A student may feel proud to be associated with the prodigious personality of his ideal teacher; So I do. My ideal teacher, Dr. Nabi Bakhsh Khan Baloch, reflects the traditional Islamic pattern of "simple-living and high thinking". He puts his thoughts into practice and digs deep into knowledge which he proliferates through his lectures, addresses and writings. During 1961-62, he taught us Anthropology. He entered the class room at the exact minute and did not leave a minute before time. All the time, he lectured according to the outlines prepared by him, and used the blackboard like a school teacher. We were required to note down the points and further study the relevant books in the seminar-library. He would not even let us heave a copy of his outlines; rather he stopped the supply of last years question papers which helped students cram answers accordingly.
His life style is simple, super and salutary, all the three aspects combined into an unassumingly stern and active personality called Dr. Baloch. Oliver Goldsmith (1730-1774) described his village school master as:
"A man he was stern to view,
I knew him well,
And every truant knew."
I do not feel any different, Forty years ago I was his student but the impact of his robust personality, I have carried up till now. He is regular in his evening walk, not a stroll rather a march. One evening I shuddered to encounter him on his way back from his walk. I was returning from the seminar library of which I was the secretary. "What are you doing here at this time?" He asked me, and I told him, "How many students come to the library in the evening hours?" He asked next, and I told him that some lady teacher-trainees attended regularly. He looked at me and said," I hope you don't come for them" and I really shivered in my shoes.
One evening I saw cots laid outside Dr. Baloch's residence a 3 room quarter. I asked my name-sake, Habibullah, who was Dr. Baloch's personal friend and expert of Shah Abdul Latif Bhittai's Risalo, about the guests. He told me that besides an office clerk and a student who cannot afford lodging and boarding hostel and live permanently with Dr. Baloch's family. Artisans and artists who came to Hyderabad to perform on Radio Pakistan or come on personal errands, also stay here and partake rice and pulses which Dr. Baloch can afford to offer them. Later on I learnt that Dr. Baloch had eleven cats, each with a name, a female hog-deer, chickens and other pet animals and birds, with whom he conversed, calling them by name, and feeding them personally on time every day. The hogdeer was donated to the municipal garden, where Dr. Baloch sometime went to meet her. He has a strong aesthetic sense and has abundant collection of fine arts, artifacts etc. He watches T.V for the National Geographic documentaries, the animal world and wrestling. He is free with his family members and plays with his children, now grand children, chess, cards and every other in-door game.
Those days, I smoked pattay-ji-beeri but I did not know then that my ideal teacher also did the same. He was never seen smoking and nobody would believe that he could ever. As I know now, he went on with cigarettes, trying the finest and the cheapest brands, 555 to K-2, then cigars and finally the pipe, and then he gave up smoking after a heart by-pass in Islamabad due to incessant heavy work. He was used to stimulation by tea taking and smoking. He has since given up the usual stimulation but not his life long work habit.
He may be unkindly described as a penny pincher but honestly speaking he is not a miser. He spends where necessary but wisely. He saves prudently and manages economically. In 1987, Dr. Baloch received a sum of Rs. 8, 47,544, left by the late Allama I.I. Kazi with the late Mr. A.K.Brohi. It was the seed-money for the Allama I.I. Kazi Memorial Society of which Dr. Baloch was the General Secretary. He kept the money in fixed deposit and ran the society out of the markup earned each year. About 30 publications have been brought out to proliferate the thought and teachings of Allama I.I. Kazi. An essay competition on the life and work of the great philosopher-educator was initiated at the 20th death anniversary on 13th April 1981. I got Rs. 4000 from the funds of the society sat the first prize, and my moagraph was published by the Pakistan Study Centre on the initiative of Dr. Baloch. "Allama Kazi Cultural Centre" has been established by him adjacent to the Mausoleum. Yet the un-touched seed-money now stands at Rs. 9 lac. A financial wizard! No?
