A seminal book, A Short History of Persian Literature at the Bahmani, the Adilshahi and the Qutbshahi Courts -Deccan, by T.N. Devare, was first published in 1961. Over the past six decades, his work has been widely recognised as a pioneering study to re-discover the glorious heritage of Persian in the Deccan following the first comprehensive and critical survey completed by the author of Persian manuscript sources and literary works scattered across numerous libraries, archives and repositories in India and abroad.
The book convincingly argues that the Deccan's multilingual and multi-religious traditions shaped the evolution of Indo-Persian and produced over nearly four centuries, a distinct literary and cultural world marked by a syncretic character which defied social, political or religious boundaries. The author also makes the case for collaboration between Persian and the regional languages of India, particularly Marathi. It is the rich legacy of Persian in the Deccan Courts with their vast treasures of literature that is preserved in Dr Devare's work.
The book has been regarded and continues to remain a foundational text for studying the Deccan, be it in the field of history, literature or culture.
Tukaram Nagesh Devare was born in the former Nizam state of Hyderabad. His early education was at Nanded -presently in Maharashtra - after which he studied at Fergusson College in Poona - now Pune. After obtaining MA, Ph D and LLB from Bombay University, he taught Persian and Urdu at N. Wadia College, Poona as the Head of Department and Vice-Principal. Dr Devare was a scholar of Indo-Persian language and culture in medieval India. His scholarship was however, not limited to just Persian and Urdu, but he also knew English, Arabic, Hindi, Marathi and had some knowledge of Pashto and Telugu.
As Vice-President of Maharashtra Rashtrabhasha Sabha, he did pioneering work in promoting studies of Hindi in Maharashtra. A renowned educationist, he was closely associated with building Wadia College and the newly established Pune University.
THE PRESENT WORK is a comprehensive and critical survey of the rise and development of Persian language and literature in the Deccan from the establishment of the Bahmani Sultanate to the downfall of the Kingdom of Golconda. It covers a period of three and a half centuries of the Muslim rule in the Deccan. It is a matter of common knowledge to every student of Medieval Indian History that India has made a rich and valuable contribution to Persian literature under the patronage of the Muslim rulers. Mawlana Shibli and Professor Ghani have partially explored this extensive field of Indo-Persian literature of the pre-Mughal and the Mughal periods; but it is strange that both of them have excluded Deccan altogether from their literary survey. In the preface to his Persian Language and Literature at the Mughal Court, Prof. Ghani claims to have discussed the literary activities of the Deccan in his literary history, but except for a sketchy notice of Zuhuri, Ghani's work hardly contains anything of importance to students of Indo-Persian literature in the Deccan.
Persian literature produced in the Deccan has greatly suffered from extraneous political and religious factors. In the Medieval period, the Persian reader would not condescend to look at it through a sense of false pride and superiority complex. It is no wonder therefore if Persian literary criticism of Indo-Pesian literature has been uniformly disparaging. A northern Indian would also peremptorily discard it on the ground of its being produced under the patronage of Shia rulers who were, in his opinion, no better than glorified governors. Due to this callous indifference and systematic neglect, very few are therefore aware today that the Deccan had been the fountain head of exuberant literary activities in the Persian language for about three hundred years, and had produced great literary masterpieces. With the termination of the Shia political power in the Deccan, patronage to Shia scholars, litterateurs and poets coming in large numbers from Persia, came to an abrupt close, and the phenomenal rise of Urdu totally eclipsed Persian literary activities in the subsequent period. Most of the Persian literature produced in the Deccan has therefore been neglected and is lying in the limbo of oblivion, and has become a theme of research and critical investigation. Recently, a few works like the Burhan-e-Maasir, Hadigatus-Salatin and Futuhus-Salatin have been published but others like Kulliyyat-e-Qummi, Diwan-e-Sanjar, Muhammad-Nama, and Tarikh-e-Ali-Adilshahiyya have yet to see the light of the day.
THE PRESENT PUBLICATION iS based upon and more or less strictly follows the text of a thesis submitted by the late Dr. T.N. Devare to the University of Bombay and approved for the PhD degree. The thesis received warm appreciation not only from the referees but from scholars of Persian all over the state and the country. Owing to other pressing preoccupations, Dr. Devare himself was unable to take the publication in hand for several years after the thesis was approved for the doctorate. Some months before his sudden passing away in 1957 he sent about half the manuscript to the press after duly editing it. Since then, chiefly because of the difficulty of suitably supervising the printing of the rest of the thesis, the work was delayed for more than two years. It was finally decided to entrust the work to the members of our Persian & Urdu Department who were also Dr. Devare's junior colleagues and intimate personal friends, and although they were diffident about being able suitably to edit the rest of the text on Dr. Devare's own lines, they were requested to complete the work in the best possible way. They spared no pains to read the text carefully, edit it so far as possible on the lines on which Dr. Devare appeared to have edited the earlier portion, and to perform the onerous work of correcting the proofs. Since the option was either to leave the work unfinished or to complete it with the assistance of these friends, the latter alternative was chosen and I trust that in view of the importance and value of the material which the thesis contains, scholars who peruse the present volume will excuse the inevitable blemishes of this posthumous publication.
I understand that, in one particular matter, Dr. Devare himself has had to make an omission of a somewhat vital character. That omission was with reference to the Persian, Urdu and Arabic quotations originally made use of in the thesis and he was probably compelled to make this omission because of the difficulty of printing Persian, Urdu and Arabic passages in the press where the work was being printed or indeed anywhere in Poona.
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