RAJA JAI SINGH’S INTEREST IN ASTRONOMY AND MUHAMMED SHAH;
INVOLVEMENT OF KHAIRULLAH, ABID, AKBAR AND USHOOR BAIG IN ZIJ:
ALL MUHANDISEN BELONGING TO FAMOUS MIMAR FAMILY OF LAHORE.
Maharani Jaipur Gayatri Devi was visiting Lahore and Chughtai Museum. We had invited her to inaugurate one of our shows but she was not allowed to come at that time. She was at odds with Indira Gandhi, Prime Minister of India. I told her about our ancestor Khairullah Muhandis, who was In charge of the many observatories of Raja Jai Singh for many years. He had already written his notes on Zij Muhammed Shahi. Our own manuscript of same includes his name, but also that of Abid Muhandis, Akbar Muhandis and Ushoor Baig. All dated around 1130 AH, the year of the Zij Muhammed Shahi itself.
What exactly is this ZIJ? Simply astronomical tables compiled with use of instruments at the various observatories of Raja Jai Singh, mainly the Jantar Mantar at Delhi. Although credit is given to Raja Jai Singh for all this, the confirmation obviously was required of the Emperor for same, and that is why the Zij is called after Emperor Muhammed Shah. Keep in mind that the Emperor is painted as a pleasure-loving nincompoop by the Western media, and reviled as such a depraved person cannot be responsible for giant steps in astronomical research. Khairullah Muhandis was in fact working for the Emperor himself. According to compiler STOREY he was the designer of these astronomical instruments, and InCharge of all these observatories for a long period of time. The amazing thing is that many of these astronomers were sent abroad to Europe in those times to harness themselves with latest knowledge on the subject. We have a treatise written by Khairullah at the port of Surat in those days, suggesting visit abroad. Various copies of his Sharh Zij Muhammed Shahi is available in various libraries. Various generations of Khairullah worked on Sharh Zij Muhammed Shahi, and the last one recorded is Mirza Gul Baig, and he writes his name as Mirza Gul Baig, son of Mirza Zainul Abedeen, son of Mirza Muhammed Ali, son of Khairullah Muhandis, son of Lutufullah Muhandis Lahori.
Lahore was the center of Astrolabe makers, famous all over the world. It was Khairullah’s genius which transferred precise small instruments into huge concrete structures. Research went miles ahead with such advances in observation. There was Mulla Chand with Emperor Akbar, Fareed Dehlavi with Shah Jahan, Khairullah with Muhammed Shah, and others. Emperor Humayoun died when he fell from the stairs in his observatory. And lest we forget there was an observatory tower in Lahore Fort too, which is no more, but record of same exists in various writings. The Mughals were very fond of astronomy, and had scholars to back their research. Well done!