Monday, February 6, 2012

Idealistic Aspirations and Realistic Goals

One of the problems of having a supervisor whose mastery of a great many different languages is that one often begins to think it is possible to come close to those language skills. A three and a half hours session of closely reading Bayhaqi reminds the would be aspirant to just focus on bringing their Persian up to scratch. In an ideal world a scholar working on Mughal history would have:

1) Persian
2) Urdu
3) Brajbhasha and/or Arabic depending on their interests.

If one was feeling particularly ambitious they could add
1) Russian
2) Chaghatay Turkish

It would also not hurt to have a combination of the following:
1) Portugese
2) French
3) German

Those working on a particular region would do best to equip themselves with one of the following:
1) Bengali
2) Punjabi
3) Marathi 
4) Telugu

While day dreaming I am often torn between learning Brajbhasha or Chaghatay Turkish, or resuscitating my long dead Arabic (I had sadly moved on before it was cold in the grave), but realistically, I know for the next couple of years its going to be Persian, Persian, Persian. It is in such moments I understand how Mughal history as a field has lost out to scholars working on the colonial/post-colonial period.

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