Abstract
This dissertation examines three contemporaneous religious philosophers active in early modern South Asia: Muhibb Allah Ilahabadi , Madhusudana Sarasvati , and the Safavid philosopher, Mir Findiriski . These figures, two Muslim and one Hindu, were each prominent representatives of religious thought as it occurred in one of the three pan-imperial languages of the Mughal Empire: Arabic, Sanskrit, and Persian. In this study, I re-trace the trans-regional scholarly networks in which each of the figures participated, and then examine the various ways in which their respective networks overlapped. The Chishti Sufi Muhibb Allah, drawing from the Islamic intellectual tradition of wahdat al-wujud, engaged in "international" networks of Arabic debate on questions of ontology and metaphysics. Madhusudana Sarasvati, meanwhile, writing in the Hindu Advaita-Vedanta tradition, was busy adjudicating competing interpretations of the well-known Sanskrit text, the Yoga-Vasistha. Mir Findiriski also took considerable interest in a shorter version of this same Yoga-Vasistha, composing his own commentary upon a Persian translation of the treatise that had been undertaken at the Mughal imperial court. In this Persian translation of the Yoga-Vasistha alongside Findiriski's commentary, I argue, we encounter a creative synthesis of the intellectual contributions occurring within Muhibb Allah's Arabic milieu, on the one hand, and the competing exegeses of the Yoga-Vasistha circulating in Madhusudana's Sanskrit intellectual circles, on the other. The result is a novel Persian treatise that represents an emerging "sub-discipline" of Persian Indian religious thought, still in the process of formulating its basic disciplinary vocabulary as drawn from these broader Muslim and Hindu traditions
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