ANAND RAM MOKLES

 

ĀNAND RĀM MOḴLEṢ (1111-64/1699-1750), chronicler, lexicographer, and poet of the later Mughal period, b. in Sodhra, Sialkot district (now in Pakistan). His grandfather, Gajpat Rāi, held a high position in the civil service and his father, Hirday Rām, was the wakīl (personal representative at court) of Moḥammad Shah’s (1131-61/1719-48) prime minister, Amīn Khan. After Amīn Khan’s death the new prime minister, Qamar-al-dīn, appointed Moḵleṣ his wakīl. He was also the wakīl of the Nāẓem (governor) of Lahore and Multan during the period of Nāder Shah’s invasion of India (1152/1739). His chronicle, Badāʾeʿ-e waqāʾeʿ (MSS: National Museum, Karachi, N. M. 1957, 982/13; Aligarh Muslim University, ʿAbd al-Salām University Collection, 344/114) is divided into three parts; the first describes Nāder Shah’s invasion of India and includes an eyewitness account of the sack of Delhi; the second is a first-hand report of Moḥammad Shah’s march to Bingarh and expedition against ʿAlī-Moḥammad Khan Rohilla (ed. S. A. ʿAlī, Safar-nāma-ye Moḵleṣ . . . , Rampur, 1946); and the third describes the invasion of India (1161/1748) by Aḥmad Shah ʿAbdālī. The work is one of the few primary sources for the period. Moḵleṣ’s description of events is detached, and is restrained in praising his patrons and censuring their opponents. In an attempt to improve the falling standard of Persian in India, Moḵleṣ also compiled Merʾāt al-eṣṭelāḥ (MSS: Rieu, Pers. Man. III, 997; Cat. Bankipore IX, 810), an alphabetically arranged compendium of contemporary Persian usage based on standard works and conversations with newly arrived Iranians. It explains official terms and procedures, idioms, and proverbs and gives the pay scale of Mughal officials and the privy purses of the nobility. It also provides information on such varied subjects as the glass industry, well-known calligraphers, and the cost of the Peacock Throne. The MS of the book in possession of Sayyed Azhar ʿAlī has a sixteen-page index of its contents in Moḵleṣ’s own handwriting.

Moḵleṣ was one of the best prose writers of his time. Moḥammad Shah commissioned him to draft a letter to the Safavid king (MSS, Cat. Bankipore IX, 892, iii; Ivanov, Cat. ASB. [Curzon], 156) in the ornate and stiff style reminiscent of Abu’l-Fażl ʿAllāmī. But his own style is simple and unaffected. He uses Hindi words in his prose and combines Hindi and Persian nouns with an eżāfa, but discourages beginners from doing so. In poetry he was a pupil of Mīrzā ʿAbd-al-Qāder Bīdel; he was described by Lačmī Narāyan Šafīq (d. not before 1214/1799) as the most eminent of Hindu poets who wrote in Persian. Moḵleṣ’s ḡazals in short meters have a musical flow, but he repeats the old themes, copying Bīdel and Ṣāʾeb; the restricted imagery prevented him from using his vast vocabulary. His Dīvān (Ethé, Cat. Ind. Off., 1707; Rampur, Naḏīr Aḥmad, 194) fails to reflect the political turmoil described in his prose. His reputation among the poets of his time seems to have been mainly due to his good taste, balanced criticism, and patronage of poets.

Moḵleṣ wrote various minor works, including romances and a collection of letters (for titles and MSS, see Storey, I/2, pp. 612-13, 1319-21; Marshall, Mughals in India, pp. 75-76). His Goldasta-ye asrār, a collection of letters which Nāder Shah addressed to the Ṣūba-dār (governor) of Kabul, who in turn sent them to the Mughal Emperor, has been lost.

 

Bibliography:

See also M. Šafīʿ, “Eqtebās az Badāʾeʿ-e waqāʾeʿ,” Oriental College Magazine 18/1, November, 1941, pp. 89-124.

S. A.ʿAlī, Safar-nāma, Persian text with Urdu introduction, Rampur, 1946.

Elliot and Dawson, History of India VIII, pp. 76-98.

(B. Ahmad)

Originally Published: December 15, 1985

Last Updated: August 3, 2011

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