The Second Era of Āb-e ḥayāt


#106# The second era begins. In this season is the springtime of the language's natural beauty. This is the time when the flowers of themes are showing their natural youthful vigor in the garden of eloquence. What is natural beauty? It is an innate charm: if even the name of any fancy adornment came near it, it would reject this as a scar of ostentation, and would wash it away seven times over. Its garden is the landscaping of Nature. If Artifice should graft its own handiwork onto this garden, its hands would be cut off. There is no doubt that these accomplished ones are bees who feed on the same honey. And it seems that they are submerged in the ocean of love. But no language can attain this excellent quality: that they present whatever is in the heart, exactly as it is. They do not make 'parrots and mynahs' of imagined colors. Indeed, like the parrot and nightingale they have brought pure language and natural melody. In their tunes, they have not taken the trills, variations, reversals, and vibratto from any singer. Just look--with unostentatious speech and straightforward words they will say whatever comes into their hearts, so spontaneously that they will cause a picture to stand before you. And however long the audience listens, the audience will still be transfixed, with their hands clutched to their hearts. What's the reason for this? That very spontaneity, before whose plainness a thousand elegances die of love. /Only that is beauty, in which spontaneity can be seen./ Their correction removed many words dating from Valī's time, but a number nevertheless remained: [examples, with #107# brief discussion.] In one place [in Daryā-e lat̤āfat], Sayyid Inshā mentions some of the words we have discussed, and writes that in that era the elite used words of this sort in conversation: [a number of examples].


The custom of the world is that the son should be known by his father's name, and the pupil by the name of his well-known ustad. But we should call this Ḥātim a Ḥātim in his fortune as well, because he is known by the name of 'Saudā's ustad'. Happy is the fortune of that father, in whose lineage of accomplishment a son is born who is counted a cause of pride to the family of accomplishment. His pen-name was Ḥātim, and name Shaiḳh Z̤ahūr ud-Dīn. His father's name was Fatḥ ud-Dīn. Shāh Ḥātim himself used to say, 'Z̤ahūr [=A.H. 1111, or 1699-1700] is the *chronogram of my date of birth'. He lived in Shāhjahānābād [=Old Delhi] proper. It is not known from where his ancestors had come. No anthology gives an account of his educational attainments, nor can anything be established from his poetry, but he certainly had a degree of competence that did not allow any flaws to enter his literary style. And this excellence was common in elite families of that time. The truth is that after ʿĀlamgīr, when there was conflict among his descendants and the empire was ruined, those nobles who held high ranks and offices came to feel disheartened at the daily turmoil. Especially since on the one hand the Marathas, on the other hand the Sikhs, grew stronger. And when people absolutely despaired of the stability of the empire, then a number of them left their employment and, because of their lack of formal education, adopted various trades and professions. And some people, although #108# they were well-educated, gave up on the world and withdrew from it.

Shāh Ḥātim was at first a soldier. As a companion of ʿUmdat ul-Mulk Amīr Ḳhān, he lived with honor and freedom from care, and even with luxury and enjoyment. And since it was the time of Muḥammad Shāh, according to the laws of the time, whatever pleasures the young men indulged in, Shāh Ḥātim took part in them all. In Delhi, near the Qadam Sharīf, the takiyah of Mīr Bādal ʿAlī Shāh was the gathering place of such free-living young men. He too always used to go there. Thus the faqir's society had such an effect that Shāh Ḥātim became his disciple. Gradually he repented of all his sins--the turning of the times caused him, in fact, to renounce all his relationships to the world. He lived trusting in God. And only a kerchief and a light staff, which are the badge of the free-spirited faqirs of India, remained in his possession.

Although Shāh Ḥātim was extremely sophisticated and sober, and in age too was of mature years, he was nevertheless of a very lively disposition, extremely courteous and witty.

