Introduction by Mehr Afshan Farooqi
Ink-blood: The history of Ghalib’s 1821 Dīvān
Mehr Afshan Farooqi
Associate Professor & Director, Undergraduate Programs
Department of Middle Eastern & South Asian Languages & Cultures
University of Virginia
سخن دراصل ہمانا بود سیہ خونے
کہ کاتبش زرگِ کلکِ مشکبار کشد
کشد چہ رنج سخنور کہ نقشہایے بدیع
زبہرآنکہ گذارد بہ یادگار کشد
Poetry in essence is ink-blood,
That the scribe draws with a perfumed reed;
What worries can the poet have, if these unique verses,
Become memorable for those for whom they were written?
Asadullah Khan Ghalib
Ghalib’s readers would have been deprived of almost half his poetry if the handwritten copies of his earlier dīvāns had not been found. The first among these manuscripts was identified in 1918 in Bhopal, some fifty years after Ghalib’s death. This manuscript was completed in 1821 when Ghalib was 24 years old. It is known as the Nuskhah-e Bhopāl (Bhopal Manuscript) or Nuskhah-e Hamīdiyyah (Hamīdiyyah Manuscript).
The Nuskhah-e Hamīdiyyah, technically, is a published version of the manuscript. The provenance of this manuscript is convoluted. There are intricate twists around its journey from Delhi, to Bhopal, in central India. But more important is the debate surrounding the text itself—the corrections, notations in the margins, additions of entire ghazals, plus an assortment of materials in the first few pages preceding the main text, and also at the end of the manuscript. Quite a lot has been written about these issues by scholars who specialize in Ghalib studies. Yet the discourse around the manuscript is not conclusive or complete, because many questions are unresolved. The matter was complicated by the disappearance of the manuscript in the mayhem of Partition or sometime before the sundering of British India. A flawed edition was published in 1921. Subsequent editions have been revisions of the first one, supplemented with notes taken by the scholars who had seen the manuscript before it was gone.
The manuscript had been in the personal library of Faujdar Muhammad Khan, the youngest maternal uncle of Navab Sikandar Jahan Begam, ruler of the state of Bhopal. Begum Sikandar’s 21-year reign (1847-68) was the golden period of Bhopal’s history. She presided over a dynamic, reform-oriented regime. Resisting pressure from her advisors, Sikandar Begum had the foresight to side with the British in the 1857 Revolt. Hearing of Ghalib’s struggles after 1857, she invited the great poet to take up residence at Bhopal. Although Ghalib did not accept the offer to visit Bhopal, it seems that the Begum sent him monetary gifts through her uncle Faujdar Muhammad Khan. Salim Hamid Rizvi, in his history of Bhopal, makes a plausible (though unsubstantiated) claim that Faujdar Muhammad Khan acquired the manuscript from Ghalib on one of these visits:
She [Navab Begam Sikandar] occasionally sent her uncle Miyan Faujdar Muhammad Khan to Ghalib with monetary gifts. The result of these comings and goings was that Ghalib presented Faujdar Muhammad Khan a nuskhah of his original dīvān that had been corrected in his own hand. This nuskhah became the jewel of Faujdar Khan’s library.
Faujdar Muhammad Khan (d.1865) was a learned nobleman, a polymath who specialized in grammar, prosody, logic, Islamic law, mathematics, unani medicine, and geography. He was a scholar of literature who also possessed a deep knowledge of music. He was an avid collector of books. It is not surprising that a nuskhah of Ghalib’s dīvān should be in his library. We know that Faujdar Muhammad Khan was an admirer of Ghalib’s work. Apparently Ghalib and Faujdar Muhammad Khan wrote to one another, but no letters have survived to prove this. Faujdar Muhammad Khan’s son Navab Yār Muhammad Khan Shaukat (1823?-.1913) inherited his father’s love of literature. He showed an interest in writing poetry even as a child. As soon as he was old enough, Faujdar Muhammad Khan took him to Delhi and requested Ghalib to accept him as a pupil. Ghalib was getting on in years. He accepted the special shāgird with the suggestion that he......."
For the complete introduction and full digital scan of the manuscript, obtain your copy of the Nuskha-e-hamidiya by clicking here.
 Public memory can be alarmingly short. It seems that people had already forgotten that there was more to Ghalib’s Urdu Dīvān than the published version. Ghalib himself was dismissive of his early dīvāns after he had published the 1841 dīvān. It is interesting to speculate why this manuscript was noticed only in 1918 and not earlier. Could it be because it had recently been transferred from a private collection to a public one? I am grateful to Richard Cohen for pointing this out to me.
 Although Nuskhah-e Hamīdiyyah (1921) is technically a published version of the 1821 nuskhah, I have used both names interchangeably when referring to it because in common parlance Hamīdiyyah is synonymous with the 1821 manuscript, not the published version.
 Mufti Anvarul Haq, Dīvān-e Ghalib Jadīd al mā’rūf ba Nuskhah-e Hamīdiyyah, Agra, 1921.
 The most reliable edition is the one published by Hamīd Ahmad Khan, Dīvān-e Ghalib, Nuskhah-e Hamīdiyyah, Majlis-e Taraqqī-e Adab, Lahore, 1969.
 Salim Hamid Rizvi: Urdu Adab ki Taraqqi mein Bhopal ka Hissah (The Role of Bhopal in the Development of Urdu); Bhopal, Alavi Press, 1965, P. 70. I find it hard to believe that Ghalib would present Faujdar sahib with his dīvān.
 Muhammad Yusuf Qaisar attests Faujdar Khan’s keen interest in book collection in his essay, Nuskhah-e Hamīdiyyah aur Faujdār Muhammad Khan, Furōgh-e Urdu, Ghalib Nambar, edited Nadim Sitapuri. Cited from, Abdul Qavi Desnavi, Bhopal aur Ghalib, Bhopal: Bhopal Press, 1969, P.16
غالب کے 1821 کے دیوان کی تاریخ