Amir Khusrau


    Amir Khusrau collected his own poems at various stages in his life with extended prefaces: Tuhfat- us- Sighar (Gift of Youth) 1273 A.D.; Wasat-ul-Hayat (Middle of Life) 1284AD; Ghurrat-ul-Kamal (Prime of Perfection) 1294 A.D.; Baqiya Naqiya (Miscellaneous Selections) 1316 A.D.; and Nihayat-ul-Kamal (Extremity of Beauty) 1325 A.D.

    For each diwan, he composed a prose introduction. In most  manuscripts (and modern editions) the poems in a given diwan are grouped by genre (usually with qasidas first, then strophic poems, ghazals, qitas, and ruba’ is ).
  1. Tuhfat- us- Sighar 1273 AD

  2. According to the poet’s own statement in the preface, the first collection contains poems he composed from the age of sixteen to nineteen. It was his friend and patron Tajuddin Zahid who urged Khusrau to make the collection. It contains 35 qasidas, 5 tarjis and tarkib-bands, and a short masnavi descriptive of the poet’s unpleasant experiences in an Afghan fortress. In these early poems, Khusrau has often tried to imitate Khaqani, the great master of Persia whose qasidas have always been the model for ambitious poets. In several of these poems, as he says himself, Khusrau uses the pen-name of Sultani, bestowed upon him by Khwaja Izzuddin.
    Details of image: Details of Diwan-i-Khusrau binders. Topkapi Palace Museum Courtesy, Prof. Chander Shekhar, New Delhi
  3. Wast – ul – Hayat 1284 AD

  4. The second diwan consists of a preface, 58 qasidas, 8 tarjis and several fragments. From this we learn that Khusrau had now established his position amongst the poets of Delhi and with time his poetry had acquired maturity and richness. In this diwan too, as in Tuhfat-us-Sighar, he has followed in the footsteps of Khaqani. This collection, too, Khusrau made at the persistent requests of his friends who, having preserved carefully his verses, odes and masnavis, handed them over to the poet for them to be arranged in their present form.
    There are qasidas in the praise of God, the Prophet, Nizamuddin Auliya, on Sultan Balban, Sultan Kaiqubad, Sultan Bughra Khan, Sultan Jalaluddin Firuz Shah Khilji, Ikhtiyaruddin Kishli Khan, Shamsuddin Dabir, Tajuddin Alp bin Azhar and others. He wrote a marsiya (elegy) on the demise of Sultan Mohammad Shahed called Khan-e-Shahed.
    Details of image: Illuminated title folio, Diwan-i-Amir Khusrau Folio 318, Ms. Acc. No. 334.125, Khuda Bhaksh Library, Patna
  5. Ghurrat ul Kamal  1294 AD

  6. In several respects, the most important of Khusrau’s five diwans, Ghurrat-ul-Kamal has a preface that is quite substantial It has a brief biography of Khusrau and contains some very interesting discussions about the merits of poetry, superiority of Persian over Arabic poetry, excellence of the language and verse of India, the different kinds and classes of poetry, and the various methods of acquiring mastery over the art. The diwan has got more than 90 qasidas and tarjis, 9 masnavis and numerous fragments and quatrains.
    Details of image: A folio from Ghurrat-ul-Kamal. The diwan is in the collection of Darul Musannefin Academy, Azamgarh.
  7. Baqiya Naqiya 1316 AD

  8. Baqiya Naqiya – The fourth diwan was compiled by Khusrau soon after the death of Sultan Alauddin Khalji. In the preface, he describes the four orders of poetry, which he corelates to the four elements, i.e. earth, water, air and fire, where the one resembling fire, he says, is the noblest and most sublime. He then compares his four diwans to four skies and gives his ideas as to how a diwan should be arranged and what it should contain. The contents of the diwan are 63 qasidas, 6 tarjis, 165 couplets of masnavis, 200 fragments, 570 ghazals, and 360 quatrains.

    Mohammad Wahid Mirza writes: Apparently the poet never thought that he would be able to produce a fourth diwan and so intended to attach all subsequent compositions to that collection. But his poetry grew, as it were, in spite of himself. His genius, the poetic mind, grew younger and more vigorous with the advance of age. He says himself in the preface:

    'My mind…grew greedier of poesy every day. At the age of thirty-two, when I composed one quatrain, I had to think and ponder before I could produce another. But now when I am sixty-four and the pearls of my teeth are about to fall, my mind tells me that this is the proper time to let pearls of poesy drop from my mouth. The harder I try to seal my mouth, the more profusely these pearls come out...Often do I plunge into seas unfathomed even by the perfect masters, and without any great trouble bring out so many bright pearls that I can hardly gather them. But as the days for decorating and ornamenting verses are now past, I pick up only one or two that are worth picking up and string them together while the rest lie on the surface of my mind, soiled and neglected, for if I were to collect all the fine pearls, there would have been not four diwans but four oceans....' Later on the same diwan Mirza goes on to write... “while in another (poem) addressed to the same king the poet complains of the neglect shown to him and requests for royal favour. The ghazals begin with a 'hamd' and occupy almost 417 folios. (And he gives us the following translation of the open hamd (poem dedicated to God):

    "0 Thou beyond our fancy's flight
    How can our sense Thee comprehend?
    How can our halting human wit
    To Thy great being's heights ascend?
    Ay, if all men and birds and beasts
    Be as the dust on Thy threshold,
    How can the dust of base concern
    To that eternal distance race?
    Before Thy kingly unconcern,
    A thousand martyrs like Husain,
    E'en on the river's bank do thrist
    And thirsty unto death remain!
    From you fair, heavenly garden where
    The Holy Ghost e'en scarce may dwell
    How can our faultful sense receive
    A fragrant, life-inspiring smell?
    Oft doth Thy kingly presence grace
    The earthly throne of human hearts,
    Yet how that presence could be felt
    Through these benighted human arts?
    Thine royal mercy's sign perceive
    Some blessed ones to Mecca bound,
    Yet pagan Khusrau naught beholds
    But idols, idols all around!
    Ay, let the spear of Thy disdain
    Fall on a worthless slave like rne!
    Thine gifts in boundless measure rain
    Of those that Thy good servant be!”
    Details of image: Illuminated spread from Khusrau’s manuscript Shirin Khusrau. National Museum, New Delhi. (48.6_7)
  9. Nihayat-ul-Kamal 1325 AD

  10. In the last year of his life, Khusrau compiled his last diwan. It contains some good qasidas and a few important elegies of historical importance, particularly, the one, which he had composed on the death of his son, Khwaja Haji. “O! the soldier. do not go tarry till I reach you. You have not left behind any indication of the place you are proceeding to or of the final destination nor any account of the milestones, falling in the path of your journey. That recitation of a ghazal (in the Jama't Khana) has become a commemorative event of your life. What a recitation it was. It made the audience go mad in ecstasy.”

    The last collection of Khusrau’s poems was made by him after the death of Sultan Ghiyasuddin Tughlaq and the ascension to the throne of his son Muhammad Tughlaq. It contains 22 qasidas, 5 tarjis, 4 short masnavis, a number of fragments and a collection of ghazals. It’s interesting to note that the ghazals appear to be not entirely a new collection but simply a selection from those attached to the previous diwans with the addition of some new ones.
    Details of image: Illuminated folio from Diwan-i- Amir Khusrau Folios 318; Ms. Acc. No. 334.125 Collection: Khuda Bhaksh Oriental Library, Patna