Written at the instance of Mr (later Sir) George Russell Clerk (1800-89), who succeeded Lieut Colonel (later Sir) Claude Martin Wade (1794-1861) as the GovernorGeneral`s political agent at Ludhiana in 1840, the work was completed in 1848. It is divided into five daftars or sections with an introduction and a conclusion. The introduction gives an account of Punjab`s geographical conditions and its important places and towns. Daftar I deals with the Hindu rulers up to Rai Pithora (Prithvi Raj Chauhan), the account being based, according to the author, on the religious books of the Hindus. Daftar II carries the History of the Punjab from the Ghaznavids to Emperor Aurangzib.
The author`s sources for this section are historical chronicles such as Habib us Sayyar, Tankhi Yamim, Tankhi AlU, Jama` ul Hikayal, Tabqati Nasin and Tankhi Guzidah. Daftar III contains short life sketches of the ten Gurus of the Sikhs. For this section, Bute Shah claims to have utilized the traditional sources particularly the Jan am Sakhis. This part also contains the names of some of Guru Nanak`s disciples with brief notes on a few of them, description of the Sikh institutions of langar and manjis and the baoh at Goindval, and a somewhat detailed account of events such as the martyrdoms of Guru Arjan and Guru Tegh Bahadur, Guru Gobind Singh`s battles, the creation of the Khalsa and Guru Gobind Singh`s death in the Deccan.
Daftar IV deals with the rise, growth and achievements of Sikh misis and their polity and administration. Bute Shall`s approach in this section is more factual and critical. Daftar V, forming nearly one half of the entire volume, is devoted to Maharaja Ranjit Singh, his conquests and consolidation of power. Here Bute Shah, with his personal knowledge of contemporary events and his probable access to official records and correspondence at the Ludhiana Agency, is more authentic. He also appears to have had access to Sohan Lal Sun`s ` Umdat ut Twankh of which a copy was presented by the author to Claude Wade.
In fact, Bute Shah`s account in this daftar appears to be an intelligent summary o.f Sohan Lal`s diary ; at places even the text of his manuscript is the same as that of the latter`s work. However, in contrast to the official diarist of the Lahore Darbar, Bute Shah has a more critical historical sense. He records only the more important events of the time, omitting much that is of little historical value. Because of his closer contact with the British, his use of English names is more correct. His dates follow the Christian calendar.
1. Kirpal Singh, ed., A Catalogue of Persian and Sanskrit Manuscripts. Amritsar, 1962