TAHMASNAMAH, variously known as Tahmaspnamah, TazkirahiTahmasp, Hikayat or Qissa Tahmas Miskin, is a Persian manuscript preserved in British Library, London (Or. 1918). In India, photostat copies are available in the Oriental Public (Khuda Bakhsh) Library, Patna, and in the Sikh History Research Department at Khalsa College, Amritsar (No. 1283); The manuscript consisting of 354 pages of 16 lines each is by Tahmas Khan, originally named Zahir and then Taimur, who adopted Miskin (lit. humble) as a pseudonym. Written in autobiographical discursive style, the memoir is without any dates and is divided haphazardly into 108 sections designated as hikayats or dastans (lit. stories) of unequal length.
The author, however, provides valuable and often original information gathered at first hand about events that look place in the Punjab during over three decades ending with 1782. Tahmas Khan Miskin was of Armenian or Kurdish extraction. Born in a village in Asia Minor, he was captured in infancy by Nadir Shah`s Uzbeks. He was brought to India at the age of seven and was offered as a present to Mu`in ul Mulk, commonly known as Mir Mannu, the governor of Punjab, (1748-53), who trained him for military service. On the death of his master, he continued to serve his widow, Mughlani Begam, whose close confidant lie became and whom he accompanied during her flight from Lahore to Sirhind and thence to Delhi.
He later fell out with the Begam and served successively under Zabita Khan Ruhila (d. 1785) and Mirza Najaf Khan (d. 1782). Miskin saw much active service and took part in several operations against the Sikhs. He writes with personal knowledge about events such as Diwan Kaura Mall`s death in battle against Ahmad Shah Durrani in 1752 and the occupation of Lahore by the Sikhs jointly with the Marathas in April 1758. In fact, one of the most striking features of Tahmas namah is the information it provides about the sustained rebellion of the Sikhs, their guerilla tactics, the persecution they suffered.
Mir Mannu set up special mobile columns armed with jaza`ils, long firing swivel guns, to be used against them. Miskin writes : “Mu`in appointed most of them (jaza`ilchis) to the task of chastising the Sikhs. They ran after these wretches up to 28 kos in a day and slew them wherever they stood up to oppose them. Anyone who brought Sikhs` heads to Mu`in received a reward of Rs. 10 per head. Anyone who brought a horse belonging to a Sikh could keep it as his own. Whosoever lost his own horse fighting with the Sikhs got another in its place from the state stables.” At another place he records, “The Sikhs who were captured alive were sent to hell by being beaten with wooden mallets.
At times Adina Beg Khan sent 4050 Sikh captives from the Doab ; they were as a rule killed with the strokes of wooden hammers.” He also gives accounts of the Vadda Ghallughara of 5 February 1762 in which, according to him, 25,000 Sikhs were killed ;the sack of Sirhind by the Sikhs two years later;and the Sikhs` plundering raids into the Ganga Yamuna Doab. Once, says Miskin, he along with Rustam Khan, the faiy`darof Sialkot, was made captive by Sutlej Sikhs, and though a zammdar came miraculously to his rescue, both had to pay ransoms for their release.
1. Kirpal Singh, A Catalogue of Persian and Sanskrit Manuscripts. Amritsar, 1962