THE Khaẓāin’ul Fuṭūḥ of Amīr Khusrau has often been referred to by the later historians of India. Sir Syed Aḥmad Khān has quoted it in the second volume of his Āsār-us-Sanādid and even Sir Henry Elliot has noticed it in the third volume of his History of India as told by her own Historians. But I doubt if in the six hundred years that have elapsed since its author’s death any one has cared to study the work with the care it deserves. Khusrau’s immortal reputation as the greatest of Indo-Persian poets, was founded essentially on his depth of feeling, his lyric gift and his supremely attractive personality. Scholar, mystic, philosopher, poet, soldier and politician, few people have been able to bring such diverse attributes together. It was the same with his poetry. He composed verses in Arabic, Hindi and Persian; and in the Persian language, to which the mass of his work belongs, he tried his hands at every kind of verse and every form of metre. He was a musician also, and in one of the lines quoted by Daulaṭ Shāh in his Tazkiratu’sh Shu’arā, Khusrau claims that his musical compositions, ‘if they could be written’, would be as voluminous as his verses. Many poets of equal eminence have lived in obscurity and want; but Khusrau was born to fame and had no difficulty in obtaining recognition from his contemporaries. Ziāuddīn Barnī, the historian, who knew Khusrau well, declared him to be ‘the greatest of all poets, ancient and modern; for whereas other poets had excelled in one or two forms of verse—the qitā’, the qasidā, the ghazal, the ruba’ī, or the masnavīKhusrau was pre-eminent in all. Khusrau’s career was, moreover, as sustained as it was successful. He began his life as a courtier of Malik Chajju Yaghrish Khan, nephew of Sulṭān Ghiāsuddīn Balban. Jalāluddin Khiljī appointed him an officer of the empire, Mash’afdar (Quran keeper) and courtier—in fact, poet laureate—on his accession in 1290; and in spite of all revolutions and dynastic changes, Khusrau held this office till his death in 1325 A.D.

Khusrau’s prolific works include four Ḍiwāns, five metrical romances, five historical romances and two prose works. Two other small books are also attributed to him—the Khāliq Bārī, a versified Hindi-Persian vocabulary, and a brief summary of the conversations of Shaikh Nizāmuddin Auliā in simple and lucid prose. No Indo-Muslim writer has done more to provide livelihood for the poor copyists (kātibs) of the middle ages; voluminous though his works are, posterity has preserved them with sedulous care; and apart from the Khāliq Bārī and the Tughlaq Nama (which Khusrau did not live to revise and complete), they have survived in fairly good condition. Along with the rest, the Khaẓāin’ul Fuṭūḥ has also been transcribed and retranscribed, though its form and contents were both calculated to drive away the ‘gentle reader’ who did not bring to his task a grave sense of duty and an irrepressible desire to unearth all historic facts, regardless of the time and labour the search might entail. Its manuscripts are not scarce, and as the text would have lost its value in the hands of a careless copyist, due care seems to have been always taken in transcribing it. The real difficulties of the Persian language apart, there are hardly three or four places where it is not possible to put the text right.

The present translation based on the Yule manuscript in the British Museum, was begun and completed by me in the year 1920-21, when, along with my friends, Mr. Abdur Rahman Siddiqi and Mr. Shuaib Qureshi, I was working as a research student under the supervision of Dr. D. S. Margoliouth at Oxford. The Yule manuscript is obviously a modern work and belongs to the early eighteenth century, but a note at the end of the text declares that ‘the original from which this manuscript has been copied was written eleven years after Amīr Khusrau’s death.’ On my return to India, my friend Mr. Hasan Barnī (Advocate, Bulandshahr) placed at my disposal a modern copy of the work which he had got transcribed for himself. I revised the translation with the help of my senior pupils, Mr. S. A. Rashid, Mr. Moinul Haq and Mr. Sultan Hameed. We did not find any substantial difference between the two manuscripts.

The difficulty of translating a book of ornate Persian like the Khaẓāin’ul Fuṭūḥ can only be appreciated by those who have under­taken similar work. As I look back at the wearisome days and sleepless nights the prosecution of this work has entailed, I cannot help being grateful for the kind and ungrudging help of my revered teacher, Dr. D. S. Margoliouth. Many passages of the translation have been revised by him, and, though the responsibility for the defects is entirely mine, the completion of the task would not have been possible without his guidance and advice. It has been my privilege to sit at the feet of such a master.

In dividing the work into chapters and paragraphs, I have, so far as possible, followed Khusrau’s own lead. In the manuscript the paragraphs and chapter headings, mostly in verse, are written in red ink. Most paragraphs have also been given a verse-heading to tell the reader what allusion and similes he is to look for; I have trans­ferred these verse-headings to the footnotes. Translation of Persian verses has throughout been put in italics.

I have tried to make the translation as accurate as possible and in the attempt to be accurate, I have tried to be as literal as the different forms and traditions of the English and the Persian languages permit. But a literal translation sometimes gives to the English reader an impression which the author never intends, and in such cases I have considered it my duty to translate the ideas of the author rather than his words. It must also be confessed that a number of Khusrau’s verbal tricks or ‘miracles’, puns on words and letters, and scholastic allusions, are absolutely untranslatable, and no good purpose would have been served by a very clumsy translation buttressed by wearisome and uninteresting footnotes. Some of these ‘miracles’ have perforce been omitted, while I have attempted to translate the rest in such manner as was possible. One of the good points of Khusrau’s work is the plentiful dates it contains. In the Persian text, the date is first embodied in a chronogram and is then explained in a simple verse which gives the day, month and year. I have omitted the chronogram and merely translated the date.

