Aims and method | Perso-Indica

Aims and method


Perso-Indica is a research and publishing project that will produce a comprehensive Analytical Survey of Persian Works on Indian Learned Traditions, encompassing the treatises and translations produced in India between the 13th and the 19th century. Perso-Indica intends to become the first reference work for this domain of studies and will offer a unique and innovative contribution to our understanding of the history of Persianate and Indic intellectual and literary traditions and their cross-cultural interactions, as well as of modern South Asian identity construction.


The production of Persian texts on Indic traditions and sciences must be reckoned among the great cross-cultural enterprises in world history. The establishment of a Muslim power in India was achieved, among other things, through a vast enterprise of knowledge. Muslims gradually developed their knowledge and vision of the complexity of India and its different religions, languages, castes, etc. During seven centuries, a large number of Persian studies were written on India’s religions, philosophy, mythology, mysticism, history, sciences, arts, geography, flora, fauna, cuisine, etc. These works were often translations of older Sanskrit sources although several of them were original treatises. They were compiled by Muslim and Hindu scholars alike. On the whole, this constitutes the most important process of translation from a pre-Islamic tradition achieved in the Muslim world since the adaptation of Greek knowledge into Arabic; nevertheless, among the great translation movements, it certainly remains the least studied.

The literature that will be taken into account for Perso-Indica was produced during a period that may be roughly divided into three main epochs. The first phase coincides with the Delhi Sultanate, from the early 13th century to the early 16th century, when the interest focused mainly on the sciences. The second phase witnessed the blossoming of literary output under the patronage of the Mughals (1526-1858) and the production of treatises and translations belonging to several different genres and disciplines. The third phase coincides with the colonial period, when Persian studies on the Indian traditions were also being written for the members of the colonial élite.


Perso-Indica is arranged subject-wise, according to the different domains of study, each constituting a chapter. Chapters are subdivided into sections: a) translations and monographs of known epoch; b) translations and monographs of unknown epoch; c) other sources: chapters and important discussions in works which are not monographs on Indic knowledge.

Entries are based upon the direct examination of manuscripts and published primary sources as well as analysis of the secondary literature. Each entry is devoted to a single author/translator or work. Entries inside each section are arranged in a chronological order, starting with the earliest to the most recent. Entries will include among other things: a biographical sketch of the author, a description of the work, the Indian sources mentioned in it, details of the manuscripts, lithographed and printed editions and translations. Illustrated copies of works will also be referred to.


Perso-Indica is an online publication (ISSN 2267-2753). The project philosophy is to offer the widest possible accessibility of its data by the scholarly community. Perso-Indica has been launched in electronic form, and its entries will be freely accessible through its own website.