Theses Doctoral

Cosmopolitan Encounters: Sanskrit and Persian at the Mughal Court

Truschke, Audrey Angeline

In this dissertation, I analyze interactions between Sanskrit and Persian literary cultures at the Mughal court during the years 1570-1650 C.E. During this period, the Mughals rose to prominence as one of the most powerful dynasties of the early modern world and patronized Persian as a language of both literature and empire. Simultaneously, the imperial court supported Sanskrit textual production, participated in Sanskrit cultural life, and produced Persian translations of Sanskrit literature. For their part, Sanskrit intellectuals became influential members of the Mughal court, developed a linguistic interest in Persian, and wrote extensively about their imperial experiences.

Yet the role of Sanskrit at the Mughal court remains a largely untold story in modern scholarship, as do the resulting engagements across cultural lines. To the extent that scholars have thought about Sanskrit and Persian in tandem, they have generally been blinded by their own language barriers and mistakenly asserted that there was no serious interaction between the two. I challenge this uncritical view through a systematic reading of texts in both languages and provide the first detailed account of exchanges between these traditions at the Mughal court. I further argue that these cross-cultural events are central to understanding the construction of power in the Mughal Empire and the cultural and literary dynamics of early modern India.

Geographic Areas


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Middle Eastern, South Asian, and African Studies
Thesis Advisors
Pollock, Sheldon
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
April 5, 2012