Dr Mike Franklin has been awarded a prestigious British Academy Mid-Career Fellowship for the project: ‘Pluralism and the Multicultural Heritage of Maurya and Mughal India: the contribution of Warren Hastings’ Orientalist Regime’. The research will investigate the literary, political and religio-cultural aspects of Hastings’s government.
The project started in October 2011 and will culminate in a major monograph.
Hastings, Governor and Governor–General of Bengal 1772-85, was genuinely fascinated by Hindu and Indo-Persian culture. He encouraged Charles Wilkins to translate the ‘sublime’ Bhagvat-Geeta (1785); patronized Indo-Persian poets and artists; sang Hindi songs; established a Calcutta Madrasah; and composed an Oriental tale from a Mahabharata source.
For Hastings the mystical aspects of both Hindu mysticism and of Islamic Sufism encouraged a subcontinental tradition of respect for all religions. Muslims frequently attended Hindu religious festivals and Hindus revered Sufi saints. Such tolerance was politically useful; it facilitated multicultural governance.
Mike Franklin is also a member of the editorial board on the AHRC-funded project: The Correspondence of Elizabeth Montagu.