CHĀR BĀGH-I-PAÑJĀB by Ganesh Dās Baḍhera, a history in Persian of the Punjab which, according to the author, then extended from the River Indus to the Sutlej. The work, completed in 1855, was published by Khālsā College, Amritsar, in 1965. The author served under the Lahore Darbār as a revenue official (qānūngo) of Gujrāt (now in Pakistan) where earlier his father Shiv Dayāl, had also served under Sardār Gulāb Siṅgh of the Bhaṅgī misl. Later he joined the service of Rājā Gulāb Siṅgh at Jammū where he compiled his Rāj Darshanī, a history of the Ḍogrā rājās. Chār Bāgh-i-Pañjāb was written after the annexation of the Punjab at the instance of the author's British patrons, specifically Sir Richard Temple (1826-1902), then secretary to the Punjab Government. It was in fact the updated version of his earlier work, Chahār Gulshan-i-Pañjāb, also called Risālā Sāhib Numā. Beginning in the traditional style with an account of the solar and lunar dynasties and referring briefly to the Greek invasion by Alexander the Great, Chār Bāgh-i-Pañjāb deals with the Punjab under the Muslims from the time of the Ghazanavids down to the Mughal Emperor Shāh Ālam II (1759-1806) and the invasions of Zamān Shāh, a grandson of Ahmad Shāh Durrānī. This is preceded by a sketchy account of early Sikhism based on traditional Sikh versions, with certain obvious discrepancies. For instance, the author states that Gurū Gobind Siṅgh conferred the title of Gurū on Bandā (Siṅgh) which is not correct. His account of the exploits of Bandā Siṅgh Bahādur and of his eventual execution is, however, graphic. Ganesh Dās is more reliable in treating of events closer to his own time. The period of turmoil in Sikh history, the rise of the misls particularly the Bhaṅgīs and the Sukkarchakkīās, and the emergence of Mahārājā Raṇjīt Siṅgh as the sovereign of the Punjab are described in considerable detail. So are the geographical and topographical features of the Sindh Sāgar Doāb and the revenue divisions, towns and villages, places of worship and prominent persons belonging to the kingdom of Raṇjīt Siṅgh. The work takes note of the court factions and intrigues which afflicted the Punjab after the death of the Mahārājā. It ends with an account of the two Anglo-Sikh wars, leading to the occupation of the Punjab by the British. Ganesh Dās's occasional use of opprobrious terms for Sikhs is explainable by his eagerness to please his new masters.
Syad Hasan Askarī