Tarikh-i-Bangalah-i-Mahabat Jangi

Tarikh-i-Bangalah-i-Mahabat Jangi a very important source of the history of Bengal from the time of alivardi khan to the defeat of sirajuddaula at the battle of palashi, 1757, and his death. It was so named because it was dedicated to Mahabat Jang, a title given to Nawab Alivardi Khan (1740-1756 AD). Actually the book begins with his pedigree and narrates his gradual rise to power until his death, but the author adds a little more and covers the period of Sirajuddaula.

The Tarikh-i-Bangalah-i-Mahabat Jangi was written in Allahabad in 1177 AH/ 1763-64 AD. Several manuscript copies of the book are being preserved in Indian and foreign universities, of which the British Museum copy is the most complete in the sense that this is the only copy where an account of Alivardi's successor Sirajuddaula constitutes a unique portion. Though this portion seems to have been added as an afterthought, the addition is welcome to the historians, because Sirajuddaula's rise and fall were inherent in the time of Alivardi Khan. The title of the book differs in various copies, no two manuscripts bear the same title, but the British Museum copy, considered being the best preserved, bears the title Tarikh-i-Bangalah-i-Mahabat Jangi. But though the titles vary from copy to copy, each one of them is justified, because each conforms to the subject matter of the work, which is the biography of Nawab Alivardi Khan.

Though the titles differ, each copy bears a title, but none of the known copies of the book contains the author's name. Modern scholars unanimously accept that Yusuf Ali Khan wrote the book. Sayyid Ghulam Husain Tabatabai, the author of the siyar-ul-mutakhkherin, refers in his work, more than once, to Yusuf Ali Khan and says that he was much indebted to him for his own account of Alivardi Khan's career and rule, without mentioning, however, the title of Yusuf Ali's book. Moreover, the style and expressions of the Tarikh-i-Banglah-i-Mahabat Jangi bear resemblance to other works of Yusuf Ali Khan, in which the name of the author is given. These books are the (a) Tazkira in which there is a brief notice of Alivardi Khan and his interest in poetical composition, and (b) Hadiqat-us-safa, in which the author refers to his compilation of a memoir, meaning obviously the Tarikh-i-Bangalah-i-Mahabat Jangi.

The author Yusuf Ali Khan was a son of Ghulam Ali Khan, a Diwan-i-Khalsa of Patna in Alivardi's government. Ghulam Ali died at Allahabad in 1177 AH/ 1763 AD and his son Yusuf Ali Khan, because of his fidelity to mir qasim (the former nawab), was under constant threat of mir jafar. It is also known that Yusuf Ali Khan married a daughter of Nawab sarfaraz khan (1739-40 AD) and by this marriage he had a daughter named Zariat-uz-Zuhra who was married to Ali Ibrahim Khan of Benares. While giving the account of the reign of Sarfaraz Khan, Yusuf Ali bestows praises on Sarfaraz Khan for his superb character.

Like his father Yusuf Ali also enjoyed enormous prestige in the time of Alivardi Khan, both as a courtier and a soldier. One of the celebrities of the time, he was a man of wide experience and vast education. Because it has come from the pen of a person who was an eyewitness of the events he recounted, the Tarikh-i-Banglah-i-Mahabat Jangi is no doubt an important source and modern historians accept it as authentic. Even Ghulam Husain Tabatabai, the near contemporary historian, made extensive use of the book, to the extent of copying some sentences in full. [Abdul Karim]

Bibliography Abdus Subhan (ed), Tarikh-i-Bangalah-i-Mahabat Jangi, Calcutta, 1969; KK Datta, Alivardi and His Times, Calcutta, 1963; JN Sarkar, Bengal Nawabs, Calcutta, 1952.