Zurück zur Übersicht Montag, 28.11.2022


14.00 Uhr

The Discovery of Hendustān (Hend)

Hendustān through Persian Eyes before Delhi Sultanate

Dr. Seyed Hossain Zarhani, Universität Heidelberg, Südasien-Institut, Abteilung Politische Wissenschaft

During the colonial time in India, there were many who agreed with John Strachey, a British civil servant, who said: “There is not and never was an India.” In the colonial worldview, India as a nation was a British construct, and the “people of India,” as inhabitants of the subcontinent, had no other sense of belongingness than to their disparate ethnic or religious identities. This view persists in contemporary scholarship as well, for example in the works of Partha Chatterjee, which often reduces Indian nationhood to accidents of geography, neglecting its cultural continuities with ancient civilizations. Dr Zarhani challenges this view in this lecture by examining Persian texts from the 10th and 11th centuries CE and their depiction of Hend and Hendustān as a recognizable geographical, cultural, and political entity. He examines Persian geographical imagery and ideas about the world before Mahmud Ghazni’s conquest of Hendustān, in three primary texts: the epic poetry of Shāhnāma; the geographical treatise Hodud al ālam; and alBiruni’s Tahghigh-al Māl al-Hend. Dr Zarhani demonstrates how an emergent post-Islamic Persian culture constructed differences between the Self and Others — by depicting Hend as a distinct and distinguishable geographical and politico-cultural entity parallel to Chin (China) and Rum (Byzantine Empire) — representing these dichotomies in its literary creations.


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Voßstraße 2

69115 Heidelberg


Südasien-Institut, Abteilung Politische Wissenschaft

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Abteilung Politische Wissenschaft