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Portrait of a Raja in a Badshah’s World: Amrit Rai’s Biography of Man Singh (1585)

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Abstract A wealth of Old Hindi texts in the Rajasthani and Brajbhasha dialects survives from the early modern period, but they remain an underused archive of Mughal history. The Māncarit (“Biography of Man Singh,” 1585) of Amrit Rai, one of the earliest known examples of Rajput literature about a Mughal manṣabdār, provides fascinating perspectives on Mughal power, as seen from the perspective of the court of Man Singh Kachhwaha, one of the leading regional kings of Akbar’s day. Amrit Rai was as much a poet as an historian, which makes the Māncarit and the many Rajput texts like it challenging to interpret, but the possibility of gaining alternative perspectives on Mughal state formation makes such a hermeneutic enterprise essential.


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