An anecdote of Nawab Asaf-ud-Daula, or what Lakhnaviyat is all about

Nawab Wazir al-Mamalik Muhammad Yahya Mirza Amani Asif-ud-Daulah Khan Bahadur was the fourth nawab of Awadh (January 26, 1775 to September 21, 1797) but the first to leave enduring symbols of his reign. This was due to him not emulating his illustrious forebears –  Mir Muhammad Amin Musawi Saadat Ali Khan Nishapuri Burhan ul-Mulk, who coming to India from Nishapur in Khurasan, entered Mughal service and in the early 1720s was made the subedar of Awadh, eventually making it a family post, his successor and son-in-law, Abul Mansur Mirza Muhammad Muqim Ali Khan Safdarjung, who was not only effective in keeping control of Oudh, but also managed to render valuable assistance to the weakened emperor, Muhammad Shah. He was …. Oops, I guess I am digressing again. This post was supposed to be about Asif-ud-Daula but has suddenly turned into a  history of the Nawab-Wazirs of Awadh. I will return to them later I promise but lets get back to the point.

Ascending to the throne, one of Asif-ud-Daula’s first decisions was to shift his court from Faizabad to Lucknow. Who can blame him, with his illustrious father, Jalal-ud-din Haider Abul Mansur Khan Shuja-ud-Daula’s widow, the Bahu Begum, AND his grandmother ensconced in the city. In Lucknow, the Nawab Sahab spared no effort to make his court the cynosure of all eyes, and well succeeded. Soon “freed” from the cares of securing his realm or further expansion by the “helpful” British, Asif ud-Daula was free to devote all his energies to his pet projects – the most enduring of which is the Asafi Imambara or as known colloquially, the Bara Imambara. I will refrain from speaking about it much as this majestic edifice deserves a post to itself. It is still going strong over 200 years after it was built and in spite of the  depredations it suffered during the terrible summer and autumn of 1857 and even later at the hand of the victor, until even the conqueror acknowledged its grandeur and took steps for its preservation. It and the Rumi Darwaza, built by the Nawab sahab’s trusted minister, Raja Tikait Rai, are part of history and ever since I came to know their importance, I can never shake off that feeling of being in touch with the past, no matter how intangibly when I used to pass by and under the one of these edifices. Khudaya, main phir baaton mein uljah gaya aur mudde se door aa gaya….. Mazrat chahunga, izzat-maab khwatin-o-hazraat.

Nawab Asif-ud-Daulas generosity was legendary and the building of the Imambara was part of it (details in a post on the Imambara coming soon). It was so widespread that the common people coined a slogan….

“Jis ko na de Maula, usko de Asif-ud-Daula” (To whom God does not give, Asif-ud-Daula provides). This is the slogan, that in a few words, encapsulates the life and times of the Nawab. However, it is just the half of the story.

When courtiers brought this to the notice of Asif-ud-Daula, he was not very happy about it. As the guides at his Imambara used to recount, the Nawab was extremely put out at it.

“Aap mujhe mere Maula se upar kaise darja de sakte hain. Yeh ghalat hai. Karta to sab Khuda hai aur insaan to sirf ek zariya hain. Gar kehna hi hai, to kahiye ‘Jis ko de Maula, usi ko de Asif-ud-Daula’ (To whom God gives, to him only Asif-ud-Daula provides),” is what he is supposed to have said.

Unfortunately, this part is not that well known, and I hope I can be successful in redressing the situation and clarifying that he was not so proud that he considered himself capable of outstripping the Almighty’s bounty. As a famous qawaali holds, such pride is not welcome in the eyes of God.

Puch le Shaddad ki woh jannat kya hui
Puch le Numrud ki woh hukumat kya hui
Puch le Qaarun ki woh kaamai kay hui
Puch le Phiraun ki woh Khudai kya hui
Rustam-o-Sohrab ki woh pehlwani kya hui……

I can hear the clamour to explain these mythological references but today (the “wonderful” Dec 1, 2009) I am too dispirited, disillusioned, dejected and tired to comply. Some time later for sure……

As we say in our country, Da Khudae pa aman……

 

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4 responses to this post.

  1. asalam sms me the history and trace of saddat khan father of wilayat khan the wazir to the king of yarkand in 17 and 18 century
    i m the great grand son of saddat khan

    Reply

  2. Posted by shahzad hasan pervaiz on January 8, 2013 at 13:09

    i salute his greatness

    Reply

  3. Posted by lakhinder"mail.com on September 6, 2013 at 09:05

    I HAD HEARD SOME STORIES OF ASAF UD DAULAH AND OF COURSE THE BEGUMS OF AWADH.BUT IT WAS WONDERFUL LISTENING TO THE DETAILS. A VERY NICE BLOG.

    Reply

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