Culture of Encounters

Sanskrit at the Mughal Court

Audrey Truschke

Columbia University Press

Culture of Encounters

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Pub Date: March 2016

ISBN: 9780231173629

384 Pages

Format: Hardcover

List Price: $60.00£49.95

Pub Date: March 2016

ISBN: 9780231540971

384 Pages

Format: E-book

List Price: $59.99£49.95

Culture of Encounters

Sanskrit at the Mughal Court

Audrey Truschke

Columbia University Press

Culture of Encounters documents the fascinating exchange between the Persian-speaking Islamic elite of the Mughal Empire and traditional Sanskrit scholars, which engendered a dynamic idea of Mughal rule essential to the empire's survival. This history begins with the invitation of Brahman and Jain intellectuals to King Akbar's court in the 1560s, then details the numerous Mughal-backed texts they and their Mughal interlocutors produced under emperors Akbar, Jahangir (1605–1627), and Shah Jahan (1628–1658). Many works, including Sanskrit epics and historical texts, were translated into Persian, elevating the political position of Brahmans and Jains and cultivating a voracious appetite for Indian writings throughout the Mughal world.

The first book to read these Sanskrit and Persian works in tandem, Culture of Encounters recasts the Mughal Empire as a polyglot polity that collaborated with its Indian subjects to envision its sovereignty. The work also reframes the development of Brahman and Jain communities under Mughal rule, which coalesced around carefully selected, politically salient memories of imperial interaction. Along with its groundbreaking findings, Culture of Encounters certifies the critical role of the sociology of empire in building the Mughal polity, which came to irrevocably shape the literary and ruling cultures of early modern India.
In Culture of Encounters, Audrey Truschke makes a compelling argument for the importance of Sanskrit and Sanskrit intellectuals in the Mughal court. Although certain aspects of these 'encounters' have been researched before, Truschke's work is more comprehensive, and her precise textual analyses go further than any others so far. This is an important and impressive work that should change the field of Mughal studies. Francesca Orsini, SOAS, University of London
A remarkable achievement. Exploiting a substantial archive of Sanskrit materials, Truschke reveals a vibrantly multicultural Mughal court, one more thoroughly Indian than is commonly thought, owing to its close engagement with the land's oldest literary culture. Richard M. Eaton, University of Arizona
Cultures of Encounter is a breakthrough in modern scholarship on the history and culture of South Asia. This absorbing account of the interaction of Persian and Sanskrit offers a powerful corrective to conventional one-sided narratives. Carl W. Ernst, University of North Carolina
The benefits of this book make it richly worth the while of cultural historians of Mughal India and literary scholars of precolonial Persian, Sanskrit, and South Asian vernacular literatures. International Journal of Middle East Studies
Preface and Acknowledgments
Note on Transliteration and Other Scholarly Conventions
Introduction: The Mughal Culture of Power
1. Brahman and Jain Sanskrit Intellectuals at the Mughal Court
2. Sanskrit Textual Production for the Mughals
3. Many Persian Maha bharatas for Akbar
4. Abu al-Fazl Redefines Islamicate Knowledge and Akbar's Sovereignty
5. Writing About the Mughal World in Sanskrit
6. Incorporating Sanskrit Into the Persianate World
Conclusion: Power, Literature, and Early Modernity
Appendix 1: Bilingual Example Sentences in Krsnadasa's Parasiprakasa (Light on Persian)
Appendix 2: Four Sanskrit Verses Transliterated in the Razmna mah (Book of War)
Notes
Bibliography
Index

About the Author

Audrey Truschke is assistant professor of South Asian history at Rutgers University–Newark and a Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Religious Studies at Stanford University. She writes about cultural and intellectual history, the relationship between empire and literature, and cross-cultural interactions in early modern South Asia.