Alaol

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Syed Alaol
সৈয়দ আলাওল
Born1607
Died1673 (aged 65–66)
OccupationPoet

Syed Alaol (Bengali: সৈয়দ আলাওল; 1607 – 1673) was a medieval poet of Bengal.[1][2] His most well known work is Padmavati, which depicts the story of Padmavati, the Sinhalese princess. He is considered to be one of the most prolific medieval Bengali poets.[2] Since most of his poems combine emotion with intellect, he is called the Pandit Kabi (Pandit of Poets) of medieval Bengali literature.[2] An important Bangladeshi literary prize, the Alaol Sahitya Puroshkar, is named after him.

Life[edit]

He was probably born in 1607 in the village of Jalalpur in Fatuabad Pargana, Fatehabad,[3] to a minister in the court of Majlis Qutb, the ruler of Fatehabad.[4][5] He learnt the Bengali, Arabic, Persian and Sanskrit languages. Alaol was kidnapped by Portuguese pirates while travelling on a boat with his father, and was subsequently taken to Arakan.[4]

Alaol worked as a bodyguard for a while, but slowly his reputation as a poet spread. His talent was first recognised by Magan Thakur, prime minister of King Sanda Thudhamma of the Mrauk-U dynasty of Arakan. He was also patronised by other elders of the court such as chief minister Sulayman, royal minister Syed Musa, army commander Muhammad Khan and tax minister Majlis Nabaraj.

In 1659, he completed Sati Mayna O Lorchandrani, the first part of which was completed earlier by another Bengali court poet of Arakan, Daulat Qazi.[4] He translated Tohfa at the request of Shrichandra Sudharma or Sanda Thudhamma. Later, Prince Magan Thakur, the foster-son of the sister of King Shrichandra Sudharma and co-regent and the prime minister of Arakan, secured him a place in the court of Arakan.

His major work, Padmavati, based on Malik Muhammad Jayasi's Padmavat was written under the patronage of Magan Thakur. He also began writing the Saifulmuluk Badiuzzamal, an adaptation of a Persian work of the same name during this period. There is a famous poem Prince Saiful Malook and Badri Jamala of mystic poet of Punjabi literature Mian Muhammad Bakhsh. After the death of Magan Thakur, he received patronage from Saiyad Muhammad Musa, the army chief of King Shrichandra Sudharma. He translated the Haft Peykar from Persian as Saptapaykar in Bengali at his request. In the eulogy of Saptapaykar, Alaol mentioned the arrival of Mughal prince Shah Shuja in Arakan.[4] In 1659, Shah Shuja took refuge in the court at Arakan. In 1660, after the killing of Shah Shuja, Alaol was also thrown out of the Arakan court because of his closeness with him. According to autobiographical passages in his Sikandarnama, he was initially imprisoned. At this juncture, Sayed Masud Shah, a minister or Qazi of the Arakan king gave him shelter. Masud Shah also gave Alaol Khilafat under Qadiriyya Tariqa. Alaol completed his Saifulmuluk Badiuzzamal at his request. He spent his last days in the court of Majlis Navaraj, another minister of Arakan, where he wrote his last work Sikandarnama (according to Ahmed Sharif) or Dara-Sikandar (according to Sukumar Sen), a translation of Eskander-nama by the Persian poet Nizami Ganjavi.[5]

His works, apart from Ragtalnama, are adaptations of works in other languages which include:

  • Padmavati (1648)
  • Satimayna Lorchandrani (completion of Daulat Qazi's work) (1659)
  • Saptapaykar (1665)
  • Saifulmuluk Badiuzzamal (1669)
  • Sikandarnama (1671–72)
  • Tohfa (1660)
  • Ragtalnama

His poems draw upon his deep engagement with Sufism.[6]

Legacy[edit]

Alaol Hall, a principal male student dormitory at the University of Chittagong in Bangladesh, is named after him.[7]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Datta, Amaresh, ed. (1987). Encyclopaedia of Indian Literature: A-Devo. Sahitya Akademi. p. 128. ISBN 978-81-260-1803-1.
  2. ^ a b c Ahmed, Wakil. "Alaol". Banglapedia. Asiatic Society of Bangladesh.
  3. ^ Rizvi, S.N.H., ed. (1965). East Pakistan District Gazetteers: Chittagong (PDF). Government of East Pakistan Services and General Administration Department. p. 349. Archived from the original (PDF) on 7 November 2016. Retrieved 7 November 2016.
  4. ^ a b c d Thibaut D' Hubert (15 July 2007). "Alaol's poetry as a source for Arakanese history". Kaladan Press Network. Retrieved 2019-05-14.
  5. ^ a b Sen, Sukumar (1993). Islami Bangla Sahitya (in Bengali), Kolkata: Ananda Publishers, ISBN 81-7215-301-5, pp.34-6
  6. ^ Abu Musa Arif Billah (July 2008). "20th European Conference on Modern South Asian Studies, Manchester 2008" (PDF). European Association of South Asian Studies. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2015-09-23. Retrieved 2014-01-21.Retrieved: 2014-01-21
  7. ^ "Official Website". University of Chittagong. Retrieved: 2014-01-21