He adopted the life of a faqir, but he bound his kerchief crooked on his head as the bāñkahsa [=rakes] did. On the way to Rājghāṭ, beneath the [Red] Fort, was the takiyah of Shāh 'Taslīm'b; there were some flowerbeds there. Some trees provided shade, and right in front #109# was an expansive meadow. Every day he used to go and sit there in the evening, and talk of poetry with some companions and pupils. He kept up this custom for fifty years. In summer, in winter, in the rainy season, if a hurricane blew, if it rained--the sessions there were never given up. It was the custom then among the ancient elders of Delhi, that once they had adopted something, they kept it up till their dying breath. And they called this 'maintaining one's consistency of style' or 'regard for style'. This was a law that went right up there alongside the Shariat. Such self-imposed rules in some matters took on the character of strength of mind, and are a source of proper pride to the country and the people of the country. And in matters of petty detail they are inappropriate burdens: they do not ruin merely families and lineages, but when they become widespread they ruin the country.

Shaiḳh Ġhulām Hamadānī 'Muṣḥafī' writes in his anthology, in the introduction to Shāh Ḥātim's poetry, that in the third year of the reign of Muḥammad Shāh, Valī's volume came from the Deccan to Delhi. In the circumstances of that time, this was the best stroke of luck that one could expect. Thus it attracted much attention among high and low.

Shāh Ḥātim's poetic temperament too was thrown into excitement. He began to compose verse. And through his determination and capability he brought it to the extreme of excellence. At first he used the pen-name 'Ramz'. Then he became 'Ḥātim'. And originally he was among the select poets of the first period. Even at that time, his language was eloquent, and his poetry unostentatious. But then he entered the second period. His Complete Works is very big, and mostly consists of ghazals, odes, quatrains, masnavis, and so on in the old language. I have seen it in older libraries of Lucknow and Delhi. It is in the style of Shāh Ābrū and Nājī. But toward the end of his life he himself made a selection from this Complete Works, and prepared a small volume. He entitled it Dīvān zādah [=Son of the Volume], because it had been born of the first volume. Even that young son sits holding a wealth of more than five thousand [verses] under his arm! In any case, this achievement creates a claim on his behalf, that his turban should no longer be adorned with the crest-ornament of the second period, but with that of the earliest of the third period instead; or that he should be declared a great pillar of it. He has written a very useful [Persian] introduction to the Dīvān zādah. This is a summary of it:

#110# A picker of grain-clusters from the harvest of the poets of the worlds, he is poor in appearance, but in reality Ḥātim has spent his life, that is forty years from A.H. 1129 to 1169 [c.1717-1756], in this art. In Persian poetry he follows Mirzā Ṣāʾib, and in Rekhtah he regards Valī as the ustad. Valī was the first person who compiled a volume in this art. This humble faqir has an old volume that has been famous in the cities of India from before the advent of Nādir Shāh. After compiling it I have until today--which is the third year of ʿAzīz ud-Dīn ʿĀlāmgīr II's reign--included in my old volume whatever wet or dry [i.e., good or bad] has fallen from the lips of this tongueless one, and have compiled a Complete Works. From every refrain two or three ghazals, and from every ghazal two or three verses, in addition to munāqibs and elegies and some quintains and masnavis I have taken from my old volume and included in the volume that I have named Dīvānzādah, and I have divided the ghazals under three headings: the first *patterned, the second composed by request [farmāʾishī], the third composed in reply to other ghazals [javābī], so that the distinction of these three may be known. [He then names half a dozen of his contemporaries, and claims to be writing in the colloquial language of the Delhi elite.]

Then in one place he says,

I have given up the language of Hindi Bhākhā [=Bhasha] and now I have brought into use only those words of common speech that are easily understood by everyone and are pleasing to the elite. [He then discusses his word choices, with many examples.]

#111# His themes are uncomplicated: the romantic and the mystical. His verse is everyday conversation, and his language is clean and limpid. But the words 'now', 'here', and so on are sometimes used as padding. In short, in the introduction to this volume he lists the names of forty-five men as his pupils. Mirzā Rafīʿ too is among them. The story has been recounted by Miyāñ Hidāyatc that when Shāh Ḥātim gave correction to Saudā's ghazals, he often recited this [Persian] verse:

/Ṣāʾib, I'm silent because of respect; otherwise, in every valley

My ustad doesn't even have the rank of being my pupil/.

