Sanskrit and Translation in the Sultanates
In his essay on Muslim mahākāvyas, Luther Obrock studies exchanges between the cosmopolitan idioms of Sanskrit and Persian at pre-Mughal Sultanate courts. He introduces three remarkable texts: Udayaraja’s Rājavinoda, an encomium that praises the Muzaffarid Sultan Mahmud Begada of Gujarat using terms adapted from idealized representations of Hindu kingship; Kalyana Malla’s Sulamaccarita, a retelling of both the Biblical narrative of David and Bathsheba and the story of the jinn and the fisherman that appears in the Thousand and One Nights; and finally Shrivara’s Kathākautuka, a translation of Jami’s Yūsuf wa Zulaykhā that effectively transforms the Persian, Sufi-influenced masnavī into a Sanskrit kāvya of Shaivite devotion. These works can be understood as sites of cultural and literary encounter where poets and intellectuals experimented creatively to secure Sanskrit’s continuing relevance in the changing literary ecology of the regional sultanates.
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