The Language Of History: Sanskrit Narratives of Muslim Pasts


The Language of History analyses a hitherto overlooked group of histories on Indo-Muslim or Indo-Persian political events, namely a few dozen Sanskrit texts that date from the 1190s until 1721. As soon as Muslim political figures established themselves in northern India in the 1190s-when the Ghurids overthrew the Chauhan kingdom and ruled part of northern India from Delhi-Indian intellectuals wrote about that political development in Sanskrit. Indian men (and at least one woman) produced dozens of Sanskrit texts on Muslim-initiated political events. These works span Delhi Sultanate and Mughal rule, including texts that deal with Deccan sultanates and Muslim-led polities in the subcontinent’s deep south. India’s premodern learned elite only ceased to write on Indo-Muslim political power in Sanskrit when the Mughal Empire began to fracture beyond repair in the early eighteenth century. In other words, Sanskrit writers produced histories of Indo-Persian rule throughout nearly the entire time span of that political experience.

This book seeks, for the first time, to collect, analyse, and theorize Sanskrit histories of Muslim-led and, later, as Muslims became an integral part of Indian cultural and political worlds, Indo-Muslim rule as a body of historical materials. This archive lends insight into formulations and expressions of premodern political, social, cultural and religious identities. Given the current political climate in India, where nationalist claims are often grounded on fabricated visions of India’s premodernity, this book also contributes to ongoing debates in the Indian public sphere.

Title: The Language Of History: Sanskrit Narratives of Muslim Pasts
Author: Audrey Truschke
Publisher: Penguin India
Available: Amazon


Audrey Truschke is a historian, author and activist. She is associate professor of South Asian history at Rutgers University in Newark, New Jersey. She is the author of two award-winning books: Culture of Encounters: Sanskrit at the Mughal Court and Aurangzeb: The Man and the Myth. Her next book project is a sweeping history of India, from the Indus Valley Civilization to the twenty-first century. For her public-facing work and activism on issues in South Asia and the academy, as well as scholarly commentary, follow her @AudreyTruschke on Twitter and Facebook.

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