And he said to his friends, 'Ṣāʾib composed this verse to describe my ustad-ship and Mirzā [Saudā]'s pupilhood'. When Mirzā [Saudā]'s ghazals and odes arrived from Lucknow, he always read them aloud to his friends, and was happy.

Saʿādat Yār Ḳhān 'Rangīn' was his leading pupil. Rangīn writes in his Majālis-e rangīn, 'In the late afternoon I always used to meet with Shāh [Ḥātim] Sahib at the takiyah of Shāh Taslīm. One day Miyāñ Muḥammad Amān 'Niṡār', Lālah Mukund Rāy 'Fāriġh', Mirdahe Akbar ʿAlī 'Akbar', and so on--some pupils--were in attendance. And in those days I was new to the practice [of poetry]. When I went there as usual, Shāh [Ḥātim] Sahib said, "Last night I composed this opening verse:

/I sometimes struck my head, sometimes beat my breast

Last night I plundered the pleasures of separation/."'

Miyāñ Rangīn writes, 'From the beginning there was a lot of quick-wittedness in my character, and not much good sense. In my foolishness I spoke up impertinently, "If you would be kind enough to say the second line like this, it would be better:

/I sometimes struck my head, sometimes beat my breast

I last night plundered the pleasures of separation/.1"

Shāh [Ḥātim] Sahib was very happy. He seized my hand and drew me toward himself, and said, "Congratulations, wonderful! 'A promising #112# sapling has very glossy leaves.' God willing, your temperament will make great progress. Don't cease your practice." One of his friends said, "Young man! Such impertinence in front of your ustad was not proper." Haẓrat again commanded, "What's the harm! By God, I will write it this way in my volume." After that, he recited this verse-set: [two Persian verses in praise of sincerity].'

Undoubtedly this good will and generosity of Shāh Ḥātim's are worthy of envy. Because among poets, admiring yourself and taking a dim view of others is such a habit that it would be no exaggeration to call it a natural flaw. And in fact, when I've seen pupils grapple with their ustads, I've usually seen it in this art alone. This quality [of generosity] I've found in that angelic-natured one [Shāh Ḥātim], and in Mirzā Muḥammad ʿAlī 'Māhir', who was the ustad of Mirzā Muḥammad Afẓal 'Sarḳhush'.

An anecdote: Mirzā Muḥammad ʿAlī Māhir was, in the time of ʿĀlamgīr, a practiced and fully authoritative poet of his day. And Mirzā Sarḳhush was an old pupil of his; but through a suitable temperament and much practice, he too had reached the level of accomplishment. Mirzā Māhir often used to request him to compose certain verses, and he, considering it an auspicious act, always composed them. Sarḳhush writes, 'He had composed a masnavi about the springtime in the style of Tuḥfat ul-ʿirāqain, so I composed this opening verse and gave it to him: [one verse]. And for my *cupbearer poem he had composed this opening verse: [one verse].' Then he writes, 'One night there was a gathering of poets at the home of Qut̤ub ud-Dīn 'Māʾil'. It was a night of the full moon, everyone was sitting on the garden platform. They asked me to recite a verse. That very day I had composed a [Persian] opening verse. I recited it:

/How can I watch the pious man break the wineglass into pieces--

My color flies away if a bubble bursts in the ocean/.

#113# Everyone praised it, and for half the night its lines were on people's lips. Ḥakīm Muḥammad Kāz̤im, with the pen-name of Ṣāḥib, who used to call himself "the Messiah of speech" as well, recited this verse again and again and said, "It's the power of God--that someone should be born in India, and compose such verses in the language of Persia!" The next day there was a gathering at the home of Dānishmand Ḳhān. I was not there, but Mirzā Māhir was present. Everyone again mentioned this opening verse, and said, "How creative your pupil has turned out! In the mood of his verse, last night passed extraordinarily pleasantly. Congratulations on your work--you've trained him very well." He said, "He's not my pupil, we're equals. He shows me verses, I show him verses." Ḥakīm [Ṣāḥib] said, "I've talked with Sarḳhush many times--he always insisted that he was your pupil." Māhir said, "He comes from a pir's family, he can say whatever he wants to. How could I be worthy to be his ustad!" The next day I [Sarḳhush] presented myself in his service. He said, "Why have you called yourself my pupil? I'm proud that a person like you might be my pupil. But in the world there are also such high-headed people that they don't have any regard for me and my poetry--what rank and standing could a pupil of mine have in their eyes? Poets are pupils of God, they don't care about being a pupil of anyone else."'

