Between c.1580-1660, the Mughal court commissioned numerous translation projects from various languages into Persian. While commonly translations were executed by a group of Sanskrit and Persian literati who worked together, other Persian renditions of Indic texts were produced by a single Persian poet or a scholar, as a one-time project. Only one translator at that period, Muṣtafá Khāliqdād (d. after 1612), is known to have produced three different translations in his lifetime, all by himself; two from Sanskrit and one from Arabic. Furthermore, all three translations were translations of texts that had already been rendered in Persian before – the Pañcatantra, the Kathāsaritsāgara, and the Kitāb al-Niḥal wa al-Milal.
This paper examines the prefaces Khāliqdād composed for his three translations, and aims to recover his philological awareness and mode of work as a professional translator. I closely analyze the key issues Khāliqdād identifies in the craft of translation and the purpose thereof, and further observe the challenges he encountered in each project in terms of his knowledge of the source languages, the genres of the source texts, and the Persian translations of those texts that were produced before his time. Eventually, I discuss Khāliqdād’s statements regarding what he was doing differently and how he hoped to produced a better translation, in light of the translation standards and purpose he had laid out. Thus, this paper touches upon questions pertaining to translation theory, premodern philology, Mughal literary taste, and the different criteria for authenticity of sources in the Mughal translation movement.