Tarikh-i-Nusrat Jangi

Tarikh-i-Nusrat Jangi a history of Dhaka by Nusrat Jang, Naib-Nazim of Dhaka from 1785 to 1822 AD. Dhaka was made the capital of Bengal by islam khan chisti in 1610 and the new capital was named Jahangirnagar. Dhaka continued as a capital till 1704, when subahdar's residence was transferred to Patna and that of the diwan to Makhsudabad (later Murshidabad). However, for better administration of the eastern part of the province, centering round Dhaka, murshid quli khan (subahdar from 1716 to 1727) established a niabat (deputyship) at Dhaka and appointed a naib-nazim for its administration. The post of niab-nazim was continued even after the establishment of English rule.

Nusrat Jang's maternal grandfather jasarat khan was appointed naib-nazim of Dhaka in December 1755 AD by Nawab alivardi khan. Jasarat Khan continued in this post until Nawab mir qasim called him to Mungher. After the defeat of Mir Qasim, Jasarat Khan came to Calcutta where the English Council requested him to take over the charge of naib-nazim of Dhaka. He was given the title of nawab with the sanad of appointment. In 1779 his grandson Syed Muhammad succeeded him and was given the title of Hashmat Jang. After his death in 1785, his younger brother Nusrat Jang, the author of the Tarikh-i-Nusrat Jangi, succeeded him to the same office with the title Intizamuddaula Nasir-ul-Mulk Sayyid Ali Khan Bahadur Nusrat Jang.

The date of composition of the Tarikh-i-Nusrat Jangi is nowhere mentioned in the book. The Board of Trade at Calcutta requested John Taylor, the English resident at Dhaka to collect historical materials from Dhaka and send them to Calcutta. The resident sent a long letter to Calcutta containing whatever materials he could gather and one of his sources was the materials supplied to him by Nawab Nusrat Jang. On the other hand Nusrat Jang, in his Tarikh says that he had written the book at the request of one of his English friends, without disclosing his name. So modern scholars have come to the conclusion that the Tarikh-i-Nusrat Jangi was composed in between Taylor's receipt of the Board's letter dated 5 February 1798 to the submission of his report with a forwarding letter dated 30 November 1800. So the composition of Tarikh-i-Nusrat Jangi, was in all probability, completed towards the end of 1799 AD, and the Englishman, who requested Nawab Nusrat Jang to write the book was John Taylor, the English resident at Dhaka.

The Tarikh-i-Nusrat Jangi is a history of Dhaka from the Mughal conquest of Dhaka in the reign of Akbar till the writing of his book. The book is a poor specimen of the tradition of historical literature produced by the Muslims in India. Though the author claims that he consulted historical literature, he names only two, the Iqbalnamah-i-Jahangiri of Mutamad Khan and Alamgirnamah of Muhammad Kazim. His discussion on different subjects is short, chronology is faulty and most of the dates mentioned are wrong. Though the author tried to give a connected history of Bengal from Murshid Quli Khan onwards, the account is both short and faulty. His account of Alivardi Khan, though short, is more or less correct, and it appears that he was able to lay his hands upon Yusuf Ali Khan's Ahwal-i-Mahabat Jang (or tarikh-i-bangalah-i-mahabat jangi), though the source is not mentioned. He mentions the fall of sirajuddaula in barely one sentence and gives the account of mir jafar, Mir Qasim, jasarat khan, Hashmat Jang, and his own tenure in office in a very short manner.

An important portion of the Tarikh-i-Nusrat Jangi is the part, which deals with the public buildings at Dhaka. The buildings that found prominence in the book are husaini dalan, Muqim Katra, kartalab khan's mosque (Begumbazar mosque, Chaukbazar),lalbagh fort which includes Bibi Pari's Tomb, bara katra, chhota katra, idgah and Mir Jumla's Bandar (or fort) at Hajiganj (old Khizrpur) not far from Narayanganj.

The Tarikh-i-Nusrat Jangi has thrown new light on the date of construction of Husaini Dalan. The author mentions that Husaini Dalan was built by Prince muhammad azam in 1678-79 when he was the subahdar of Dhaka. Modern scholars do not agree with this view, some say that it was built by one Mir Murad during the subahdari of Prince Azam. Azam Shah could not be its builder, because the prince was a Sunni, whereas the Husaini Dalan is a Shia building.

In this book there is information which is not available elsewhere; the author says that Mir Jumla asked his followers and friends to send his coffin to Najaf for burial. From the fathiya-i-ibriyya of Shihabuddin Talish it is known that Mir Jumla was buried at or near Khizrpur, and most probably inside the khizrpur fort (at present known as Hajiganj fort). Shihabuddin Talish was present on the spot, so he could not have committed any mistake on this point. It is also probable that Mir Jumla left an injunction to send his dead body or coffin to Najaf, because as a shia he might have preferred to be buried at their sacred place of Najaf.

The Tarikh-i-Nusrat Jangi is also important from another point of view. It is the first local history written in Bengal. Scholars so long believed that francis hamilton buchanan was the first person to write local history, he was appointed by the east india company in 1807 to write local history. After a long and tedious journey in several districts he prepared a report and submitted it to the government in 1816 which was published after his death in 1833 under the title, A geographical, statistical and historical Description of the District or Zilla of Dinajpur in the province or subah of Bengal. But now it appears that the Tarikh-i-Nusrat Jangi, written most probably in 1799, is the first local history written in Bengal. [Abdul Karim]

Bibliography Harinath De (ed), Tarikh-i-Nusrat Jangi in the Memoirs of the Asiatic Society of Bengal, Calcutta, VI, No. II, 1911; Abdul Karim, 'An Account of the district of Dacca dated 1800' in the Journal of the Asiatic Society of Pakistan, VII, 1962; Muhibullah Siddiqi, 'Naba Mullayane Tarikh-i-Nusrat Jangi' in Abdul Karim Sambardhana Grantha, Chittagong, 2001.