Ursula Sims-Williams writes about “When Akbar commissioned a Persian take on the Mahabharata,” and a fascinating read it is, with gorgeous illustrations, but I can’t resist excerpting the same passage from Badāʼūnī’s Muntakhab al-tavārīkh that Trevor quoted in his e-mail when he sent me the link:
Collecting together the learned men of India, His Majesty directed that the book Mahabharat should be translated. For some nights His Majesty personally (had it) explained to Naqib Khan, who wrote out the resultant text in Persian. On the third night His Majesty summoned me and ordered me to translate it in collaboration with Naqib Khan. In three or four months out of the eighteen chapters (fan) of that stock of useless fables… I wrote out two chapters. … Thereafter Mulla Shiri and Naqib Khan completed that section, and one section Sultan Haji Thanesari ʻMunfaridʼ brought to completion.
Shaikh Faizi was then appointed to write it in verse and prose, but he too did not complete more than two Chapters (fan). Again, the said Haji wrote out two sections and rectified the errors which were committed in the first round, and fitting one part with another, compiled a hundred fasciculi. The direction was to establish exactitude in a minute manner so that nothing of the original should be lost. In the end upon some fault, His Majesty ordered him (Haji Thanesari) to be dismissed and sent away to Bhakkar, his native city, where he still is. Most of the interpreters and translators are in hell along with Korus and Pandavs, and as for the remaining ones, may God save them, and mercifully destine them to repent…. His Majesty named the work Razmnaama (Epic), and had it illustrated and transcribed in many copies, and the nobles too were ordered to have it transcribed by way of obtaining blessings. Shaikh Abul Fazl… wrote a preface of the length of two quires (juzv) for that work.