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1st-2nd February 2018 - Conference
Friedrich-Wilhelm University, Bonn

The 5th Perso-Indica Conference. Science and Philosophy: Translation, Transmission and Interaction between Persianate and Hindu Traditions

Science and Philosophy: Translation, Transmission and Interaction between Persianate and Hindu Traditions

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The Fifth Conference of Perso-Indica looks at the forms of interaction and translation between Persian and Hindu cultures in the scientific and philosophical fields. Persian scientific studies in South Asia acquired important distinctive features compared with the treatises produced in Iran and the rest of the Muslim world during the post-Abbasid period. In the multicultural context of South Asia, where Muslims remained a minority of the population, a number of treatises dealing with Indian scientific materials were written in Persian: Persian language and texts became new means of expression and transmission of Hindu scientific knowledge and practices, allowing them to circulate beyond the networks of Hindu scholars. Persian translations of Sanskrit sources appeared from the Sultanate period, especially from the early 14th century, and the production of these texts lasted until the colonial period. Many of them were compiled by and for the Muslims; however, from the Mughal period onward, Persian scientific texts — dealing with both Hindu and Greco-Arabic materials — were also written by Hindu scholars and for Hindu noblemen. Certain sciences seem to have fulfilled specific demands of the ruling elite: such as astrology, prognostication and the treatises on the horse. Differently, the large amount of Persian texts dealing with Ayurveda and pharmacology chiefly emerged and developed outside the courts. The production of these texts does not seem to have been a homogeneous trend but rather a polycentric phenomenon in which the regional spaces occupied a key role.

In the scope of this conference we aim to explore especially the following topics:

Which were the common cross-disciplinary aspects and practices of scientific translation, and which were the non homogeneous features that characterized the reception of different Indian sciences in the Persianate environment, either from an historical, geographical or social perspective?

Which were the historical, geographical, regional and dynastic contexts in which these scientific studies emerged and developed?

Which were the symmetric features of these interactions? How did Hindu scholars assimilate scientific notions drawn from Muslim sources? Did Muslim scientific materials circulate through translations and become incorporated into Sanskrit sources, and which disciplines were concerned? How and to what extent did Persian-speaking Hindu scholars appropriate Muslim sciences by reading the sources in the original languages?

Which genres of Persian texts on Indian sciences were produced, and how did the role of different types of texts evolve or change according to the requirements of different disciplines? What was the influence of direct translations from Sanskrit and other Indian languages and what was the role of new Persian treatises on Indian sciences? Moreover, how were Indian notions and practices incorporated and transmitted in Persian works which dealt chiefly with Greco-Arabic knowledge?

How were the source terms and notions translated in the lexicon and the concepts of the target culture? Which Indic terms were incorporated in Persian texts? Did their transliteration into Persian script follow common patterns or evolve? What was the role of intermediate translations in vernacular languages in the production of these Persian texts, and how did this influence translation?

Which were the non textual, oral and social aspects of the interaction? How was knowledge taught and transmitted between masters and students of different religious groups and networks of scholars, and how did these interreligious pedagogical interactions emerge and develop?

What were the impact and the legacy of these interactions and of the corpus of Persian texts for Indian sciences? Did these studies propose conceptual changes compared to the Greco-Arabic tradition? Did they have a reflexive impact that could redefine certain concepts of the target culture which were involved in translation? In a wider perspective, did these Persian studies circulate also outside South Asia, and into which languages were they translated?

Location and info

Date: 1st and 2nd February 2018.

Venue: Friedrich-Wilhelm University Bonn, Germany

Scientific coordination: Eva Orthmann (Friedrich-Wilhelm University, Bonn) – Fabrizio Speziale (EHESS, Paris).

Contact for information: Ali Balaei Langroudi:

Deadline for submission of abstract proposals: 1st August 2017, abstract proposal must be sent to: The abstracts will be assessed by peer review.