In tribute to Allison Busch, who did so much to restore the reputation of vernacular literature not just as poetry but also as history, Talbot offers an account of an obscure Rajput warrior from Bikaner who decided it would be better to die. In asking why Ramsingh Kalyanmalot sought death in 1577, we must address the larger issue of the changes wrought on the Rajput world by the expanding power of the Mughal empire, one of the main questions that Busch probed in her research. Vernacular texts composed at Rajput courts not only provide a valuable alternate perspective on the power dynamics of the Mughal era, as Busch repeatedly pointed out, but can also cast light on the lives of locally powerful men who hardly figure in imperially sponsored Persian histories. In Dalpat Vilas, a prose biography composed in Marwari, we witness the dilemma of Ramsingh, a second son who was caught between his older brother, the Bikaner Raja and obedient Mughal servant, and his younger brothers, occasional bandits who wandered freely. Their story illustrates how competing loyalties and priorities could strain brotherly bonds, especially in times of political turmoil.

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