ḠOLĀM-ḤOSAYN KHAN ṬABĀṬABĀʾI, Sayyed, secretary (monši) by profession, political intermediary, and author of a popular history of India called Siar al-motaʾaḵḵerin (b. Shahjahanabad, i.e. Delhi, 1140 /1727-28, d. after 1195/1781). His father, Naṣīr-al-Dawla Hedāyat-ʿAlī Khan Bahādor Asʿad Jang (d. 3 Jomada II 1179/13 November 1765; Siar al-motaʾaḵḵerin, 1866, II, pp. 522, 613), had served in several official positions, including as deputy governor (nāyeb ṣuba) of ʿAẓimābād (the present-day Patna). His forefathers had come from Mašhad to Delhi and settled in the suburb of Shahjahanabad. His father was a descendant of Sayyed Ebrāhim Ṭabāṭabā, whose lineage was traced back to Imam Ḥasan b. ʿAli b. Abi Ṭāleb, and his mother’s lineage reached Aḥmad b. Musā al-Kāẓem, known as Šāh-e Čerāḡ. Ḡolām-Ḥosayn faithfully served the local notables of Bengal and Bihar as well as the British rulers of India. He was in charge of the financial affairs of Čonār fortress, to which he had been assigned by its governor, General Thomas Goddard (d. 1783). Later, he went to Lucknow in the retinue of Goddard, who had been appointed the commander of Ā ṣaf-al-Dawla’s army there. He remained in the service of Goddard for fourteen months before returning to ʿAẓimābād. He also declined an offer by Goddard to accompany him as chief secretary (mir monši) and envoy to the Maratha generals. In 1181/1767, he met the Persian poet and author Moḥammad-ʿAli Ḥazin in Benares, whom he praised profusely (Siar al-motaʾaḵḵerin, 1866, II, pp. 615, 776).
Ḡolām-Ḥosayn is best remembered for his Siar al-motaʾaḵḵerin, which is a history of India in three volumes. The first volume, called the Introduction (Moqaddema), is a general history of ancient India to the accession of Awrangzēb, the natural and geographical topography of the sub-continent, its various provinces (ṣuba) copied from Abu’l-Fażl ʿAllāmi’s Āʾin-e akbari, and the biographies of the religious leaders of India. It was apparently added after the original two volumes were finished, and was dedicated to Warren Hastings, the governor general of India. According to Charles Ambrose Storey, this volume “is little more than a transcript of the Ḵolāṣat al-tawārikò” by Sujān Rāy Bhandāri (I, p. 455, n. 1, cf. p. 636). The second volume is devoted to events in India following the death of Awrangzēb on 28 Ḏu’l-qaʿda 1118/3 March 1707 up to Nāder Shah’s departure from India in 1152/1739. The third volume covers the events of the years 1153-95 /1740-81. The book also contains an epilogue (ḵātema) giving the account of Awrangzēb’s capture of Bijapur and Golconda in 1098/1687, with comments on his character and style of government. This part is added to the Moqaddema in the published version (1866). The last two volumes are devoted mainly to events in Bengal and ʿAẓimābād and the deeds of the British. They were translated into English (Calcutta, 1789) under the pseudonym Nota Manus by Ḥāji Moṣṭafā, a French convert to Islam, who had formerly been known by the name Raymond. There exist also partial translations in English and Urdu, as well as an abridged Persian version by ʿAbd-al-Karim Monši called Molaḵḵaṣ al-tawāriḵ or Zobdat al-tawāriḵ (Storey, I, pp. 638-39; Monzawi, Nosḵahā, p. 4660; idem, Fehrestvāra, II, 1273-74; Marshall, Mughals in India, pp. 157-58; Elliot and Dowson, pp. 194-98). Ḡolām-Ḥosayn Khan is also the author of the versified Bešārat al-emāma, a maṯnawi elaborating on the miraculous deeds and spiritual states of the author’s ancestors Sayyed Fayż-Allāh Ṭabāṭabā and Sayyed ʿAlim-Allāh Ṭabāṭabā (Siar al-motaʾaḵḵerin II, pp. 523, 613; MS Patna, Ḵodābaḵš Library 1991). The rest of Ḡolām-Ḥosayn’s works are: a commentary on Mir Ḥosayn Meybodi’s Aḥādiṯ-e fawāteḥ (Šarḥ-e Aḥādiṯ-e fawāteḥ), in praise of the excellent virtues (fażāʾel) of Imam ʿAli b. Abi Ṭāleb (MS Patna, Ḵodābaḵš Library 1319), and a commentary on the Maṯnawi of Jalāl-al-Din Moḥammad Balḵi Rumi. He may also be the author of Šaraf-nāma (comp. 1221/1806; MS Hyderabad, State Central [former Āṣafiya] Library, no. 1314), a prose redaction in two volumes of Neẓāmi Ganjavi’s Eskandar-nāma, by Ḡolām-Ḥosayn Khan Monši, a scribe in the secretariat of the East India Company (Storey, I, p. 635; Monzawi, Nosḵahā V, p. 3727). If this Šaraf-nāma is in fact a work by Ḡolām-Ḥosayn Ṭabāṭabāʾi, he must thus have lived at least until 1221/1806-7 (Storey, I, p. 634). Ḡolām-Ḥosayn is also credited with an Arabic exegesis (tafsir) and a collection of poetry (divān-e ašʿār; Storey, I, p. 635).
A. S. Bazmi Ansari, “Ghulām Ḥusayn Khān Ṭabāṭabāʾī” in EI2 II, pp. 1091-92.
Henry Miers Elliot and John Dowson, The History of India as Told by Its Historians VIII, Lahore, 1976.
Ḡolām-Ḥosayn Ṭabāṭabāʾi Monši, Siar al-Motaʾakḵerin, ed. Ḥakim ʿAbd-al-Majid, Calcutta, 1248-52 /1833-36; lithograph edition, 3 vols., Lucknow, 1866 and 1897; tr. Nota Manus (i.e., Ḥāji Moṣṭafā) as A Translation of Sëir al-Mutaqherin or View of Modern Times, 4 vols., Calcutta, 1789, repr., 1926; partial tr. John Briggs as TheSiyar-ul-mutakherin, London, 1832 (an amended version of the first part of Ḥāji Moṣṭafā’s translation); Urdu tr. by S. Baḵšeš-ʿAli Fayżābādi as Eqbāl-nāma, Delhi, n.d., and by Gōkol Prasād as Merʾāt al-salāṭin, Lucknow, 1874.
Aḥmad Monzawi, Fehrestvāra-ye ketābhā-ye fārsi, 3 vols., Tehran, 1374-76 Š./1995-97, II, pp. 1279-80.
Rieu, Persian Manuscripts I, pp. 280-81.
Storey, I, pp. 625-40.
Originally Published: December 15, 2001
Last Updated: February 9, 2012
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Vol. XI, Fasc. 1, pp. 60-61