Quest for Non-Available Books of Hadrat Sultan Bahoo (R.A.)
Sahibzada Sultan Ahmad Ali | May 15, 2011
Presently, Hadrat Sultan Bahoo’s one book in the Lonehdi language (origin of Punjabi, Seraiki and Hindko languages) and thirty books in the Persian language are available, whereas, according to popular tradition, he authored around one hundred and forty books. The question arises where those books are or how those have been lost. In the following paragraphs, we would look at this predicament from different angles and try to explore some ways to recover the same.
None of the available manuscripts of any book of Hadrat Sultan Bahoo is over one hundred and fifty years old - what to speak of his own manuscripts or any manuscript written in his period. Hence, all the available manuscripts are closer to our time than to his period. It means that manuscripts of his books are available as the existing scripts, which were at least hundred years old, were copied from the same. It is to be seen where and in which condition are these manuscripts or why these are not available.
1. In the first instance, I hold those disciples and vicegerents of Hadrat Sultan Bahoo responsible who once possessed manuscript(s) of some of his books. Instead of treating the same as “source of guidance”, they kept those with themselves as jealously guarded secrets of national defense. Resultantly, the manuscripts were either eaten away by termite or were lost. Lack of interest or lack of awareness among successors of these vicegerents further complicated the situation as they did not take due care of the manuscripts, leading to their subsequent extinction. There is also a possibility that progeny of the vicegerents still hold some manuscripts but cherish them as relics of their forefathers, depriving people of the opportunity to seek guidance from the same. Here I would like to quote Said Ameer Khan Niazi, a translator and researcher of Hadrat Sultan Bahoo’s books:-
2. “It is a great tragedy that people having invaluable treasure of mysticism, philosophy, literature and wisdom in shape of manuscripts of Hadrat Sultan Bahoo’s writings are keeping the same to themselves as personal property and depriving general public to benefit from the same. As a translator, the greatest difficulty I face is non-availability of manuscripts, rendering me handicapped to do justice to translation by drawing accurate Persian contents through comparison. If the original manuscripts of Hadrat Sultan Bahoo become available, then none other is needed for translation. Unfortunately, not a single manuscript of his own is available as vicegerents, instead of spreading them, hid the same with themselves. I would earnestly request all those holding manuscripts of Hadrat Sultan Bahoo’s writings, not to be stingy (in sharing these with others) as it would be unfair to his teachings.”
3. There is another dimension of the issue. During the period of Hadrat SultanBahoo, landlord families had literary interests and used to have their own private libraries. We (descendants of Hadrat Sultan Bahoo or researchers on his writings) have so far not approached families of those landlords in this regard. For example, the author of “Munaqib e Sultani”, while discussing history of Awans, has cited various reference books of personal library of Nawabs of Kalabagh. It is possible that manuscripts of some books of Hadrat Sultan Bahoo may be available there or with such like people.
4. According to the author of “Munaqib e Sultani” – Sultan Hamid Qadri s/o Sultan Ghulam Bahoo – and the author of Mirat e Sultani – Prof Dr. Sultan Altaf Ali - Hadrat Sultan Bahoo traveled to Iraq, Syria, Arab, Egypt and Kabul. As various philosophers, historians, scholars, scientists and writers authored books during their journeys, Hadrat Sultan Bahoo might have written books during travels. It is a known view that Hadrat Sultan Bahoo got his famous book Aurang Shahi – a book specifically for spiritual guidance of Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb Aalmgir - written by court writers in Delhi Mosque. His books written during journeys might have been left with local people or libraries. If historians authenticate the aforesaid travels of Hadrat Sultan Bahoo, it is quite possible that remnants of manuscripts of his books might be available in these countries.
5. Presently, only those books are available which were copied by vicegerents and disciples living in the parts of the sub-Continent named as Pakistan after partition. His disciples and devotees were also living in the areas now called India. It is quite possible that some manuscripts might have been held by vicegerents and disciples who lived prior to partition in the areas now part of India. As remnants of writings of Hadrat Sultan Bahoo have been found in libraries in Lahore, Sindh and Balochistan, I believe a good number may be waiting for being discovered in large Persian centers of India such as Delhi and Hyderabad.
6. When the Sikhs invaded Killa Garh Mehr-Rajab, and converted it into Garh Maharaja, they desecrated the shrine of Hadrat Sultan Bahoo. According to PhD dissertation of Dr Sultan Altaf Ali, “Ahwal o Aasar e Farsi Sultan Bahoo Nazri dur Afkarwi”, they rendered the shrine “deserted”. It is apprehended that they might have – Allah forbid – set on fire collection of relics and books, kept around the shrine (I have heard about these items from some old devotees). In case of such eventuality, large treasure might have been lost forever and only those books, whose copies were available with some vicegerents, are now available.
7. The British rulers, to render people of occupied colonies intellectually backward, remained involved in shifting literature and other forms of arts of these colonies to Britain. Hence, there are also possibilities that some manuscripts of Hadrat Sultan Bahoo’s writings may be present in any library in UK.
This article first appeared in Mirat-ul-Arifeen Special Edition Part 2