Published: Oct. 31, 2019

Friday, November 1 at 3pm
Eaton Humanities 1B80
free and open to the public

Dara Shikoh, the Mughal poet-prince, comes to limelight at intermittent intervals. This time it is because Dalhousie Road in Delhi has been renamed as Dara Shikoh Road; and also because Audrey Trusche has written a book titled Aurangzeb: The Man and The Myth. Trusche’s illuminating work contextualizes the life of Aurangzeb and attempts to free him from the label of “bigot.” In doing so, however, she plays into the binary of Dara/Aurangzeb : Dreamy poet/ Statesman King all over again in the section that she deals with the conflict of the brothers. Dara is still caught in a moment of “What if?” where counterfactual history starts indulging in a freeplay of imagination. 
This paper shall look at Dara’s intellectual trajectory, as also briefly dwell on his political journey. Dara’s intellectual journey mostly involves translation of Sanskrit spiritual texts into Persian and vice versa; as also his Sufi annotation of these texts. Through grounding Dara’s intellectual and poetic engagements, this paper shall broadly look at the following points:
a)    Is Dara Shikoh caught in an inescapable moment of “What If”? Does this infantalise his location within Sufic history, and Sufic history itself? Is the category of poet-king unacceptable to counterfactual conjecture?
b)    The impact on posterity  - of translations undertaken by Dara – globally; as also understanding ideologies of translations undertaken by him.
c)    Dara’s vision: Secular, syncretic, or religious cosmopolitanism? What were his motives in undertaking the task of mapping Indic philosophy onto Islamic theology?

Amit Ranjan is Fulbright Scholar-in-Residence at Florida International University (FIU) currently. In India, Ranjan teaches literature at RIE, NCERT, Bhubaneswar. He has a PhD and an MPhil, both from JNU.  His doctoral research about John Lang, a 19th century Australian writer, lawyer and journalist engages with rich primary archival material; and it throws new light at mid-19th century British empire vis-à-vis characters of “interlopers” like Lang. 
He was a Fulbright scholar previously as well, in 2015-16, also at FIU. He has also been a recipient of Endeavour Fellowship of Australia, as also the Inlaks Research Grant, courtesy of which he was a Visiting Fellow at UNSW, Sydney.  He was also delegate at Australia India Youth Dialogue, 2015, and a writer-in-residence at Sangam House Writers’ residency, 2010. He also holds the honorary position of Australia Awards Ambassador. He has taught literature at institutions like St. Stephen’s, Miranda House, JNU, Jamia Millia Islamia, and FIU. 
Amit’s poems, short stories, and essays have been published in various journals like La Zaporogue, Anti Serious, Cold Noon, Muse India, The Equator Line etc. Amit also has written four plays. His poetry collection Find Me Leonard Cohen, I am Almost Thirty, published last year has received very good reviews. Upcoming publications include a book on John Lang, a non-fiction work on Dara Shikoh, and a translation of Mridula Garg’s Miljul Mann.