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 and exchanges that underlay these translations. Using as a case study the 1597 Persian rendition of the Yoga-Vasistha—an influential Sanskrit philosophical tale whose popularity stretched across the subcontinent—Shankar Nair illustrates how these early modern Muslim and Hindu scholars drew upon their respective religious, philosophical, and literary traditions to forge a common vocabulary through which to understand one another. These scholars thus achieved, Nair argues, a nuanced cultural exchange and interreligious and cross-philosophical dialogue significant not only to South Asia’s past but also its present.
This interview is one of 3 interviews related to an upcoming American Academy of Religion "New Books in Hindu Studies" academic panel. The panel discusses Translating Wisdom: Hindu-Muslim Intellectual Interactions in Early Modern South Asia (University of California Press, 2020) in tandem with Patton Burchett's A Genealogy of Devotion. Patton's interview can be accessed here.
Translating Wisdom is available open access here.
Raj Balkaran is a scholar, educator, consultant, and life coach. For information see rajbalkaran.com.