Shāh Ḥātim has a volume in Persian too. But it is very short. I saw it--it was written by his own hand in A.H. 1179 [1765-66]. Ninety pages of ghazals, six pages of quatrains, single verses, and so on. He was born in A.H. 1111 [1699-1700], and died at the age of 96 years, in the month of Ramẓān, A.H. 1207 [1792-93], in Delhi. And he was buried there, outside Delhi Gate. But Muṣḥafī wrote in his Persian anthology that he died in A.H. 1196 [1781-82], and reached the age of 83 years. [Ghazals #114# #115# by Shāh Ḥātim are presented.]


Ḳhān-e 'Ārzū' can make the same claim on the Urdu language, that Aristotle can make on the philosophy of logic. As long as all logicians will be called the descendants of Aristotle, all Urdu-speakers will be called the descendants of Ḳhān-e Ārzū. His interesting life is worth writing about, but since his great work of writing in Persian did not permit him to compose any volume in Urdu, to say this much about him will be sufficient here: that Ḳhān-e Ārzū is the person in the skirt of whose training such sophisticated offspring were nurtured and rose up that they are called the correction-givers of Urdu; and they took poetry that was founded on wordplay and double meanings #116# and pulled it into the Persian style and manner of expression. That is, Mirzā Jān-e Jānāñ [Maz̤har], Mirzā Rafīʿ, Mīr Taqī, Ḳhvājah Mīr Dard, and so on.

Ḳhān-e 'Ārzū' was not an Urdu poet; nor did people of that time consider Urdu poetry to be an accomplishment. Although he did indeed compose some individual verses, they have been so ground up and blown away by the circlings of time, that people today don't even know about them. Those that my mad heart has heard from the tongues of ustads, and kept as a trust in my breast, I now confide to paper. I am sure that this guardian will not let them be lost. Ḳhān-e Ārzū passed away in A.H. 1169 [1755-56]. The real homeland of his ancestors was Akbarābād [=Agra], but he had a special affection for Delhi. Although he died in Lucknow, the dust of his bones was brought to Delhi and confided to its ground. [Eight verses by Ḳhān-e Ārzū are recorded.]

Although all, both rich and poor, #117# held Ḳhān-e Ārzū in esteem and affection for his honorable family and personal merits, and he had received from the royal court the post of 'Chief of Judges' of that day for his learning and excellence, the liveliness of his disposition and the wittiness of his temperament didn't permit even a trace of pompousness and self-importance.

An anecdote: Among his pupils, one young man had been in attendance from his childhood. By the beauty of chance, it happened that the spice of beauty gave relish to his face. For some reason, he didn't come for a number of days. One day Ḳhān-e Ārzū was seated somewhere by the side of the road, when this young man passed that way. Ḳhān-e Ārzū called him over. Perhaps the young man had some urgent task, so that he made an excuse and went off. Ḳhān-e Ārzū again stopped him, and called him over, and recited this verse, which had just then dripped like dew from the subtlety of his temperament:

/In boyhood this coquetry, this pride did not exist

Now that you are a youth, have you become a 'big man'?/

An anecdote: One day there was a mushairah somewhere. To one side some learned people and some knowers of poetry were seated, refreshing their minds with poetry. One person praised Ḳhān-e Ārzū with great extravagance. Ḥakīm Aṣlaḥ ud-Dīn Ḳhān Sahibd smiled, and said [in Persian], '/Longing [ārzū] is good, but not to this extent/'. Everyone laughed, and Ḳhān-e Ārzū himself for a long time kept praising this witty line.

