Inspired by Allison Busch's pioneering scholarship on Bhasha (Old Hindi) literature associated with the Mughal court, this article explores the manuscript history of a seventeenth-century Bhasha text that repeatedly praises the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb (r. 1658–1707). Sabalsingh Chauhan's seventeenth-century Mahabharat is a bhakti (devotional) retelling of the Mahabharata epic. In the prologue of the sixteenth book of his Mahabharat, Chauhan describes himself performing his poem in Delhi before Aurangzeb and a king named Mitrasen. He also praises Mitrasen in the prologue of the seventh book and extolls Aurangzeb in the prologues of the sixth, eighth, ninth, and seventeenth books. While these five separate references to Aurangzeb are found in the majority of the manuscripts of the Bhasha Mahabharat, these allusions to the Mughal emperor are noticeably absent in three manuscripts from 1758, 1836, and 1845. This article examines how the specific political, temporal, and geographical contexts in which each of these three manuscripts were produced could have resulted in their copyists excising Aurangzeb. This piece also builds on recent studies by Busch and other scholars that have begun to seriously complicate modern perceptions of Aurangzeb as a violent Muslim tyrant who persecuted Hindus.

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