Al-Bīrūnī's Kitāb Sānk and Kitāb Pātanğal:A Historical and Textual Study


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PhD thesis: a PhD thesis.
Al-Bīrūnī's Kitāb Sānk and Kitāb Pātanğal:A Historical and Textual Study
Verdon N.
Bronkhorst J.
Genequand C.
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Université de Lausanne, Faculté des lettres
Faculté de biologie et de médecine Université de Lausanne CH-1015 Lausanne SUISSE
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The historical pole of this research distinguishes differing historical and cultural contexts in which the scholar al-Bïrûnî evolved. Between the years 973 and 1017, he lived in Khwarezm (Kät and JürjänTya), Ray, and Jürjän. He also dwelt in Kabul and Ghazna, both situated on a passage between Persia and India, and travelled to some parts of early medieval India between the years 1017 and 1030.
Evidence pointing to him having made actual direct observations beyond the abode of Islam remains scanty. According to his writings, only five locales emerge as having been visited by him, all situated in today's Afghanistan and Pakistan. When al-BTrunl visited these places, he encountered the society of the Indian Shähis, who followed a form of Brahmanism.
Al-Bïrûnï's knowledge of Sanskrit was the result of a long process that lasted at least 30 years (1000-1030). In order to reach the level of Sanskrit that enabled him to translate several works from Sanskrit into Arabic, he needed to work with literate people well-versed in Sanskrit, who may also have had some comprehension of Arabic, and/or Persian.
The textual pole of this dissertation examines the question of the relationship between al- Bïrûnï's Arabic Kitab Sank and Kitäb Pätangal - two works related to Sämkhya-Yoga - and their possible Sanskrit sources. A philological survey based on these Arabic translations and on Sämkhya-Yoga Sanskrit literature highlights that al-Bïrûnï's translations, both, are related to the classical phase in the development of these two Indian philosophical systems. Despite the early spread of Yoga and Sämkhya ideas through Sanskrit literature, it seems that between the early 11th and 16th centuries they lost vitality amongst Indian scholars. Therefore, al-Bïrûnï's translation of works related to these specific Indian philosophies in the early 11th century CE deserves attention.
The second pole of this study also demonstrates that al-BTrünl's hermeneutics played an important part in his transmission of these two Indian schools of thought, as he highly transformed his source in both form and substance. This dissertation considers the question of the relationship between al-Bïrûnï's Arabic translations and their possible Sanskrit sources from the viewpoint of Translation Studies; which makes it possible to point out potential candidates for being al-Bïrûnï's original Sanskrit sources with some confidence. Overall, the Kitäb Sank and the Kitäb Pätangal represent original works of Sämkhya and Yoga, as viewed and transmitted by a Perso-Muslim scholar, rather than pure translations of Sanskrit work.
al-Biruni, Middle-Age, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yoga, Samkhya, Indian philosophy
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22/01/2016 17:07
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29/10/2020 12:36
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