/People of such distracted temperament are not now to be seen

It's a pity that you haven't had the company of Mīr/.


His pen-name was Fuġhāñ, his name Ashraf ʿAlī Ḳhān. He was the foster-brother of the king Aḥmad Shāh. He was such a marvel at telling witticisms and anecdotes that sparks rained from his lips as from a sparkler. Thus his title was 'Ẓarīf [=Jester] ul-Mulk #118# Kokah Ḳhān'. Although he was not a professional poet, the pleasure of [composing] verse is such a powerful affliction that compared to its relish, all pleasures become pleasureless. Thus he is among those accomplished persons. From his earliest years he was inclined to compose poetry; his temperament was so suitable that he made a name for himself from his youth. Muṣḥafī has written in his anthology that he was a pupil of Qizilbāsh Ḳhān 'Ummīd', but you have just [on page #75#] heard Ummīd's Urdu. Perhaps he might have received correction from Ummīd in Persian. In the Gulzār-e ibrāhīmī it is written that he was a pupil of Nadīm, and he himself says in many places,

/Although Fuġhāñ is now Nadīm's pupil

You'll see that in a day or two he'll be an ustad/

/Why should I not wander barefoot in the desert of madness?

Now, Fuġhāñ, Nadīm has become my guide/

In short, when the attacks of Aḥmad Shāh Durrānī overturned India, and in Delhi Fuġhāñ saw that the order of the court had been disordered, he went to Murshidabad to visit his uncle Īraj Ḳhān, whose star of fortune was at its height. And from there he came back to the region of Avadh. In that time, if a man from Delhi went anywhere, people treated him like a member of a pir's family. In fact, they treated his deportment as a rulebook of good manners and fine distinctions. At that time the king of Avadh was called merely the Navab Vazir. The late Navab Shujāʿ ud-Daulah, the ruler of Avadh, treated Fuġhāñ with great respect, and entertained him with honor and hospitality. But it seems that Fuġhāñ was very sensitive, and the time too was such that people deferred to the sensitivities of such temperaments. Thus one day, in informal assembly, holes were burned in his clothing by the Navab's own hand.2 Feeling aggrieved, he went off to Azimabad. There he was honored even more. And he obtained power and position in the court of Raja Shitāb Rāʾe. The Raja Sahib too held him in the greatest affection, not only for the greatness of his lineage but also for his personal accomplishment and sweetness of speech and knowledge of deportment. Thus he stayed there, and after living the rest of his life in comfort, departed from the world.

There can be no greater proof of his accomplishment than that accomplished gentlemen like Mirzā Rafīʿ often #119# recited his verses with pleasure, and always used to praise them very much. In truth, Mirzā [Saudā] himself was after the same manner. Because in Fuġhāñ's poetry too, the Hindi idiom has been intermingled with Persianness and has matured with a new delightfulness, and he expresses every idea with subtlety and zest. The volume of his that has brightened my eyes was written down by my Ustad of both the outer and the inner realm, Shaiḳh Ibrāhīm Żauq, in his boyhood. Although Fuġhāñ's language is the language of his time, with regard to the art of poetry it is extremely well-regulated and apropos. And his organization of words testifies to long practice of poetry. In extent, his volume was somewhat larger than Dard's. But it was a volume only of ghazals. This tells us that his temperament was extremely suited to the poetry of Asia. The circumstances of his life show that quickness and sharpness were as thoroughly inseparable in his temperament as gunpowder and explosiveness. His power as an anecdote-teller, and his quickness in repartee, were as inherent in his language as fine temper is in a sword.

An anecdote: One day in the Raja Sahib's court, he recited a ghazal of which the rhyme was lāliyāñ and jāliyāñ. And all those who were good judges of poetry praised it very much. In the Raja Sahib's company was a jester called Jugnū [=Firefly] Miyāñ. From his lips there emerged, 'Navab Sahib, you have used all the rhymes, but you've left out tāliyāñ [=clapping]'. Fuġhāñ ignored him, and gave no answer. The Raja Sahib himself commanded, 'Navab Sahib! Do you hear what Jugnū Miyāñ says?' Fuġhāñ said, 'Maharaj, I had thought that rhyme to be commonplace, and had omitted it; if Your Excellency should command, it can come in even now'. The Maharaj commanded, 'Indeed, you should say something'. He at once recited,

/When Jugnū Miyāñ's tail shines in the night

People all stare at it and clap their hands/

All the court brightened and burst out laughing, and Jugnū Miyāñ's glow was dimmed.

