Selected Subaltern Studies

By Ranajit Guha; Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak | Go to book overview

Encounters and Calamities': The History of a North Indian Qasba in the Nineteenth Century.1

GYANENDRA PANDEY


The Sources

The history of colonial India has generally been written on the basis of British official records for the simple reason that non-official sources are neither quite so abundant nor as easily accessible. This is especially true for the period up to the end of the nineteenth century, i.e. before organizations like' the Indian National Congress had emerged and the memoirs of leaders, as well as newspapers and journals in Indian languages and in English, became available in some number. This paper seeks to re-examine a small part of this earlier colonial history in the light of a local historical account, or more precisely a chronicle of events entitled Wāqeāt-ō-Hādesāt: Qasba Mubarakpur, written in the 1880s and preserved in an Urdu manuscript in the qasba of Mubarakpur in the district of Azamgarh,

____________________
1
I am deeply indebted to Qazi Atahar of Muhalla Haidarabad, Mubarakpur, who allowed me to use Sheikh Mohammad Ali Hasan manuscript history, Wāqeāt-ō- Hādeāt: Qasba Mubarakpur (which is maintained in Qazi Atahar's personal library), spent several days translating this and two other valuable documents (referred to in notes 47 and 58 below) that he had traced in the course of his own researches, and helped in many other ways with his intimate knowledge of the area. I owe thanks also to Maulvi Kamruzzaman, Babu Saroj Agrawal and others in Mubarakpur who were unstinting with their time in answering my questions and showing me around.

'Wāleāt-ō-Hādesāt': according to Platts' Classical Urdu Dictionary, Wāqeāt = 'events, occurrences; accidents; grievous calamities, battles; conflicts; casualties; deaths'; Hādesāt = 'new things; accidents; incidents; events; occurrences; adventures; casualties; mishaps; misfortunes; disasters; calamities; afflictions'. 'Events' and 'occurrences' would cover both these terms but I have translated them as 'Encounters and Calamities' in the tide of this paper as this seems to me to convey somewhat better the rhetoric and the sense of Ali Hasan's title.

-89-

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