Through a study of the corpus of contemporary literary depictions of the early medieval/medieval king of Bengal, Lakṣmaṇasena, in the works of the royal literary salon, this essay defines a cluster of poetic elements inseparable from the monarch. It suggests that this official poetic projects its proximity to the contemporary Turkish invasion (ca. 1205 ce), and the attendant crisis and restructuring of the Sena state. Some idiosyncratic poems, however, evince a historical dynamic that is both distinct and inseparable from the official poetic: the proud assertion of a Sanskrit literary provincialism in the context of a shrinking and threatened state. By correlating a pattern of poetic representation with a discrete period and locality, the present inquiry brings into focus the mutually constitutive relationship between literary interpretation and political historical interpretation for the study of early South Asia. And by tracing what was relatively peculiar and singular to this literary world, it strives to erode established scholarly visions of the endless uniformity of premodern literary-political life.

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