Imam Baksh ‘Nasikh’ was son of Khuda Baksh who belonged to Lahore but had moved to Faizabad. Imam Bakhsh was born in Faizabad, which was the capital of Oudh and was ruled by the Mughals at the time. His father died early in his childhood. Fortunately, a wealthy businessman from Lahore, ‘Khuda Baksh Khema-Doz’, adopted him. He arranged good education and a comfortable life for Nasikh. When his adoptive father died, his brothers tried to challenge the inheritance. Nasikh humbly requested them that he was not interested in wealth and respected them like his father and wanted their patronage. They agreed but they once attempted to poison him but somehow Nasikh became aware of the conspiracy and the attempt became unsuccessful. Ultimately the inheritance issue went to court, and the court decided in favor of Nasikh.

When Lucknow became the capital city of Oudh, Nasikh moved to Lucknow, and spent the rest of his life in a mohallah called Teksal. Nasikh learned Persian from ‘Hafiz Waris Ali’ and other learned scholars of Firangi Mahal, a noted academy of Persian and Arabic learning in Lucknow. He was not proficient in Arabic, but knew it enough for the Urdu poetry.

He learned poetry on his own. Nasikh was a great admirer of Mir Taqi Mir. It is said that during Nasikh's learning years, Mir Taqi Mir was alive and Nasikh once went to Mir for seeking his guidance in poetry. For some reason, Mir did not help him, and Nasikh returned broken-hearted. He vowed to perfect his skills in poetry with a new vigor. He used to compose poetry and review himself again and again and make necessary correction till he was himself satisfied.

He was a cultured man with good physique and handsome personality. Besides poetry he took keen interest in athletic activities. He loved Lucknow and its culture. He visited cities like Benaras, Allahabad, Faizabad and Azimabad (Patna) and several lucrative offers were given to him but he declined to stay anywhere else. In Lucknow during the period of ‘Nawab Ghaziuddin Haider’ he was invited to the courts and write qasida with the promise of the title of ‘Mulk-ush-Shua’ra’ but his self-respect did not permit him to accept the offer. He had to leave Lucknow and live in Allahabad for some time. After the death of Nawab he returned to Lucknow and lived there till his death.


Nasikh is described as the founder of Lucknow school. During Nasikh’s period in Lucknow, establishment and standardization of urdu language as literary language of Indian Muslims was developing. Many Urdu poets had emigrated from Delhi due to political events. Nasikh became the leader of language reform aimed at replacing idioms currently being used in Delhi and considered superior by some. This is the reason why Nasikh’s poetry gained importance as it constitutes a showcase of reformed language. He wrote three diwans and some masnavi’s. His favorite form of poetry was ghazal but he also wrote quatrains, chronograms, and didactic poems.


Nasikh was a Sufi Muslim. Much like Mir Taqi Mir, his predecessor, he was probably a follower of the “Malamati” or “Blameworthy” aspect of the Sufi tradition. Using this technique, a person ascribes to an unconventional aspect of a person or society, and then plays out its results, either in action or in verse. As in Ghalib or Mir's poetry, Nasikh's ridicule of Abrahamic/Koranic concepts of paradise, hell, zahid, etc. are very much found in his poetry


Nasikh wrote three Diwans but only two are famous. One called Daftar-e-Preshan composed in Allahabad another was composed as Nazm e Siraj. There is also a Persian diwan written in uncomplicated style.


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