During the height of Muslim power in Mughal South Asia, Hindu and Muslim scholars worked collaboratively to translate a large body of Hindu Sanskrit texts into the Persian language. Translating Wisdom reconstructs the intellectual processes that underlay these translations. Using as a case study the 1597 Persian rendition of the Yoga-Vāsiṣṭha—an influential and popular Sanskrit philosophical tale—Shankar Nair illustrates how these early modern scholars drew upon their respective traditions to forge a common vocabulary through which to understand one another. These scholars thus achieved, Nair argues, a nuanced cultural exchange significant not only to South Asia’s past but also its present.
“An erudite and valuable contribution. Nair’s deep linguistic and philosophical expertise illuminates the writings of three important if overlooked seventeenth-century thinkers.” Supriya Gandhi, author of The Emperor Who Never Was: Dara Shukoh in Mughal India
“Nair exhibits a breathtaking command of languages, textual traditions, and intellectual cultures in this pioneering study of the crisscrossing of Sanskrit, Persian, and Arabic cultural jet streams in sixteenth-century India.” Jonardon Ganeri, author of The Lost Age of Reason: Philosophy in Early Modern India 1450–1700
“Shankar Nair examines a pivotal work of Mughal translation and shows how it channels huge vortexes of Islamic and Hindu intellectual culture. A masterwork.” John Stratton Hawley, author of A Storm of Songs: India and the Idea of the Bhakti Movement
“A welcome addition to the history of Hindu and Islamic interactions in early modern India, highlighting the subtleties of translation and the painstaking creation of a vocabulary important for both religions.” Francis X. Clooney, Parkman Professor of Divinity, Harvard University
Shankar Nair is Assistant Professor in the Department of Religious Studies and the Department of Middle Eastern and South Asian Languages and Cultures at the University of Virginia.
Nair, S. 2020. Translating Wisdom: Hindu-Muslim Intellectual Interactions in Early Modern South Asia. California: University of California Press. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1525/luminos.87
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