ČANDRA BHĀN (or Čandarbhān) BARAHMAN, Indian poet and writer in Persian (b. Lahore, date unknown, d. Lahore 1073/1662-63; Fārūqī, 1967a, p. 79) of a family of Brahmins (hence his pen name Barahman). His father, Dharam Das, was a government official (Čahār čaman, fol. 99). Barahman was probably the first gifted Hindu poet and writer in Persian, a product of the Indo-Persian culture that flourished under the Mughals. He knew Hindi (Čahārčaman, fols. 177-78) and may have studied Sanskrit. He mastered most of the standard works of Persian language and literature under the tutelage of ʿAbd-al-Ḥakīm Sīālkotī (d. 1068/1657-58), Mīr ʿAbd-al-Karīm (mīr-a ʿemārat “superintendent of buildings” at Lahore), and Jaʿfar Khan (ʿĀšeqī, fol. 90; Šafīq, p. 10; Monšaʾāt-e Barahman, fol. 24b; Čahār čaman, fol. 274). Later authors also quote an Urdu ḡazal of his composition (Śrī Rām, I, p. 575). He studied Persian calligraphy with the governor of Lahore Mollā Šokr-Allāh Afżal Khan (d. 1048/1638-39; Čahār čaman, fol. 299; Monšaʾāt, fol. 30), Āqā ʿAbd-al-Rašīd, and Kefāyat Khan (Haft qalam, p. 55), and his skill was noted by several of his biographers (Ṣāleḥ, III, p. 434; Haft-Qalam, p. 55). Barahman served as secretary to a number of highly placed figures in the time of Šāh-Jahān (1037-68/1628-58): Āṣaf Khan (commander of the royal forces at Lahore), Eslām Khan, ʿAllāmī Saʿd-Allāh Khan (d. 1067/1656), Moʿaẓẓam Khan, ʿEnāyat Khan, and Afżal Khan (Wazīr-al-Molk, d. 1048/1638). Through contact with them his own literary tastes were refined, and he developed a strong affinity for Sufis and saints, who had considerable influence on him (Čahār čaman, fol. 144). After the death of Afżal Khan, his nephew ʿĀqel Khan presented Barahman, along with the other dependents of the deceased, to Šāh-Jahān. The emperor, impressed by Barahman’s deep knowledge of Persian literature and by his calligraphy, appointed him court chronicler and entrusted him with his own personal diary. He even referred to him as “Persian-knowing Hindu” (Čahār čaman, fol. 106). On festive occasions Barahman used to recite his Persian poetry before the emperor, for which he was suitably rewarded (Čahār čaman, fol. 106). After the death of Šāh-Jahān Barahman continued as secretary to Dārā-Šokūh (q.v.; d. 1069/1659; ʿAšeqī, fol. 90).
The following works by Barahman are mentioned in his Monšaʾāt; only a few of them are extant.
1. A dīvān containing 342 ḡazals, 36 quatrains (robāʿīs), and some brief didactic maṯnawīs in Persian (Fārūqī, 1967b).
2. Čahār čaman (Four meadows), a historical composition (enšāʾ) written shortly after 1057/1647 (Rieu, p. 838), in four sections: a description of various festivals at Šāh-Jahān’s court, including poems recited by the author on such occasions; an account of the daily affairs of the court, the qualities of the emperor, and the splendor of his court and his new capital, Šāh-Jahānābād; a brief autobiography with some of the author’s letters; and a group of mystical and didactic writings.
3. Goldasta-ye Čahār čaman, extracts from Čahārčaman. 4. Toḥfat al-wozarāʾ (Gems of the viziers). 5. Kār-nāma (Chronicle). 6. Toḥfat al foṣaḥāʾ (Gems of literary language). 7. Majmaʿ al-foqarāʾ (Collection of Sufi writings).
8. Monšaʾāt (Letters), a collection of 128 letters divided into five sections, according to whether they are addressed to kings, statesmen, friends, and the like, all with brief forms of address, in contrast to the normal practice of the time.
