The Fifth Era of Āb-e ḥayāt:
#325# Just look--the lanterns have begun to glow. Get up--get up--go out and meet them and bring them in. Such venerable elders come to the mushairah that the sight of them is collyrium to our eyes. Among them we can see two types of accomplished poets. One who considered it their law and their faith to follow their elders, and who will stroll in those elders' gardens. They'll prune away old branches and yellow leaves and trim them, and make bouquets of new colors and new styles to adorn the vases in the wall niches. The second type is that group of lofty-minded poets who will use the steam of thought to send up the breezes of invention--and will employ them, like fireworks-balloons, to attain a lofty height. They have done great works with this breeze.
But alas, they've done something most unfortunate: they never went in any direction in the limitless expanse that lay all around them. From the rooftops, they flew up higher and higher. Thus you'll see that a number of these high flyers will reach such an elevation that the sun will look the size of a star. And some will fly so as to fly away entirely. They call their method *imaginativeness and 'delicate thought'. But the truth is that poetry is their magicianship, and they are the [magically skilled] Sāmirīs of their time. In addition to this, their ascendant fortune will be such that they'll find people of their own type who will worship them. There's no doubt about the 'delicate thought' of these elders, but it is only of this order: up till now the flower of a theme swayed in the Garden of Eloquence in the youthful glory of its inborn beauty. These poets will pull off its petals and draw such designs on them with a fine brush that they won't be visible without glasses. In this imaginativeness these gentlemen of accomplishment will have no care even for that natural delicacy that you'd regard as inborn beauty. Because their verbal device can't show #326# its full style without this.
The earlier elders had already made use of every single leaf in the gardens around them. Now, where could they have gotten new flowers? There was no road for going forward, and no equipment for making a road. Having no choice, they beat the drum of ustad-ship in this way, and received the crown of honor from their contemporaries. This difficulty of the final era did not fall on our language alone. In Persian, compare the ancients with the later poets. Or compare the pre-Islamic poets with the later Arabic ones. Although I don't know English, I know this much: that its later poets too lament over this pain. Thus it can be seen that as long as a language remains in the condition of childhood, for just that long it keeps pouring out cups of milk and sherbet. When it attains mature years, then it mingles perfume and essences with them. It seeks out and procures the attar of elaboration. Then simplicity and sweet airs go down into the dust. Of course, the results are cups of medicines that anyone who wants to can drink.
At this point it is necessary to say that before this time, those gentlemen who were in Lucknow were ruined refugees from Delhi. Up to this time they or their children considered Delhi their native place, and the people of Lucknow thought it a source of pride, not a defect, to imitate them. Because up to this time no person of the highest level of accomplishment had been born there. Now the time comes when they themselves will claim to be possessors of the language, and the claim will become them. And when their idiom differs from that of Delhi, they'll advance proofs for the eloquence of their own idiom and the lack of eloquence of Delhi's idiom. And fair-minded people of Delhi will even accept certain of their points. Those elders had abandoned many archaic words, some details about which have been written in the introduction to the fourth era. And now the language that's spoken in Delhi and Lucknow is as if it's their own language. Of course, in Shaiḳh Nāsiḳh's volume, in one place the word zor is used with the meaning of 'much'. Perhaps this might be a poem from his earliest period: [one illustrative verse]. #327# In the poetry of the elders of Delhi, [forms like] āʾe hai [=comes] and jāʾe hai [=goes] are common. But in the ghazals of the latest period, they too have avoided them.
The late Shāh Naṣīr was a person of advanced years; he began to write poetry in a time that goes almost back to Jurʾat and Sayyid Inshā, and the end of his time borders on that of Nāsiḳh, Ātish, and Żauq. For this reason, in his earliest ghazals here and there he says ṭuk [=a little bit, just]. And the way in the fourth period they casually formed feminine plural verbs with the ending āñ--that too appears here and there in his earliest ghazals. Thus one of Mīr's opening verses is: [one illustrative verse by Mīr, one by Shāh Naṣīr]. In this way where an adjective is to modify an Indic plural noun, pluralizing it is now considered contrary to eloquence. But the Ḳhvājah Sahib [Ātash] says, [one illustrative verse].
