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Mir Amman
--: Biography of Mir Amman :--


Mir Amman (17th century - 18th century) was an employee of Fort William College at Calcutta, variously also known as Mir Amman of Delhi, Mir Amman of Dilhi, Mir Amman Dihlavi, and Meer Ummun.

Mir Amman was best known for his translation of Amir Khusro's classic epic "Qissa Chahar Dervish" (The Tale of the Four Dervishes) from Persian into Urdu. His translation is considered classic literature itself for its use of contemporary Urdu, and was performed on the request of Mr. John Borthwick Gilchrist, a famous English scholar of literature of those days. It in turn was widely translated into English during the 19th century.

Mir Amman relates his own history in the preface to his famous work, here given in the English translation by Duncan Forbes:

But first this guilty being, Mir Amman, of Dilli, begs to relate his own story: That my forefathers, from the time of King Humayun, served every king, in regular descent, with zeal and fidelity; and they also (i.e. the kings), with the eye of protection, ever justly appreciated and rewarded our services. Jagirs, titles and rewards, were plentifully bestowed on us; and we were called hereditary vassals, and old servants; so that these epithets were enrolled in the royal archives. When such a family (owing to which all other families were prosperous) dwindled to such a point! which is too well known to require mention, then Suraj Mal, the Jat, confiscated our Jagir, and Ahmad Shah the Durrani, pillaged our home. Having sustained such various misfortunes, I abandoned that city, which was my native land, and the place of my birth. Such a vessel, whose pilot was such a king, was wrecked; and I began to sink in the sea of destitution! A drowning person catches at a straw, and I sustained life for some years in the city of Azim-abad, experiencing both good and bad fortune there. At length I left it also--the times were not propitious; leaving my family there, I embarked alone in a boat, and came in quest of a livelihood to Calcutta, the chief of cities. I remained unemployed for some time, when it happened that Nawwab Dilawar Jang sent for me, and appointed me tutor to his younger brother, Mir Muhammad Kazim Khan. I stayed with him nearly two years; but saw not my advantage [in remaining there any longer.] Then, through the assistance of Mir Bahadur 'Ali Munshi, I was introduced to Mr. John Gilchrist (may his dignity be lasting.) At last, by the aid of good fortune, I have acquired the protection of so liberal a person, that I hope better days; if not, even, this is so much gain, that I have bread to eat, and having stretched my feet, I repose in quiet; and that ten persons in my family, old and young, are fed; and bless that patron. May God accept [their prayers!] 

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