I have seen him in relaxed mood as well. The first time, during 50's, when he came to our village to meet a sughar, uncle Haji Abdul Qadir Siddiqui. He sat through the night and got all his abiyat (poetry) transcribed, while listening to him and appreciating his art. He has had many such sittings in his research galore, through the length and breadth of Sind, and has collected much more material on the culture and literature of Sindh than has been published so for.
For me it is difficult to circumscribe the contribution of Dr. Baloch towards the renaissance of Sindh, revival of its educational tradition and enriching the world of knowledge. He is a prolific writer with over 100 published books and a lot unpublished. He has done orignal research on the life and poetry of Shah Abdul Latif Bhitai (10 volumes) as well as compiled. Edited and published the poetry of other prominent classical poets of Sindh. He has explored and published Sindhi folk-lore, (44 books) and helped promote arts, museums, libraries and art galleries. His services towards developing the Sindhi Adabi Board, the Sindh University, the Mehran Arts Council and Sindh's atmost all literary, cultural and educational institutions, is a record so far in Sindh history. At the federal leve, too, he has immensely contributed towards institution- building and advancement of knowledge. Indeed he has laid firm formations for continuous research in history, literature and education, with us he is a precious asset and golden apportunity for an overall advancement into the 21st century.
Shah Latif, the mentor of Dr. Baloch and of us all, says”تان ڪي ساڻن اور، جان آهين اوطاقن ۾“)converse with them (the saint scholars) till they are available at open houses). May be live long, but the mortal will leave us one day. After him, we will have to set a research institute to study the life and work of Dr. N. A. Baloch. Better to avail of his benevolent presence amongst us, these days. It requires a sharper insight. I would like to sum up my observations with the following couplet of Allama Iqbal:
”هزار چشمـﻶ تيرﻵ سنگ راه سـﻶ پهوڻـﻶ،
خودي مين ڊوب کر، ضربِ کليم پيدا کر“
__ And conclude with a prayer, and blessing from Shah Latif.
” جکرا جيئين شال، تنهنجو ڪنين مدو م سُڻان،
جيئن تو اچي ڪالهه، نالائق نوازيا.
Dr. Nabi Bakhsh Baloch:
An Endless Journey
(Summarised and correction supplied)
He is the son of the soil, a man of folk wisdom. Dr. Nabi Bakhsh Baloch has devoted much of his time to Sindhi literature (oral as well as written) and culture, an academician by profession, but a Sindhologist by instinct, he is a tireless traveller who has combed every nook and corner of Sindh to discover and record its past and present. From the life and times in the Indus valley, Sindh's mountains, deserts and plains to its people; it's fairy tales and political turmoil, from kings to poets, beggars to thieves, past civilizations to the present times, Dr. Baloch has discovered, collect, compiled, researched and authored a formidable range of subjects. "Dr. Nabi Bakshs Baloch never retires, "say his friends and foes in Sindh.
He simply attributes all the plaudits to his simple upbringing. I come from a land of folklore, so it was but natural that I imbibe it, says Dr. Nabi Bakhsh Baloch. Born in December 1917, his father Ali Muhammad Khan Baloch hailed from a peasant family from Jafar Khan Laghari Village (District Sanghar), whose inhabitants are known to be staunch followers of Pir Pagaro.
Reminiscing over his childhood days, he says, "I still remember the socio-economic fabric of my village long before the introduction of canals in Sindh. There were the cobblers, the blacksmiths, and the potters. Peasants would irrigate their lands with naar (a wooden wheel fitted with clay pots that draws water from below and is driven by a pair of bullocks in a circle). It used to make a fascinating sound."
The lifestyle and customs had a profound effect on Nabi Bakhsh Baloch's childhood. He was enrolled in the famous Naushahro Feroz Madressah and High School, which has produced men of high caliber like Allama Umar Bin Muhammed Doudpoto and Justice Muhammed Bachal Memon (who fearlessly authored Sindh High Court's historic judgment against the dissolution of Pakistan's first constituent assembly). Dr. Baloch did his matriculation from the same madressah with second position among the Muslim candidates from Sindh and graduated from Bahauddin College Junagadh.