INTRODUCTION ABOUT THE PARTICULARS OF
SHAIḲH IMĀM BAḲHSH NĀSIḲH
An excellent memorial left by the ancient elders is Maulvī Muḥammad ʿAz̤īmullāh Sahib, a gentlemen of learning and lover of accomplishment who is the landlord of Zamania in Ghazipur district. Although I do not know about his forebears in detail, I know this much: that he was married to the maternal granddaughter of Shāh Ajmal Sahib, the sister of the Qaẓī of Qāẓīs Muftī Asadullāh Sahib. The Maulvī Sahib's father was an extremely close friend of Shaiḳh Imām Baḳh Nāsiḳh. My friends! The friendships of former times were very different friendships. Today, in your enlightened age, I don't find the words to describe them, the words that would create images of their ideas in your hearts. Alas, alas! Ustad Żauq:
#328# /Now the name of affection is not even on the lips
It may have been a convention of writing, in previous texts/.
In short, personal feelings and harmony of temperament used often to draw the Maulvī Sahib's father from Ghazipur to Lucknow. He used to stay there for months together. The Maulvī Sahib was five years old. He too used to be with his father. From that time he remained in the service of Shaiḳh Nāsiḳh, and for years together he profited from the grace of his presence. The Shaiḳh kindly bestowed on him the pen-name of Raġhmī, from which [as a chronogram] A.H. 1250 [1834-35] works out to be the year of his pupilship. He did his prescribed Arabic and Persian study in Allahabad and Lucknow. In the field of Urdu and Persian literature he has composed a number of works. He knows that their season is now entirely over; the wind is against them. Thus neither does he himself emerge from his quiet corner, nor does he bring out his books. In his youth, he received honored and esteemed posts even from the [English] government. Now old age has caused him to live on a pension and keep to his home. The slave Āzād has, thanks to this very Āb-e ḥayāt, obtained the gift of serving him. And he has written down a number of particulars about the Shaiḳh, which are recorded now in the second edition, and has thus incurred a heavy debt of gratitude. Āzād is wholeheartedly indebted to him; he always obliges me with his kind letters, from every word of which there drips the 'Water of Life' of love. The thing is that people like us are absolutely strange to this age. The 'new light' people say that there's no light, there's no light. If you look through the eyes of Janāb Raġhmī or the slave Āzād, the world is a darkness indeed.
/I do not find a trace of a glance of friendship from anyone--
The world without you is like a narcissus garden/.1
I have not yet had the honor of meeting him, but I know that like a stranger dropped into a new land--a land where no one understands his language, and he doesn't understand anyone else's, and he stares at everyone's faces in bewilderment--in just this way he too is staring at the faces of people today. What were the mushairahs of Nāsiḳh and Ātish--and what are the gatherings of 'committees' [kamīṭī]! The information about the Shaiḳh Sahib and the Ḳhvājah [Ātash] Sahib that he wrote down and sent me--it seems that tears were in his eyes and flowed down in the form of letters [on the page]. Someone #329# should ask Āzād's heart about this pain! For when the name of Shaiḳh Ibrāhīm Żauq comes up, a shock of sorrow constricts my heart.
/Oh nightingale, lament, if you claim to be friends with me
For we are two sad lovers, and our desire is to weep/.
While writing about Shaiḳh Nāsiḳh, Raġhmī says, 'How can I tell you how kind he was to me! He himself copied out two volumes [of his poetry] and gave them to me. He had a seal carved from agate, and gave it to me; I still have it.' Raġhmī, may God preserve him, sent me information about Jaunpur and Ghazipur, and so on, for which the Darbār-e akbarī will always remain grateful. God grant that that book may quickly be prepared, and may make its appearance before people of discernment.
THE PARTICULARS OF
SHAIḲH IMĀM BAḲHSH NĀSIḲH
The native place of the Shaiḳh Sahib's poetry is Lucknow, but from the point of view of accomplishment the honor ought to go to Lahore, which was his father's native place. About his family we can say only this much: that he was the sona of Ḳhudā Baḳhsh the Tentmaker. And some people say that this wealthy childless man had adopted him, and that his true father had, because of poverty, traveled from west to east. In Faizabad, thanks to his fortune, this star began to shine, and shone so as to become the sun of the sky of poetry. [Żauq:]
/Ask Moses about God's bounty--
For he went to get fire, and prophethood was the result/.