9. Roqqaʿāt (Fragments).
10. Mokālamāt-e Dārā-Šokūh wa Bābā Lāl, the Persian translation of a mystical discourse between Dārā-Šokūh and Bābā Lāl, a Hindu ascetic, that took place at Barahman’s residence (Dārā-Šokūh, p. 24).
Barahman’s surviving ḡazals usually consist of no more than five or six distichs, characterized by graceful diction, clarity, precision, and unity (Ṣāleḥ, III, p. 423; Sarḵᵛoš, p. 18; ʿAbd-Allāh, p. 81; Ṣafā, p. 1236). Even Ṣāʾeb Tabrīzī Eṣfahānī (d. 1088/1677), a celebrated poet and contemporary of Barahman, included some of his verses in his anthology (ʿAbd-Allāh, p. 82). But his literary reputation owes less to his poetry than to his prose, which is distinguished by a uniquely simple and graceful style. His well-knit sentences, his spare but elegant choice of words, and his use of homely similes and metaphors all reveal Barahman as a writer of great gifts. It was these qualities that led Mollā Monīr of Lahore (d. 1055/1645-46), himself a celebrated stylist, to honor Barahman with the epithets master (soḥbān) and ornament (ḥassān) of his age and to designate him the poet laureate of Šāh-Jahān’s period (Šafīq, p. 91).
S. ʿAbd-Allāh, Adabīyāt-e fārsī m e Hindūõ ka ḥeṣṣa (The share of the Hindus in Persian literature), Delhi, 1942, pp. 69-72, 79-83.
S. A. H. Abidi, “Chandra Bhān Brahman—His Life and Works,” Islamic Culture (Hyderabad) 11, 1966, pp. 79-95.
Āqā Ḥosaynqolī Khan ʿĀšeqī ʿAẓīmābādī, Neštar-e ʿešq, Khudabakhsh Library, Bankipur, Patna, ms. 716, fol. 90. Čandra Bhān Barahman, Čahār čaman, National Museum, New Delhi, Tonk Collection, ms. 3340, fols. 99, 106, 144, 177.
Idem, Monšaʾāt, photostat in Reza Library, Rampur, fol. 24b. Idem, Mokālamāt-e Dārā-Šokūh wa Bābā Lāl, Delhi, 1885.
Moḥammad Dārā-Šokūh, Majmaʿ al-baḥrayn. Montaḵabāt, ed. M.-R. Jalālī Nāʾīnī, Tehran, 1335 Š./1956, p. 24.
M.-ʿA. Fārūqī, Chandra Bhān Brahman. Life and Works, Gujarat, 1967a, p. 79. Idem, ed., Dīvān-e Barahman, Gujarat, 1967b.
Ghulām-Mohammad Dihlavi, The Tadhkira-i-Khushnavīsān, Bib. Ind. 127, ed. M. Hidayat Husain, Calcutta, 1328/1910, p. 55.
Šīr-ʿAlī Khan Lōdī, Merʾāt al-ḵayāl, Bareilly, U.P., 1848, p. 139.
Marshall, Mughals in India, pp. 120-21.
Rieu, Manuscripts I, p. 397b; II, p. 838b; III, p. 1087a.
Ṣafā, Adabīyāt V/2, pp. 1236-41.
Lačhmī Nārāyan Šafīq Awrangābādī, Gol-e raʿnā, ed. N. A. Faruqi, Delhi, 1962, p. 91.
Moḥammad Ṣāleḥ Kānbo Lāhūrī, ʿAmal-e Ṣāleḥ, Calcutta, 1960, p. 423.
M. A. Sarḵᵛoš, Kalemāt al-šoʿarāʾ, ed. D. Ṣādeq-ʿAlī, Lahore, 1942, p. 18.
L. D. Śrī Rām, Ḵom-ḵāna-ye jāvīd I, Delhi, 1911, p. 575.
Storey, I, pp. 571-72, 1316-17.
(Sharif Husain Qāsemī)
Originally Published: December 15, 1990
Last Updated: December 15, 1990
This article is available in print.
Vol. IV, Fasc. 7, pp. 755-756