His youthful years in the 1930's were spent in Sindh. It was the time when the movement for separation of Sindh from Bombay was launched by Muslim nationalist politicians like Sir Shah Nawaz Bhutto and Muhammed Ayub Khuhro. "Sindh, at that time, was a neglected province annexed to Bombay and Sindh Muslim masses were kept underprivileged," he says of those days. "Sindh progressed considerably after its separation from Bombay Residency and the introduction of the canal system," he elucidates further.
These were the times when the Hur (the disciple of Pir Pagaro) were engaged in their revolt against the British in Sindh. After his B.A. (Honours) from Bahauddin College Junagadh he enrolled in the Aligarh Muslim University, then a hub of the Muslim nationalist student's movement. His thesis was on Islamic civilization. Dr. Baloch also actively participated in the Khaksar Movement at Aligarh. He did his masters and law degree from Aligarh in 1941-43. He was selected by the British Government for higher studies abroad with specialization in Education and got his masters and doctorate from Columbia University, New York.
Dr. Baloch was in the United States when Pakistan came into being. According to him he had a lot of intellectual and political confilicts with the then Hindu think-tanks like Tarik Nath Das. "I believed in what Mr. Jinnah stood for in the Lucknow Pact, "he says.
Dr. Baloch established the Pakistan chapter of Muslim Students Association in th United States. "The main object of the association was to counter propaganda against movement for Pakistan."
While there, Dr. Baloch joined the United Nations Internship and worked in the NGOs department (of ECOSOC) "long before the word 'NGOs' became fashionable here," he syas.
During his stay in the USA, Dr. Baloch also concentrated on oriental studies in context of the Islamic civilization. Dr. Baloch had left good impression as an interne in the U.N. and he was offered a 'lucrative' job in the NGO division by the Hungarian bass Mr. Laslo Hamorie, but he refused responding, "Don't you know Pakistan has come into being."
He opted for his newly liberated country and with great difficulty got a job in the Ministry of Interior, Information and Broadcasting as an OSD. later on, Sindhi Adabi Board was set up and was drawing an outline on a comprehensive Sindhi dictionary (an idea originated by G.M Syed during his tenure as Sindh Education Minister). Dr. Baloch offered his services for the project. "The time limit for compiling the dictionary was three years. I worked for 20 hours a day with my team comprising of energetic young men, Sardar Ali Shah Zakir, Mumtaz Mirza, Shaikh Muhammed Ismail and completed the project."
After that he took upon himself the gigantic task of collecting and compiling various generic varieties of Sindhi folklore. For that he traveled to every nook and corner of Sindh and came across hundreds of sughars (wise men and women). The publication of more than 40 volumes of Sindhi folklore published by Sindhi Adabi Board goes to his credit, to the majority of people in interior Sindh. Dr. Nabi Bakhsh Baloch is known for his works on Sindhi folklore. Then the Sindhi Adabi Board stopped publishing Sindhi folklore completely. "By doing so, they killed all ideas and prospective projects on Sindhi folklore and culture," he says.
