In this essay William R. Pinch probes whether and how we might understand early Hindi poetry as a form of history, a theme that Allison Busch explored in a series of essays. His focus is on two late eighteenth-century poems that Allison, Dalpat Rajpurohit, and Pinch translated between 2009 and 2017, especially on the climactic event of the poems: the killing and beheading of the Rajput Arjun Singh by Anupgiri Gosain (a.k.a. Himmat Bahadur). In the course of the essay Pinch describes two visits to eastern Bundelkhand in search of traces of the events and personalities described in the poems. These journeys revealed convincing evidence, in the form of oral tradition, that Arjun was killed by his kinsmen (and not by Anupgiri). Though this necessarily complicates a straightforward reading of early Hindi poetry as history, it also prompts further reflection on why the poets depicted the killing of Arjun in the manner they did—and on the implications for the multilayered historical truth claims of Hindi poetry.

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