Patrick D’Silva

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Patrick J. D’Silva

Ph.D. Candidate, Islamic Studies


M.T.S., Harvard Divinity School
B.A., Religious Studies and Classical Languages, Macalester College

Research Interests

  • Islam in South Asia
  • Sufism
  • Yoga
  • Mysticism
  • Post-colonial theory
  • Translation theory

Professional Biography

I am currently writing my dissertation, which analyzes a group of Persian manuscripts from India and Iran that contain instructions for using knowledge of the breath for divination purposes. As translations and adaptations from Sanskrit texts, the manuscripts are testimony to the high degree of exchange between practitioners of Yoga and Sufism in South Asia prior to the era of British colonialism. My project is equal parts close textual analysis of unpublished manuscripts, and unpacking Mughal and British ruling parties have engaged with the practices described therein as part of their respective imperial projects within the region. Depending on the practitioner’s individual context, these texts were used as exoteric tools for successful statecraft, esoteric means of ascertaining mystical truth, and oftentimes a fantastic admixture of the two. My work adds to the growing body of scholarship questioning many of the categories in use within the study of religion in South Asia.


“Translating the Qur’an with Purpose: The Case of Laleh Bakhtiyar,” in Culguage in/of Translation from Arabic, Said Faiq Ovidi Carbonell and Ali Almanna (eds), Sayyab Books, 2014. Sayyab Translation Studies Series #6.