BHANDĀRĪ, SOJĀN RĀY, putative author of Ḵolāṣat al-tawārīḵ, a general history of India written in Persian during the reign of Awrangzēb, with special emphasis on the rulers of Delhi. The author’s name has been determined from colophons in various manuscripts of the work, which are not always in agreement
(for varying readings of the different parts of the name, see Morley, Catalogue RAS, p. 69; Browne, p. 158; Elliot, History of India VIII, p. 5; Ašraf-al-Ḥaqq, no. 201; Kamāl-al-Dīn and ʿAbd-al-Moqtader, p. 74;
Semyonov, no. 248; Ethé, Cat. India Office Library, nos. 362, 363; Ẓ. Ḥasan, p. v; Rieu, Persian Manuscripts I, p. 230, III, p. 908; Ethé, 1889, I, no. 246; Storey, I, p. 454). Sojān is now generally accepted as his first name because it is a common Hindu name and belongs to at least three men mentioned in Ḵolāṣat al-tawārīḵ (pp. 67, 496, 497).
According to the text (pp. 6, 66-71), Bhandārī was born in Batālā in the Panjab (not Patiala, as in Rieu, Persian Manuscripts I, p. 230) and served from his youth as monšī “secretary” in Awrangzēb’s administration. Elliott (History of India VIII, p. 7) claimed that, aside from the use of Vekramī dates, nothing in Ḵolāṣat al-tawārīḵ suggests that its author was a Hindu. Instead of the normal Muslim pious phrases (the ḥamd and naʿt), however, the work begins with a discourse on the variety of religions, all of which the author considers divine; he provides a particularly detailed description of Hindu religion and myth, and his account of the beginning of the Muslim period is tinged with bitterness. These details suggest that he was indeed a Hindu.
Bhandārī claims to have completed Ḵolāṣat al-tawārīḵ in 1107/1695-96 (p. 8), though he seems to have continued it to 1111/1699-1700 (pp. 34, 65; see Ansari, p. 476). The work is in four sections, dealing respectively with Indian flora and fauna, the Hindu sciences, and Hindu mystics; the geography and revenues of the eighteen Mughal provinces (including Kabul); the history of India up to the overthrow of Rāy Pethaurā (Prithavī Rāj) by Šehāb-al-Dīn Ḡūrī in 588/1192; and the history of Muslim rulers in India from Soboktegīn to the accession of Awrangzēb ʿĀlamgīr in 1068/1658. In some manuscripts the text ends with the royal army’s pursuit of Awrangzēb’s elder brother Dārā Šokūh, whereas others also record the main events of the emperor’s reign (Ivanow, I, p. 56; Ethé, Cat. India Office Library, nos. 362, 364). In addition, two later supplements (żamīma) are known: one by Jay Kešan Dās Mehrā covering Awrangzēb’s reign, the other by an anonymous author continuing the history to 1158/1745 (ʿAbd-Allāh, p. 66; Storey, I, p. 455).
Scholars have differed on the historical value of Ḵolāṣat al-tawārīḵ. Some claim that it is simply a copy of a work called Moḵtaṣar or of information in Tārīḵ-eFerešta (Morley, Catalogue RAS, p. 70; Elliot, History of India VIII, pp. 5-12). Charles Rieu (Persian Manuscripts I, p. 231), however, argues that both Ḵolāṣat al-tawārīḵ and Moḵtaṣar were written by the same person. Bhandārī himself declares that his intention was to prepare a short work (moḵtaṣar) containing a summary (ḵolāṣa) of twenty-seven general historical works, as well as several local histories. His Persian-language sources include Tārīḵ-e Solṭān Maḥmūd Ḡaznavī by the Ghaznavid court poet ʿOnṣorī, but there is no mention of Tārīḵ-eFerešta.
Bhandārī’s accounts of most reigns are cursory. Exceptions are those of Maḥmūd (pp. 165-83) and Jahāngīr (pp. 441-83); fifty pages are also devoted to the wars of succession between Awrangzēb and his brothers Morād Baḵš, Moḥammad Šojāʿ, and Dārā Šokūh. The accounts of the Hindu rajas of Delhi have been extracted and published, with serious omissions and additions, in an Urdu edition entitled Ārāyeš-e maḥfel by Šēr-ʿAlī Afsōs (Calcutta, 1220/1805).
