When the king does philosophy: the Vedantic writings of Jasvant Singh of Marvar (1626–1678)

01 November 2022 → 31 October 2025
Research Foundation - Flanders (FWO)
Research disciplines
  • Humanities
    • Early modern literature
    • Other Asian literatures
    • Literary history
    • Study of Hinduism
    • Other philosophy, ethics and religious studies not elsewhere classified
Rajasthan Vedantic philosophical literature Kingship
Project description

This project aims at shedding light on the intellectual profile of King Jasvant Singh of Marvar (1626–1678), in today’s Rajasthan. My hypothesis is that Jasvant Singh – a prominent political leader – wished to portray himself as a perfect sovereign and that he channeled this ambition in his Vedantic writings, neglected by scholarship to this day. Therefore, I propose a close reading of his six works dealing with Vedanta philosophy in Brajbhasha, a North Indian literary vernacular, flourishing during 17th century. With the examination of Jasvant Singh’s works, I attempt to expand and complicate the canon of sources of Vedanta philosophies. Histories of Indian philosophy generally consider only Sanskrit technical literary genres (sutra, sastra) as sources because of their systematicity. My research challenges these assumptions and seeks to enrich our understanding of early modern Vedantic philosophies through non-conventional works, like dramas, in languages different from Sanskrit. In this sense, it provides insight on the interplay of literary genre and the communication of philosophy. In addition to comparing Jasvant Singh’s works to preceding Vedantic literature, the project will interrogate if he established new literary genres adopted by later authors. The research will also contribute to discussions about the self-fashioning of a Rajput ruler – conventionally seen as a warrior – and the cultural ties with the Mughal court based on the shared interest in Vedanta.