SOAS Research Online

A Free Database of the Latest Research by SOAS Academics and PhD Students

[skip to content]

Williams, Richard David (2019) 'Reflecting in the Vernacular: Translation and Transmission in Seventeenth- and Eighteenth-Century North India.' Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East, 39 (1). pp. 96-110.

Text - Accepted Version
Download (499kB) | Preview


In early modern North India, knowledge systems developed simultaneously in multiple “classical” and “vernacular” languages. This article examines the processes of multilingual knowledge transmission through an analysis of a Brajbhasha (classical Hindi) music treatise, the Sangitadarpana (“Mirror of Music”) of Harivallabha (ca. 1653). Harivallabha was translating a recent Sanskrit work of the same name: an old-fashioned treatise that nonetheless proved extremely influential in Persian and other Sanskrit works, as well as in miniature painting. This article examines the implications of the vernacular rendering of the Sangitadarpana and Harivallabha's seminal influence on the musicological intellectual culture that followed in his wake. Drawing on other translations and treatises in other forms of Hindi and Bengali, the article also considers the limits of Brajbhasha's circulation, and the wider implications of using a vernacular language for reading, listening, visual, and performance practices.

Item Type: Journal Article
Keywords: Translation; early modern India; musicology; Hindi literature
SOAS Departments & Centres: Departments and Subunits > School of Arts > Department of Music
ISSN: 1089201X
Copyright Statement: © 2019 Duke University Press. This is the version of the article accepted for publication in Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East published by Duke University Press:
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 03 Dec 2018 13:27
Funders: Leverhulme Trust

Altmetric Data


Download activity - last 12 monthsShow export options
Downloads since deposit
6 month trend
6 month trend
Accesses by country - last 12 monthsShow export options
Accesses by referrer - last 12 monthsShow export options

Repository staff only

Edit Item Edit Item