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Khurshid Jahan Numa


Khurshid Jahan Numa the last history written in the Persian language in the tradition of chronicles produced by Muslim historians in India. Its author, Syed Ilahi Bakhsh Angrezabadi, commenced writing the book in 1855 and completed it in 1863. Though he revised his book till his death in 1892, no event after 1863 is found in his book. Ilahi Bakhsh planned to write his history from the time of Adam and devoted a substantial portion of it to the history of Muslim rule in Bengal. In his book of about one thousand pages, the Bengal portion took up almost half the space.

In his later life Ilahi Bakhsh was a teacher of Persian in a Zilla School, where he taught Abid Ali Khan, author of the Memoirs of Gaur and Pandua. Among Ilahi Bakhsh's teachers was Munshi Abdul Karim, who in his turn was the pupil of Sayyid Ghulam Husain Salim, the author of the famous riyaz-us-salatin, the first complete history of Muslim rule in Bengal. Khurshid Jahan Numa is still unpublished, and only henry beveridge in the Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal, 1895, published a summary English translation of the Bengal portion.

The history of gaur and pandua, the two capital cities of the Muslim sultans of Bengal as found in the Khursid Jahan Numa 'may claim some originality of treatment. Ilahi Bakhsh did not depend wholly on other authors and based his account also on Arabic and Persian inscriptions found in the monuments of Muslim rulers. The system of taking estampage or facsimile not being known in his days, he had to take eye-copy of inscriptionS. Of the 42 inscriptions discovered by him, he gave complete reading of 39 of them, the reading of the date and name of issuer of one, and of the date of only two of them. So Ilahi Bakhsh may be regarded as the first local epigraphist and archaeologist. Though the department of archaeology in India was established in 1861, Ilahi Bakhsh failed to take advantage of the work of the department because archaeologists had not yet started visiting archaeological sites at this time.

Ilahi Bakhsh used to copy Arabic and Persian inscriptions, particularly Arabic Tughra ones, with his own hand and collected a number of them in his house. His room was decorated with photographs of ancient monuments presented to him by his European friends. His library had a collection of about one thousand Persian and Urdu books. He was popularly known as Jagatguru (teacher of the world), a title indicative of the respect shown to him by people. [Abdul Karim]

Bibliography H Beveridge, 'Khurshid Jahan Numa', Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal, 1895; AA Khan and Stapletone, Memories of Gaur and Pandua, Calcutta, 1931; Abdul Karim, Muslim Banglar Ilihas O Aitiyya (in Bangla), Dhaka, 1994.