The Gulzār-i ḥāl by Banwālīdās 'Walī Rām'. Introduction to a 17th century Indo-Persian text
Banwālīdās was an intellectual and a disciple of the famous Qādirī spiritual master Mullā Šāh Badaḫšī. Nevertheless, his philosophic ideas were equally influenced by the monistic School of Śaṅkarācārya. The analysis of the Gulzār-i ḥāl by Banwālīdās outlines ways Hindu monistic ideas and Islamic mysticism could interact in late-17th century Mughal intellectual milieu.
Lunch Lecture by IIAS fellow Giuseppe Cappello from the Università degli Studi di Napoli "L'Orientale", Italy.
The centuries-old cultural interest of Muslim intellectuals for the Indic civilization led to the translation of many Sanskrit texts into Arabic and Persian. The literary corpus resulted from such translation movement is remarkable for the quantity of texts produced and the variety of topics covered. Focusing on late-16th-17th century Mughal India, we find many nobles and intellectuals actively promoting translations of Indian texts into Persian. Among these works emerges the Gulzār-i ḥāl by Banwālīdās “Walī Rām” (1662-63), that is the Persian adaptation of a famous Sanskrit drama, the Prabodhacandrodaya by Kṛṣṇamiśra (after 1060). Another hypothesis is that Banwālīdās used as intermediate with the original Sanskrit a Braj Bhāṣā version by the poet Nanddās, entitled Prabodhacandrodaya Nāṭaka (1570).
This lecture aims at introducing the reasons why Banwālīdās composed the Gulzār-i ḥāl and how he textualized Hindu philosophical aspects of the matrix-text within an Islamic cultural frame inspired by Ibn ‘Arabī’s ideas. The notable number of copies available in European and South Asian libraries indicates the Gulzār-i ḥāl was well known among Indian intellectuals of later times. A part of the lecture will be dedicated to the Gulzār-i ḥāl’s manuscript tradition. Here, by focusing on the circulation of the text, will be introduced some cultural trends of the copyists. The results presented during the lecture constitute a preliminary study I aim at developing by writing a critical edition of the Gulzār-i ḥāl and a descriptive catalogue of all the manuscripts. They will give prominence to the intellectual figure of Banwālīdās, that was well-known among the Indian erudite circles, but
Dr Giuseppe Cappello is a PhD in Asian, African and Mediterranean Studies at the University of Naples "L’Orientale", Italy. He received the BA and MA at the University of Naples "L’Orientale", where he studied both Hindi and Persian literature. This kind of educational path afforded him to win a PhD scholarship at the same institution by presenting a project focused on the Gulzār-i ḥāl by Banwālīdās. This is the Persian adaptation of a famous Sanskrit allegory, the Prabodhacandrodaya by Kṛṣṇamiśra. Now, he is preparing a critical edition of the Gulzār-i ḥāl and a descriptive catalogue of the manuscripts available in European, Indian and Pakistani libraries.
Giuseppe Cappello, Stefania Cavaliere, (forthcoming) “Translating the Truth of Truths. Crossed analysis of two versions of the Prabodhacandrodaya drama”, in Early Modern Literary Cultures in North India – Current Research, ed. by Danuta Stasik, Published by the University of Warsaw.