University of Virginia.
After studying the images, Dr. Farooqi has kindly contributed the following piece to our blog highlighting the importance of this manuscript:
The Nuskha-e Hamidiyya: The Divan of Ghalib’s Youth
The Nuskha-e Hamidiyya: The Divan of Ghalib’s Youth
By Mehr Afshan Farooqi
In 1918, some fifty years after Ghalib’s death, a manuscript was discovered in the Hamidiyya Library in the princely state of Bhopal that was beyond doubt a Divan of the great poet. The colophon revealed that it had been calligraphed (in 1237 hijri, corresponds to1821CE) by Hafiz Mueenuddin. The calligrapher states in no uncertain terms: دیوان من تصنیفِ مرزا صاحب و قبلہ المتخلص بہ اسد و غالب سلہم ربہم علی یدالعبد المزنب حافظ معین الدین بتایخ پنجم شہرِ صفر المظفر ۱۲۳۷ من الہجرت النبویہ صورت اہتمام یافت۔The manuscript or nuskha (as we call it in Urdu) was written in a pleasing hand and the text enclosed with red, gold and blue margins. Unlike the general practice of beginning a Divan with a ghazal, this Nuskha begins with a qita’ in Farsi followed by two qasidahs in Urdu. The page marking the first ghazal, the famous, naqsh faryadi hai kiski shokhi-e tahrir ka, is elaborately embellished with gold and blue.
Ghalib’s Divan, what we must refer to as the mutadavil or current divan had gone through five editions in his lifetime. The fifth edition published from Agra in 1863 had a total of 1795 verses. In the space of fifty years following Ghalib’s death, several editions of his current divan may have been published. I have been able to track down two: 1883 and 1887, published by the reputable Munshi Naval Kishore Press, Lucknow. The wide circulation of the printed (mutadavil) divan undoubtedly established Ghalib as the greatest of Urdu poets, but it also made everyone forget that the Divan was after all an intikhab. Ghalib had composed much more than the 1800 odd verses presented in the mutadavil Divan. The discovery of the Nuskha –e Hamidiyya was phenomenal in that it revealed a large number of verses that were not included in Ghalib’s Divan! Of the 1900 verses that were presented in the Hamidiyya, only 700 had ever been included in the Divan. Of the 1900 verses, 1883 are from ghazals.
The Nuskha-e Hamidiyya was first alluded to by Saiyyed Sulaiman Nadvi, who saw it in the possession of Abdur Rahman Bijnori, who was preparing it for publication for the Anjuman-e taraqqi Urdu. Bijnori was a scholar and great admirer of Ghalib. His scintillating essay, Mahasin-e kalam-e Ghalib begins by positioning Ghalib’s Divan along with the sacred Vedas: “Hindostan ki ilhami kitabein do hain; muqaddas Veda aur Divan-e Ghalib.” Bijnori’s sudden unexpected death left the editing on the inexperienced shoulders of Mufti Anwarul Haq, the education officer of the Riyasat of Bhopal. Haq’s edition published in 1821 was replete with errors. Editorial errors notwithstanding, Mufti Anvarul Haq’s conclusions about the manuscript’s provenance were also debatable. Haq’s claim that the Nuskha was prepared for Miyan Faujdar Muhammad Khan whose seal is prominently displayed on several pages in the manuscript was contested by Maulana Imtiaz Ali Khan Arshi. Faujdar Muhammad Khan’s seal bears the following dates: 1248 hijri and 1261 hijri. The seals affixed at different times/years have different dimensions. Thus the Nuskha was completed in 1821 but accessed in Faujdar sahib’s library in 1832. The eleven years separating the date of its completion and first accession show that it was in the possession of someone else during that period. While the Nuskha may not have been prepared exclusively for Faujdar Muhammad Khan, there is no doubt that the latter took a lot of pride in its ownership. The elaborate, decorated seal inscribed on page 2 shows that the Nuskha was a prized possession of Faujdar Muhammad Khan.
According to Maulana Arshi, the Nuskha was prepared for Ghalib’s personal use. It was given away most likely to a shagird after another copy had been made. It is possible that after Ghalib had made selections for Gul-ra’na (1828), he gave away this Nuskha. It is also possible that he had got another copy made (Nuskha-e Sherani, 1826) for safekeeping while he journeyed to Calcutta with the Nuskha-e Hamidiyya. One of the controversial features of the Nuskha is the addition of ghazals in the margins in a consistent but somewhat unpolished hand. The question is: Who made those additions? Maulana Arshi is of the opinion that the writing is in Ghalib’s hand. Some scholars think the handwriting is not sophisticated enough to be Ghalib’s. According to Gyan Chand Jain, the corrections and additions to the Hamidiyya were done after the circulation of the Nuskha –e Sherani and are not in Ghalib’s hand. New ghazals and verses added to older ghazals were copied from the Sherani in the margins of the Hamidiyya. There were some blank pages at the end of the Hamidiyya; these were used to inscribe seven ghazals in the radif of ye (two were inscribed in the margins). The copyists were careless. They copied two ghazals that were already included in the Hamidiyya. The copyists missed some ghazals that were in the Sherani, but not in the Hamidiyya.
Another interesting feature of the Nuskha is the occasional mark of approval affixed on the margin against a verse. These notations are by the following persons: Abdul Ala, Abdul Samad Mazhar and Agha Ali. For example, the first she’r of the first ghazal is marked with a ص and signed Abdul Ala. It is possible that those gentlemen had borrowed the Nuskha, or as Maulana Arshi remarks, the Nuskha was taken back to Ghalib for corrections and additions. Whatever the truth may be, the fact is that Ghalib continued to revise and add to his work.
These questions would not be quite as perplexing if the Nuskha-e Hamidiyya was available for consultation. The Nuskha was last seen by Maulana Arshi in 1944. In the tumultuous events of India’s Partition, the original Nuskha was lost. What is currently available in print is Hamid Khan sahib’s 1969 edition that was assembled with the help of notes that the latter took in 1938, along with Mufti Anvarul Haq’s edition and the Nuskha-e Sherani. The re-appearance of the original Nuskha-e-Hamidiyya after nearly 75 years is a momentous event for Ghalibians all over the world. After scrutinizing the scans that the Husaini Arts made available to me, I am convinced that it is indeed the original Nuskha-e Hamidiyya.
There are at present to the best of my knowledge, only two facsimile editions of Ghalib’s early Divans: a limited, edition of the 1816 Divan and the Nuskha-e Sherani. The 1816 Divan is in Ghalib’s own hand and is known by different names: Nuskha-e Bhopal (since it was found in Bhopal), Nuskha-e Amroha (the dealer who bought it was from Amroha) and Nuskha-e Arshizadah (published by Akbar Ali Khan Arshizadah in 1969). The original 1816 Divan has disappeared. The Nuskha-e Sherani, preserved in the Punjab University Library at Lahore, was published in 1969 in order to make it widely available. The Nuskha-e Hamidiyya was the first manuscript to surface after Ghalib’s death that showed his Urdu corpus up to 1821. It opened the way for the discovery of more Nuskhas. Its phenomenal historical and artistic significance cannot be over emphasized. A contemporary, facsimile edition of this Nuskha would be a wonderful addition to the quirky world of Ghalib scholarship.
The author is an Associate Professor of Urdu and South Asian Literature
Department of Middle Eastern & South Asian Languages & Cultures at the
University of Virginia and a renowned Ghalib scholar.