Besides the birth of a fortunate son to a poor father, fortune did not befriend him there either. But this wealthy merchant, who was childless, took the boy of lofty destiny into sonship and gave him such an education and training that when he grew up he became Shaiḳh Imām Baḳhsh Nāsiḳh. And thanks to this adoptive father, he did not feel the pinch of worldly needs. When the merchant died, the merchant's brothers laid a claim. He said, 'I have no desire for wealth or property. As I considered him my father, so I consider you as well. Let there be only this: in the way that he used to fulfill my needs, in the same way you please do so.' They agreed.
His uncle gave him poison: #330# Because of a skin condition, at a certain period Nāsiḳh ate nothing but bread made of gram that he crumbled into a bowl of clarified butter. His evil uncle put poison in this dish. People gossipped about it: that a Jinn who was his friend alerted him. (Another tale about him will be told later.) In any case, he learned about it somehow or other. At once he called some friends together, and in their presence gave a morsel to a dog. Finally it was proved that there truly was poison in it. After some days, the quarrel over the inheritance reached the court of law, the decision of which was in favor of the Shaiḳh Sahib. At that time he composed some quatrains, to unburden his heart. Here are two among them:
/Although the false accusation of my uncles has become famous
Neither elite nor common people give thought to the matter
To inherit proves that one is an offspring
No slave was ever able to obtain the inheritance/
/The malicious uncles kept describing me to the court as a slave
But I received the whole paternal inheritance
Through this false claim the oppressors got nothing
They ended only by lowering my prestige/.
If you think carefully, it's no fault to be an adopted son; the world's poverty and wealth keep changing like winter and summer. Look at one of the richest of the rich: within merely a few generations, it's impossible that poverty would not have passed through his house at least once. That irresolute person is indeed worthy of blame who is not able to wait in this condition for the mercy of God, but does such deeds that he leaves his name sullied. In short, the Shaiḳh Sahib's rivals have clothed this matter in a bad color, as will soon be described. He was in Faizabad. When Lucknow became the capital city, he came there, and passed the rest of his life there. A neighborhood there called 'The Mint' is famous. He settled down there, and struck his mark on the silver and gold of poetry, and assayed counterfeit and pure themes.
His educational attainments: He studied the Persian books with Ḥāfiz̤ Vāriṡ ʿAlī Lakhnavī, and he studied the prescribed texts with the religious scholars of Farangi Mahal as well. Although his Arabic was not of a scholarly level, through the widespread cultivation of learning and the good company he kept, he was entirely acquainted with the necessities of the art of poetry. And in the organization [naz̤m] of his poetry #331# he followed the principles most carefully.
Shaiḳh Nāsiḳh's own account of his pupilship: In poetry he was no one's pupil, but from the beginning he loved poetry. Maulānā Raġhmī says, 'Shaiḳh Nāsiḳh himself reported to me the particulars of the beginning of his poetry: "The late Mīr Taqī was still alive, and my passion for poetry had made me venture to approach him. One day, avoiding the observation of others, I presented a number of ghazals in his service. He did not give me correction.b Discouraged at heart, I came back, and said to myself, Even Mīr Sahib after all is just a man, not an angel! I myself will give correction to my own work. In short, I used to compose something, and put it aside. After some days I looked at it again. In whatever ways I could think of, I gave it correction--and put it aside. After another interval, I again, when I had the leisure, looked it over once more and worked on it. In short, I kept up my practice. But I never recited anything to anyone. Until I was thoroughly confident, I didn't recite a ghazal in a mushairah, or before anyone else. There used to be a mushairah at Mirzā Ḥājīc Sahib's house. Sayyid Inshā, Mirzā Qatīl, Jurʾat, Muṣḥafī, and so on--all the poets--used to gather there. I used to go and listen to everyone. But I never recited anything there. Among them all, the salt and spices in the poetry of Sayyid Inshā and Jurʾat were not in anyone else's language. In short, Sayyid Inshā and Muṣḥafī's encounters too came to an end. Jurʾat and Z̤ahūrullāh Ḳhān Navā's conflicts too had been resolved.
