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The History of India Podcast

A light weekly podcast covering the history of India, from 6th century B.C. Enjoying the podcast? Please consider donating to the Snehal Sidhu Memorial Fund (http://tinyurl.com/prkvwll)

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The best episodes ranked using user listens.

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3.N By the bower of the heavenly tree

(www.historyofindiapodcast.com) 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.


13 Jun 2017

Rank #1

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4 d. The joys of victory (part 1)

(www.historyofindiapodcast.com) Jainism has shaped Indian thought over the millenia, and continues to do so today. This week, we find out what life was like as a Jain in the time of Harsha. How did they worship? Where did they fit into society? What did others in ancient India make of them? Listen, and find out. Health warning: no accurate claims about Jain theology are contained within.


30 Mar 2018

Rank #2

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5.0 Bumbling on bumbling

(www.historyofindiapodcast.com) 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.


19 Dec 2018

Rank #3

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3.1 Surrounded by small kings

() It's the late 3rd century, and the world is changing. Empires which dominated India have crumbled, leaving a patchwork of small states. We see what this new world looked like from the great city of Pataliputra, and meet the kingdoms which will shape northern India over the centuries to come.


11 Oct 2016

Rank #4

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5.21 By half a metre

(www.historyofindiapodcast.in) This week, Mahendrapala extends his empire downstream, towards the sea. But nothing is what it seems: not the emperor, nor his empire, nor his conquest. All will be revealed only half a meter down. Also in this episode: how to tell whether you are living on top of a monastery, more than twenty early medieval Indian insults, and how to call someone beautiful and aggressive at the same time.


14 Dec 2019

Rank #5

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4.C The laughter of the monks grows silent

(www.historyofindiapodcast.com) In the marketplaces and fields of ancient India, would you notice that Buddhism was gradually disappearing? Many ancient Indians did. And we take a layman's view as the monasteries withdraw from the world and at the same time become more part of it. Come, listen to the beginning of the great decline of Buddhism in India. Bonus: interview with Peter Adamson from the Philosophy in India (HoPWAG) podcast.


20 Feb 2018

Rank #6

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1.8 Conscience without sorrow

(www.historyofindiapodcast.com) The first of three podcasts on the great emperor Ashoka. We meet his wives, and hear of his path to power over the bodies of his brothers. We go right up until the defining moment of his life, on the battlefield at Kalinga.


16 Sep 2015

Rank #7

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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.


23 Feb 2017

Rank #8

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3.5 Killed by cowardice

() Historians uncovered an ancient play about an unknown emperor, killed by his brother and the woman they both loved. The play turned out to have more truth than anyone suspected. It may have even been a cover-up, a distraction from murder. Listen, and judge for yourself.


9 Nov 2016

Rank #9

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1.2 The Shrewdness of King Bimbisara

(www.historyofindiapodcast.com) The story of Bimbisara, ancient king of Magadha. He was a contemporary of the Buddha and Mahavira, and by cunning marriages and warfare doubled the size of Magadha and more than doubled its prestige.


28 Jul 2015

Rank #10

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4.13 The mirth of the monk

() This week, emperor Harsha tracks down a famous chinese monk. When the emperor and monk eventually meet, there is a great meeting of minds. Along the way, towers will burn down, the treasury will be emptied, and the emperor will tackle an assassin. At the end, will Harsha be the great Hindu emperor? Or will he become another Buddhist emperor? Listen and find out.


16 Nov 2017

Rank #11

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3.4 South by southwest

() The great conqueror of ancient India turns his attention south. We follow him through forests, along sandy rivers, down the coast and into South India. And we hear how he shaped the world outside India too.


2 Nov 2016

Rank #12

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4.A Joy in the kingdom of brothers (part a)

(www.historyofindiapodcast.com) We kick off our special episodes for the series with a tour of the smaller kingdoms and regions emerging around India. This week, we are in the peninsular of Gujurat, in a strange kingdom where they pass the throne down to their younger brothers.


13 Jan 2018

Rank #13

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2 J Poets and archers (part 2 of 2)

(www.historyofindiapodcast.com) The Cheras: crowned kings of South India. They ruled ancient Kerala and beyond as a family estate. This episode, we hear about the Chera kings from outsiders, through the stories and lives of the smaller chieftans of South India. Also, I embarrass myself by mispronouncing north Indian words. Fourth of three specials on South India. Ops.


15 Sep 2016

Rank #14

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4.8 The march of mirth

() The story of the great emperor Harsha continues as he finally sits on the throne. But there is much for the young king to learn. The ministers form factions and compete for his attention. The people of the countryside reject him. He must lead an army to battle, and make alliances with foreign princes.


12 Oct 2017

Rank #15

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4.11 The clash of mirth

() Harsha prepares for battle. We follow him through the battle day, from before he wakes up, through the inspection of his army, the preparation of his battle-line, into the battle itself. Hear the battle tactics used by ancient Indian kings. Discover how the Indian armies were able to crush the huns.  (2 of 2 of military during Harsha's time)


1 Nov 2017

Rank #16

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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.


8 Mar 2017

Rank #17

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2 G Women, law and life

() If you were an ancient Indian woman, would you choose to be a nun or a wife? This episode has all you need to decide this thorny question, from the legal facts to words of wisdom from ancient Indian women themselves. Well ok, not all you need to know, but hopefully we do get some idea of what some ancient Indian women's lives might be like.


24 Aug 2016

Rank #18

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5.20 Assault by salt

(www.historyofindiapodcast.in) A journey through one of emperor Bhoja's lands. With the emperor far away in the Imperial city, we find out what life is like for the merchants and city folk under him. Also in this episode: a practical guide to salt making in medieval India, the garden of the snake kings, and the origin of candy.


5 Dec 2019

Rank #19

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5.18 Drawn by greatness

(www.historyofindiapodcast.in) For too long the empire of the east has dominated North India. Bhoja, the descendant of the western emperors is determined to bring change. But he starts with almost nothing, for the once great western empire as been reduced to just a minor kingdom. In this, the first of three episodes, we look at Bhoja's first faltering steps. Also in this episode: how to make a river go backwards, a gruesome house of the dead, and a crocodile wrestling king. *Some of the inscriptions in this episode are pretty graphic - no rude language, but may not be suitable for all*.

1hr 1min

8 Oct 2019

Rank #20