ECSAS 2023 – Turin 26-29 July

Language and Authority in Medieval India: Remarks from Amir Khusraw’s Preface to Divān-i Ghurrat al-Kāmāl and Iʿjāz-i Khusrawī


Sham Roshan Mehdi - Université de Lausanne, Section of Slavic and South Asian languages ​​and civilizations (SLAS), Lausanne, Switzerland


32 – Dynamics of Language Diversity, Multilingual Identities and Linguistic Nationalism in South Asia


 The Perso-Islamic culture has long been a dominant force in shaping the medieval history of an extensive geography such as South Asia, Central Asia, and Anatolia, also called the ‘Persianate Cosmopolis’. The acculturation of Persian language and literature in subcontinent of India led to emergence of distinctive Indo-Persian literati under the Delhi Sultanate. Amir Khusraw (c. 651–725/1253–1325) was the most iconic Indo-Persian poet of medieval India. The writings of Amir Khusraw eloquently depict the cosmopolitical dimension of medieval India. Dibācha-i Divān-i Ghurrat al-Kāmāl (1294) is an outstanding one. This preface illuminates some features of Indo-Persian culture and several fascinating topics that are significant culturally, historically, and linguistically. It presents Amir Khusraw’s transcultural perspective on language diversity, multilingual identities, and linguistic nationalism in medieval India. This research, which draws on the understudied works of Amir Khusraw, aims to achieve a deeper understanding of the issue of linguistic authority in medieval India within the Persianate context. It aims to address the following questions: How did the Indo-Persian culture come to create its distinctive linguistic identity? How do different languages interact in Amir Khusraw’s texts, and how do Amir Khusraw’s works address the issue of language and authority?