'"When time had turned all these pages and the field was clear, I began to recite #332# my ghazals. On that occasion Mirzā Ḥājī Sahib, Mirzā Qatīl, and Ḥājī Muḥammad Ṣādiq Ḳhān 'Aḳhtar'd showed great appreciation, and through their encouragement my poetry began to go from strength to strength every day. And enthusiasm was born in people's hearts, so that even if I composed and recited a *four-fold ghazal, they kept wanting more. Muntaz̤ire and Garm [=Warm] had been cooled down by death. The chief pupil of Ḳhvājah Ḥaidar ʿAlī Ātash, Shaiḳh Muṣḥafī, had made a name for himself in the use of idiomatic language. One time, when he came to Lucknow from Faizabad after a gap of many months and heard my ghazals in the mushairah, he was consumed by jealousy. And from that day the alienation began. In the fire of jealousy, he composed ghazals with such mortal effort and desperate struggle that blood began to drip from his chest."'
In short, Shaiḳh Nāsiḳh's keenness always took him to mushairahs--which increased the ambition in his heart and the zeal in his temperament. And his affluence drew to his house a number of learned and accomplished people. In their company, his temperament spontaneously received correction. Gradually, he himself began to give correction. Some elderly people are reported to have said that in the beginning he used to obtain correction from Shaiḳh Muṣḥafī, but that they fell out over some verse so badly that Shaiḳh Muṣḥafī forbade him to come any more. He kept composing ghazals on his own. And there was a person with the pen-name of Tanhā [=Alone]; he used to get advice from this man in private [tanhāʾī]. When he felt confident, he began to recite ghazals in mushairahs. But the [above] report about Muṣḥafī is not trustworthy, because Muṣḥafī in his anthology recorded the names of all his pupils, and Nāsiḳh's name is not there; Maulānā Raġhmī says so.
He had a great passion for exercise and training: The 'champion of poetry' had from his earliest days a passion for exercise. He himself used to exercise. In fact even when the young sons of his friends came to attend upon him, and he saw some promising one among them interested in exercise, #333# he was happy and encouraged him. His normal quota was 1297 pushups, because this is the numerical value of 'Yā Ġhafūr' [Oh Forgiving One]. This routine was never omitted. Indeed, with the occasion and the season it became greater. And in proportion to his passion for exercise, so also was the body he had been given. He was tall and straight, with a broad chest, and with his head shaven. He normally wore a sarong of coarse red cotton cloth--and looked like a tiger. In the winter, he wore a light cloth kurta. It was exceptional for him to wear even a double-thick kurta of Lucknow chintz.
He was a good eater: In the whole period of a day and night, he used to eat only once. At midday he used to seat himself at the dining-cloth, and make up for the several meals he had missed. He ate fully five Shāhjahānī sers [=nine pounds] of food. When his favorite fruits were ripe, then on the day that he wanted a given fruit, his other food was suspended. For example, if he wanted to eat jāmuns, then he would sit down with troughs and trays of them. He would eat four or five sers all by himself. When it was the season for mangoes, then one day he would send for a number of baskets and place them before him. He would have water brought in earthenware troughs. He put the mangoes into the troughs, cooled them, and didn't get up until he had finished them all off. If he sat down to eat roasted corn, then he placed the corn in huge heaps. And he often ate like this: he chose juicy ears of corn, scored them with a knife, and put salt and pepper on them. He roasted them in his own presence, squeezed lemon juice over them, and kept on eating and eating them. In every season he would eat fruit this way two or three times--and that was all. And three or four friends used to join him in this.
He often used to eat in private. Everyone knew his schedule. So when midday was near, they would take their leave. Raġhmī, may God preserve him, says, 'On some occasions it happened that I ate with him. On that day he also sent to the bazaar for bone-marrow soup and bread made with milk, eggs, and clarified butter. In four or five plates there were rich curry, kabobs, in one of them curried fowl; there were turnips; there were beets; there was dal made of arhar; there was dal made of husked lentils; and that tiger of the dining-cloth was alone, but he finished everything off. It was also his rule to eat his fill of whatever was in a dish, and then have the servant take it away and place another before him. It was not possible for him to dip a morsel of bread into two curries and eat it. He always used to say that if you eat things all mixed together, then the pleasure of eating disappears. Last of all he ate pulao, chulao, or plain rice. Then dal, and after five or six bites, a bite of chutney or pickle or preserves. He always used to say, "Compared to you young people, #334# I, an old man, eat better". When the dining-cloth was removed, then two trays filled only with empty plates were removed. He was a strong-bodied man, with a powerful physique. When you saw his face you realized that four or five sers of food placed before him was nothing.'
