Searching for the Hidden “One”: Muslim and Early European Interpretations of the Indian Upaniṣads

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The Upaniṣads are commonly regarded as the ultimate summary of the Indian Weltanschauung. This high esteem is the result of a rather convoluted history of reception in different cultural environments. The article draws on their first interpretations in the Muslim and the European horizon, which are closely interconnected by a fascinating story of translation, namely the Sirr-i akbar of the Mughal prince Dārā Shukūh (1615–1659) and the Oupnek’hat by A. H. Anquetil-Duperron (1731–1805). As will be argued, both mediators have a comparable attitude towards the Indian corpus, and their search for the “one” (= God = Allah) is deeply rooted in perceptions of a single “sacred book” containing the ultimate expression of the truth, which is the object of a “hidden” transmission undetected so far. The goal of this article is to present the common features of their approaches based on a detailed historical examination of the available material.

Searching for the Hidden “One”: Muslim and Early European Interpretations of the Indian Upaniṣads

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