The sad thing is that as anecdotes of this type grew more numerous, Fuġhāñ became unhappy with the Raja Sahib as well. The cause was the incursions that Aḥmad Shāh Durrānī made against the empire. One day his rapacity and immoderation were being discussed. God knows whether sarcastically or with foolish #120# naivete, the Raja Sahib said, 'Navab Sahib! How did Aḥmad Shāh Durrānī carry off [Muḥammad Shāh's wife] Malikah Zamānī?' These words displeased Fuġhāñ; sadly he replied, 'Maharaj, he carried her off the way Ravana carried off Sita-jī'. From that day, he ceased to go to the court.

His capability and policy can be judged from the fact that even in such a situation he attained such influence with the European authorities that he passed the rest of his life in prosperity, free from care and trouble. He died in A.H. 1186 [1772-73], and was buried there [in Azimabad]. [Ghazals #121# by Fuġhāñ are presented.]


#122# The poets of the second era take their leave. Praise be to God--at such an advanced age, such liveliness of heart! Together with such excellence, such unostentatious simplicity: /What fine men they were--may God be gracious to them/ [Żauq]. Neither complexity of metaphors, nor high colorfulness of similes. They expressed their ideas in such very clear language and such a straightforward idiom that to this day, whoever hears them claps his hand to his brow [in amazed delight]. Their poetry was not mere words [qāl], but emotional states [ḥāl]. Whatever idea they expressed in a verse, its atmosphere spread over their heart and soul. This the reason that whatever verse you look at is immersed in emotional effect. This is what today the Europeans search for, and they say that one ought to show the real condition of everything. But who can show any condition, when his own condition has fallen on evil days? [Three melancholy verses are recorded without attribution.]

a The word bānkah, although today everybody uses it, has an origin that few people know. In Delhi there was a special class of people. Thus the late Sayyid Inshāʾallāh Ḳhān draws a picture of them at one place: 'Bāñkahs are found in every city, whether Delhi or in the Deccan or Bengal or Punjab. All of them have the same style and the same dress. It is their rule to walk crookedly, to think highly of themselves, and to use the masculine gender for every feminine word: [one example]. They are like Afghans in the city, with a turban, long hair, a catapult, and Afghan speech habits. Whatever they say is never changed.'

b Shāh Taslīm was a virtuous faqir, and was himself a poet. Since his takiyah too was scenic and had a pleasant air, many devotees of poetry used to go and sit there morning and evening. Saʿādat Yār Ḳhān 'Rangīn' and Muḥammad Amān 'Niṡār', who are mentioned in the account of Mīr, and many other pupils of Shāh Ḥātim, used to frequent it.

c He was an eloquent and accomplished poet of Urdu. He was a contemporary of Ḳhvājah Mīr Dard, and used to receive correction from him as well. So this is a verse of his:

/Hidāyat, from the time that I began to compose in Rekhtah

The custom of Persian has departed from India/

In the account about Saudā, there is an anecdote involving him as well: page #162#.

1 Changing the beginning of the line from rāt ham ḥijr to ham ne shab ḥijr makes the line grammatically correct according to the practice then coming into vogue, since it now includes the particle ne.

d He was from the great Sayyid family of Ahmadabad, Gujarat. The introduction to Saudā's volume was written by him. He himself was a poet. And his son Sayyid Zain ul-ʿĀbidīn 'Āshnā' too was a poet. Some anecdotes about this Ḳhān Sahib have been recorded in the account of Saudā. See page #163#.

2 Presumably the Navab blew carelessly on his huqqah, and sparks flew out in Fuġhāñ's direction. It is discourteous to blow into anyone's face.