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The History of India Podcast

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A light weekly podcast covering the history of India, from 6th century B.C.

A light weekly podcast covering the history of India, from 6th century B.C.
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A light weekly podcast covering the history of India, from 6th century B.C.




5.13 By a graceful move of the eyebrows

( This week, we find out what happened to the great prize of North India: the Imperial city of Kanyakubja. Two dynasties: the Palas (protectors), and the Pratiharas (doorkeepers) have been fighting to gain control. In this episode, a new emperor of India will win it, and then give it away. Included: a trip to a hidden great monastery, how a queen made a snake king deceive her, and two hundred hunchback maidens with quite different attitudes to marriage.


5.a Philosophy, by the book

( Become a student of the great Jain thinker HariBhadra. His novels have thrilled you. His satires have scanadlised you. His logics have perplexed you. Now listen to his lightening fast summary of all the important points of Indian philosophy. Featuring: the first ever summmary of the six schools of philosophy, a bonus school of philosophy just for fun, and a deep sense of bewilderment. Can you get through an early medieval philosophy lesson? Listen and test...


5.12 Back by the withering sand

( We join the great Pratihara king Vatsaraja, at his lowest moment. With the whole of North India in his power, he is defeated and flees across the mountains into the great desert. We uncover the stories of the people and places, and find out what life was like there under his rule.


5.11 On taking two umbrellas

( Everyone wants the imperial city of Kanyakubja lies at the center. The great Partihara king of the west wants to re-establish his family's image. The great Pala king of the west wants to become the first emperor from his land. Their armies will reach out towards the imperial city until they come upon one another in central India. There, they will both be meet a strange and indomitable new force. This week, we tell the first part of the struggle for North India.


5.10 On the way out

( The Umayyad armies go beyond al-Sind, trying to establish a new province in al-Hind proper. But their successes won't last. They will be driven back, twice. And shortly after, the entire Umayyad empire will collapse in on itself. This week, we piece together the story. In this episode: powerful poets send soldiers home, universities are crushed because of golden statues, a murder of governors, a king's boat takes a wrong turn, and much more.


5.9 On the way to Hind

( This week, a tale of bridge engineering, bloodthirsty generals, widowed queens, the first mosque in South Asia, and lots and lots of gold. We tell the story of how the Ummayid caliphate came to invade Sind.


5.8 On the door

( This week, the Rajputs arrive on the scene with the earliest of Rajput clans, the Pratiharas. But where did they come from? Did they see themselves as Rajputs? What did they do after they had emerged? The answers might not match with the familiar story.


5.7 How to prevent fish on fish crime

( Bengal's kings are dying daily. The land is in chaos. It's been this way for years. But, according to the legend, a man from the north will come and build a stable kingdom. This time, the legend is true. This episode, we witness an empire emerge from chaos. The Pala emperors are here.


5.6 Those who live on campaign...

( Lalitaditya had grand plans. He would make Kashmir into an empire, spanning all of India and outside of it too. His armies would walk the deserts of the silk road, sail the seas of the bay of Bengal, and walk the Western Ghats. And they would bring back enough gold to build a house fit for God. Did he succeed in all his plans? Listen, and find out.


5.5 On top of the world

( Travel to the top of India, the mountain valley of Kashmir. This is the story of the three brother-kings of Kashmir. The kind brother, the cruel brother, and the conqueror. Hear the story of their parents, how their kingdom was first won, and what they did to make it their own.


5.4 Onward, Mauryan empire

( week, the last of the Mauryan emperors. He will restore his family's glory, conquering the entire world. Well, more or less. Listen and meet a forgotten legend. WARNING: some gore, blood, descriptions of death.


5.3 On the edge of renown

( This week, two kingdoms tie themselves together with marriage. They expand their lands, regain their independence. They do everything to imitate the glorious rise of empires past. And then... they fade to nothing.


5.2 The lake on the hills

( The story of Nepal, from the formation of the Himalayan lands, through it's earliest inscriptions, to the king who refused to be king. This episode, we get up to date with what is going on in the kingdom to the North of Pataliputra. Along the way: a mountain split by a sword, the first record of attempted sati, Nepal's oldest temple, and much more.


5.1 Carry on, Pataliputra

( Emperor Harsha is dead. With him, the last great Indian empire of the first millenium collapses into chaos. Or so the story goes. Down in the ruins of Pataliputra, things seem a bit different. The old families ruled before Harsha's empire was formed, and they rule still. And one of the old families starts to build a new empire in the lands around Pataliputra.


5.0 Bumbling on bumbling

( A brief introduction to series 5: a preview as we plunge into the medieval age. We'll have a quick chat about Islam and whether there even was a medieval age. All wrapped up with one of my favorite stories.


4.K Joy in ruins

( A time-travellers tour through the heartlands of the Chaulikyan empire. See the new South Indian style of art being invented, stage by stage. Spot the hidden gems, the out of the way sites, the temples which slowly give up their secrets.


3.T By sea

( This week, set sail across the ocean with Indian merchants. We follow the Chinese monk Faxian as he crosses Gupta North India. We see the rituals of sea travelers, sample the sights and sounds of the great port of ancient East India, see the biggest and smallest of Indian ships, endure wrecks, strandings, and many more trials. Not all of our fellow travelers will come out alive. But Faxian will eventually make it back to China. Listen, and hear his the end of...


3.S Engulfed by Jade

( We spend another week in the Indian-influenced land of the Tarim basin. This week, we spend time in the legendary city of Khotan. We hear stories of its founding, meet its king, and hear how the children of the city are educated with Indian tales and religion.


3.R Chewed over by the master

( This week, we travel over the Himalayas, and climb down the other side into the great desert basin. We spend time in a city on the northern ring of the desert, Kucha. It's a city deeply influenced by Indian thought and Indian people. We follow the most famous son of that city, Kumarajiva the great translator. Born to an Indian father, raised by a Kuchan mother, and destined to take Indian thought and language all the way to China.


4.J The smile on the skull

( This is the tale of the land of the red river, North East India. Come on a journey along the banks, and hear the stories of this place: the tales of its legendary founder, a man named after hell itself; the rise and fall of the friend of Harsha; and the tale of the dynasty of outsiders who would, just for a moment, rule much of Northern India.