An anecdote: Who can stop people's tongues from wagging? Disrespectful, impertinent people used to call him a 'tail-docked buffalo'. With regard to the same color and complexion, Ḳhvājah [Ātash] Sahib composed this barb:
/Batter the black face of the enemy with shoes
As if there are sword-blows on a [rhinoceros-hide] shield from Sylhet/.
Shaiḳh Nāsiḳh himself apologized for this [dark complexion of his]. And Ātash's pupils too, buttering up their ustad, helped enhance his reputation and lower that of Shaiḳh Nāsiḳh. Faqīr Muḥammad Ḳhān 'Goyā' said,
/Certainly it should be extinguished when it sees the beloved's tresses--
In front of a black snake, how can a lamp keep on burning?/2
/Although in outward beauty I'm not equal to the moon
A thousand thanks that I'm not black inside/.
/How could the tresses prevail over the brightness of beauty--
As when a lamp burns before a black snake/.
The 'champion of poetry' was very pleased with talk of the physical arts and discussion of exercise. Raġhmī's father too was a hero in this battlefield. Identity of tastes always produces harmony in relationships; thus their loving relationship always endured.
An anecdote: The late Āġhā Kalb-e Ḥusain Ḳhān used often to invite him to his place and keep him as his guest for months. With him also, the relationship was not based only on a love for poetry. The Āġhā Sahib too was a master horseman of powerful physique, much given to exercise. He had an aristocratic life-style and an affectionate temperament. Thus on one occasion the Āġhā Sahib was posted [by the Navab of Avadh] as tahsildar, on the border of the Navab's dominions. He invited the Shaiḳh Sahib, and urged him to refresh his spirit for some days with an excursion amidst greenery and open country. One day various kinds of food were cooked especially for the delectation of the Shaiḳh Sahib; for this reason some delay beyond the usual time occurred. The Shaiḳh Sahib saw that at the door of the women's apartments the servants were receiving their own dinner and carrying it away. He called them and asked, 'For whom is this?' They petitioned, 'It's our food'. He commanded, 'Bring it here'. He had the food of four or five men placed before him. He polished #335# it off, and gave them back the empty plates, and said, 'When my food comes, you eat it'. Word reached the Āġhā Sahib--and in the time it took him to arrive there, the whole thing was over.
The honored and revered Āġhā Kalb-e ʿĀbid Ḳhānf Sahib also vouched for the truth of this tale, and said, 'There was certainly an impatience in his temperament. In those days I was a child, but his often coming to stay, and the poetry recited in those gatherings, and especially the way things were in Soram--all is exactly as if before my eyes. He used to have his room on the upper floor. A number of times it happened that as he sat and ate, while eating he picked up the curry dish and threw it out the window, saying, "There it is!" We sought the reason, but could discover none.'
His daily routine: #336# It was also his custom that when one watch of the night still remained, he would begin his exercises. He would finish them by morning. The house was a men's quarters; he had not enmeshed himself in marriage and a family. First he bathed, then in the courtyard, which was as clean as a mirror, low stools were placed. If he was inside, then the room was adorned with rugs and decorations. From the morning, his companions and pupils began to come. In the afternoon, they all took their leave, and the door was shut. His Honor was seated at the dining-cloth. This was a major activity. Thus, having lifted this heavy burden, he took a rest. From the time of the afternoon prayer, people again began to come. At the time of the evening prayer, they all took their leave. The door was closed against everyone, even the regular servants. And he put on the lock from inside. In his house was one room set aside for solitude. He went there, and slept for some time, then after a little while he rose and occupied himself with composing poetry. The world was sunk in the sleep of ignorance; there was an utter silence. And he, instead of enjoying a restful sleep, kept spilling out his heart's blood on paper. (I recall an opening verse by my late Ustad, the second line of which has become a jewel in this ring:
/My tears make your face glow brightly--
On this fire the sesame seed of the eye drips oil, drop by drop/.)
When his pupils brought him ghazals for correction, the servants collected them all into a coarse red cotton bag and placed them by his side. He worked on them too. When the last watch of the night came, the papers were folded away--and again the same exercises.
He had a great love for the huqqah: He had a great love for the huqqah. He sent for the finest huqqahs; they also came to him as gifts. He fitted them with suitable huqqah-tubes. [Various types of huqqahs] filled up a whole room. It was not as though in a gathering two huqqahs would make the rounds. A huqqah suitable for each person was set before that person. In these gatherings too, there were corrections and benefits for his pupils.