Dr. Balochs first appointment was OSD in Information Broadcasting Division of Ministry of Interior from when he resigned in 1951. He was offered a job as professor of Education by the then SindhUniversity's Vice Chancellor saintly scholar Allama I.I. Kazi (Now Dr. Baloch is married to one of his nieces). He had been teaching at the SindhUniversity, until he was appointed Vice Chancellor by the regime of Zulifiqar Ali Bhutto in the wake of unrest in various Jamshoro campuses by Sindhi nationalist student. During his tenure as V.C.Sindh University, Shah Latif University Campus at Khairpur Mirs, S.UEngineering College at Nawab Shah, and department of Pharmacy and Pakistan Studies at Jamshoro campus were founded. He remained Vice Chancellor from 1973 to 1976 until he was replaced by Shaikh Ayaz. Zulifiqar Ali Bhutto wanted him to Islamabad "which proved to be a blessing in disguise for me, "he says
He was appointed as a Secretary (OSD) in the Federal Ministry of Education and Culture. Dr. Baloch was appointed by the Zia regime as the first Vice Chancellor of Islamic University. It was during his tenure that the university became completely functional. He also undertook an impressive one hundred great books project for the Hijra Council Islamabad. The aim of the project was to translate and edit books on Islamic science and civilization into English. The books included Khawarzmi's book of Algebra, Bairuni's on Mineralogy (Precious Stones) Banu Musa's on meachanical devices and Automata and Jazari's work on Hydraulic Technology etc etc.
Besides all this, he has 80 books on literature, education, history, culture, lexicography, music and folklore to his credit (they are either authored or edited by him). He has also served as a member of UNESCO's International Editorial Committee on the preparation of History of Central Asian Civilizations, and the first chairman of Sindhi Language Authority. Presently, Dr. Baloch is professor Emeritus of Sindh University and Honorary Professor on the Allama I.I. Kazi Chair. Currently, He is busy working on a ten volume standard edition of Shah Jo- Ressalo of which seven volumes have so far been completed.
"I have never seen Dr. Nabi Bakhsh Baloch but I have always imagined and visualized him since my childhood, when I started learning Sindhi alphabet, as I had read his name on our first Sindhi primary text-book edited by him," says Najma Baloch, a housewife in Hyderabad.
With his very objective and professional approach as a historian, and his workaholic nature towards all the scholarly pursuits that he undertakes, he has often been subjected to criticism by a certain section of Sindhi writers and political activists. but Dr. Nabi Bakhsh Baloch counters it in his own characteristic manner saying, "History can only be judged on the basis of evidence, because it's the past. It can not be decided by votes".
(The Daily "DAWN" Karachi
The Review, March 18.12.1998
Dr. N.A. Baloch
Introduction to Beruni's book
Kitab al-Jamahir fi Ma'arafalat-Jawahir
Beruni's booked Kitab al-Jamahir fi Ma'arafalat-Jawahir is presented to the reader, in English translation, under the Great Books Project.
This solid work-historically the first worthy text on mineralogy has not received the scholarly attention commensurate with its importance, though the need for its detailed study has been felt for a long time. It was during the thirties of this century that Fritz Krenkow edited the Arabic text which was published by the Da'irat al-Ma'arif, Hyderabad Deccan, in 1355 A.H./1936 A.D. He used all the three known manuscripts of the book. the more complete and correct Tope Kapi Sarai Ms. (Tibb. 2047) transcribed in 626 A.H. the less accurate Escuarial Ms. and the more legible Rashid Effendi Ms. (Qaysariyah) and also offered the following description of the Tope Kapi Sarai Ms.:
"The copyist of this manuscript (Tibb. 2047) calls himself at the end Ahmad b. Siddiq b. Muhammad, the physician, and says that he completed the copy for his own use and of those after him, on the first day of the month of Safar, 626 A.H…… In the margins of this copy are frequent notes often correcting or disputing statements of Beruni, by another scholar who claims to have had other works of our author at hand, and calls himself Muhammad b. Ahmad Khatib Dariya in the Salihiyya of Damascus. He lived some what later as he cites the book of drugs by Ibn al- Baitar. In a note on the front page he states that he acquired the manuscript in 678. A.H. The next owner is Muhammad b. Ibrahim b. Sajd al-Ansari. I have not been able to find a biography of the first, but the second is beyond doubt the celebrated Ibn al- Akfani who died in 749 A.H. of plague. He also composed a work on jewels (Nukhab ad- Dhakha'ir, a short treatise of 15 pages, published by Cheikho in the journal al-Mashriq in 1908)"
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