Two other works of uncertain authorship have been attributed to Bhandārī. The first, Ḵolāṣat al-makātīb, outlines a model course of study for a monšī: It should begin with the works of Saʿdī and include Enšāʾ-e Yūsofī and Enšāʾ-e Abu’l-Fażl and the works of other famous Persian poets, as well as calligraphy and arithmetic. The work also contains much information on various writing materials and their sources. The attribution to Bhandārī is based on a similarity of phrasing used to characterize those whom be served (ṣāḥebān-e dawlat-e eqbāl wa nāẓemān-e molk-e māl, p. 3; cf. nāẓemān-e omūr-e mamlaka-ye māl wa ṣāḥebān-e kārgāh-e dawlat-e eqbāl in Ḵolāṣat al-tawārīḵ, p. 6).
Ḵolāṣat al-sīāq, a work on arithmetic and accounting completed in 1115/1703-04, has been attributed to him because of a comparable expression (nāẓemān-e molk-e māl, fol. 2). According to this text, accounts were kept in Hindi until the reign of Akbar, when the courtier Tōdar Mal changed to Persian in 991/1583. As a result, Fayżī translated the Hindi accounting text Līlāwatī into Persian, and several Iranian officials became skilled accountants (e.g., Badal Khan of Mašhad, Ḵᵛāja Shah Manṣūr of Šīrāz, Ḵᵛāja ʿAṭā Beg Rūmī, and Ḵᵛāja Neẓām-al-Dīn Baḵšī). Nevertheless, native Hindus continued to serve in this capacity; in the Panjab and Moltān the Khatrī Hindu accountants even received the title ḵᵛāja normally reserved to Muslim monšīs (Ansari, pp. 403-05; Rieu, Persian Manuscripts II, p. 799).
ʿAbd-Allāh, Adabīyāt-e fārsī mēn hinduōn kā ḥeṣṣa, Delhi, 1942, p. 66.
N. Ansari, Fārsī adab be ʿahd-e Awrangzīb (in Urdu), Delhi, 1969, pp. 401-05, 474-78.
Ašraf al-Ḥaqq, A Descriptive Catalogue of the Arabic and Persian Mss. in the Edinburgh University Library, Hertford, 1925, no. 201.
S. J. Bhandārī, Ḵolāṣat al-tawārīḵ, ed. Ẓ. Ḥasan, Delhi, 1918.
E. G. Browne, A Catalogue of the Persian Manuscripts in the Library of the University of Cambridge, Cambridge, 1896.
H. Ethé, Catalogue of the Persian, Turkish, Hindustani and Pushtu Manuscripts in the Bodleian Library, pt. 1, Oxford, 1889, no. 246.
W. Ivanow, Concise Descriptive Catalogue of the Persian Manuscripts in the Collection of the Asiatic Society of Bengal, Calcutta, 1924, I, p. 56.
Kamāl-al Dīn and ʿAbd-al-Moqtader, Catalogue of the Arabic and Persian Mss. in the Library of the Calcutta Madrasa, Calcutta, 1905, p. 74.
S. N. Khan, Maʾāṯer al-omarāʾ, Calcutta, 1888, I, p. 4.
Ḵolāṣat al-makātīb, National Museum, New Delhi, mss. 3261, 3258. Ḵolāṣat al-sīāq (ms.), Aligarh Muslim University. N. Lees, JRAS, N.S. 3, 1867.
W. H. Morley, Oriental College Magazine (Lahore), 10/4, 1934, pp. 66-67.
A. A. Semyonov, A Catalogue of Persian Mss. in the Academy of Sciences of Uzbekistan, Tashkent, 1952, no. 248.
(N. H. Ansari)
Originally Published: December 15, 1989
Last Updated: December 15, 1989
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Vol. IV, Fasc. 2, pp. 193-194