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Sindh – Glimpses of Yore

Sindh – Glimpses of Yore

Review of book ‘Discovering Sindh’s Past’ edited by renowned research scholars; Michel Boiven, Mathew A. Cook and Julian Levesque, published by Oxford University Press.

By Noor Ahmed Janjhi

Sindh, being a land of most ancient civilization, has been abode of diversified people belonging to different backgrounds. It is the soil of Sindh that absorbs diversity and reflects diversity. From Indus Valley Civilization to the rule of Roy Dynasty, the land of diversity observed the flourishing societies full of activities and development. Art, literature, architecture and other disciplines of human taste flourished very much.

After the fall of Roy dynasty, Sindh saw many upheavals and disasters. Despite all of the ups and downs, Sindh and her people maintained their existence intact. It is cultural diversity and syncretism of Sindhi society that it absorbs shocks of attacks, disasters, natural or manmade.

History traces the track of past events and presents analysis of the cause and effect of the happenings. Research enriches the documentation of the history. Journal of Sindh Historical Society and Sindh Quarterly had been two research journals of English worth to be studied for further research on the history, society and culture of Sindh. Both the journals published well researched article but now both the magazines are not published. However, in attempt to reproduce the selected articles and papers, two collections are published ; one by Dr. Mubarak Ali under the title of Sindh Observed and the other is ‘ Discovering Sindh’s Past’ edited by renowned research scholars; Michel Boiven, Mathew A. Cook and Julian Levesque. The second collection is the latest publication published by Oxford University Press in 2017.

Sindh-Glimpses-Yore-Sindh-CourierThe selection offers a good deal of research pertaining to the history of Sindh. The books start with a detailed introduction by the editors. By giving the definition of ‘syncretism’ and critic on it, the editors has tried to re-evaluate the idea that Sindhi identities are syncretic. Sindh has been remained such an absorbing land that has converged all of the identities. The editors conclude that, “Sindhi identity is syncretic, the region’s intertwined socio-cultural character points towards seeing it as a zone in which people’s lives are not constituted by a mixture of parts bound to naturally separate”.

The Journal was published by Sindh Historical Society from May 1934 to 1948. The articles published in the journal firstly presented and debated in the meetings of the society and participants of the meetings included the educated elite of Karachi, both Europeans and South Asian. Dr. Hotchand Mulchand Gurbaxani was the founding President of the SHS. He paved the way towards modern methods for understanding the past of Sindh.

The collection of the articles is chronologically organized and focusses on precolonial and colonial Sindh. It showcases Sindh’s broad socio-cultural spectrum. The matter of the book offers a good read on the dynamics of history of Sindh. The first paper is on the Kalhora Dynasty and it’s Overthrow by the Talpur Chiefs   followed by Crime and Punishment in the Days of Talpur Rulers of Sindh. Then there are the profiles of Diwan Gidumal , Seth Naoonmal Hotchand and Mirza Khusro Beg. These articles are authored by A B Advani.  H T Lambrick’s articles on ‘Lieutenant Amiel and the Baluch Levy’, ‘The Sindh Battles Part II’, and ‘Observations on Baloch Poetry of Sindh Border are given. Two articles written by N M Billimoria under the topics of ‘Legends of Sind’ and ‘Census Report of Sind for the Years of 1931 and 1941’ are also included. Besides these papers, the articles under the headings of ‘ Memorandum of Occurrences which took place at Hyderabad in Sind between 14 and 18 February 1843 (by Ramjee Gunnoojee), ‘ Sir Charles Napiers Administration of Scinde and Campaign in the Cutchee Hills ( by John Jacob), ‘Letters received by John Jacob, 1840-58 and Sir Bartle Frere’s Letters to John Jacob (Patrick Cadell), ‘ Historical and Racial Background of the Amils of Hyderabad, Sind (by S J Narsain).

The first article presents a good chronology about the rule of Kalhora but it does not analyze the origin of Kalhora and just declares it as ‘ lost into hoary antiquity’. Starting from Mian Odhanah, the paper mentions Khahr Belo, Miana Channu, Khambat or Gambat, Chanduka, Khan e Khanan, Prince Muizuddin, Mian Adam Shah, Mian Din Muhammad, Mian Yar Muhammad, Mian Shahal Muhammad, Khudabad, Mian Nur Muhammad, Sadik Khan,  Kalat,  Mir Abdullah, Talpurs, Kaku, Hotak, Shahdad,  Derajat,  Mir Bahram, Nadir Shah, Muhammad Shah, Muradyab, Mian Ghullam Shah, Attur Khan, Kakrallo, Dharaja, Ahmed Shah Abdali, Mian Sarfaraz, Hyderbad or Nerunkot, Cutch, Mian Muhammad Khan, Mian Sadiq, Mian Ghullam Nabi, Mian Abdul Nabi, Mian Izatt Yar Khan, Mir Bijar Khan, Mir Abdullah, Nasir Khan of Kalat,  Madad Khan Pathan, Mir Fateh Khan, Mir Fateh Ali Khan, Jodhpur. The chapter provides a comprehensive portrayal of Kalhora rule and emergence of Talpur rule by concluding with the remarks on recognition of Mir Fateh Ali as ruler of Sindh by Zaman Shah of Afghanistan in 1793.

The second article describes about the crime and punishment during Talpur rule. It is compared with feudal barons of the Middle-Ages in England. The mode of justice is called arbitrary, prompt and vigorous. Murder was a popular crime in those days. Talpurs adjudged such heinous crimes by themselves with the help of Kazi.

Profiles of three important personalities of Kalhora/Talpur period are written in detail. All of three played a pivotal role in the history Sindh. The conduct of Diwan Gidumal and Seth Naoonmal had been criticized also by the historians. Mirza Khusro Beg was a slave and adopted son of Mir Karam Ali Khan.

Sindh Battles part two throws light on Battle of Miani and Battle of Hyderabad known as Battle of Dubo. It gives a comprehensive depiction by an English writer so a little bit biased and missing some details of the other side.

The article on Legends of Old Sind offers information on 15 most celebrated legends of Sindh. These are  Sassui Punhu, Rano Moomal, Marui, Hir Ranjho, the battles and death of Mall Mahmood, Dulleh Darya Khan, Sohni Mehar, Dodo Chanesar, Samoi and Haft Tan, Lilan Chanesar, Legend of Nag, Ghatu, Battle of Abdullah Brahui, the feuds of Subah Chaniya, Jam Halo and Jam Kehar.

All the articles are followed by reference and notes. This is good reference collection of articles worth to be gone through for further analysis and evaluation of the history.

The editors are the scholars of well reputation. Michel Boivin, Director of Research at National Centre for Scientific Research and Co-Director elect of the Centre for South Asian Studies and teaches Historical Anthropology of South Asia at the School of Advanced Studies in Social Sciences, with a focus on Sindh. Mathew A. Cook Ph. D IN Sociocultural Anthropology, Columbia University is Professor of South Asian and Post-Colonial Studies at North Carolina Central University. His research focusses on the history and anthropology of South Asia, Sindh and Colonialism. Julian Levesque, Ph. D in Political Science and his research is focused on nationalism, identity construction in Sindh.

[author title=”Noor Ahmed Janjhi” image=”https://sindhcourier.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/Noor-Ahmed-Janjhi-Sindh-Courier.jpg”]Noor Ahmed Janjhi is a senior educationist based in Desert District Tharparkar Sindh. He is author of several books in Sindhi and English on folk literature including two poetry books.[/author]