He was a stickler about the proper conduct of his sessions. He used to recline against a bolster. His pupils (many of whom were from rich and noble families) sat respectfully around the edges of the floor-covering. They didn't even dare to breathe. Shaiḳh Nāsiḳh would think for a while, then write something down. When he put down a paper he would say 'Yesss!' #337# Someone would begin to recite a ghazal. When a word in a verse needed to be changed, or if it was possible to improve it by changing the order of the words, he would correct it. If not, he commanded, 'This is worthless, strike it out', or 'Its first (or second) line is not good; change it', or 'This rhyme is good but you haven't developed its full potential; cudgel your brain a bit more over the verse'. When that person was through reciting, another would recite. No one else was allowed to speak.
An extraordinary delusion: The young aristocrats of Lucknow found it the most difficult task in the world to digest their food. In order to help them get through these times, their companions prepared for them a strange digestive powder [of stories like this one]. One companion has reported that a Jinn loved the Shaiḳh Sahib. The Shaiḳh Sahib's custom was that in the morning, after his exercise, he always ate a paratha made of gram-flour, enriched with a great quantity of clarified butter. At first it happened that when he sat down to eat, the paratha kept suddenly vanishing. He wondered about this, but he could not at all understand it. He always exercised alone in the upper room, with the door closed. One day he was swinging the dumbbell. Suddenly he saw another person standing before him, swinging the dumbbell! He was astonished. In his body was the youthful prowess of a wrestler. He seized him. Both of them tried their strength on each other for some time; as they did so he asked, 'Who are you?' That one said, 'The style of your exercise has pleased me; therefore I sometimes come by this way. I often share your food with you. But without expression, there's no pleasure in love. Today I have made my love manifest.' From that day on, they became friends. Some people say that the Jinn made him aware of the secret of the poison, too. But because of his appetite, people said that there was a Jinn in his stomach.
He never took service with anyone: He never took service with anyone. Thanks to his familial wealth, and the appreciation of the knowledgeable, he passed his life in great affluence. When he first came to Allahabad, Raja Chandū Lāl [the Nizam's chief minister] sent him twelve thousand rupees, and invited him [to Hyderabad]. He wrote back, 'Now I have seized the skirts of a Sayyid [Shāh Ġhulām Aʿz̤am Afẓal]; I cannot leave him. If I go anywhere from here, I'll go to Lucknow.' The Raja wrote again--in fact he even sent fifteen thousand rupees, and invited him with great insistence to go there, promising that he would be awarded the title of 'Chief of Poets', and that he need not #338# attend at court, but could meet with the him only when it pleased him. He did not agree, and gave the money into the keeping of Āġhā Kalb-e Ḥusain Ḳhān Sahib. As need occurred, he got the money back. And not just Kalb-e ʿAlī Ḳhān--Navāb Muʿtimad ud-Daulah and his sons were always at his service to help him. Gifts and offerings kept coming from here and there. He used to spend freely on himself, and on others. He gave to Sayyids, people doing the Ḥaj, and pilgrims. And since he was free of entanglements, he went and stayed wherever he wished, and whomever he went to stay with considered it an honor.
His travels took him from Faizabad to Lucknow, and from there to Allahabad, Banaras, and as far as Patna. He wanted to settle down in Banaras, as Shaiḳh ʿAlī Ḥazīn had done, so from Allahabad he went there. But he did not find people of his type, so he grew alienated and went to Patna. The people there treated him with the greatest kindness and respect, but he just didn't feel at home there. He grew upset and ran off on short notice, saying, 'My language will be ruined here'. He came to Allahabad, and again made his headquarters where Shāh Ajmal had his circle [of Sufi devotees], and said,
/Wherever I wander, my steps take me back into the circle
How has this [compass-like] circular movement come to my feet?/
Why he left Lucknow: The reason he left Lucknow was that during the reign of Ġhāẓī ud-Dīn Ḥaidar, when Shaiḳh Nāsiḳh had begun to be praised loud and long, then the he suggested to his vazir Navab Muʿtamid ud-Daulah Āġhā Mīr, 'If Shaiḳh Nāsiḳh will come to my court and present an ode, then I will give him the title of "Chief of Poets"'. Muʿtamid ud-Daulah was his devoted pupil. When the Navab conveyed this message to him, Shaiḳh Nāsiḳh was offended and replied, 'If Mirzā Sulaimān Shikohg should become king, he can give titles. Or the English government can give titles. What would I want with a title from him?' The Navab too had some irascibility in his temper. At his order, the Shaiḳh Sahib had to leave, and he went and spent some days in Allahabad. When the Navab died, he again returned to Lucknow. [A brief account #339# of further court intrigues, including one verse.] This time when he came [back to Lucknow], he settled himself down in his house in such a way that he didn't leave it even when he died: he was buried in the house itself. Mīr ʿAlī Ausat̤ 'Rashk', one of his best pupils, composed a chronogram: [chronogram for A.H. 1254 [1838-39]].
