AẒFARĪ GŪRGĀNĪ, MOḤAMMAD ẒAHĪR-AL-DĪN MĪRZĀ ʿALĪ BAḴT, B. SOLṬĀN MOḤAMMAD-WALĪ (Walīy) also called MĪRZĀ-YE KALĀN, Indo-Persian poet and lexicographer. He was of royal descent, born 1172/1758 in the Red Fort at Delhi, where he was brought up and educated. He escaped from the Fort on 3 Rabīʿ I 1203/2 December 1788 and reached Lucknow, where he was warmly received by Āṣaf-al-dawla, the ruler of Avadh. Aẓfarī stayed in Lucknow for about seven years, and his family joined him there. He received allowances from Āṣaf-al-dawla as well as from the East Indian Company. At the end of 1211/1797 Aẓfarī moved from Lucknow to Maqṣūdābād (now Murshidabad) and later on (23 Ḏu’l-qaʿda 1212/9 May 1798) to Madras, ʿOmdat-al-omarāʾ. He died there in 1234/1818 at the age of sixty.
Aẓfarī was fluent in Arabic, Persian, Turkish, and Urdu, and during his stay in Madras he also learned a little English. He had mastered nearly all the sciences of the day, namely medicine, astrology, prosody, geomancy, and metrics, but he was primarily a poet and lexicographer. In addition to an Urdu dīvān, he left behind large collections (mostly lost) of Persian and Turkish poetry.
In 1211/1797, he began to write his memoirs, Wāqeʿāt-e Aẓfarī which are an account in Persian of the overthrow of the Mughals in 1788 by Ḡolām Qāder Rohella, the author’s escape from captivity, and his wanderings until 1221/1806. In the Ḵātema, Aẓfarī mentions his other works: (1) Loḡat-e torkī-e čaḡatāʾī (or Farhang-e Aẓfarī), a Turkish-Persian and Persian-Turkish dictionary; (2) Marḡūb al-foʾād, an enlarged Persian translation of Mīr ʿAlī-Šīr Navāʾī’s Maḥbūb al-qolūb, completed in 1208/1793; (3) Neṣāb al-torkī, a Turkish textbook; (4) Tengrī Tārī, a Turkish-Hindi imitation of the Ḵāleq Bārī, ascribed to Amīr Ḵosrow; (5) Resāla-ye qabrīya (or ʿAlāmāt al-qażāyā), a Persian metrical translation of a treatise on the signs of approaching death ascribed to Hippocrates; (6) Nosḵa-ye sāneḥāt, a parenetic work comprising 119 anecdotes; (7) a second Čaḡatāy Neṣāb in 452 verses; (8) Fawāʾed al-aṭfāl, on medicine; (9) Fawāʾed al-mobtadī, on verbs; (10) Mīzān-e torkī, a Turkish grammar; (11) ʿArūż-zāda, a versified Turkish treatise on prosody, composed in 1198/1783 and based on Bādor’s ʿArūż resāla sī; (12) Dīvān-e ḡazalīyāt-e Ordū (lost); (13) Dīvān-e Ordū; and (14) Dīvān-e fārsī o torkī o rēḵta.
EI2 I, p. 813.
Storey, I/1, pp. 642-43, 1322.
Moḥammad Ḡawṯ Khan, Ṣobḥ-e waṭan, Madras, 1258/1842.
Idem, Golzār-e aʿẓam, Madras, 1272/1855.
Garcin de Tassy, Histoire de la littérature Hindouie et Hindoustani, Paris, 1870, I, p. 265.
H. M. Elliott and H. Dowson, History of India as Told by its Own Historians, Delhi, 1964, VIII, p. 234.
A. Sprenger, Oudh Catalogue, Calcutta, 1854, p. 2.
S. ʿAbd-al-Raḥmān, Bazm-e tīmūrīya, Azamgarh, 1948, pp. 426-27.
Srī Rām Dehlavī, Ḵomḵāna-ye jāvīd, Lahore, 1908, I, p. 331.
Moḥammad-Karīm, Sawāneḥāt-e momtāz, Central Library Hyderabad (Dn.), MS., fols. 332-37.
The Urdū, Delhi, April, 1940, pp. 171-221.
ʿA. Orūj, Taḏkera-ye fārsīgū šoʿarā-ye ordū, Lahore, 1971, pp. 121-22.
Marshall, Mughals in India, p. 95.
Originally Published: December 15, 1988
Last Updated: August 18, 2011
This article is available in print.
Vol. III, Fasc. 3, pp. 257-258