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8th April, 2016 - Conference
Université Sorbonne Nouvelle – Paris 3

The Second Perso-Indica Workshop: Indian Narratives and Persian Literature

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10.00: Fabrizio Speziale, Introduction to the Second Perso-Indica Workshop

10.30: Nalini Balbir, « The Pañcatantra Stories in Their Indian Versions: Languages, Contents and Purposes »

11.00: Pegah Shahbaz, « The Translation and Adaptation of Pañcatantra Tradition in Persian Literature: from Kalīla wa Dimna to Pancakhyana »

11.30: Discussion

12.00: Lunch-break

13.15: Judit Törzsök, « Narrative Strategies and Political Situations: The Hitopadeśa in Context »

13.45: Blain Auer, « From Mufarriḥ al-qulūb (The Rejoicer of Hearts) to Aḫlāq-i hindī (Indian Ethics): Translating Persian and Sanskrit Political Advice Literature »

14.15: Discussion

14.45: Coffee-break

15.15: Iran Farkhondeh, « The Śukasaptati Within the Sanskrit Tradition of Kathā Cycles »

15.45: Sunil Sharma, « When a Translation is Not Really a Translation: Żīyā al-Dīn Naḫšabī’s Ṭūṭī-nāma »

16.15: Discussion

16.45: Conclusion


Nalini Balbir
(Sorbonne Nouvelle University – Mondes iranien et indien, Paris), « The Pañcatantra Stories in Their Indian Versions: Languages, Contents and Purposes »

In this paper, we will propose a typological survey of several Pañcatantra versions in Sanskrit or north Indian vernaculars, focusing on the specificities of their purposes and contents. Vishnusharman’s Pañcatantra, Purnabhadra’s Pancaykhyana or the Pancakhyanavarttika are not just repetitions. We will also draw attention on Prakrit versions of Pañcatantra stories that are not found in collections but are available scattered in the Jain commentaries where the animal fables are used to illustrate the relationships between members of the religious community.

Pegah Shahbaz (Sorbonne Nouvelle University – Mondes iranien et indien, Paris), « The Translation and Adaptation of Pañcatantra Tradition in Persian Literature: from Kalīla wa Dimna to Pancakhyana »

Manifold translations and adaptations of Pañcatantra in Persian literature demonstrate remarkable significance of this narrative reflecting didactic, political and social matters through allegorical form of fables. Some of the Persian versions are indirect translations from Arabic language as Naṣr Allah Munšī’s Kalīla wa Dimna (1159-1161), and ’Abd Allah Buḫārī’s Dāstān-hā-yi Bīdpāy (1162-1165) while some others are variants of the previous Persian versions as Anwār-i Suhaylī by Wā’iẓ Kāšifī (d. 1531) and Abu al-Fażl ‘Allāmī’s ‘Ayār-I Dāniš (d. 1602). In one case, Pancakhyana is known as a direct translation from Sanskrit realized by Ḫāliqdād ‘Abbāsī in the sixteenth century. The present paper will introduce diverse versions of the text in Persian language and will discuss through a comparative approach, how and to what extent these versions vary in both form and content.

Judit Törzsök (University of Lille), « Narrative Strategies and Political Situations: The Hitopadeśa in Context »

The Hitopadeśa or “Friendly Advice” is often presented as a later, watered-down version of the Pañcatantra: an unoriginal collection of stories, overburdened with didactic material. This paper attempts to look at this text differently and explore the ways in which it reflects the ideas and realities of its time, in particular concerning political and religious changes. More general tendencies are looked at through the example of a story which belongs exclusively to the Hitopadeśa tradition. Finally, it is shown that the Hitopadeśa, together with an earlier recension of the Tantropākhyāna and Kāmandaka’s Nītisāra, have considerably influenced related genres in South-East Asia, and this influence may well be due to the work’s distinctive character.

Blain Auer (University of Lausanne), « From The Rejoicer of Hearts (Mufarriḥ al-qulūb) to Indian Ethics (Akhlāq-i Hindī): Translating Persian and Sanskrit Political Advice Literature »

This paper treats the transmission of Sanskrit political advice literature or nitī into Persian in the early modern period through the Mufarriḥ al-qulūb (The Rejoicer of Hearts) produced under Šarqī dynastic patronage circa 1446-1447, and into Rekhta through the Akhlāq-i hindī (Indian Ethics) completed in 1803 at Fort William College by Mīr Bahādūr ʿAlī Ḥusaynī under John Gilchrist (1759-1841). It considers how nitī literature, represented by the Pañcatantra (The Five Discourses) and the Hitopadeśa (The Friendly Advice), was translated into Islamic advice literature, known as naṣīḥa and aḫlāq, in the contexts of Muslim imperial rule and under the patronage of British colonial officers. It asks what these translations reveal about the relationship between language, knowledge, and politics and how ethical ideals and moral precepts of kingship spread in the premodern world of South Asia.

Iran Farkhondeh (Sorbonne Nouvelle University – Mondes iranien et indien, Paris), «The Śukasaptati Within the Sanskrit Tradition of Kathā Cycles »

The Śukasaptati holds a distinctive place within the Sanskrit tradition of kathā collections. The many different versions and translations of the work give evidence for the vast diffusion of this collection of embedded stories far beyond India. We will briefly present the different Sanskrit versions that are extant: the so called simplicior, elegantior and ornatior versions written down around the 12th century. These three versions are probably much later than the first versions of the work. Several indications allow us to think that some other versions of the tales of the parrot were already circulating by the 5th–6th centuries of the common era. Our aim is not to trace an Urtext nor to find out which version comes closer to the original Śukasaptati but rather to try to delineate the place of the Śukasaptati within the broader frame of the Sanskrit tradition of stories within stories. In this perspective, we will compare the similar stories in the Śukasaptati, the Kathā-sarit-sāgara and the Bṛhat-kathā-mañjarī: all these three collections of tales borrow in a way or another from the Nanda cycle. There are grounds to believe that the Śukasaptati was mainly handed down orally in the context of divertimenti, such as the kathā-vinoda described in the Mānasollasa. That is indeed “to amuse the mind” that the author of the simplicior version wrote down the Śukasaptati.

Sunil Sharma (University of Boston), « When a Translation is Not Really a Translation: Żīyā al-Dīn Naḫšabī’s Ṭūṭī-nāma »

The Ṭūṭī-nāma (Tales of the parrot) by Żīyā al-Dīn Naḫšabī (d. 750/1350-51) is regarded as one of the most popular Persian adaptations of the Sanskrit Śukasaptati. Yet, there are major differences in the framework narratives, as well as the individual stories of the two works. It turns out that the Ṭūṭī-nāma is a reworking of an earlier Persian translation of the Śukasaptati, i.e. Jawāhir al-asmār by another Sultanate author, ‘Imād ibn Muḥammad al-Na’rī. This paper will discuss the overlapping processes of ‘translation’ and adaptation that lay behind the composition of Naḫšabī’s work.


Location and info

Place: Salle Claude Simon, Sorbonne nouvelle, 4 Rue des Irlandais, 75005, Paris.

Organisation and contact: Pegah Shahbaz,