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Justifying Defeat: A Rajput Perspective on the Age of Akbar

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Abstract This article explores a darker side of cultural dialogue—the experience of subjugation to a cultural “other”—through a case study of Rao Surjan of Bundi, a Rajput warrior who was defeated by Mughal emperor Akbar in 1569. Surjan’s surrender of Ranthambhor fort was celebrated in Mughal chronicles such as the Akbarnama but condemned in Nainsi’s Khyat and other Rajput texts. Drawing primarily on Surjanacarita, a Sanskrit poem from about 1590, this article examines the literary strategies that were employed to justify Surjan’s submission to Akbar and his subsequent career as a Mughal mansabdar (imperial rank-holder).


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