I am grateful to Dr. S. Krishnaswami Aiyangar for his scholarly introduction on the historical aspects of the work. The literary character of the Khaẓāin’ul Fuṭūḥ was examined by me in the Introduction to my friend, Mr. Moinul Haq’s edition of the Persian text. It is transcribed here for the reader of the English translation:—

‘Poetry was Amīr Khusrau’s mother-tongue; prose he wrote with difficulty and effort and he would have been well advised to leave that region of literature to more pedestrian intellects. But it was not to be expected that such a consideration would serve to check his exuberant genius. Apart from the introductions to his Ḍiwāns, two of his prose-works, differing in volume and value, have survived. The first, I’jāz-i-Khusravi (Miracles of Khusrau) is a long work in five volumes on figures of speech.* It contains every variety of miracle known to the penmen of the age—petitions to high officers composed of vowels only, verses which are Persian if read from right to left, and Arabic if read from left to right, compositions from which all letters with dots are excluded, and many such artificialities of wit and style which may have delighted and consoled the author’s con­temporaries, but fail to attract our modern taste. Some of the letters included in the volumes have a solid historical value. An application to a government officer requesting for a post or complaining against the misbehaviour of neighbours was sure to attract attention if drafted by Khusrau; and the poet was too inventive not to have a new ‘miracle’ ready for every occasion. It is easy to understand that supplicants flocked to his door.* He seems also to have beguiled his leisure hours in discovering new literary tricks and often sent them as presents to his friends. The I’jāz-i-Khusravi is the accumulated mass of these miraculous prose compositions which Amīr Khusrau had been amassing for years and edited in the later part of Alāuddīn’s reign. Most of the pieces are tiresome and frivolous, but others throw a brilliant light on the social life of the day. Amīr Khusrau’s second prose-work, the Khaẓāin’ul Fuṭūḥ is the official history of Alāuddīn’s campaigns.

‘Amīr Khusrau was a man of wit and humour. His fancies are often brilliant. Nevertheless nothing but a stern sense of duty will induce a modern reader to go through Khusrau’s prose-works in the original. His style is artificial in the extreme; the similes and metaphors are sometimes too puerile for a school-boy; at other places the connecting link between the ideas (if present at all) is hard to discover. Prose is the natural speech of man for ordinary occasions, but Amīr Khusrau’s ideas seem to have come to him in a versified form. So while his poetry has all the beauties of an excellent prose, his prose has all the artificiality of very bad verse; it is jejune, insipid, tasteless and wearisome.

‘Failing to realise that the true beauty of prose lies in its being simple, direct and effective, he tries to surprise his readers by a new trick at every turn, attacks him with words the meaning of which he is not likely to know, or offers him metaphors and similes calculated to shock and disgust. His one desire is to convince the reader of his own mental power and in this, so far as contemporaries were concerned, he certainly succeeded. But Amīr Khusrau, for all his artistic talents, never comprehended that a book of prose, like a volume of verse, should be a thing of beauty and of joy.

‘The Khaẓāin’ul Fuṭūḥ very well illustrates the general character of Khusrau’s prose. It is divided into small paragraphs; every paragraph has a heading informing the reader what allusions he is going to find in the next few lines. A single example will suffice. “Allusions to water. If the stream of my life was given the good news of eternal existence, even then I would not offer the thirsty and drink except the praises of the Second Alexander.* But as I find that human life is such that in the end we have to wash our hands off it, the fountain of words will only enable the reader to moisten his lips. Since the achievement of my life-time, from the cradle to the grave, cannot be more than this, I did not think it proper to plunge to the bottom of endless oceans, but have contented myself with a small quantity of the water of life.” And so it goes on, wearisome and artificial, from beginning to end.

‘It is obvious that such a procedure detracted much from the value of an historical work. Only such facts could be stated as permitted Khusrau to bring in the allusion; the rest could be only partially stated or had to be suppressed; Khusrau’s only resource was to make his paragraphs as small as possible, otherwise his prose would have marched along routes quite different from those selected by Alāuddīn’s generals. The reader, who wishes to discover the true historical fact, has first to analyse Khusrau’s literary tricks and critically separate the element of fact from the colouring imparted to it by Khusrau in order to bring in the allusions. At times the literary tricks induces us to ignore the fact at the bottom. “Allusion to virtue and vice—Though the giving of water (to the thirsty) is one of the most notable virtues of this (pure-minded) Emperor, yet he has removed wine and all its accompaniments from vicious assemblies; for wine the daughter of grape and the sister of sugar, is the mother of all wickedness. And wine on her part, has washed herself with salt and sworn that she will henceforth remain in the form of vinegar, freeing herself from all evils out of regard for the claims of salt.”*

‘This would have appeared a mere literary flourish if we had not been definitely told by Ziāuddin Bārni, that Alāuddīn carried through a series of harsh measures for the suppression of drinking in Delhi. Conversely, the allusion may have no basis of fact at all. “Allusions to sea and rain—The sword of the righteous monarch completely conquered the province (Gujrat). Much blood was shed. A general invitation was issued to all the beasts and birds of the forest to a continuous feast of meat and drink. In the marriage banquet, at which the Hindus were sacrificed, animals of all kinds ate them to their satisfaction.” This would seem to indicate a general and intentional massacre. But there was no such massacre, and Khusrau himself goes on to assure us: “My object in this simile is not real blood but (only to show) that the sword of Islam purified the land as the sun purifies the earth.” The Khaẓāin’ul Fuṭūḥ has to be interpreted with care, and in the light of other contemporary material, it would be dangerous and misleading to accept Khusrau’s accounts at their face value. Still the labour of interpretation is well repaid by the new facts we discover.