What are some ancient Persian texts that mention India or Indians?

There are many ancient Persian texts that mention India or Indians. Persia and India had a long history of cultural, economic, and political exchange, and this is reflected in the writings of Persian scholars, poets, and historians.

One of the earliest Persian texts that mention India is the Avesta, the primary collection of sacred texts of Zoroastrianism, an ancient Persian religion. The Avesta mentions a country called “Hapta Hindu” or the Seven Rivers of the Indus Valley, which is believed to be India. The text describes Hapta Hindu as a land of great wealth and prosperity, with fertile soil, abundant water, and many cows. The Avesta also mentions the gods and goddesses of India, such as Indra, Varuna, and Sarasvati.

The Behistun Inscription is another important Persian text that mentions India. This inscription, located in western Iran, was commissioned by King Darius I in the 5th century BCE and written in three languages: Old Persian, Elamite, and Babylonian. The inscription tells the story of Darius’s conquests and lists the various tribes and peoples that he defeated. Among these are several Indian tribes, including the Gandarians, the Sattagydae, and the Pausikas.

The Shahnameh is an epic poem written by the Persian poet Ferdowsi in the 10th century CE. It is one of the greatest works of Persian literature and tells the story of the kings and heroes of Persia from the beginning of time to the Arab conquest in the 7th century CE. The Shahnameh also mentions several Indian princes and heroes, including the Indian king Sudaba and the hero Rustam who travels to India to defeat the Turanian king Afrasiyab. Rustam’s journey to India is one of the most memorable episodes in the Shahnameh and is often cited as an example of the cultural and commercial ties between Persia and India.

The Baburnama is an autobiography written by the Mughal emperor Babur in the 16th century CE. Babur was a descendant of Timur and Genghis Khan who ruled over parts of India and Central Asia. His book mentions his battles against Indian rulers and provides valuable information about the social and cultural life of India during his time. The Baburnama also contains descriptions of Indian flora and fauna, architecture, music, and cuisine, as well as observations on Indian customs and beliefs. Babur’s account of his life and times is an important source for scholars of Indian history and culture.

The Ain-i-Akbari is another important historical document written by Abul Fazl in the 16th century CE. It is a detailed account of the reign of the Mughal emperor Akbar and provides valuable insights into the social, economic, and cultural life of India during the 16th century. The Ain-i-Akbari contains a wealth of information on the caste system, religion, economy, and administration of Akbar’s empire, as well as descriptions of Indian arts, crafts, and sciences. The book is divided into three parts: the first deals with the empire’s geography, climate, and natural resources; the second with its people, religion, and customs; and the third with its administration, military, and economy.

Other Persian texts that mention India or Indians include the poems of Rumi and Saadi, the travelogues of Ibn Battuta and Marco Polo, and the writings of Persian scholars such as Al-Biruni and Ibn Sina. These texts offer a rich and varied perspective on the cultural and intellectual exchange between Persia and India and provide valuable insights into the history and culture of both countries.

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