghadr kay chand ulema, Delhi
37. Zafar Taban, Ghadr kay Manazir, 1935
38. Kunhya Lal, Tarikh-i Baghawat-i Hind


lapata | October 03, 2007

From the review: "I saw the book advertised, and then read a review in The Tribune. I immediately requested a friend to bring it for me from India. Now I feel ashamed that I put her to all the trouble. It cost her 750 rupees, but it is not even worth the price of the paper it is printed on." CM Naim, still showing us how it's done.

Desi Italiana | October 04, 2007

I read the review and thought, "Ouch." :) Still though, if the book is as awful, inaccurate, and flimsy as argued, then the review was well deserved. "Worse still, the translations are often deliberately misleading." This makes me cringe. I used to be a translator, and I was asked by the head of the religious institute to translate a seminal body of work into English. There were two/three chapters that had already been translated, and when I read them, they were totally off the base, not even close to what was being said in Italian. Dis/misinformation is evil.

Frog in a Well - The China History Group Blog | October 10, 2007

[...] in on a scathing review of a collection of primary documents on the Indian uprising of 1857 in Documents of 1857 but finds, and reproduces for us, a useful list of archives where primary sources can be [...]

Qalandar | July 30, 2010

Re: "...the gauntlet thrown by William Dalrymple's Last Mughal about Indian historians using the National Archives and reading the shakista sources and writing histories better than those by Bayly et al. " A friend brought this to my attention, seems like a much better effort (although not a bi-lingual):