ABJADĪ, poetical name of MĪR MOḤAMMAD ESMĀʿĪL KHAN, 18th century south-Indian poet of Persian and Urdu. His was born in Chingleput in Carnatic Payanghat. His father was a resident of Bijapur and the brother-in-law of the famous historian Ferešta (d. ca. 1033/1624). In Chingleput Abīadī received a traditional education in Arabic and Persian. The French had gained a degree of power in south India, and the British also ventured to encroach upon the emperor Awrangzēb’s territories. Abīadī was employed by Navvāb Vālāǰāh (ʿOmdat-al-molk Moḥammad ʿAlī), governor of Arcot (1163-1210/1749-95), as tutor to his son, Navvāb ʿOmdat-al-omarāʾ (1210-16/1795-1801). Vālāǰāh was the son of the former Arcot governor, Navvāb Anvār-al-dīn Khan Gopamvī, who had been put to death by the French in 1161/1749. Consequently Vālāǰāh allied with the British military forces against the French.

Abīadī composed numerous works, including two maṯnavīs which relate to the events of this period: 1. Anvārnāma (Ethé, Cat. Ind. Off., no. 1716), details the life of Navvāb Anvār-al-dīn Khan and summarizes the events of the following reign. The work, completed in 1174/1760-61, pleased Vālāǰāh, who rewarded Abīadī with 6,700 rupees. While the Anvārnāma was in progress, the French and Reżā ʿAlī Khan, the son of Ḥosayn Dōst Khan, a rival of Vālāǰāh, besieged Chennapatan. Vālāǰāh had to leave Trichinopoly by sea to seek reinforcements from the British. On account of the siege, Abīadī experienced great hardships, and it was only after he left Madras in disguise and returned to Trichinopoly that he was able to finish the Anvārnāma. 2. Moʿaẓẓamnāma (Panjab Univ. Lib., Pakistan, Ms. no. pi vi 289; ed. Bošrā Ḵātūn, Panjab Univ. Lib., Ms. thesis no. pe ii 4), commemorates the battle between Prince Moʿaẓẓam and his younger brother, Prince Aʿẓam. After Awrangzēb’s death (1118/1707), Aʿẓam proclaimed himself sovereign of India at Delhi, while Moʿaẓẓam assumed the crown at Kabul. Both brothers resolved to assert their pretension by force of arms. They fought a bloody battle between Dhaulpur and Agra on 8 June 1707; Aʿẓam and his two grown sons, Bīdārbaḵt and Vālāǰāh, were killed. Thus Moʿaẓẓam, surnamed Qoṭb-al-dīn Shah ʿĀlam, succeeded his father with the title of Bahādor Shah I. In the Moʿaẓẓamnāma Abīadī has given an impassioned account of this battle.

Vālāǰāh awarded him the title malek-al-šoʿarāʾ in 1189/1775-76, and a few years later, in 1192/1778-79, Abīadī died; he was buried in the courtyard of the Mīlāpūr Maḥalla mosque in Madras. His other works, which have survived in scattered manuscripts are: 3. Dīvān-e rēḵta, his Urdu verses (A. Sprenger, A Catalogue of the . . . Manuscripts of the Libraries of the King of Oudh I, Calcutta, 1854, pp. 307-08; Ind. Off., Hindustani Ms. no. 137). 4. Dīvān-e fārsī (Āṣafīya Library, Hyderabad, Persian Ms. no. 482). 5. Toḥfa le-ṣebyān (see Garcin de Tassy, Histoire de la litterature hindouie et hindoustanie, Paris, 1870-71, pp. 98-99). 6. Zobdat al-afkār. 7. Rāḡeb va marḡūb. 8. Haft ǰawhar. 9. Mavaddatnāma. 10. Maǰmūʿa-ye qaṣāʾed. 11. Šarḥ-e toḥfat al-ʿerāqayn.


Storey, I/1, p. 778.

Ethé, Cat. Ind. Off., nos. 501, 2904.

Elliot, History of India VIII, pp. 392-93.

Sri Ram, Ḵomḵāna-ye ǰāvīd, Lahore, 1908, I, pp. 120-21.

Monšī Borhān Khan, Tūzok-e Vālāǰāhī, Ind. Off. Ms. no. 501, fols. 14-17.

Muhammad Husayn Nainar, Tūzok-i Wālāǰāhī of Burhān Ibn Ḥasan, Madras, 1934, pp. xxviii-xxxii.

Moḥammad Ḡolām Ḡawṯ Khan Aʿẓam, Sobḥ-e vaṭan, Madras, 1258/1842, pp. 27-31.

Naṣīr-al-dīn Hāšemī, Madras meñ Ordū, Hyderabad (Deccan), 1938, pp. 29-30.

(M. Baqir)

Originally Published: December 15, 1982

Last Updated: July 15, 2011

This article is available in print.
Vol. I, Fasc. 2, p. 222

Cite this entry:

M. Baqir, “ABJADĪ,” Encyclopædia Iranica, I/2, p. 222; an updated version is available online at http://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/abjadi-18th-century-south-indian-poet-of-persian-and-urdu (accessed on 25 January 2014).