Bagh O Bahar

Or, The Garden and the Spring Being the Adventures of King Azad Bakht and the Four Darweshes


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ISBN : 9781619521445


Author : E. B. Eastwick


Pages : 262 pp


Year of Publishing : 2020


Binding : Hard Bound


Publisher : Impact Global Publishing Inc. USA



BAGH O BAHAR or, The Garden and the Spring: Being The Adventures of King Azad Bakht and the Four Darweshes: Literally Translated from the Urdu of Mir Amman, of Dihli.

The “Bagh O Bahar” is an Urdu translation by Mir Amman, of the Persian romance, entitled “Kissah-i Chahar Darwesh” or “Story of the Four Darweshes” composed by the celebrated poet, Amir Khusrau, of Delhi. Mir Amman has given us in his preface to the “Bagh O Bahar” a brief narrative of himself, from which we learn that his family resided for some centuries at Delhi, where they held a Jagir, or grant of land in free tenure, under the Mughal Emperors, and were subsequently involved in the ruin of the house of Timur. Their Jagir was seized by Suraj Mal, the founder of the principality of Bhartpur, and their houses plundered by Azad Shah, king of Kabul, when he invaded India. Mir Amman himself after various vicissitudes, arrived in Calcutta, a destitute wanderer, where his good fortune introduced him, A.D. 1801, to Dr. Gilchrist, Professor of Urdu, in the College of Fort William. The Urdu language was just then beginning to be studied by Europeans, and it was desirable to supply the want of original works in that dialect, by translations from other languages.

Mir Amman was commissioned to translate the amusing romance of “The Four Darweshes” a duty which he performed with remarkable elegance and success, and in a style very superior to a former version made by Ata Husain Khan, entitled “Nau tarz-i murassa”, “The new gold embroidered fashion” which was too thickly inlaid with Arabic and Persian.

“A Tale of Four Dervishes is among the best known and highly regarded works of Urdu fiction — it remains “a monumental classic of Urdu literature”, as Mohammed Zakir writes in his Introduction. It is actually a translation of sorts, based on a much earlier work (and later variations thereof), the 14th century Qissa-e-Chahar Darvesh by Amir Khusrau. Written at a time when there was little Urdu prose available, Mir Amman was urged to fashion this translation while at the Fort William College, to also help introduce the British to local customs and history through local literature; Mir Amman’s version was then also soon translated into English.

With its many story-layers, A Tale of Four Dervishes is a rich and entertaining read. From the Lear-like tale of the princess who proves fate (and god) provide and decide all, to some cross-dressing disguises and star-crossed love affairs, and a dog with a ruby-collar (a thought so offensive that Azad Bakht immediately orders the vizier who suggests such a thing exists executed – though it doesn’t come to that), there’s impressive variety here too – without anything ever going on too long.

Very enjoyable, certainly worthwhile — Mushirul Hasan, India Today

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