Presented by Robert Elgood, an expert on arms and armor

India’s Rajput warriors (kshastriya) belong to small, tight-knit clans that claimed descent from the Sun, Moon, and Fire divinities. For warriors, to die in bed was a disgrace, so they took care to avoid this fate, believing death in battle would ensure warrior heaven.

As the exhibition Peacock in the Desert: The Royal Arts of Jodhpur, India shows, Rajputs delighted in hunting, horses, music, and art relating to romantic and religious love. But their real passion was war and honor.

Robert Elgood explores how all Rajput warrior activities were subordinate to battle, the greatest moment in a man’s life. The Charans, a caste of poets who glorified the achievements of warriors entering court, had the duty of establishing correct Rajput behavior (Rajput dharm), illustrated through heroic stories setting standards of war, love, duty, and self-sacrifice—absolute obligations applicable to Rajput men and women. 

Stick around—the lecture is followed by “Poetry in Motion: A Literary Dance Performance” at 4 p.m.!

About the Speaker
A fellow of both the Society of Antiquaries and the Royal Asiatic Society, Robert Elgood lectures at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) at London University, the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, the Aga Khan University, and the French Institute in Cairo. He is also a guest scholar at the Islamic Museum in Doha and works as a consultant for the al-Sabah Collection in Kuwait.

This program is free! Drop in to participate. The doors of the auditorium open 30 minutes before the lecture. 

► Plan ahead for your visit with parking information.


The 42nd Annual Ruth K. Shartle Lecture Series is made possible by a generous grant from The Brown Foundation, Inc.