People say that he was sixty-four or sixty-five years old. But Raġhmī, may God preserve him, writes that he must have been almost a hundred years old. He often used to narrate encounters of former times and events involving Navāb Shujāʿ ud-Daulah that he had seen with his own eyes.
1 Because of its markings, the narcissus is considered to have a 'blind' eye.
a Raġhmī, may God preserve him, says, 'His father had gone there from Lahore. He used to trade in violet and saffron and other valuable things from Kabul and Kashmir. The late Shaiḳh, who was a child at that time, came with him.' He does not mention his real father or Ḳhudā Baḳhsh at all.
b Mīr's temperament and language both were quite like Nāsiḳh's. And irascibility was the crowning touch. What a pity--the words that Mīr Sahib would have said, would have been worth our hearing. But the Shaiḳh Sahib would hardly have told them to anybody.
c He is often mentioned in the letters of Mirzā Qatīl. He was an extremely capable and wise and resourceful person. As the informal liaison between Navab Saʿādat ʿAlī Ḳhān and the Resident Sahib, he often straightened out affairs of state. He had acquired in due course a property of hundreds of thousands of rupees. Without going out much, he showed the world what aristocratic splendor could be. He was greatly interested in sciences, and arts, and poetry. Thus people of accomplishment often gathered at his house.
d Aḳhtar was the epitome of learning of his time, and poetic and scholarly arguments were often brought to him for judgment.
e Muntaz̤ir and Garm were Shaiḳh Muṣḥafī's famous pupils.
2 According to legend, when a black snake confronts a lamp, the lamp goes out.
f Mirzā Muḥammad Taqī Ḳhān and Muḥammad Shafīḥ Ḳhān, two brothers, were courtiers of Nādir Shāh. Of them, Muḥammad Taqī Ḳhān was his paternal grandfather. All the world knows the wrath and cruelty of Nādir Shāh; he had Muḥammad Shafīḥ Ḳhān burned alive in a blazing fire. Muḥammad Taqī Ḳhān, feeling alienated, came to India. His ancestors and the ancestors of Navab Manṣūr ʿAlī Ḳhān Ṣafdar Jang had been closely connected in Iran. Thus, for this reason, they met here. The Navab Sahib treated him with the greatest affection, and wanted to enroll him in service at the court of the King of Delhi. When he didn't accept it, then the Navab gave him an estate in the Avadh region worth ten thousand rupees. Shaiḳh ʿAlī Ḥazīn was in Banaras. The two had been great friends in their homeland [of Iran]. Thus he went to Banaras and stayed there. The late Shaiḳh [Muḥammad Taqī Ḳhān] was still alive when he died. The Shaiḳh buried him next to the grave he had prepared for himself. And he had many of his own verses inscribed on the tomb, which are still there. His son, the late Kalb-e ʿAlī Ḳhān, illumined the honor of his elders through his service of the English Government. The Raja of Banaras was very young. Kalb-e ʿAlī Ḳhān was entrusted with the management of his territory. Thus he had in his hands four estates with a revenue of four million nine hundred thousand rupees, and full power over the revenue and critimal matters in those areas. Deputy Kalb-e Ḥusain Ḳhān Sahib was his son. And his son is ʿĀġhā Kalb-e ʿĀbid Ḳhān Sahib, who is now a First-Class Extra Assistant [Commissioner] in Amritsar, and through his ability, steadfastness, generosity, and decorum is a true relic of the elders of the past.
g Mirzā Sulaimān Shikoh was the brother of Akbar Shāh [II, Emperor of Delhi]. He had left Delhi and had gone and made his home in Lucknow. Thanks to the government in Lucknow, he passed his life in magnificence [shikoh] and glory.