The literature on South Asian kingship has typically explored the idioms in which kingship—a king’s assertion of his right to rule—was articulated, while assuming ready consent to such assertions of royal authority among a king’s subjects, vassals, peers, and overlords. This paper re-examines the nature and limits of South Asian kingship by investigating the modes in which Man Singh Kachhwaha, a prominent regional chief in the Mughal Empire, claimed royal status. I examine how target audiences—consisting of literati, peers, rivals, and the Mughal overlord—may have received an ambitious chief’s claims to kingly status in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries. This essay reinterprets the abundant evidence from Man Singh’s reign to reveal the character of kingship in South Asia as much more circumscribed and contingent than has often been assumed, and as continually open to challenge and contestation.
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BahuraGopalnarayanPrāstavik paricay (introduction)Māncaritavali: Āmer ke suprasiddh raja mānsiṃh ke carit se sambaṃdhit paṃc rājasthāni racnāoṃ kā saṃkalan1990JaipurMaharaja Sawai Man Singh II Museum938
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SheikhSamiraOrsiniFrancescaSheikhSamiraLanguages of Public Piety: Bilingual inscriptions from Sultanate Gujarat, c. 1390-1538After Timur Came: Culture and Circulation in Fifteenth-Century North IndiaForthcoming 2014New DelhiOxford University Press
SreenivasanRamyaOrsiniFrancescaSheikhSamiraWarrior-Tales at Hinterland Courts in North India, c. 1370-1550After Timur Came: Culture and Circulation in Fifteenth-century North IndiaForthcoming 2014New DelhiOxford University Press
For a review and critique see Kulke1978rpt. 2001. For a critique of Geertz’s analysis of the Balinese state in the nineteenth century see Howe 1991. I am grateful to Phillip Friedrich for this citation.
Ranachoda Bhatta1973. For brief recent comments on this praśasti and its legitimating function see Joffee 2006: 11-23 and Talbot 2007: 16-20.