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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.




4.5 The beginning of mirth

( The great Emperor Harsha's family: from its beginnings in black magic and legend, through the long hard years serving greater kings, to the emerging of the family once again into the eye of history. Along the way, we hear of Harsha's homeland, full of rivers and overflowing with rice.

Duration: 00:53:05

4.4 The bard of mirth

( This week the history of India podcast gets personal. We get to know the great writer, Bana. We hear about his tragic childhood. His wild, party driven youth. We hang out in his village, meet his friends. And then we see his ascent to the imperial court.

Duration: 00:42:18

4.3 The cruel pleasures of the moon

( The great city Pataliputra is at peace. But the good times cannot last. Soon, its start to squabble amongst themselves. A new power emerges to take advantage: the moon king will gain a tight grip on the city, and oppress its people. Or so the stories say. This week, we hear the stories, and judge the truth for ourselves.

Duration: 00:41:21

4.2 The end of excitement

( This week, two kingdoms wage war up and down the banks of the Ganges. In the great city of Pataliputra, the kings are fighting desperately to avoid the fate of fallen empires. They will win victories, only to jump into the flames themselves. They will will employ ancient strategies. But, at the very moment when their rule seems secure, it will be taken from them forever.

Duration: 00:30:26

4.1 Excitement at the end of empire

( The Gupta empire is crumbling. A time of great uncertainty and fear for some, and a time of excitement for others. This week, we meet two kings working for the Guptas. But, before long, they will both be independent kingdoms vying to become the next great empire.

Duration: 00:34:41

4.0 Happily bumbling into even more mishaps

( A brief introduction to series 4, apology for all the errors, with an ancient Indian story to compensate.

Duration: 00:26:23

3.P You will now be seen by the doctor

( Doctors. Ancient Indians looked down on them. But this week, we'll be finding out what it would be like when an ancient Indian patient needed them. We look for cures in the Buddhist monastery, and take a trip to the hospital.

Duration: 00:38:59

3.O zero by 7922851426433759354390336

( The story of ancient Indian mathematics from its earliest days stacking bricks to build altars, to infinity and beyond. We meet the work of the great Gupta-era mathematician, Aryabhata. Along the way we hear ancient Indian answers to such thorny questions as: how do you almost square a circle? how many infinities are there? and how long is the blink of an eye? No mathematical knowledge required.

Duration: 00:47:46

3.N By the bower of the heavenly tree

( This week, we get to know the greatest poet and playwright of ancient India: Kalidasa. We hear the legend of how he found his talent through the strained relationship with his demanding wife. We explore his life as a poet in the court of the Gupta empire, and the tale of his sad demise. Along the way, we'll get everything we need to enjoy some of the greatest poetry ever written.

Duration: 00:52:56

3.M Infatuated by the empire

( This week, get a job in the ancient Gupta empire. We look at the life of a soldier, a policeman, and a civil servant. But getting a place in the empire won't be as easy as you might think.

Duration: 00:55:50

3.L Soaked by gold

( The mythical land of gold: according to the tales lies far to the East of India. Only the bravest adventurers dare make the journey. We follow them to the islands and states of South East Asia. We find a people deeply influenced by body and mind. And we watch the first few Hindu states emerge in Cambodia and Vietnam.

Duration: 00:50:17

3.K A farm by the hills

( Ancient North East India. We take a podcasty walk from an ancient farm in the valleys up into the hills where the Kiratas live, walking through the landscape rich with trees and caves, and hearing the legends of hill and valley along the way.

Duration: 00:56:00

3.J Bounded by the hills

( Ancient North East India. Cut off from the world by a ring of mountains; it's people living uneventful and simple lives. Well...not quite. This week we pay our first visit to the region; hear the stories of the folk living there. We visit temples adapted from the Guptas to the east. And we track down rumours of a dangerous winding path that heads off eastwards, all the way to china.

Duration: 00:47:22

3.i Don't buy the pyg in the poke

( Everything you ever needed to know about buying and running a farm in ancient India. Learn how to navigate the paper work required to buy a farm. Get advice on what to grow, and how. Hear how to pay your agricultural taxes. Until finally, work done, you can settle down to watch the crops grow and listen to a few old farmer's tales.

Duration: 00:51:51

3.H Side by side (bonus material)

( How best to get inside the shoes of ancient Indians? Through the stomach! This episode, some friends cook some ancient Indian meals and give them a tasting. Will we adopt an ancient Indian diet? Will we be up all night with indigestion? Listen and find out. (Check out Adil's craft beer and games podcast:

Duration: 00:36:14

3.G Side by side

( We cook a meal for some ancient Indians. From buying ingredients down the market, to working in the Kitchen, to the meal itself. We might also indulge in a bit of smoking and drinking afterwards.

Duration: 00:50:17

3.F Study by the stupa

( Students from around the known world set out with their books. They are heading for one location. The great monastery in Northern India: Nalanda. We join them on their journey into the complex, and take part in debates and daily life alongside them.

Duration: 00:57:48

3.E Chased by the dusk

( We return to the Ajanta Caves for a second special episode. In this episode, the emperor is building his own cave, grander than all the others. The story of the cave is the story of the empire: it is constructed and for the briefest moment flourishes, before it tumbles into nothing.

Duration: 00:49:55

3.D Captured by the dawn (part 1)

( The Ajanta Caves. A world famous collection of caves where Buddhists worshipped for years.... well, not exactly. The caves were abandoned half way through construction. They tell the story of the building of a great institution carrying the hopes of an empire, before the empire and the caves tumbled out of history.

Duration: 00:46:26

3.13 Goodbye to empire

( This week, two empires will fall. As the grand Gupta empire retreats to the east and falls apart, we see its inner workings exposed. And we watch the small states squabble and fight over its legacy. The stage is set for long years of turmoil.

Duration: 00:46:14

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