When people think of the connections between India and Iran, they tend to think mostly of the West Asian territory’s impact on India – courtly culture, architecture, the Mughals, the Persian and Urdu language and the Islamic influences on India. But the relationship always flowed both ways: elements of Indian culture and pre-Islamic Persia that survive in India shape modern Iranian culture, even today.
From Pahlavi (Middle Persian) translations in the eighth century of the Panchatantra, that resulted in works like Kalila wa Dimna to Indian Zoroastrians from the 19th century who helped inform the modern Iranian worldview and sense of its own pre-Islamic past to even the earliest of publication of the first Persian newspapers in the early 19th century and the development of Perso-Arabic lithographic printing presses, Indians have helped inform modern Iran in many subtle ways.
A large part of the Indian influence on modern Iran has come not from traditional hubs of Indo-Persian culture such as Delhi or Lucknow, but rather from a distinct and modern Indian city, Bombay, which has loomed large in the modern Iranian imagination.
As the scholar, Nile Green points out in his book Bombay Islam, the earliest Persian lithographic presses emerged from Bombay in 1828 when the Parsi scholar Mulla…