The Indo-Persian translation movement was one of the major translation movements in Asia. From the 13th to the 19th century, a huge corpus of texts has been translated from Indian languages - mainly Sanskrit, but also others - into Persian. These translations testify to the contacts and the exchange between Muslim culture and non-Muslim scholarly traditions in India. The project of translation was not limited to «practical» knowledges like mathematics, astronomy or medicine, but included also texts on epic traditions, Hinduism, Vedanta, Purana etc. In this regard, the Indo-Persian translation movement differed from the earlier Graeco-Arabic one. The translation process furthermore initiated the production of texts on non-Muslim Indian traditions directly written in Persian, both by Muslim and non-Muslim authors.
Translating Indian texts into Persian did not only mean to use another language, but went along with a process of adaptation and persianisation of knowledge. This process of adaptation and persianisation is currently scrutinized by the Perso-Indica project which is based in Paris and Bonn. The panel on the Indo-Persian Translation movement will shed light on different aspects of translation and adaptation.
The papers include discussions of language education as well as translations of literary and scientific works, and also shed light on the interaction between Sufism and Yoga. They cover early translations dating back to the Delhi Sultanate period as well as translation and adaptation processes in the 18th/19th century.
The Tarjuma-yi Barāhī is the Persian translation of a Sanskrit text on prognostication, the Bṛhat Saṁhita by Varāhamihira. While the original text dates back to the 6th century, the translation was prepared during the Delhi Sultanate for Fīrūz Šāh Tuġluq (r. 1351-1388).
The Bṛhat Saṁhita contains many astrological prognostications, but also information on other prognostication methods, like e.g. omina related to the behavior of animals, or to jewelry, etc. Although in the Islamic world, all kinds of occult sciences and prognostications were popular, many of the practices dealt with in the Bṛhat Saṁhita were unknown to astrologers (and clients) from the Muslim world.
The lecture focusses on the way the text has been translated and adopted to a Persian-speaking audience. The translation mostly follows the original version quite closely, but shows also some interesting omissions and elisions: cosmological descriptions are quite often left out, and the translator discloses right from the beginning that he will omit everything related to “kufr”. But to what extent has he really omitted references to Hindu deities and veneration practices? And where does he draw the line?
Apart from “unacceptable” contents, unfamiliar concepts also posed a challenge for the translator. We may therefore wonder to what extent he attempts to explain these concepts to his audience, or takes it for granted that his readers understand them. This sheds some light on the question which audience the translator might have had in mind: an immigrated Iranian elite? Or rather persophone Hindus?